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Cranberry Pomegranate Cider

August 6, 2017

CranberryPomCider1-1I’m starting to think that pumping up the ABV with honey is what causes oddball flavors in my concoctions. I’m going back to basics this time, no added sugar or honey.

Wheatsville only had 2 gallons of apple juice so I also bought a gallon of Knudson’s cranberry pomegranate juice. Like most juice blends this is mostly apple juice so this should be a nice, simple hard cider. Total cost of ingredients for 3 gallons is $40.

For yeast I’m using reclaimed champagne and red wine yeasts. The red wine yeast is from my recent experimental batches so I’m sure it’s potent and active. The champagne was reclaimed back in March I think so I’m not sure of its potency.

  • 2 gallons organic apple juice, $18
  • 1 gallon organic Knudsons cranberry pomegranate juice, $12
  • Yeast: Red Star Premier Rouge Wine Yeast and Red Star Premier Blanc (Pasteur) Chapagne Dry Wine, < 2$, reclaimed from prior batches.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pectin enzyme
  • 1 teaspoon LD Carlson Yeast Energizer

I kickstarted the yeast yesterday in a mixture of the same juices overnight. It’s bubbling away quite happily.

Brew Log

  • 2017-08-13: Racked it to a carboy. The must is pretty tasty, seems promising. I’m hoping it turns out like the bottle of mixed cranberrry and regular cyser from Cyser Experiments.

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Mango Cyser

July 3, 2017

Racked to a carboy 2017-07-16. Fingers crossed!

Racked to a carboy 2017-07-16. Fingers crossed!

Just seems wrong to have empty carboys sitting around. Brew time!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 quarts mango puree from SoCo Homebrew
  • 8 1/2 quarts apple juice
  • 2 quarts Clover honey. 6.5 or 7 lbs?
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon DAP yeast energizer
  • OG: 1.124, potential alcohol 14.96%

Yeast starter: White labs mead yeast, 1/4 teaspoon DAP, 3 cups apple juice (3/4 quart). This is reclaimed yeast from my mead batch. Not sure why I used mead yeast for this… :shrug:

Headed to 145° F then cooled slow-ish… didn’t feel like buying ice this time. Set the pot in cold water in the sink and changed it a couple times. Transferred to a primary fermentation bucket.

For secondary fermentation, I’m thinking of adding more mango. Chunks? Puree? I need to read about this.

Brew Log

  • 2017-07-04: I was impatient last night and pitched my yeast before I proofed the starter. Also the must was warmer than the pros say it should be… about 70° F. Bah. Anyhoo, this AM it was bubbling away so it looks like it’s all good. I swirled it a bunch to oxygenate and de-gas so the yeast will multiply really well before switching to anaerobic mode.
  • 2017-07-04: Later today our air conditioning broke down and was out for almost 2 days so the batch was subjected to 90° F temperatures. Not good! The primary fermentation was still in full swing, bubbling away during and after we got things cooled back down to 75° F. I’m hoping this didn’t stress the yeast and make it produce nasty flavors.
  • 2017-07-09: Racked the batch into a clean bucket. Didn’t keep the yeast this time b/c of the heat ordeal it went through. I juiced 4 mangos and added it to the batch for secondary fermentation. The “juice” is more like thick pulp… mangoes are weird. I punched it down over the next few days but bubble activity ceased after only 2 days. Either the mangos didn’t add much sugar to keep the yeast busy or it was weakened by the heat up last week. I’ll rack it again next weekend and put it in glass to condition it for a month or so.
  • 2017-07-16: Racked it. Cloudy as all get out. Just hoping the A/C failure didn’t ruin it.
  • 2017-08-06: Racked it and tasted it… it has subtle mango notes but also something off… maybe yeast? Anyhoo, I’m going to add some gelatin to clarify it then rack it to bottles for a few weeks of conditioning.
  • 2017-08-14: I never did add the gelatin. It’s starting to clear but still pretty cloudy.. ah! I didn’t add pectin enzyme when I added mango for the 2nd ferment. Not sure if that is common practice or not. I put it in the wine fridge to cold shock the yeast… get to flocculatin’ you critters! If that works I’ll go to bottles.

