Ah, what a busy day today was! But back to figs and honey…
Let’s see, so far there are 4 experiments:
- Experiment #1 (honey and boiled tap water) is about to be dumped. It’s smelling off, and has as of yet done nothing – no bubbles, not even when shaken (other than the bubbles any liquid will seem to generate at first). We’ll see tomorrow, but my hopes aren’t high.
- Experiment #2 (honey and distilled water), up until today, has shown little progress, but has not created the wispy layer of gunk like Experiment #1 did. This afternoon, upon returning from home and doing the usual shake of the jar, copious amounts of foam were produced as the brew shed its gas. Still nothing visible produced when just sitting there, but I have higher hopes.
- Experiment #3 (distilled water, sugar and fresh figs) has been popping away, doing it’s thing, and staying an off shade of yellow-red. Today, upon afternoon inspection, it seemed to have stopped buzzing. So I decided to filter off the gunk in solution (it was never really settling anyway) and air lock it into “new” bottles.
- Filtering with a coffee filter was not a success. Cheesecloth was much more useful.
- Bottling was easy with a funnel. I used recycled wine bottles and was able to fill two of them (#3 is now #3a and #3b) with the mix. After filling the bottles, within minutes, fairly viscous yellow material filled the narrow necks, quite a stark contrast to the cloudy pink and bubbly remainder of the bottles. I was able to remove this yellow mass from both bottles using a straw and finger pressure. Was kind of worried that junk would solidify into a more solid plug and cause the bottles to blow!
- There was enough left over to sample, to fill up where the plug of “gunk” was removed in both bottles, and just a little more. Taste wise – quite sweet, noticeably alcoholic, with a woody/nutty taste that seems familiar, but I can’t put my finger on. Could stirring with a wooden spoon have leached the wood flavor into the mix? I’m doubtful since it is so strong a flavor. Maybe just the remnants of the fig itself.
- I may have been premature in moving the contents – the bottles are now shooting off CO2 as if they were soda. Good thing they are air-locked, rather than corked. It’s quite a sight to see (and much easier to see within the narrow neck of a wine bottle than the wide base of a 3L jar)!
- Experiment #4 (raw honey with distilled water) is doing about the same as #2 is (foam upon stirring/shaking), but has gotten there much faster, obviously. It started this foaming yesterday. I’d love to see one of these two do something more, but it seems not to be so far.
So from all of this we can gather a couple things. I don’t think I can use my tap water, even boiled, without some other chemical treatment like Campden tablets. That stinks. The original honey seems to have been cooked/processed, but this processing did not kill off all the yeast, only most, which allowed time to take its course and eventually still kick off some level of fermentation. Lastly, I need to find a much better way of getting the fig “essence” into the mix if I am going to use figs again…
I keep considering whether to do a more scientific comparison of samples of honey and water to test two things – rate as one adjusts the water to honey ratio, and rate as total volume changes. It would seem like a waste of honey, but I’m still interested. So maybe for the future. I’d like to know if higher volume (guessing more total yeast content, though same ratio) results in quicker times to kick off fermentation. And the honey to water content – well, seems that would affect the sweetness and alcohol content of the end product. Since I don’t have any of the tests needed to test for those, maybe I’ll leave this for another day when I have more success under my belt.
I’m out of air-locks, so before I can get too much further with anything new, I need to get more supplies. But tomorrow I think I will start primary fermentation of a sample (multiple?) of 1) cherries and sugar water and 2) strawberries and sugar water. Would like to test the same fruits with honey instead of sugar water, but until I feel more comfortable with the honey fermentation, I don’t want to waste the fruit and honey. I’ll be using some small amount of yeast to add in, since I can’t trust the store-bought fruit to have what it takes (it may, it may not, I just don’t know).
Maybe if I introduced some yeast into the honey at the start…