Archive for the ‘yeast’ Tag

05-30-2016 Journal – Sake & Memorial Day!   2 comments

I found myself awake much too early this morning for some unknown reason. I usually like to get moving around 7am but this morning I was awake at 4:45am and wondering why.  Yesterday was a nothing-special day and I had no pressing personal issues  preying on my mind . . . so why? I’ll probably never know but it sure is irritating.

Yesterday was a rainy and overcast day which kept me indoors most of the day.  I decided to get back to my home brewing tasks and to bottle my batch of Sake that’s been needing my attention for more than a week.

DSC_0031

I checked the bottles to be sure that fermentation had truly stopped. Once many years ago I bottled a batch of wine a little too early and was awakened in the middle of the night by exploding bottles.  I can’t have that happen again . . .  what a mess! Wine making isn’t as complicated as most people think but it does require a reasonable amount of common sense.  The minute you forget that fact you’re in trouble.  I began the  siphoning process which takes no time at all and everything went smoothly. 

DSC_0002

I decided against using the standard wine corks with this batch. These screw caps work just as well and require much less work for me.  It also makes reusing the bottles much easier and I won’t need to exhaust my limited supply of good wine corks.

DSC_0001

I was pleased with the overall look and clarity of the Sake and was able to fill twelve half bottles and seven additional full size bottles. More than enough to last me for quite some time.

DSC_0005

I was also able to save and store a pint and one half of the Sake yeast which will allow me to make numerous batches in the future and save me money at the same time.  It’s all about the yeast!

After the bottling was completed the better-half cooked up a delicious chicken and veggie stir-fry dinner. I cracked open our first bottle of the Sake, warmed it properly, and we toasted the great meal and the Memorial Day holiday. 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY

THANK A VET FOR THEIR SERVICE

SHOW THE FLAG

(And maybe drink some Sake too.)

03-19-2016 Journal–Green Wine & Sake!   Leave a comment

Spring Fever has slowly crept up on me and I seem to be firmly held in it’s grasp.  Garden fever has also arrived along with Lowe’s receiving their first Spring shipments of plants and seeds. It’s taking all of my willpower not to immediately run there and start buying stuff.  I’m trying to keep things under control for a while but it’s not easy.

And here’s a picture to prove to some of you that I actually did celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  It looks almost as good as it tasted:

DSCN0332
‘Green Chardonnay on Ice.’

With green wine in mind I thought I might start the Spring and Summer seasons properly by making my first batch of wine for 2016. In my continuing effort to stay "outside the box" and do new things I decided to make some Sake. It’s been a very long time since I’ve made any so I figured why not.  I did a quick inventory of my winemaking supplies and placed an online order for a few essentials.  They arrived within 48 hours which was perfect.  I then searched up a vendor to buy a case of 375 ml bottles and they’ll be here within a week.

Off to the food store to pickup eight pounds of raw rice, three pounds of white raisins, and a ten pound bag of sugar.  My recipe calls for a sherry yeast but I purchased a new product which is yeast specifically created for making Sake. This yeast will tolerate alcohol up to 16% or 32 proof for you amateurs out there.  It was a bit pricey but if I’m going to do this I should do it properly.

DSCN0345
Yesterday I began the process of crushing the rice and chopping the raisins. Along with a number of other ingredients my primary fermenter will hold what should eventually give me three gallons of excellent Sake. Here are a few photo’s of the prep.  The fermenter will sit for 48 hours after hot water is added and then the yeast will take over. Then I can kick back and wait while Mother Nature does her thing.

DSCN0335
‘Empty Fermenter’

DSCN0334

‘Bags of Chopped Raisins & Crushed Rice’

DSCN0336

‘This + Patience = 3 1/2 Gallons of Sake’

I can’t think of a better way to start my Spring season unless it’s a couple of thick and tasty T-Bone steaks on the grill. I’ll be setting our grill up on the deck this week and the steaks will be cooked as soon as possible after that. 