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Cyser Experiments

June 25, 2017

Experiments-1OK, I’ve had success with my other attempts… time to iterate!

Each batch below also has 1/2 teaspoon DAP yeast nutrient, 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme, and enough apple juice to top off a 1-gallon jug.

I’m using a new yeast this time, a plain old RedStar Pasteur Red. It has a reputation for promoting fruity esters in wines and also some residual sweetness so it should be a good match for these. Also, it is very cheap. 😉

Carrot Ginger Turmeric

Who knows? Could be amazing. Gorgeous color!

  • 16 oz honey
  • 32 oz Knudsons Carrot Ginger Turmeric juice
  • OSG: 1.085 @ 71 F, 11.1% potential ABV

Experiments-2Cranberry

Apple, cranberry, and honey seem like a natural combination to me.

  • 10 oz honey… whups, meant to do 1 lb but forgot.
  • 32 oz Knudsons cranberry juice
  • OSG: 1.076 @ 71 F, 10% potential ABV

Interestingly, this batch developed a layer of sediment at the bottom after only a couple hours on the countertop. I’m wondering if this is the pH level… I had planned to check this for all the batches but I forgot. I’ll do it when I rack them, assuming that primary fermentation is successful.

Plain Cyser

I want to see what changes when only the yeast is different.

  • 16 oz honey
  • OSG: 1.091 @ 71 F, 11.9% potential ABV

cyzer-experiments-3Notes / Log

  • 2017-06-25: Checked temperature today, all are at 69 F. Interestingly, the cranberry is actually about 1 degree warmer.
  • 2017-07-03: Racked them all and added apple juice to top them off… say about a cup each. I haven’t ever done that before… I figured it will help pump up the apple flavors and and provide for a nice long secondary fermentation. Will reduce the ABV a bit since all these batches had added honey. The carrot and cranberry batches are fairly clear compared to the plain apple cyser. The cyser also had more foaming going on still where the other two had slowed way down. Heh, I forgot to check the pH on them, I wanted to do that to see if the cranberry was unusually acidic. Whups! I’ll check it at the next racking in a month or so.
  • 2017-07-05: Our air conditioning went out for almost 2 days so all in-progress brewing was subjected to 90° F temperatures. I’m not too worried about these b/c the primary fermentation was already done.
  • 2017-07-16: Bottled them all and put ’em in a box. So pretty! We tasted a bit of all three. Lynell did not like any of them. :) I like the cranberry a lot, the carrot is interesting and tasty, and the plain old cyser is pretty boring. We’ll see what happens after a couple months or so. I bought some sulphate to keep them from getting fizzy but in the end I decided I still don’t wanna mess with sulphites. So these are all organic which means it’s healthy! Drink all you want! Right?

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Yucatán Quick Pickled Red Onions

June 17, 2017

My buddy Greg sent me this recipe… time to venture into the unexplored world of vinegar pickles! I’m really interested to see the color change.

I used pickle weights to keep all the onion underneath the brine where it belongs.

http://www.thehungryhounds.com/blog/2015/4/25/quick-pickled-mexican-red-onions

EscabecheDeCebolla

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Mead 1

June 3, 2017

Mead1-1I’m trying a plain old mead so I can compare it with cyser, the cider/mead hybrid. Also trying a new yeast. I wanted to get it going really well before pitching into the must. Time to do my first yeast starter!

A yeast starter increases the amount of yeast you pitch so it gets going really vigorously. Happier, healthier yeast = full fermentation with fewer off flavors. I started to use http://www.meadmakr.com/batch-buildr/ to calculate how much honey to use but read that honey is nutrient deficient. Decided to do my first yeast starter with apple juice. I used this recipe from WYeast for the starter: 1qt apple juice, 1pack yeast, 1/4 tsp yeast energizer, 1/8 tsp pectin enzyme

I’m also starting an IPA tomorrow so I’ll do a yeast starter for that while I’m at it. I wonder if the apple juice starter will tweak it much?

Mead

OSG: 1.124

Mead1-2Yeast: White Labs’ Sweet Mead Wine

Honey doesn’t have all the nutrients needed for yeast (like nitrogen) so you have to add things. I don’t want to measure the SG a bunch to find the 1/3 sugar break so I’ll just use a simplified approximate schedule. Converting to 3 gallon batch amounts with (3 / 5 * 5 gal grams). Stirring and swirling is to de-gas the must, releasing CO2 from the liquid.

