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Starting Blueberry-Muscadine Wine

Day one: Blueberry-Muscadine Wine, ready for the 24 hour rest.

Day one: Blueberry-Muscadine Wine, ready for the 24 hour rest.

During the height of blueberry season, I got an amazingly good deal on a case of them. We ate some, I made an experimental, very small batch of jam, and then I stuck the rest in the freezer. Now that we are at the height of muscadine grape season, I have foraged several pounds of wild grapes. In doing a little research, I found this article: https://winemakermag.com/461-making-blueberry-wine-tips-from-the-pros  The majority of what I am doing comes directly from their recipe, so go read their article. If you are really interested in winemaking, you might like their magazine.

This is my second attempt at wine. You can find my entries on my first wine on this blogs entries starting about this time last year. It was a straight muscadine wine and I used Montrachet yeast for that batch…as I am using for this batch. The result, is a surprisingly dry, medium to light body wine that is a bit heavy on the alcohol (I overdid the sugar a bit), but not nearly as sweet as you normally find in wines made from muscadines. The color is between a blush and a red. I am pretty pleased with it. So, for my second wine, where I am going to change from the referenced recipe slightly, I’m using 3 pounds of wild muscadine grapes, instead of grape concentrate, and I’m using 11 pounds of blueberries. The blueberries were almost completely thawed, but still cold.

In preparing for the recipe, I did purchase an acid test kit ($8.95) and some blended acid powder from the local homebrew shop (LHBS). I also bought a package of Montrachet yeast. I did not add citric acid to the sugar water and I am not using the teaspoon of tannin. I am also substituting Campden Tablets, crushed, rather than the powdered sodium metabisulfate. The tablets are easy…add one per gallon, so five in this batch.

One tablet per gallon: 5 tablets. Easy!

One tablet per gallon: 5 tablets. Easy!

Campden Tablets to kill off any resident bacterias and wild yeasts.

Campden Tablets to kill off any resident bacterias and wild yeasts.

Capmpden Tablets, crushed in a mortar & pestle.

Capmpden Tablets, crushed in a mortar & pestle.

I’m also skipping the potassium sorbate. I may be wrong, but the Campden Tablets are potassium metabisulfate, and I think using them covers it. (As well as the sodium metabisulfate.) Theses chemicals can get to be a little confusing for those of us who were Liberal Arts majors, rather than Chemistry majors! Anyway, I think I have things covered.

Today was all about crushing blueberries,

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crushing muscadine grapes,

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mixing 9 pounds of sugar with hot water,

Sugar and water.

Sugar and water.

…and then adding the crushed Campden Tablets. I added enough water to rinse the crush bucket and bring the total volume to 5 gallons. (Top photo)

Tomorrow, I will deal with the yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, test the acid and adjust it, if needed. Then I will pitch the yeast. After that, over the course of the primary fermentation, I will need to stir the “must” at the top of the bucket down into the liquid twice daily. I don’t plan on making a separate entry everyday, just to say that I stirred the must! I will document tomorrow, and when I rack, bottle, and eventually taste the wine. So, I’ve done the steps required for today. I’ll be back!

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Bottling Jackfruit Cider

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Jackfruit Cider going into bottles.

Time to bottle the jackfruit cider…or wine…or whatever it is. I started this project on June 2, 2015. I transferred the cider (for lack of better classification) to a small bucket, to combine from the 2-one gallon jugs and 1-half-full 1/2 gallon jug.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

Combining jugs into a bucket for bottling.

To that, I added 2 oz of sugar…maybe it will have enough yeast in suspension to carbonate, with enough time.

The color is a nice, light golden. It’s nice and clear, too. The flavor is, well…interesting. It’s pretty dry. It will be fun to see what this is like in a couple more months. The FG wound up at 0.990, down from an OG of 1.083, so that gives it a 12.21% ABV. Wowza!

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

The yield is 23 twelve ounce bottles.

Checking the final gravity.

Checking the final gravity.

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Bottle Carbonated Kombucha

On 5/3/2015, I bottled a single bottle of Kombucha as a test, to see how it would do. A couple of days ago, I put the bottle into the refrigerator. This morning, I decided to open it up and check the results. Unfortunately. the bottle fogged with condensation when I removed it from the fridge. Otherwise, you would be able to see a small amount of cloudy, globby stuff in the bottom. It never really formed a SCOBY on the surface, though. I believe I added a teaspoon of sugar at bottling…have to go back and check notes to confirm.

Bottle conditioned kombucha

Bottle conditioned kombucha

I was able to easily avoid the stuff on the bottom by careful pouring. The result is a pale drink with nice clarity and a beatiful carbonation! Not too aggressive, like a soda…more like a sparkling wine.

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

The flavor is light and has a nice sweetness. Not syrupy, like a soda, but not too dry. The bubbles continue to rise in the glass, like champagne, long after pouring. Now I wish I had bottled a BUNCH!!! Because it does take much longer to carb than beer. This is at about 2-1/2 months.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

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Jackfruit Cider?…We’ll See!

