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Nettle Beer

Nettle beer

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: painful
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Ingredients
* a whole lot of nettle tips (about 0.8-1kg)
* up to 2 gallons boiling water
* 600 g golden caster sugar
* 1 lemon
* brewer’s yeast
Nettle beer

20 bottles of nettle beer for bottle conditioning

I need to emphasize how experimental this recipe is, as it hasn’t yet been tested and won’t be until the weekend. Then I’ll be able to give a better idea of what it produces, whether it’s drinkable, and whether it’s worth doing. Until then a few notes:

  • gloves are vital, long gloves, sturdy trousers, preferably armour if you can get it
  • unlike harvesting dandelions, getting enough nettles takes a long time
  • the nettles can be frozen quite happily

I think that covers the important points. Now for the recipe itself. All we did was gather the nettles, bring them home and rinse them quickly (cursing a little at stings), then throw them in boiling water. Added the sugar, juice of one lemon (and the two lemon halves as well) and allowed to simmer for about half an hour. After that the whole mess was poured into our 2 gallon must bucket and allowed to cool overnight.

The next day we skimmed out the nettles and lemon halves (giving a good squeeze to get the liquid out) and a little sugar and yeast was combined with water to activate it, then poured in. Again it was left overnight (this is the experimental bit – normally I’d bottle straight away but since I’m trying to avoid explosions, and have the bottles last for a few days outside refrigeration, I’m trying to let most of the fermentation get out of the way before bottling, in the hopes that the next couple of days won’t cause enough pressure to build up for detonation but will allow enough for a nice fizz).

I will say that the result does look quite good at least, a nice clear golden colour with a touch of green to it. Whether it lives up to my hopes or not I’ll be able to report back on Tuesday.

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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Beer, Experimental, Foraging, Nettles, Recipe

 

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Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold Brewed Death Wish

Ingredients
* 100 g coarse ground Death Wish coffee
* up to 2L water
Death Wish Coffee, The World's Strongest Coffee

Death Wish Coffee: The World’s Strongest Coffee – this is an Amazon affiliate link

And now for something completely different. Or a little different anyway. Like many people I’m a big fan of coffee. Not an addict, despite the twitches and headaches when I don’t get my daily dose. Definitely not an addict. Nope. Never.

But recently, and I have no idea why I’ve never come across it before, I discovered something called cold brewed coffee (also known as Dutch coffee, Kyoto coffee or sometimes toddy coffee). This seems to be quite a big thing, with specialist equipment, alchemy-workshop type setups and all sorts of other bits and pieces being available. So naturally I decided, in my amateurish and rather haphazard way, to give it a shot.

It works. It gives a really nice coffee concentrate that keeps well, works brilliantly as a quick shot in the morning to wake you up (a very strong shot, I understand why people talk about diluting it now), is much sweeter and less acidic, and so, so easy to make. Really, I can’t express how easy it has been. Well, actually I can.

I’ve been making it using Death Wish coffee. For those who haven’t heard of it this is supposedly one of the strongest coffees you can get. All I can say is that I love the stuff and highly recommend it to any other caffeine aficionados. I’ve also skipped all of the complex preparation, straining, and most of the filtering to come up with my own method. It’s rather simple. Any other beans will work, but if you’re basically looking for the coffee version of an adrenaline injection to the heart then Death Wish is probably the one to go for.

First take 100 g of coarse ground coffee beans. Then take a big preserve jar, jug, or whatever else you have lying around that can hold two litres and be covered. I’m using a 2 quart preserve jar which is working fine. Put the ground coffee into the jar. Top it up with water and close it up. Leave the whole thing for 14 hours or so, then pour it (slowly) through a funnel lined with a normal paper coffee filter into one or more bottles.

That’s it. Use it as a coffee syrup, cooking ingredient, wake-me-up shot undiluted, very strong coffee diluted about 1:1 with water, slightly less strong 2:1. Use hot water if you prefer your coffee hot (though I’ve started to take a liking to it cold), pour over ice if you like it iced, whatever you want.

There are much more advanced, complex details available all over the place online for those who want to put in the time and effort, but for those like me who want a simple life this works just fine.

And for anyone worrying that I’m drifting away from my brewing obsession, I am thinking carefully about how to turn some of this into a coffee wine.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Coffee, Recipe

 

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Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot label

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
* 2 kg cooked but not pickled beetroot
* 2 kg sugar
* water to 1 gallon
* some grated ginger
* wine yeast
* yeast nutrient

I’m getting fond of colourful wines recently – something other than the usual red or yellow colours. I feel it makes them stand out a little, and gives a little variety to the (now full) wine rack, and the stacks of more wine beside it. So when I discovered that beetroot is supposed to make a lovely pink wine (although turning brown if left in a clear bottle in sunlight – so dark bottles in a dark place it is) I had to add it to the list. I’ve not actually made this one yet, but when I do this’ll be the recipe.

Slice the beetroots into itty bitty bits (or largish slices, it doesn’t really matter) and throw them into a big pot to simmer with the water. Adding the sugar and ginger at this point won’t hurt either, as the ginger will add a bit of warmth and the sugar will dissolve. Leave to simmer for an hour or so, then take off the heat and allow to soak overnight.