  • Day 0 : stir and add 2.7 g of Fermaid K and DAP
  • Day 1: swirl
  • Day 2: stir and add 1.7g Fermaid K and 1.7g DAP
  • Day 3: swirl
  • Day 4: stir and add 1.1g Fermaid-K and 1.1g DAP just swirled again

Brew Log

  • 2017-06-11: Racked it. Quite cloudy, looks like this mead yeast from White Labs has low flocculation like the champagne yeast I’ve used. I’ll give it another week or two then chill it in the wine fridge for the yeast to drop out.
  • 2017-06-25: Racked it. Still really cloudy! It’s been putting out slow bubbles too, seems like mead has a long tail of fermenting. I’m harvesting the yeast for use in a future batch, it’s in a honey jar with spring water to separate and clean it.
  • 2017-07-04: Later today our air conditioning broke down and was out for almost 2 days so the batch was subjected to 90° F temperatures. Not good!
  • 2017-07-09: The color is very dark now. There were white floaters on top and I was worried about mold. Many many people said don’t worry, just rack it from the bottom so that’s what I did.
  • 2017-08-06: Racked gain. Tasted it, quite sweet! Maybe the fermentation didn’t go all the way in this one or perhaps it takes weeks and weeks to finish out. Anyhoo, no signs of white floaters so it seems all is well.

ipa-1SoCo Town Lake IPA

‘Nell wanted an IPA beer so I’m giving it a go. This is a recipe from SoCo Homebrew. The boil was complex, adding hops at 4 different times. Now though it’s just waiting and watch the bucket, 2-3 weeks until it’s ready.

OSG: 1.055

Yeast: White Labs’ California Ale

Brew Log

  • 2017-06-25: Bottled it! A week or so to carbonate and it will be ready.
  • 2017-08-14: Lynell loves this beer, says it’s better than anything she’s bought in the store. I’ll have to try it again sometime.

 

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Apple Wine 2

May 20, 2017

Mead1-2Ingedients

  • 2 gallons apple juice
  • 2 quarts blueberry pomegranate juice (sweetened with apple)
  • 2 lb honey with enough water to make 2 quarts.
  • 1 additional quart water to compensate for racking loss.
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 ½ tsp pectin enzyme
  • Yeast: Red Star Premier Blanc (champagne)

Notes

  • OSG: 1.074. If FSG is 0.99 then 11.03% ABV
  • 2015-05-28: FSG: 0.998. ABV: 9.98%

Log

  • Stir each day for 4 days to aerate the yeast during aerobic phase.
    • 2017-05-22 Stirred with lid off. Heh, didn’t keep up with my plan.
  • Has been very low activity for this entire time, wondering if it’s a busted batch. Asked my buddy David di Blasio, he says sometimes the yeast will chew up all the sugar super fast. Suggested to measure with hydrometer to check if primary fermentation is done. I think I have been letting primary fermentation continue too long. This source says to rack it at 1.005 SG, I’ve been waiting until activity stops, usually < 1.0 SG.
  • 2015-05-28: Very low gas activity.
    • I bought a wine thief for easier SG measurement. Turns out it’s too tall for these 3 gallon batches, had to use a baster to fill up the rest of the tube so I could float the hydrometer.
    • FG = 0.998. ABV: 9.98% – slightly egg-ey smell. Racking it.
    • Tasting notes…
      • Nell: Can’t describe it.
      • Morg: Very neutral, hardly any flavor to describe. Some apple notes in the back of my tongue. Maybe this one will be a good candidate for flavoring. Using the blueberry pomegranate juice seems pointless, can’t tell if there is any difference in taste from plain cider sweetened with honey.
  • AppleWine1-22015-06-03: Racked to two 1 gallon jugs.
    • Tasting notes…
      • Nell: Aack, there’s some kind of sharp, off flavor, hits me right in the mouth.
      • Morg: Still very neutral to me. Drinkable but not much flavor overall.
    • Going to try adding blackberry extract to 300 ml gradually and tasting along the way.
      • 0.1 ml – 0.5 ml – No taste
      • 0.8 ml, 1 drop stevia – I like the little bit of sweet. Still can’t taste the blackberry.
      • 1.0 ml, 1 drop stevia. I did a comparison with a sample of the unflavored bit. This is definitely better. Going to stop adding stuff b/c right now it’s competing with that off flavor… now I can tell what Lynell meant. There is a heavy sharp flavor on the tongue. Folks say to let the brew sit for a couple months to mellow out any off flavors. I don’t want the flavoring to overpower it.
      • 1 gallon is 3785 ml. So… 1/300 * 3785 = 12.6 ml of flavoring, 12 drops stevia.

