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Posts Tagged ‘beverages’

I’ve been debating over whether to try the Pickl-It fermenting system.  I have heard great things about it and I keep wondering if it will improve my ferment success rate (which is probably around 90% right now, but ANY loss hits hard when you’re on a budget and you spend the time preparing the ferment).  I had considered making my own lids with airlocks to see if that was a more affordable solution (sorry, I have a hard time spending $20 or $30 per jar when I’d likely need about 10!!).

Anyway, I have a lot more thoughts on the Pickl-It but I don’t suppose anyone is terribly interested in them.  I’ll skip ahead to the part where I saw some glass jars for a third of the cost of Pickl-It jars at my local co-operative today and decided to try them as an interim step.  I guess they are made in Italy by Bormioli Rocco, and the brand is Frigoverre.  The label said that the plastic lids were airtight and I bit – hook, line, and sinker.  I bought a 1L pitcher for about $6 and a 2L pitcher for about $10.  Then I came home, ran them through the dishwasher, and immediately made sauerkraut and lacto-fermented lemonade.

I didn’t have enough cabbage on hand to fill the 2L jar – as you can see in the picture, the jar is only about half full.  I know this kind of negates the “air-tight” qualities of the jar so I’ll have to try again when I’ve got more cabbage.  I used about 2 1/4 lbs cabbage, so I could probably fit a full 5 lbs into this jar in the future.

I made 1/4 recipe of the lemonade to put in the 1L jar (which is a bit more than a quart) and 1/2 recipe to put in a half-gallon jar as a control.  I shook the lemonade upside-down to see if there would be any leaks in the pitcher, and it held up well!  So I’m excited.  :)  We’ll see if the results in that pitcher are any better than in the 1/2 gallon jar.

I am really loving the handles on these jars.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to grip a jar that is moist from condensation or is just plain too big for my hands and nearly dropped it!  It’s nice to have something to grab on to that won’t slip.

The fact that the lids are plastic doesn’t really bother me as I don’t expect the food to come into contact with the plastic for more than a second or two as I am rearranging jars in the fridge, etc.  The lid has a rubber gasket and a stopper that you turn clockwise and counterclockwise to seal or open the jar.

I’m thinking of picking up another one or two tomorrow while the Owner’s Appreciation sale is still going!

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Ok, I should qualify that: I might have made beer.  My alcoholic experience is extremely limited so I could be wrong.  But I am drinking something fizzy and not sweet at all that has a tinge of a burn as it goes down.  If I get silly in a moment, you’ll know for sure.

So what did I make?  I assume it’s ginger beer.  I made so much ginger ale (a la Nourishing Traditions) a few months ago that I had to store a few pints in my garage on a shelf, thinking it would be cool enough (in Arkansas midwinter) to virtually stop fermentation.  Apparently I was wrong.

So now the question: what to do with it?  I’m not much for alcoholic drinks and the ginger flavor limits how I could use it in recipes.  If I drank an ounce or two per week, I’d have enough to last…a year.  Hmm.  Are the health benefits worth it??  Something to dig into…

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Azure Standard came today!  I had ordered beets and ginger so I could make kvass and ginger ale this month, and I thought I’d try my hand at the apple cider in Nourishing Traditions.  While I was on that page in the book today, I saw the recipe for Orangina…and with tons of oranges looking at me, I decided to go for it.

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Before we proceed, I must remind you that today is Tuesday.

The previous 24 hours had been preceded by craziness.  I don’t usually breathe between Monday morning and Tuesday night.  Under no sane circumstances would I ever take on more tasks on a Tuesday.

I have no idea what possessed me to make these beverages today.

Having said that, I will continue.

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I started off making beet kvass.  I’ve done it before, and it’s a 15-minute job, tops.  Sure enough, I had it sitting on top of the refrigerator in all its ruby-red glory before a quarter of an hour had passed.  And then I got ambitious.

I have good ginger ale intentions.  I frequently buy a huge chunk of fresh ginger, think to myself “I’ll make ginger ale this week” and then put it off until the chunk has rotted.  Not this time.  Fresh ginger was looking up at me expectantly as I unpacked my Azure order, and I decided that today was the day I would meet those expectations.

Instead of grating the ginger as the recipe calls for, I decided to juice it.  The juicer made quick work of the ginger and lemon, and I was pleased as punch!  Another ferment on top of the fridge, smilingly proclaiming my rock-star status.  Yeah, baby!  I looked at the juicer and thought to myself, “Orangina.  Today is your day.”

I did not clean out my juicer before I juiced the oranges.  I didn’t really think about the fact that the hard ginger pulp remaining in the chute might force the soft orange pulp into the juice.  Or at least I didn’t think about it until 8 oranges-worth of pulp came cascading through the pipeline and down into my juice.  “Hmm, that’s probably not good,” I thought to myself.  So…I tried to filter out the pulp using a coffee filter.

That didn’t work.

But while it was sloooooooowly dripping through the filter, I washed out the juicer and got started on the cider.  By this time, I was getting tired.  I decided to make a quart of cider to start, instead of the gallon the recipe called for.  No problem – just use a dozen apples and adjust the salt and whey accordingly.  I’m a little sketchy on the details here, but after I juiced the apples, mixed everything, and cleaned my juicer for the last time, I realized that I had only HALVED the salt and whey, instead of quartering them.  I was so tired by this point that I did not care.  At all.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll have enough energy to juice another dozen apples and try to salvage this ferment.

The finished Orangina tasted bitter (due to all the pith that made it through, I’m sure) so I added a little sucanat to the ferment.  I have a feeling this one is not going to make the cut.  We shall see in a few days, I guess.

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