The next day add the yeast nutrient and yeast. Cover, and leave overnight again. Finally rack into demijohns (with a siphon, or through a cloth to avoid bringing across too much sediment) and allow to bubble away quietly for a while, racking regularly and keeping in a nice dark place. When ready, bottle it up and enjoy.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Experimental, Recipe, Wine

 

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Heritage Carrot Wine

Basic Spirit Mix

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
* 2 kg bright purple heritage carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 kg castor sugar
* water to two gallons
* wine yeast
* yeast nutrient

While walking through town last weekend we found that our local food stall was selling carrots. Purple carrots. Naturally on seeing these heritage carrots (I’ve heard of them, but never actually had a chance to try them) my immediate thought was ‘I bet those would make great wine’.

Purple carrot wine

Bubbling away very enthusiastically still

It has been suggested that my priorities may be slightly off, and some people would have wondered how these organic heritage carrots would taste as a foodstuff. I dispute this, as the evidence so far is that they will indeed make very interesting wine. It’s certainly colourful, though I was hoping for a more distinct purple out of the mix.

The recipe itself is very simple. Get a big pot. Put in lots of water and throw in the chopped carrots, as if you’re going to cook them. Simmer gently, and keep simmering for a few hours. Throw in the sugar at some point as well, as it’ll dissolve nicely.

Once you’re fed up of the smell of boiling carrots, let the whole mess cool and pour it into a must bucket. Top up to two gallons, throw in your yeast starter and nutrient, cover the bucket and leave for a couple of nights. After that you should have a nice froth on top of the bucket – siphon the liquid into two demijons, top off with an airlock apiece, sit back and listen to it bubble away happily. Wonder curiously about how it’ll taste.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Ingredients, Recipe, Wine

 

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Mushroom Wine – An Acquired Taste

Mushroom wine

Gorgeous color, questionable flavour

Sometimes you taste a wine, particularly a home-made one, and just think ‘dear god, what is this toxic waste’.

This one wasn’t, and isn’t, that bad but is definitely an acquired taste. I won’t be trying to taste it again for at least a year or so, in the hopes that a bit of aging will mellow it (I suspect it will).

It’s not that the wine’s unpleasant, though my assistant was most assuredly not a fan, it’s just…mushroomy. And mushroomy-ness is not necessarily something you expect in a wine. Despite this I hold out high hopes for the aging killing some of the mushroom soup flavour. If the flavour’s softened a little I can see this turning out extremely pleasant. If not…maybe salad dressing or something?

I will be attempting mushroom wine again but will be trying it with different mushrooms, and maybe some other juices to add a few extra layers. It won’t be high on my priority list (still got the beetroot to make after all), but it’s up there. Next to be bottled is the parsnip, the pineapple rum experiment, and the experimental mead-spirit mixing. Wish me luck.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Bottling, Experimental, Tasting

 

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Kvas

Simple Kvas Recipe

  • Servings: 5 litres
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
* 1/2 kg rye bread
* water to 1 gallon
* bread or brewer’s yeast
* 1 small cup sugar
* 1 fistful raisins or other fruit (anything can be used to flavour, but raisins are traditional apparently)

By User Grant on ru.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By User Grant on ru.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kvas is a popular Eastern European drink with a very long history, along the same length of time as beer or cider. Despite this, and its interesting flavour, it’s not particularly well-known outside of Eastern Europe. It is, however, very easy to make and something I recommend trying at least once.

First let the bread go at least a little stale. Then toast it, and toast it well. A little bit of burning isn’t a problem. If you feel like it you can make neat little croutons, but that’s a preference rather than being important in its own right. While that’s happening have a gallon of water on the boil, and once boiling stir the bread and raisins into it. Leave the mixture of bread and water covered overnight to soak (at least eight hours, but longer won’t hurt the resulting flavour at all). Strain the mixture, adding the sugar and yeast and bottle as you would any other soda (i.e. plastic bottles unless you’re confident enough in your timing to want to risk glass, in which case fill one plastic bottle to test fermentation progress).

Once that’s done you just leave the bottles until they’re hard, and chuck ’em in the fridge. Easy.

If you feel like experimenting then you can also add mint, strawberries, slices of apple, raisins or just about anything else you feel like.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Recipe, Soda

 

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Basic Spirit Mix

Basic Spirit Mix

  • Servings: 5 gallons
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
* 6 kg castor sugar
* 1 kg demarara sugar
* 2 gallons boiling water
* water to 5 gallons
* turbo yeast
* yeast nutrient
Homebrew & Winemaking - Alcotec 48 Hour Pure Turbo Super Yeast

Homebrew & Winemaking – Alcotec 48 Hour Pure Turbo Super Yeast

This is the nice, simple, basic mix I’m trying to put together to dilute things which are a bit too sweet, or a bit too strong on flavour, without reducing the alcohol content. In theory it should only take a couple of days with this yeast – though for this time it needs to be in the bath as the fermentation is somewhat…dramatic.

Young's 100g yeast nutrient

Young’s 100g yeast nutrient

First off add the sugar to the fermentation bucket. Boil the water, and gradually add it to dissolve the sugar. Top up to five gallons with cold water once the sugar is fully dissolved, and add the yeast and yeast nutrient to the directions on the containers (I used one sachet of yeast, and five tsp of yeast nutrient).

Then stand back, keeping it somewhere waterproof as it almost certainly will foam over. Fermentation should finish in a couple of days, and the spirit ready to add to whatever you’re trying to dilute. I’ll be trying this at the weekend, raw, and then doing a lot of experimentation with the mead to try and hit the right notes. Keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll work out, though I may have a fair chunk left over afterwards (and will have to use it on other projects, obviously).

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Recipe, Uncategorized

 

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