A Friend’s Rant

A facebook friend posted the following political statement that I found interesting. I have modified slightly (my changes in square brackets) I’m curious; post back what party you think this person supports. I really don’t care either way, but I am curious.

I have always been an open minded person who enjoyed debating politics and religion with people. I loved to hear different points of view. that has all recently changed. there has been a shift in politics that is scary to me. [My husband] and I go back and forth, he feels that good people can vote [hated political party] and I don’t think that is the case. you may on the surface seem good, go to church, give to charity but if you subscribe to the [hated political party] values you are not the kind of person I want to know. [My husband] says that people don’t have to believe in all the [hated political party] values but I feel that if you are voting that way you are voting for those values, all if them. as we look back in history do we not hold all who stood by and watched the Nazi party butcher millions of people with disdain? it’s not enough to say, I knew they were killing people but I didn’t believe in that, I just liked their [modern value being sneered at compared to the evils of Nazi Germany]. is this an extreme view of the situation? [My husband] feels it is but to me it is not. the [hated political party] leadership [does not agree with my views on marriage], they [don’t share my views on abortion] and worst of all they [don’t share other of my views on abortion]. they do not [agree with me about health care] and they are more concerned with keeping [hated party’s candidate] out of office than [some other thing I think would distract from this candidate’s failings]. I have officially drawn a line in the sand, if those are your values I really don’t need to know you.

Yes, my friend just compared supporters of [the hated political party’s candidate] to those who allowed Hitler to do his thing. Well, sort of. Hard not to read it that way, to me. In any case, I’m not sure whether to sigh in disbelief or cry in sadness over the self-congratulation that sees no issue in writing off all those who disagree to the point of making a different choice.

I hope I don’t get de-friended.

Posted in Religion and Government | 3 Comments

On Finishing Well

Well this isn’t good.

Today was a busy morning. I had about four of my ferments to rack (see progress note below…), so I got busy siphoning and the like. Busy in the kitchen, I was unaware what had transpired in my office. I decided I’d love some music upstairs, so ran to grab my bluetooth speakers from the office, and found a miserable sight.

I still never got the speakers. Sitting here in silence, typing, wondering if I should go get them. Nah.

There’s liquid all over the floor. And dribbling down the front of my desk, right in front of…Hmmm. Appears that one of the two bottles of my fig wine has blown its cork! Looks like it wasn’t done fermenting, as I had thought it was. I clean up the mess (forgetting the speakers in the process) and bring the uncorked bottle and the still-corked bottle upstairs. I could tell that if one bottle did this, it would only be a matter of time before the other did the same.

The Fig That Remains

I did taste test some of the still-in-bottle brew, and must say that it tastes good. Not perfect, and I believe time would help with that. It definitely still has a strong woody aftertaste, but the effects are not nearly so stark or long-lasting as before. It is sweet and bubbly and, well, yummy. Something I think Kim will definitely like. Well, would have liked…

So, having completed the racking of all my other babies, it is now time to uncork the bottle which has not spewed all but a third of its innards within my office. I’m slightly worried it might fizz a little – much like champagne. But nothing prepared me for the fountain of bubbles that escaped, throwing the entire corkscrew feet into the air and across the kitchen. Amazing what a bunch of teeny critters can do in a glass bottle.

That leaves me with two bottles now, each a third full of fig wine. I combine them into one and top off with distilled water. The wine itself is plenty sweet, so I don’t think I need to add any sugar. The sweetness is what got me in this mess in the first place, I suppose. I have now air-locked the lone survivor, and we will see what happens.

Moral of story: Yes, you can bottle without “finishing” your wine. At least, this is what I hear. But next time I am near my supply store – certainly before I bottle any of the remaining ferments, I will be picking up some finisher to make sure that whatever activity could be going on is put to an immediate and permanent rest.

A note on progress…
Yeah, I’ve been busy since I last posted – now with about 23 gallons of ferments going, including cherry wine (1G), apple wine (6G), muscadine wine (4G), peach-strawberry wine (3G), mead (5G), asian pear wine (1G), raisin wine (1G), mint wine (1G) and a table grape (Mar) wine (1G).

