Real Fermenting: October 2010

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hard Ginger Cider

Hello folks,

A current work in progress: speedy Ginger Hard Apple Cider. We started this on Thursday, and plan on drinking it today (Sunday). Again it is a pretty simple recipe, and we mostly made it because we wanted another 1-gallon narrow-neck jar as a secondary fermenter for our country wines.
To get the ginger flavor, Maddy chopped roughly 3-4 inches of gingerroot into matchsticks. She received a good old fashioned ginger eye-squirt for her troubles. That'll wake you up. Then we simmered that chopped fresh ginger in about 2 cups of apple juice (no preservatives!) for 30 mins or so. That made an extremely spicy decoction. We added the spicy juice to the regular juice in a wide-mouthed gallon jar (remember, we were cannibalizing the jar the juice came in, but you could use that jar). To that we added about a quarter (1/4) of a teaspoon of champagne yeast (Lanvin EC-1118). Champagne yeast is available at your friendly neighborhood homebrew store, or from the Internets. That yeast was just to speed things up to get it ready for the Oktoberfest event tonight. You could just leave it open to the air for a week or so and get similar results with wild yeast, I guess. I plan on finding out.

To recap:
Time: about 4 days
1. Boil 3-4" of peeled chopped ginger in 2c. apple juice.
2. Add decoction (including ginger pieces) to 1-gallon juice.
3. Stir in 1/4 tsp. champagne yeast.
4. Leave for four days in a warm room (we left it a propped open gas oven, so the pilot light would keep it comfortable), stirring when you remember.
5. Siphon into another jar (preferably one you can pour from easily) and strain out the ginger pieces.
6. Drink!

As with all these recipes, I think it is a good idea to taste them whenever you stir them. First, it gives you an idea of how things are developing. Second, it encourages you to stir it often, because you get a little tasty treat every time.

As of Saturday night, the cider had this wonderful crisp foam upon its surface. It is strongly gingery and has a clean, snappy ginger punch followed by a sweet, yeasty apple flavor. It is effervescent on the tongue and is clearly alcoholic. Can't wait for my pals to taste it tonight.

Prost!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

1st hard cider

This recipe couldn't be simpler (?). It comes pretty directly from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, like many of our recipes will. I cannot recommend this book too highly to you!

You buy a gallon of apple juice (AmE: apple cider) with no preservatives in it. It will probably be pasteurized. You take the lid off and cover the opening with cheesecloth, letting air (and yeast) in, but keeping bugs out. You leave it for a week. You drink.
So to re-cap:
Time: about 1 week
1. Buy apple juice.
2. Let it sit.
3. Drink.

Yeast falls in and feeds on the delicious sugars. The juice will get less sweet. The yeast also makes carbon dioxide. The juice will get frothy and effervescent. The yeast also makes alcohol. The juice will be hard, or alcoholic.
Yeast is a fungi which eats sugars and makes CO2 and alcohol as by-products of its metabolism. We also make CO2 when we metabolize sugars. Yeast is our friend. We found that if you actually just leave the cider, then mold can grow in lumps on the surface (unattractive to say the least). So we picked those out and stirred the cider twice a day or so after that. We don't currently have a way of measuring the alcoholic contents of our boozes, but I think those who partook would describe it as "deceptively strong".
For our first (drunk) attempt at alcohol, I am extremely happy. I do think we could have let it go harder still, because there were clearly still sugars remaining and the brew was clearly actively fermenting as we drank it. I had three or four 12oz glasses and felt no ill effects the morning after. No pictures for this one, as we drank it before the blog started...

L'chaim!

Fomenting

Hello folks,

Maddy and I have started fermenting a lot of different things just recently, and I wanted to make a record of our recipes, our successes and our failures. So far we have made hard cider, country wines, sourdough and sauerkraut.
I feel like we are experimenting, completely, but we are trying to be good experimenters in keeping records of our ad-hoc recipes and in documenting fully. Beautiful things about these kinds of experiment:
  • They are most often tasty.
  • They are most often cheap.
  • They use local ingredients.
  • Our friends and family can consume them, and enjoy them.
I am still working on the layout etc, so apologies if you find this hard to read. If you have any tips, let me know!

Cheers!