GOODBYE WINTER, HELLO SPRING

05-17-2014 Journal Entry-Dandelion Wine Day!   Leave a comment

My goal today is to give all of you a tip.  After you get to a certain age never, I repeat never, make dandelion wine. I know that sounds stupid but let me explain.  Over the years I’ve made dandelion wine a few times and it always tastes so incredibly good you might wonder why I’ve only made it a few times. The main reason is the amount of work that goes into making it.  It’s a labor intensive project that becomes more difficult as you age.

Yesterday I was out in the garden just walking around and happy to see that everything I’ve planted has broken ground and looking healthy.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts the garden is well underway and my batch of red wine is bubbling happily along. I knew I wanted to make a second batch of wine but really hadn’t decided what it would be.  As I was thinking and walking the mail lady pulled into my drive way with a package for me.  It was a small order of winemaking materials I recently ordered to replace what had been used on the red wine.  It must have been a sign from the wine drinking gods.

th4BCZV6LY

As I opened the box to check the order I glanced out the window and noticed that my yard was covered with freshly blooming dandelions.  I decided at that moment to make a batch of dandelion wine out of those blossoms found in my yard.  I should have had my head examined but foolishly prepared for the project anyway.

I dragged a plastic bag, a pair of latex gloves, and an already sore back into the yard and got to it.  Over the next hour I harvested a few thousand dandelion flowers and filled the bag to the top.  I started out just bending over to get the blossoms but the sorer my back became the more I thought about calling it a day. It wasn’t long before I was forced to my hands and knees to complete the collection process.  One of my latex gloves had torn and that hand was now a bright yellow that took some serious scrubbing to remove.  I now had the hands of a thirty-year smoker.

DSC_0001

I finished up and returned to the house to try and work out the kinks in my back and neck.  Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. I wanted to make at least three gallon of this wine which requires five full cups of petals per gallon. The next step was to sit on the deck for another two hours with with a fresh set of gloves and a huge glass of icy cold Sangria.  I sat there and slowly and meticulously began removing the petals from the stems.  With my hands painfully cramping I finally reached my goal of fifteen cups of dandelion petals.

DSC_0007

“Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab”

To make a long story short, I returned to my man-cave, gathered the remainder of the required ingredients and finally had the batch prepared.  I placed the blossoms into  two gallons of filtered water and boiled them for twenty minutes making a beautiful golden yellow liquid.  I added the other ingredients as well plus seven pounds of granulated sugar and allowed the mixture to cool.  That took a few hours and it wasn’t until after dark that I was able to finally able to add the yeast. 

DSC_0001-1_edited-1

If I’m lucking and barring any unforeseen catastrophes,  I should get at least 15-17 bottles of a gorgeous golden wine in approximately three and a half months.  Was it worth the effort? I’ll let you know as soon as I can use my hands again and I can bend over without screaming.

This had better be the best damn wine ever made.

05-15-2014 Journal Entry–Back to Work!   Leave a comment

After thoroughly enjoying my day-off and cruising around the area with my better-half it was once again back to work.  It seems that we’re finally free of the frost for this year so we I began planting the next group of plants which included black beans, green beans, wax beans and snap peas.  Any or all of these are delicious to eat fresh from the garden but they also can be canned without losing their flavor.  Normally we use them as part of the vegetable mixes we make for use through the Winter in stir-fry’s.

DSC_0003

The vegetable mixes are usually the last thing we do before closing down the garden.  The mix can contain any number of veggies that are left over at summers end. We try to make a number of different assortments as you can see by the photo’s.

DSC_0025

The better-half has been trying unsuccessfully for years to grow gourds.  She gives them a great start in the house under glass as you can see. Then they are moved to the cold frames before final planting. We decided this year to move some of the gourds out of the garden to a spot closer to the house where they can get sun and be better protected from the weather.  We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best one more time.  In my opinion it’ll take a minor miracle to get them to grow large enough to produce anything useful. She’s forever the optimistic and is certain it’ll work this year. Half full is her manta in all things.

