Mo’ Mead – MelonMel Melon Mead: Done!

Hi all!

Well, it’s finally ready! My birthday melon mead is bottled and ready to be drank!

It has a very pungent smell of melon, way more than I expected and a very subtle taste. Even though you can smell the melon, there is only an aftertaste of melon in the mead, which was quite interesting! This time, I made a lot, 20 bottles worth! If the help of a friend, we managed to clean everything, bottle two different meads (the other will come in a different post) and transfer the wild plum to secondary. It was quite an effort, but it paid off! Now just wait to mature so that it can be better enjoyed!

Just Rice and Veg… If That’s What You Are Into

“Just rice and veg”? I meant to say “a delicious meal”.

As I try to express all ingredients in the names of my foods, I won’t really try to do it with this one.

But what does it have, you may ask? Well, let me tell you! I started by cooking the brown rice in a pressure cooker. I added a ratio of rice to water of 1:2.5, brought it to boil and started counting down 20 minutes cooking time as soon as the cooker was pressurized, in medium/low heat. Make sure the escape valve is spinning around! After 20 minutes, the water will mostly likely not have dried out and the rice not fully cooked. Add a little more water and cook for another 8 minutes.

While the rice was cooking, I caramelized the onions with orange blossom honey. Once the onion was caramelized, I added the chestnut mushrooms, broccoli, leek and a single chopped and seeded chili (lightly spicy, not overwhelming at all!). Added a little water (100ml), 4 whole cloves of garlic and let it boil with the lid on until the water dried. Once the water dried out, add a little olive oil and mix vigorously.

I like adding herbs at the end, with the fire already off. I added a bit cumin and parsley just before serving. Check the rice and season it with a little salted butter or coconut milk.

And, to top it off, a single leaf of basil!


*A nerdy aside: Only use pressure cooker if you know how to operate it! While there is water inside the cooker, it’s fine. If water is present, the internal temperature will be modulated by that of the boiling point of water at that given pressure, i.e. The heat supplied by the fire/heating hub will be used to convert water into steam. Once the water dries out inside, the heat supplied by the fire will be used to expand the air inside (at higher temperatures). As soon as the rate of air escaping the cooker is less than the rate of expansion inside, you are risking an explosion. Modern cookers are fitted with fail safe devices, but they are there in case other things fail, not because you decided to watch a bit of TV! So, be careful!*

Local Shop Homebrew – Final Part: Carrot Wine!

Remember the past posts, where I gave a quick tutorial on how to make your own homebrew from scratch? Well, the serioes is finally over! If you are interested to know what I am talking about, please click here, here and here

After three weeks in secondary fermentation and three days stabilizing, The wine was finally bottled! I had a taste and it was quite mild in taste, but so alcoholic! It was a very nice brew, very very cheap indeed! The total cost of the brew was about £5, so £1 per bottle, plus 500ml that were drank just moments ago!

If you are tempted to have a go at homebrewing, this is a very hard to get wrong type of brew! Highly recommended and, really, I hope someone will try it!

Backyard Wild Yeast Plum Mead – Part I

THis post contains 3 photos. Click to enlarge them.

This is a bit of a risky kind of brew, but I will give it a go anyway.

Some fruits come with a natural coat of wild yeast on their skin. This can be beneficial to your brew, but dangerous, because wild yeast can infect your brew.

The way this mead was done was:

  1. Pick the healthier plums from your tree. In this case, I picked them from my own backyard;

  1. See the white coating? This is the wild yeast on the fruit. The aim of this brew is to use that yeast and that alone to kick start the fermentation. This mead is expected to be low in alcohol, so that the fermentation is quick and it gives less times for any infection to develop;

  1. After a quick rinse, the plums are deseeded and quickly hand pulped. This would make homebrewers cringe, but I did sanitize my hands well! Well, back in the day, wine juice was extracted by stepping on grapes, so why not use my hands? Then soak them on a solution of water, honey, lime and lime zest, which was boiled for one hour. Dump the boiling water onto the plums and close the fermenting bin. That’s it. Give it a bit of a mix for the next two days and leave it. A bit of natural selection, after the boiling water in dumped, only the strongest yeast will survive!

Ingredients

  1. 2.5kg of deseeded plums;
  2. 2.5kg of honey;
  3. 13L of water;
  4. Juice and zest of 2 limes;

Updates will follow.

Four Chilies, Basil and Olive Sauce

My chilies are almost gone now, unfortunately, so is the basil, and add a bit of olive and what do you get? A delicious sauce! This time, I didn’t remove the seeds just to see how hot I could make the sauce. Yes, it is extremely hot! I used four types of chilies, which I am still trying to find out the type, but I will let you know soon!

Yet again, I found another interesting looking chili. Before, it was the twisted chili pepper… not the joker hat chili? Ah well!