Fresh Jackfruit

Fresh Jackfruit

I recently aquired a free, big, fresh jackfruit. It involved a weird box of birthday prank presents from some teenage boys to my nephew. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, he wasn’t going to actually DO anything with it and offered it to me. I accepted it, not having any idea what to do with it…but I’m always up for a challenge.  You can read all about the challenges of preparing a ripe jackfruit here: https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/jackfruit-what-you-need-to-know-before-you-buy-a-fresh-one/

So, after comtemplating for a day, I decided to use some of it for a cider experiment. The fruit isn’t juicy, so I decided to cook it in syrup first to break down the cells a little to start the process. I used 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, brought it to a boil, added 2 pounds of fruit, and covered to return to the boil.

Making syrup...and prepared jackfruit

Making syrup…and prepared jackfruit

Stirred a couple of times as it cooked for five minutes.When the fruit was raw, it had an odd aroma and a flavor like banana plus pineapple/mango/peach? No acidity at all. I believe the cooking helped it all the way around.

Adding jackfruit to the syrup

Adding jackfruit to the syrup

While the fruit cooked, I prepared a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and added 2 crushed campden tablets and a teaspoon of pectic enzyme. Then I added a gallon of cold water and the fruit/syrup.

Stirring the fruit and other ingredients together in the fermentation bucket.

Stirring the fruit and other ingredients together in the fermentation bucket.

I checked the SG (Specific Gravity, an idicator of the potential alcohol) with my refractometer and got 1.02-ish. I added 3 more cups of sugar and a cup of honey (11 ounces), stirred to dissolve and checked again. This time, I got 1.083. As the fruit ferments, it may give up more sugar, so I’m good with an OG(Original Gravity…the starting point) of 1.083. I now have 24 hours to see what yeast I have on hand, and decide if I have something appropriate or if I need to go buy something different…and what. I was thinking of doing a mead, by the way, but I didn’t want to experiment with 6 pounds of honey, which would have cost at least $36 + tax. But I think it would be good. I believe that the relatively small amount of honey that I did include will enhance this recipe nicely.

Update: 6/3/15: I had a 1/2 envelope of a CY17  wine yeast from Vintner’s Harvest in the refrigerator…sounds appropriate, should be a good amount, and saved me a trip to the LHBS. It is supposed to work for meads and sweeter wines, so it should be okay for this project.

Pitching yeast in Jackfruit Cider

Pitching yeast in Jackfruit Cider

Update 6/5/15: I noticed the airlock had activity yesterday. Not aggressive, but regular. That continues today, so we will have something alcoholic eventually. Don’t know how it will taste…but there will be alcohol!

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SCOBY Hotel: Occupied.

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and SCOBY Hotel (front, lleft)

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and a SCOBY Hotel (front, left).

I moved a batch of Kombucha to the refrigerator today. It was in a 1 gallon carboy, with a narrow opening. The SCOBY has become rather substantial, so it is difficult to remove. I wrestled with it a bit and managed to get it into a clean bowl and rinse it off. The was a small, sludgy SCOBY that I disposed of, along with bits and globs. I took a couple of nice healthy pieces and started my new batch. I added the rest of the SCOBY to a quart size canning jar with a little Kombucha and a sprinkle of sugar…viola! SCOBY Hotel! I covered the top with a double layer of coffee filters and screwed on the ring. I’ll refresh the liquid in the hotel every couple of weeks and add or remove SCOBYs as needed. (I have 3 in the hotel currently…I actually started it last week with SCOBY from the 1/2 green tea & 1/2 Earl Grey batch.) The SCOBY Hotel is kept at room temp, indefinitely, with regular refreshing.

I have one other batch in progress since 3/23. I tasted it and it definitely needs more time to ferment…still sweet and no tart. I might need to go ahead and get a third batch into rotation, so that the supply stays steady. The good news is that I have drastically cut down on my soda consumption.

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Kombucha Report

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A couple of days ago, I transferred my kombucha batch from March 9th to my refrigerator jug and started a new batch. (I bought more green tea last week at the grocery store.) I tasted the batch I made with half green tea and half Earl Grey…it definitely has a different flavor. I’m not sure I like it, but I’m not sure I don’t…it may grow on me. I was warned by another kombucha maker online, to be careful using the Earl Grey tea, because the added “oils and flavorings” may compromise the health of the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria/Yeast). The label on the Earl Grey tea says that it’s ingredients are just 100% tea and it seems to be doing okay, so far. That batch was started on March 12th.

Half Earl Grey/half green tea SCOBY.

Half Earl Grey/half green tea SCOBY.

Original green tea SCOBY.

Original green tea SCOBY.

