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Day 144 Muscadine Wine

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

I foraged a little over four pounds of wild muscadine grapes yesterday. I have decided to try my hand at wine making this year, instead of jelly…at least with this first round. After a little research on the internet, I am combining a couple of different recipes to adapt to what I have to work with. I have put together 2 quarts of crushed muscadine grapes, skins and all.

Crushed grapes.

Crushed grapes.

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I am going to have to run to the home brew shop for some supplies…a mesh bag and yeast. I may need more sugar from the grocery store. The plan is to combine the fruit (in mesh bag) with 6 quarts of water in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, add enough sugar syrup to boost the SG to at least 1.090 and then add 2 crushed campden tablets, 1/2 t. pectic enzyme (scant), and 2 t. yeast nutrient. That will be covered with cheesecloth and sit for 24 hours. I guess I’m not supposed to seal the bucket yet, as the campden tablets cause a sulfur gas to be released and it needs to be allowed to dissipate. Yeast is to be pitched tomorrow…instructions say to leave covered with cheesecloth again, for 5 to 7 days, stirring daily. After that, it is strained and sealed with an airlock in place and given around 6 weeks to ferment out. Then it gets racked, probably a few times, to clear. Then it gets bottled and ages for at least two years! I’ll probably bottle in beer bombers…I don’t anticipate making enough wine to justify buying a corker and wine bottles/corks. I haven’t seen anyone express concerns with beer bottles. I might want to use the special oxygen absorbing caps, to reduce the risk of oxidation.

So far, I have boiled 3 cups of sugar with enough water to dissolve it…boiled until clear and set aside to cool…we’ll see if that’s enough to get me to 1.090 or better. The first quart of grapes that I crushed have a natural SG of about 1.048, according to my spectrometer. I’ll discuss yeast at the brew shop. The most likely candidates are Champagne yeast or Montrachet, but I’m open to suggestions.

Okay, after a trip to the brew shop and the grocery store, I was ready to proceed. I got a mesh bag, a packet of Montrachet yeast and a 10 pound bag of sugar. I sanitized the bag and a string and added the grape skins/pulp/juice to the bucket and tied off the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Next I added the sugar syrup that I had prepared and I was still way low on the SG. I also realized that I was running out of room in the 2 gallon bucket, so I prepared a 5 gallon bottling bucket and transferred the grape mixture into it. Then, I weighed out five pounds of sugar and added enough water for it to dissolve into and brought that to a boil, removed it from the heat.

Making sugar syrup

Making sugar syrup

I tried adding in a couple of steps and it wasn’t getting close to SG 1.090 very quickly…but the final addition bumped it up to OG 1.113…oops. Oh well. And my volume is up to almost three gallons…I probably should add more grapes, but I’m out.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We'll see if I get a chance to pick more.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We’ll see if I get a chance to pick more.

I’ll see what it looks like later…I could add more grapes and another campden tablet tomorrow. That would push back the yeast pitch a day, but in a minimum 2 year process, another day is nothing and could make a huge difference in the finished product. Anyway, I put the lid on and sealed it and popped on an airlock. The brew shop guy thought it would be fine to seal and airlock the bucket rather than do the covering with cheesecloth thing…just seemed more risky.

Ginger beer note: the SG dropped to 1.057, so it’s moving…slowly. I thought all the Champagne yeast that I added to it would start it really chugging. It’s popping the airlock about every 10 seconds, but it’s not very aggressive. I guess it’s just going to take more time and patience than I was anticipating for this little side project.

Update 8/22/14,  10:00 a.m.: I went and foraged another 1 pound and 9 ounces of wild muscadine grapes this morning. After crushing them, there was a little less than a full quart jar.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

I crushed an additional campden tablet and threw it in with the grapes. I opened the fermentation bucket, untied the bag and poured in the grapes and crushed campden. I re-tied the bag and gave a good stir. Refractometer reading gives a 1.109 updated OG, with a volume now of just over 3 gallons.

