Posts Tagged ‘yeast’

Midsummer Mead


Somewhere I read that it’s traditional to drink mead on Midsummer Eve. Since I love to ferment nearly anything, this is a convenient excuse to try my hand with mead. In this case I’m posting before I know the results, in case you want to brew your own Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The equipment you will need to brew two gallons is a 3-gallon glass carboy, a drilled stopper that fits it, a fermentation lock, a food-grade plastic tube for siphoning, and 8 quart bottles with sturdy gaskets. You can obtain all of this from Victor’s Grape Arbor in Albuquerque or from any brewing supply house. While you’re there, get a packet of champagne yeast and have the helpful salesperson show you how to set up the fermentation lock, ie where to put the water. From your favorite food co-op, you will need five pounds of wildflower honey, two lemons, and a nutmeg.
After cleaning the carboy, stopper, and fermentation lock, bring two gallons of water and the honey to a boil. Stir until the honey is completely dissolved. While it heats, grate the rind off the lemon, squeeze the lemon juice out, and grate the nutmeg or crush it thoroughly with a mortar and pestle. When the mixture boils, remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and juice and the grated nutmeg, and let it sit uncovered until it cools to 90 degrees. Now pitch the yeast; sprinkle some on the surface, let it moisten a bit, stir it in, and sprinkle more. It should take about 5 minutes to pitch the whole packet. Stir the mixture well, pour it into the carboy, fit the fermentation lock and put some water in it, and set in an inconspicuous place. Within 2 days there will be frequent bubbling of gases through the water in the fermentation lock. Let sit two weeks (it will probably stop bubbling within a week) and then siphon the liquid off the dregs and into the cleaned quart bottles. Seal the gaskets, let sit a week in a cool place, and then chill until the magical evening. If you can drink it in your own garden as the sun sets, so much the better.
I plan to give mine a “dosage,” ie add a teaspoon of a honey-water mixture to each bottle to make it carbonate, but this is not essential.
Needless to say, this is an alcoholic drink, so don’t share it with children or the addicted, and don’t drive. But if you want to cast a beguiling charm on your beloved while you sip mead together, there’s no law against that.

The Joys of Summer: Tepache

july 2009
My husband and I love good wine and good beer, but we also love various fermented drinks that I make at home. In summer, tepache is my favorite. It’s a traditional Mexican drink which, as I make it, is light, barely sweet, and contains at most 0.5-1% alcohol, probably less. It’s great for drinking with grilled dinners on the patio. I treat myself to fresh pineapple regularly during the summer, and making tepache uses up the rind and scraps and prevents waste.

I have a great interest in natural fermentations, from sourdough bread to tepache. If you share my enthusiasm, you’ll want to read Sandor Katz’s weird and fascinating book Wild Fermentation. But you don’t need his book or any technical knowledge of fermentation to make this drink. Fermentation has been happening for millions of years, and it will happen in your fermenting jar without much input from you.

I love to use agave nectar as a sweetening agent. It’s available at La Montanita Co-op in Albuquerque, and it’s showing up in ordinary grocery stores everywhere. (Addendum 2019: ┬álater evidence cause me to completely change my mind about agave nectar as a sweetening agent, and I know longer use it, but make up your own mind.)

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