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Cyser 1

May 13, 2017

Cyser1Just heard of Cyser, a cider and mead hybrid. Giving it a try. My buddy Gary came over to help.

Ingredients

  • 1 gal water
  • 1 gal organic apple juice – $8
  • 5.5 lb local wildflower honey – $35
  • ½ tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast energizer
  • Yeast: Red Star Premier Blanc (champagne) – $1
    • Research: This is a low flocculation yeast. Interested in finding a high ABV, high flocculation yeast.

Notes

  • OG: 1.118 @ 98 F, 14.96% potential alcohol
  • 2015-05-28: FG = 0.998, 15.75% ABV. Punchy!

Log

  • Cooled to ~80 F before pitching yeast. Should I have cooled it further? Forums suggest yes, saying that apples can produce icky fusel alcohols at higher temps. Crap.
    • This source suggests when in doubt, use temps for white wine with mead. Crap. OK, moved it to the brew closet where temps run lower.
  • Prior to pitching, mixed dry yeast with 2c of must. Whisked vigorously. After adding to the must, stirred the whole shebang vigorously with a spoon to aerate.
  • 2017-05-14: Swirled with airlock on.
  • 2017-05-19 Swirled with the airlock on. Then I read things about it. Doh! Aeration/oxygenation only recommended to ⅓ of sugars consumed. Swirling with airlock on doesn’t add oxygen. I’m such a newb.
    • “Aerate the Must a couple of times a day for the first three days by using an aeration stone, shaking, or stirring with a Lees stirrer.”
    • Lesson Learned: Do primary fermentation in a bucket. Tough to do aeration in a carboy. If I use solid fruit in the future, must be “punched down” periodically to avoid mold and CO2 buildup.
    • “Check on it every couple of days to see how active the bubbling is.  As soon as it slows to approximately 1 bubble every 30 seconds, it is ready to move onto the next stage – Racking.”
    • Racking: “It is absolutely vital that the Mead not be mixed with too much air during racking as this will introduce oxygen that will affect the flavor.”
    • “If you intend to rack onto fruit, spices, oak, sulfites, sorbates etc., add them to the secondary fermenter before racking the Mead.”
  • 2017-05-23: Racked into clean carboy. Moved to kitchen the morning prior to ensure yeast settled as much as possible.
  • Going to try cold-crashing for clarification. 3 gal carboy fits in wine fridge! Read more about this, don’t want to do it until I’m ready to bottle. I think I’ll rack to 1 gallon jugs at that point so more can fit in the wine fridge.
  • Cyser1-22015-05-28: FG = 0.998. 
    • Tasting notes:
    • Nell: Goes right to top of palatte, into the nose. Can taste the achohol. Definitely a sipping thing, seems very potent. In between a fruity and a floral.
    • Morg: Smells lightly floral, slightly sweet, lightly sour. Added one drop stevia to 1 oz, now ‘Nell says it’s too sweet. I kind of like it though.
  • 2016-06-03: It’s almost completely clear now after a ride in the fridge. Lovely! Tasted it and I like it a lot. Sparkly and bright. Racked it into two 1 gallon jugs. Going to let it sit and mellow for a couple months.
  • 2016-06-11: Transferred one gallon into bottles with priming sugar to make ’em fizzy.
  • 2016-06-16: I suck at waiting and I wanted to see if I could take a bottle to a dinner party to opened one up. Completely flat! Also lost some of the flavor I liked a couple weeks ago. It seems I did a really good job of getting all the yeast out of there. Dang! Alrighty then, I’m going to force myself to wait until August and then use this method to prime the bottles with yeast: http://www.brewerylane.com/wine/sparkling-wine-champagne-method.html

 

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Daikon Radish Pickles

April 30, 2017

Fdaikon-pickleinally sharing some of my pickle adventures in detail so others can try things out.