I also have a cinnamon-asian pear liqueur and a muscadine liqueur in the making.

And then there is the muscadine jelly (both red and bronze), pepper jelly, asian pear butter and apple sauce…

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A Busy Kitchen

We have been cooking like crazy today!

So far, we have 6 1/2 8 oz jars of a “Winey” Bronze Muscadine jelly, a bazillion Banana mini-muffins, a loaf (plus 6 muffins) of Apple-Chocolate chip bread and a medium sized peach cobbler. And we aren’t done yet! In the crock pot is about 6 quarts of Asian Pear Butter. Gotta use this fruit we before we lose this fruit!

Kim was the mastermind on the bread and muffins – I don’t bake much. I have been on the hook for fruit chopping throughout, though.

Last week we worked up 8 8oz jars of Muscadine jelly. That, and today’s jelly and pear butter, was largely with help from the site pickyourown.org. Now, trying to find something on that site is torture. But if you google for “pear butter” or “muscadine jelly”, you are brought right to recipes on the site. I haven’t found the input to output amounts to match reality yet, but I won’t suggest I’m a fruit or canning expert. So the help and direction has been greatly appreciated.

The “Winey” jelly comes from augmenting their recipe for jelly by adding about a cup of Muscadine wine to make up for a lack of juice from the Bronze muscadines. With the red muscadines, it seemed that jelling was no issue. With the bronze, though, I had to add a lot more pectin to get a semi-stable jell. I did mix things up part way through, though, order-wise. Maybe that had something to do with it. No idea.

Back to cooking – need to get the burgers off the grill!

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That’s A Lot Of Distilled Water…

Friday afternoon (yesterday), I ran up to Greenville to check out supplies at Grape & Grains, a local homebrew/wine supply shop. I browsed around for a bit, looking at the options. I had already checked online, and wasn’t seeing as rich an array of supplies. So finally I bugged the proprietor. He was kind and helpful, which I needed.

I was specifically interested in larger vessels – both for primary fermentation and secondary fermentation. I was also interested in getting more air-locks for some of these low-scale vessels I’ve been using. I considered getting sodium metabisulphite for later, but didn’t. I also had decided to get a hydrometer, which I did. Check. Oh, and a siphoning tube set for racking soon. Check.

Secondary fermenter I knew would be a carboy  – makes perfect sense. And glass, too. So I got a 6 gallon, glass carboy. Check. Primary fermenter – part of me just wanted a really big glass jug with a screw on top. I didn’t want plastic; I guess an unreasonable goal. My concern was safety, but I was assured that getting the food-grade plastic tub was a good idea, not a safety-concern. Sheer weight of fluids may crack the bottom eventually, though. So, I got the 6.9 gallon food-grade plastic tub with lid. Check.

I didn’t see any yeast around the shop, which I had seen online, but I just hadn’t looked far enough. In my mind I’m thinking mead. I really want to see honey ferment properly. So I was pointed to ICV D47, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I got two. One should be enough for the tub/carboy to test out mead. The other I can probably divide between maybe strawberries or peaches in a smaller quantity – though I need a vessel. Later.

So I have the vessels. I have wine yeast – not just bread yeast – and I have pears, lots of pears. What I don’t have is enough honey or water. Quick stop at Whole Foods in Greenville, then WalMart ($1.13 for distilled water from Whole Foods, really!?) and I’m set. 1 gallon of honey and 5 gallons of water, a 1:5 ratio since I’m adding fruit. Back home, we start mixing things up.   You can see the pictures below as things got started.

AFter assembling ingredients other than yeast, I checked the reading on my new hydrometer, a specific gravity of 1.060. Seems that people expect the SG to much greater than that, 1.085 up to even 1.160, though that is specifically stated for wine – maybe that only applies to grapes. That figure doesn’t take into account sugars from the solid pears. Hmmm. I could add more honey, I suppose.

Once everything was together, I stirred vigorously every fifteen minutes for the next 3 hours. Then, I sealed up the tub (with air-lock in place), and went to bed. Hadn’t yet seen any active bubbling, so a little concerned. Has something gone wrong?