DSC_0036

I wanted to plant the jalapeños and cayenne peppers but stopped myself.  As a rule peppers do best when they have warm nights so I decided to wait another week or two. I’ll be able then to put the cucumbers, zucchini, and squash in and finally be done with the garden planting. So for now they remain in the cold frame.

DSC_0031

My winemaking efforts continue and that red wine I mentioned in an earlier post has completed it’s hard fermentation and moved into glass jugs and sealed with air locks.  It’s now just a wait of a few months for the jugs to clear.  Eventually gravity will cause all of the yeast to drop to the bottom of the jugs and I can siphon off the clear and finished wine.  I have to say I love the smell of yeast and wine when it’s fermenting.  I wish some company could bottle that smell because I’d make sure my man-cave was always filled with that fragrance.

DSC_0004

While I was cleaning and organizing my man-cave I was pleasantly surprised to find this bottle of wine.

DSC_0006

This is a bottle of blackberry wine that I made back in 1986.  I’ve recorked it a few times over the years and each time I’ve taken a small taste.  It’s pretty potent after all those years but I think I’ll put it back in storage for a few more years before I try it again.

05-11-2014 Journal Entry–Red Wine and Smelly Compost   Leave a comment

I really seem to be getting readjusted to this warm Spring weather.  Yesterday was in the low seventies for the first time in almost seven months and I was loving it.  I actually wore a pair shorts for the first time and got a little tan on my legs and they were loving that. I’m still working on the garden but the yard work took precedence this week.  Being the dedicated and well trained slave that I am, I was able to make short work of the grass cutting.

DSC_0012

Once that was finished I took on the semi-unpleasant task of organizing my compost pile.  Some of you have little or no idea what I’m referring to so let me explain.  It’s a gigantic pile of decomposing organic material collected by me over the last few years from yard clean-ups and grass clippings.  It’s smelly and disgusting but it’s what makes the garden grow as well as it does.  Each Fall I cover the garden with it and then plow it under. That gives most of the nutrients time to leech into the soil and reinvigorate it before Spring. Each summer’s garden uses up a great deal of the existing soil nutrients and they must be replaced.

DSC_0019

It’s also very important to never plant the same plants in the same area two years in a row.  You’ve got to switch it up a little because individual plants requires different sets of nutrients to thrive.  In my experience that doesn’t always apply to herbs. They seem to grow well in just about any soil and require little of no fertilizer.  The only issue I’ve had with herbs is that some do poorly if planted near certain others.  Also, if you plant mints such as oregano, catnip, or spearmint too close together they cross pollinate and their specific scents become diluted.

DSC_0015

Once the mowing and composting was completed I decided to do something I really enjoy which is set up my first batch of wine for 2014.  I decided to make a nice semi-sweet red wine out of Concord grapes.  I mixed the grape concentrate, acid blend, yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and four and a half pounds of sugar into three and a half gallons of filtered water and set it aside.  I then set up what’s called a yeast starter.  It’s two packets of brewers yeast dissolved in luke-warm water with one cup of sugar. I let the yeast activate for a couple of hours before mixing it into the the fermenter with the grape concentrate.

DSC_0003

Now it’s sit back for a week to let the yeast eat up all that good sugar and create the proper level of alcohol for the wine. Sometime in early August if all goes well I should have approximately sixteen bottles of a beautiful ruby red grape wine.

DSC_0004-1

I normally prefer making fruit wines because getting the ingredients is much easier that coming up with a quantity of grapes.  Grapes are expensive and the processing of them into a usable form is time consuming and annoying. Using a simple grape concentrate is much more affordable and makes a better quality wine (in my opinion).  This batch will end up costing me approximately $2.00 a bottle including the cost of the bottle and cork. Not too bad for a small amount of work and a month or two of monitoring and tweaking the batch.  I’m already planning a second batch for this year if I can find someone nearby with a Mountain Ash tree.  The orange berries from that tree make a smooth and tasty white wine that is to die for. I’ll keep you posted.

%d bloggers like this: