Honey Mead

Lately I’ve been experimenting with honey mead. The (really simple) directions and inspiration came from Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation (of course!). I went with a honey to water ratio of 1:6. This seems to be a good amount. I use Really Raw Honey as it contains natural yeasts.

DSCN8892Then for fun and flavor I add in some dehydrated lemon- enough to cover the surface.

DSCN8903And a sprig of rosemary. That’s it.  Although the flavoring options are endless, and optional!

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DSCN8912Then you just let it sit and wait for the bubbling to begin. Stir it up at least once a day (more frequently in warmer temperatures) to disperse the natural yeasts and help ensure no mold gets started on the floating additions.

DSCN8919The bubbling will get going and be pretty active for about a week to 10 days.

DSCN8959 DSCN8960I wait till I notice the bubbling subsiding. Then I strain out the lemon slices, rosemary and all the tiny waxy bits from the honey and bottle. I like a lot of carbonation so I let it build up a little before putting the bottles in the fridge. These are still in an early mead stage and don’t contain much alcohol. I also poured some mead off into my airlock jar. Only a quart because that’s the size jar I have.

DSCN9050I let it sit for, I dunno, maybe a month before I really wanted my jar back so I transferred it to another bail top jar. It’s still aging but it definitely has a drier more wine like taste compared to the fresh mead.

Then start a new (larger) batch!

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 I just love Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation. I’m always inspired to try something; even some things I never thought I’d try. Seeing how I have a plethora of mothers (of vinegar) on hand – including a  lovely thick … Continue reading

Pineapple Vinegar

Finally a way to use up all those otherwise inedible pineapple peels! Once again, I followed Sandor Katz’s instructions for Fruit Scrap Vinegar (found in either Wild Fermentation or in The Art of Fermentation; I also used this method with apple scraps for ACV ). Essentially use 1/4 cup sugar to 1 Qt of water, plus fruit scraps. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how the pineapple fruit scrap vinegar went:

Cut up  the fruit peel; add to the sugar-water.

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Remember to cover the top – I use fabric scraps held on with the O ring. I keep the lid piece nearby as it’s important to stir the pineapple up – daily, if not more frequently. Shaking/ stirring helps to keep the pineapple immersed. As the fermenting progresses the bubbles will push the peels further up above the surface. Peels above the surface are at a risk for mold; the longer it pokes up above the liquid the more likely mold will show up – especially in the warmer months.

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Before long signs of fermentation will appear!

DSCN8574The liquid will also darken. This fermenting of the peels will take about a week. Strain. Katz’s says to ferment 2-3 weeks longer for your finished product. However I like to add a mother of vinegar to ensure and speed things along.

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A new mother quickly started forming.The pineapple vinegar mother is a lovely pale ever so slightly yellow white.

DSCN8659 Nine days later the vinegar smells – well like pineapple vinegar and the mother has grown quite thick. What to do with the mother now? Save it as a back up, use it to make more vinegar or make some nata. DSCN8782Time to strain and bottle!

I like to use a coffee filter because it catches just about all the sediment. It can take a while and maybe even a second filter. Carefully gathering up the edges of the filter and holding it up can speed things up considerably.

DSCN8787 DSCN8809Use now and/or age. I’m still looking for recipes that call for pineapple vinegar so if you have any – please share! In the meantime I’ve tried a marinade I found here. Combine 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup pineapple vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, a tablespoon chili flakes,salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I didn’t have any so I substituted some parsley.

DSCN8970 DSCN8977Use this marinade for chicken, fish or pork; I went with chicken. It was good. Tender, sweet but also a touch sour and spicy. I used my broiler but grilling would be the way to go. I’m going to let the vinegar age a bit then try it in a vinaigrette.

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Fermenting

Now that we’re getting settled I figured it was time to get the ferments going again. I had brought a few things along that were “in progress” such as apple cider vinegar, preserved lemons, preserved limes (which are all rather low maintenance), and some much neglected dairy kefir. But it was time to attend to them and venture once more into fermenting veggies.

I had tried making fermented carrots before from Nourishing Traditions but they where so salty I couldn’t eat them. I even made another batch halving the salt but they were still too salty and more of a chore than a joy to get through. So I was feeling a little leery about wasting the time and effort and veggies. Then I read (parts of) The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I also have his book Wild Fermentation but I much prefer The Art of Fermentation; it really made me want to get in the kitchen and get a jar going. And the next thing I knew there I was with a jar full of chopped veggies. And the best part is that even though I wasn’t able to have a garden this year every single vegetable was given to me by a friend who grew it in their garden. How sweet is that?!

Here’s what went in: carrots, radishes,yellow summer squash,garlic (some fresh picked, some   that was starting to sprout), chard stems, a small green tomato, basil. How heavenly it smells, how delicious it tastes!

I immediately started another jar this time zucchini spears with garlic.

Again, success! As my oldest Noah said “they’re just so good. I want to eat them all up.(followed by a lip-smacking slurp I can’t replicate)”. So I did it. I started a batched of shredded carrots.

And for a little compare and contrast I started a jar or pickled beets with onion in raw apple cider vinegar.

We haven’t tested these last two yet but the beets look lovely and the carrots, with a little help of the brine from the first batch of mixed veggies, are smelling wonderful. Next up? A jar full of basil! Seriously, it tastes like licorice once it’s fermented. Divine!

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