No worries. This morning I found a happily bubbling pear mead. I stirred again, then resealed the tub. I’ll probably stir every 12 hours for the next day or two. So far not seeing any air-lock activity. But then again, I’ve been using solid-piece air-locks, not 3-piece – so I’m not sure what to expect from the 3-piece.

Pictures:

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Experiment #5

The Art of Fermentation had me all excited to try fermenting, and wild fermentation, at that. But honestly, I have no idea how mead should act. Or country wine. So experimenting with wild fermentation, by its very nature less “orderly” and more inconsistent, has been a bit frustrating. I wouldn’t say a single experiment has been wildly successful so far. The oddly tasting fig wine may come out okay in time, but I’m not so sure.

So, I decided to try yeast. We’ll play with wild fermentation when I have a better idea what wisdom and experience has been gleaned by others. Sort of backwards from how people figured things out over history. But no one said I had to reproduce that!

I had a whole bunch of cherries in the refrigerator, and not enough time to run to the city for the proper yeast. I had plenty of bread yeast, though. Yes, I know it won’t be great. But it will be something to compare against for the future. I wanted to do a mini-comparative analysis (limited by my access to fermentation vessels). I had no idea how much yeast to use, and was curious if volume would affect things. So I put together this little grid:

Vol\Yeast 1/2 tsp 1 tsp 1 1/2 tsp
 ~1 Quart

A

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup H2O
  • 1/2 tsp yeast

B

  •  1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup H2O
  • 1 tsp yeast
C

  •  1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup H2O
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  ~1.5L

D

  • 1 c sugar
  • 5 cup H2O
  • 1/2 tsp yeast

E

  • 1 c sugar
  • 5 cup H2O
  • 1 tsp yeast
 No Vessel
 ~3L  No Vessel

F

  • 2 c sugar
  • 10 cup H2O
  • 1 tsp yeast
 No Vessel

In retrospect, all of those are way too much yeast, probably.

Preparation went something like this: Cut all (dark sweet) cherries in half. Distribute into all jars (about a third of the jar’s volume). Pour sugar over cherries per grid, then shake to coat. You will notice that sugar to water ratio is not varying here. In the mean time, I boiled distilled water. Once the distilled water was boiling, I poured over the cherry sugar concoction and stirred vigorously. I covered each vessel with a tight lid, but loosely tightened. Then, I let this sit for 12 hours cooling down and pulling color and what-not from the cherries.

The next morning, the 12 hours having elapsed, I proceeded to add the yeast. The jars were still warm, but definitely not hot. That’s about as refined as I can make it; I didn’t use a thermometer. I added the yeast and stirred. Within minutes, all were foaming a bright pink mass. 5C produced truly excessive foam, which had to be stirred every couple minutes to keep from overflowing the vessel. 5A, B and E were also excessively foaming, though not anywhere near to the extent of 5C. 5D had minimal foaming while 5F foamed, but the foam stayed below the level of the solution. I stirred as necessary to reincorporate the foam.

After about three hours, 5B,C and E were were no longer frothing, but were producing gas bubbles. 5A and 5D were doing a mix of frothing and producing gas, while 5F was mostly just frothing still. Another two hours and all were no longer foaming, but producing gas visibly and with gusto.

I started this process on Aug 8th, so the yeast was added on the morning of the 9th. It is now the 11th, and all are still actively bubbling, though it is definitely slowing down across the board.

Because the yeast was so over the top, I’m not sure if I will see a noticeably different time for fermentation to “end”.  While early on there was a stark difference in color, e.g. 5C was a pink milkshake while 5D and 5F were thin reds, all are a deep, opaque red now, with 5C only slightly softer in hue. A couple more days, I expect fermentation will be over for this phase, and it will be time to rack into some other vessel. Whether I continue them in separation, or combine, I am not certain.

The whole time I have kept them covered, based on input from the web. I have since learned from browsing at the bookstore that bright light can significantly lighten the color, so probably for the best.

Overall, a much better experience. You can definitely see that something is happening. I don’t expect to get a dry wine out of this. The bread yeast are just not up to the task. So it likely won’t keep long.

For now, I’ll end with some pictures:

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Posted in Books, Fermentation | Tagged , | 2 Comments