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Day 136 Peach-Pineapple Tepache

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

I bought some fresh peaches on sale about a week ago and they have been tied in a plastic produce bag and sitting in a basket in the kitchen since then. I went shopping today and got a good price on a pineapple, so guess what? Peach-Pineapple Tepache! Oh yeah, I pretty much gave that away in the title, didn’t I? Oh well, anyway…one of my peaches had already started to rot. so I pulled the pit out and composted the rest. The other five peaches, I peeled. The pits and peels all went into my tepache bucket and all the peach slices went into a bowl of water with a little splash of vinegar and went into the fridge, to eat later. Then I peeled and cored the pineapple and put the peels in the bucket and the fruit into a covered bowl in the fridge for later.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Recently, someone on a brewing site thread for tepache that I read, mentioned adding some other spices to his tepache, such as white pepper and coriander seed. I decided that peach might marry well with a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns and a pinch of ground allspice. I also threw in the usual stick of cinnamon and 3 whole cloves. I would have added some coriander, but I didn’t have  any. Also, I was short on the piloncillo raw sugar, so I used some brown sugar and some cinnamon flavored maple syrup.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

 

Then it was 8 cups of water, a lid, an airlock and off to ferment! Original recipe said to ferment for 48 hours for this first step. I have learned that I like mine at about 72 hours or slightly longer.

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Day 101 Tepache, a Pineapple Cider/Beer Kind of Thing

Cutting up a pineapple.

Cutting up a pineapple.

I had an exchange awhile back with a guy on an online forum and he introduced me to the idea of making a Tepache. I had never heard of it before. It’s pretty rustic. You ferment pineapple with raw sugar, cinnamon, cloves  for a couple of days and then strain it and add water and a beer, ferment a couple of more days and then chill and serve. I grabbed a recipe off of Pinterest…I’m sure there are plenty of variations out there. This one called for:

1 fresh, ripe Pineapple, cut into chunks

8 cups of Water 20 oz Piloncillo (raw sugar). Brown Sugar is an acceptable substitute.

1 stick Cinnamon and 3 whole Cloves

Cover and leave in a warm place for 48 hours. Strain and add 1 cup of water and 1 beer. Let stand for 12 hours. Strain (Not sure why at this point…maybe it will become obvious or still seem redundant when I get to this point?). Add another cup of water and serve over ice. (I would chill it before putting it over ice.) Bottling? Probably not without pasteurizing it. Here’s the recipe  I started with, for reference…giving credit where due!  www.familyfoodandtravel.com/2013/12/tepache-pineapple-drink.html

 

I started into the recipe and cut up my pineapple. Since I have a fermentation bucket, I decided to use it, instead of a bowl or pitcher. And a lid with an airlock just seemed practical and safe.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

Cut pineapple with water, cinnamon, cloves.

So I added the pineapple, water, cinnamon and cloves to the bucket and I headed to a local Mexican store for the Mexican raw sugar, Piloncillo.

Piloncillo...Mexican raw sugar.

Piloncillo…Mexican raw sugar.

When I went to check out, I spoke to the owner, who was working the register. He strongly advised using the pineapple skins and core only and to NOT use the flesh. “It’s no good.” he said. He was very helpful.   So, I came home and drained my pineapple, peeled the skin and cut off the core from each piece and returned them to the bucket and I put the fruit in the refrigerator to eat later.

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Piloncillo, weighed. (As close as I could get to 20 oz)

Pineapple skins only...use the flesh for something else!

Pineapple skins only…use the flesh for something else!

The cloves, cinnamon stick and water went back into the bucket. I weighed out and added the piloncillo and stirred it around. It’s going to take awhile to dissolve, I guess, so I popped on the lid and airlock and will check on it later to stir and see that the sugar dissolves.

Ready to ferment...just need to get that sugar dissolved.

Ready to ferment…just need to get that sugar dissolved.

In a couple of days, strain, add some water and a beer, another 12 hours and done. Note that there is no added yeast in the recipe. There is also no campden tablet to kill off anything, so the fermentation will occur with whatever is “resident”.  A little scary, but we are going to give it a shot. Now, for comparison, the Mexican store owner had a commercial bottled version on hand, so I bought a bottle. It isn’t alcoholic, but it should give me an idea of what I shooting for. I opened and poured the tepache into a beer glass. The flavor is pleasant and tastes of pineapple and brown sugar…no surprise there, I guess. It is, however, VERY sweet.

So sweet...needs beer!

So sweet…needs beer!

A commercial version, "Tepachito", non-alcoholic.

A commercial version, “Tepachito”, non-alcoholic.

So, I drank half of it, grabbed a bottle of my American Wheat Citra Citrus and I topped off the glass. Voila!…did I just create Mateo’s Tepache Shandy? Why yes…yes I did!  Anyway, still a tad sweet, but it’s much better. That’s it for tonight…now for the wait. But this is a shorter process than I’m used to. I should be drinking this batch this weekend!

Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

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