  • 1 cup daikon radish sticks
  • 1 cup carrot sticks
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • sea salt
  • spring water

Peel the radish and carrots then cut into sticks. Put about 6 cloves of garlic into the bottom of a clean 1 qt canning jar and pack it full of daikon and carrot. You want about 3/4 daikon and 1/4 carrot. Pack it up to about 2″ from the top.

Put the cumin and peppercorns in a re-usable tea bag, tie it tight, and put it on top of the carrot/daikon.

We want a 4% salt solution. This is really easy using metric measures…

Fill the jar to the brim with spring water. Pour the water out into a measuring cup that has milliliter markings. Divide the milliliters 100 and multiply by 4… that’s how many grams of salt you need.

Add the sea salt to the water and mix vigorously. Pour it into your jar, stopping about 1 1/2 inches from the top.

PickleCupStick one of these pickling cups in the top. I like them much better than glass weights b/c they are also a reservoir for brine that spills over due to fermentation bubbling. They also do a much better job of keeping the veg below the surface. Add a bit more liquid until the top of the brine is slightly higher than the bottom of the cup. Screw on an airlock lid.

Put the jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. It’s a good idea to set it in a bowl for the first week in case of overflow or sputtering. Check it every day for the first week to make sure the vegetables are completely covered with brine. Bubbling pushes brine up into the cup so just open it up and pour the brine back in. After the first week you can just check every few days.

Give it a couple weeks and start tasting! When it reaches the level of sourness, acidity, and crunch that you like put a regular lid on the jar and tuck it in the fridge.

Airlock lids I’ve used…

  • FermentEm – Works great! Not suitable for sauerkraut b/c kraut will spill over.
  • Pickle Pipe – Works well. Requires mason jar rings and these will rust from pickle brine contact.
  • “Twin Bubble” airlocks – Not a big fan. PITA to fill it and monitor water level. However, best for sauerkraut b/c the waterless locks spit and sputter with kraut. When I need more I’ll buy lids with this type of lock, easy to fill and mechanically simple.

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Apple Wine 1

March 5, 2017

Ingredients

  • 15 lb Fuji apples – $22.50
  • 2 gal organic apple juice – $18.00
  • 8 oz date sugar
  • Yeast: Red Star Premier Blanc (champagne, up to 17% alcohol) – $1.00

Notes

Why secondary fermenter?  To get it off the “trub”, e.g. dead/dormant yeast, which can cause unwanted flavors.

AppleWine1-1

Fining

  • Eggshell! Bake at 300 degrees, crumble into the wine, wait 5 days, rack it. Wait a month.
  • UPDATE: Didn’t do squat! Probably clouding from set pectin during pasteurization.
  • Tried gelatin. Recommends 0.5 – 1.5 tsp. Water X 25 by weight. Soak in cold water then heat until almost boiling.
  • UPDATE: Still cloudy! Need pectin enzyme.

Plan

  • 12D, March 18. Rack into secondary. Wait ~2 weeks.
  • D, April 3. Eggshell treatment. Wait ~5 days.
  • D, April 9. Rack into conditioning. Wait 2 weeks.
  • D, April 23. Taste. Bottle it?
  • Hrm… did not take notes. Dates drifted.

Review

Initially, we did not like it much. After repeat exposure though we began to like it…. even Lynell!. It’s very dry as desired but also sour. After the last racking, I put the jugs and growlers into the wine fridge at ~47 F. Seemed to improve the taste but remains very cloudy.

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A simple lightweight charging dock

March 20, 2016

Kathy P suggested a craft day so we all gathered on the back porch to make useful messes.

2016-03-12 15.37.02

Lynell painted a birdhouse, Kathy worked on her paper mache angel fish, and I made a wireless charging cradle.

2016-03-12 15.37.16 2016-03-12 15.37.26
2016-03-13 18.05.28 2016-03-13 18.06.17

 

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