Speaking of SCOBY’s, they seem quite healthy. When I transferred the batch to the refrigerator yesterday, I could not get the SCOBY out of the narrow neck and opening in the 1-gallon glass carboy. I did manage to get a little baby disk out, but the main SCOBY stayed in the carboy. So, I made the new batch of tea and added the cup of sugar. I topped with cool water to bring the temperature down from brewing, and poured into the carboy. I then topped off the carboy, below the neck, with cool water. The SCOBY floated mostly to the top and eventually leveled off. I put the baby SCOBY disk in a glass bowl with a little kombucha and covered it with plastic wrap. The SCOBY in the Earl Grey batch seems to be doing well. I do get some dark green stuff sometimes…not sure why, but from what I’ve read, it’s okay and doesn’t hurt anything. When I’m transferring SCOBY’s, I do try to rinse off some of the green, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Some green stuff...doesn't seem to bother anything according to my research.

Some green stuff…doesn’t seem to bother anything according to my research.

This evening, I went out to a store for unrelated shopping and wound up finding a couple of one gallon glass containers with wide mouths…one with a spigot. I had bought a two gallon container with a spigot recently, but decided it was just too big. I transferred the remainder of the kombucha in the refrigerator from the cheap, plastic jug to the new glass jar without the spigot. It fits in the refrigerator door perfectly! In the new jar with the spigot, I began a new batch of green tea kombucha, using my little baby SCOBY disk.

New wide mouth jar with spigot. I like it!

New wide mouth jar with spigot. I like it!

It had already grown a thin layer to cover the surface in the bowl. It sank to the bottom, but I’m not concerned…they seem to rise, over time. If not, I will find a way to harvest some from the other green tea batch and add it to the newest batch. The reason I am using the jar with the spigot for fermentation, is so that I can draw off the “boocha”, and leave just about the right amount for starter in the bottom. The SCOBY won’t even have to be touched, unless I want to clean it up a bit, now and then.

I’ll probably reduce my batches to just enough to keep supplied over the next month, but I don’t need to have three batches going at a time! I did run out once, but just for a few days. The Earl Grey batch will not need to be replaced as I use it up (unless it really grows on me).  I think I’ll be buying another wide mouth jar with a spigot…seems like they are going to be a convenient part of my evolving set-up.

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Kombucha Experiment

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda...but the root beer is interesting!

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda…but the root beer is interesting!

Kombucha…odd sounding. And when you hear the description, it’s gets kind of weird. So, you brew up some sweet tea, right? Okay, any good Southerner would be good with that. Then, you take something called a “SCOBY” (or affectionately referred to as the “mother”) and you chuck some of that in the tea. It looks like a slimey, spongy, white mass floating on the top of a previous batch of kombucha. SCOBY stands for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria/Yeast”. Mmm MMM!!! So, then you cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band, let that ferment for a while, eating the sugar in the tea, and BOOM! You have a tangy, fermented tea drink with lots of healthy probiotics, like yogurt does, but even better! Are you still with me? Okay, then you start a new batch, throw your SCOBY in and put your Kombucha in clean jars in the fridge…or you can add a little more sugar and seal and let ferment at room temperature and you get kombucha soda! Here’s a Wikipedia link, if you want more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha

Disclaimer! There are some risks with fermented products. Please read the Wikipedia article and, especially if you have any ongoing health issues or possible medication interactions, please, please consult your doctor before making and consuming any fermented products! And always sanitize the crap out of EVERYTHING! Constantly!!! Okay, moving along….

I have to admit, I’m not a big tea drinker. Never really cared for iced tea. But green tea is pretty mild and I like experimenting with fermented things, so here we go! I found a “LIVE Soda” at a store today. This brand is a “raw, organic, kombucha soda and comes in a few flavors. I decided to try a root beer flavor. The bottle instructs you to not shake…besides spewing all over you…it would disturb the dregs that have settled on the bottom of the bottle. That’s what I’m going to use to attempt to generate my own SCOBY. I have read that using a bottled product is not usually successful because of some change that was made in much of the industry a few years ago; however, this brand doesn’t seem to have any additives and its raw/organic status gives me hope. If it doesn’t work, I can go to my local home brew shop and pick up a starter for $8 and salvage my experiment.

What I did was, I brewed 8 teabags of green tea in 3 cups of Culligan bottled water from the “hot” side of my dispenser. (You could bring water to a boil for 10 minutes to sanitize, if you don’t have a hot water spigot/bottled water dispenser and then add your teabags). Next, I added a cup of sugar to a sanitized 1 gallon carboy. A wide mouth gallon jar would be better for removing the SCOBY, but I didn’t have one. Anyway, I poured the hot tea onto the sugar in the carboy and then topped up to a little under a gallon, leaving room for the mother to grow. The cold water brought the temperature down to about 90F (checked with a sanitized pocket thermometer). I put some ice in a mixing bowl and added some cold tap water and put the carboy in the bring the temperature down, so I wouldn’t kill off the SCOBY critters.

Green tea, sugar...bring the temperature down.

Green tea, sugar…bring the temperature down.

Then, I poured off about 2/3 of the LIVE Soda into a glass to drink…the rest was then swirled to suspend the dregs in the remaining soda, and poured into the tea. I topped the jar with a piece of sanitized cheesecloth and a rubber band and now we wait to see if it works.

Let's see what happens!

Let’s see what happens!

It will probably be a month, give or take a week, to know if a SCOBY is going to form. If it does, the next batch should go faster.

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