The sauce is quite pungent in taste. I overdid in the amount of olives, which I absolutely love. So far, I tried it in two different ways: First as pasta sauce and second as a burger sauce. Both worked really well. I want to try to marinade a steak to see if it would work… well, I hope so!

Wild Blackberry and Caviar Jam (No Pectin)

Caviar? Sorry, I meant elderberry! But now that I got your attention, might as well read the rest of the post! heehee

Promised my mum I’d make her a pot of jam, so on my way back from work, I stopped along my University’s lake and picked up a few fruits. The aim was to pick blackberries only, but the elderberries looked so yummy that I couldn’t pass the opportunity.

Well, this is not for the impatient person, because picking all the elderberries from the stem is a pain! But it makes a delicious dessert, to have along with a nice lemon cheesecake or something!

I make my jam with no pectin. It gives a lower yield, but it keeps for a lot longer, so I don’t have to worry too much about eating it quickly. Why that is? Please read this post.

Recipe? Here it is!

  • 240g of Wild Blackberry
  • 160g of Wild Elderberry
  • Zest of One Lime
  • Juice of Half a Lime
  • 215g of Honey

Instructions:

  • Deseed the fruits, if you prefer! I really couldn’t bother and I like the crunchiness of the seeds
  • Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and, in a low/medium heat, bring to boil. Remove any excess foam formed from the boil. Mix constantly
  • After the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or so, mixing every 3 minutes or so.
  • Cool a plate in the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam on the cold plate. This will give you the set point. Too runny, leave it for another while; not too runny, turn off the stove and leave it to cool
  • Place the slightly cooled jam in a sterilized 500ml jar, close it and boil the jar for 10 minutes to seal it.
  • Place the jar on a wooden chopping board for 24hrs. After the 24 hours, place it in the fridge and enjoy it!

From experience, the recipe should yield approximately 500ml, maybe a bit less.

Beer Economics Review: DadoBier Ilex

Who doesn’t like beer? And even more, who doesn’t like caffeine? Mix the two together and you should get an amazing beverage, right? Well, not so much. I will try to explain why.

DadoBier is the first brazilian microbrewery. It’s located in the mid-latitude city of Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The state prides itself for having the best wine in Brazil and, well, they have the climate for it! Also for making beer, since the southern region of the country is the largest producers of barley.

The state is the second largest producer and the largest consumer of a commodity called Erva-Mate, or just Mate. It’s a herb which is mainly used for tea and has a high caffeine content. If you walk around the city of Porto Alegre, you will see hundreds of people drinking the stuff wherever they go. Think that the British are big tea drinkers? The Gauchos (natives from the state) would put them to shame. Brazil itself is not a big tea drinking country, but the Gauchos consume a whooping 10kg of Mate per capita per year, which puts them ahead of Turkey, the biggest tea drinking country in the world (at 7.32kg/pc/py).

But I digress. So thinking that having the climate and ingredients for a good beer would give them an edge? Well, not so much. Adding a bit of their favourite drink to the beer? That didn’t work so well. Now add that beer to their custom made Cuia-shaped glass? Well, that’s the recipe to get flat and bland beer. In their novelty glass, I couldn’t pour the beer and take a photo fast enough for the head to hold shape. The beer is ok, but the flavour changes quite a bit very quickly, most likely due to oxidation due to the lack of the protecting head.

I have brewed with tea before and I am not sure the techniques they used to add the mate to the brew, but I can say that they were unsuccessful.

Now for the price. The average citizen of Rio Grande do Sul is better off than the average Brazilian. The beer is slightly expensive, at R$14 (£4) for a pint, it is still quite expensive for the local working man. But as it so happens to microbreweries in Brazil, producers manage to keep the clientele very selected. You can find Dadobier online, if you so choose, but most places are out of stock and, in Porto Alegre, one of the few places where you can find the beer is at their restaurant. This leads to you buying overpriced food with it. So, again, just like with Amazon Beer, if you are not part of the elite or pseudo-rich, this beer can be seen as something you can treat yourself to in a special occasion.

Knowing how much it takes to produce beer and having most of the ingredients locally available, overpricing beer that isn’t all that good seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Microbrewers in Brazil are having a field day with the new middle class!

“Am I a thief?” – What Rights Do I Have Over the Food I Buy?

After a constructive comment discussion with Margaret, a fellow blogger, I decided to write about something that I have been thinking about for a long time.

I will be brief. There is one type of chili I really, REALLY like that comes on the pizza I buy at my local shop. I haven’t been able to find the seeds to sell, so I decided to buy a pizza, open a few of these seeds and see if they will germinate (probably not, as they probably have been cooked and all). This is not the point, really.

If these seeds I saved, from the pizza I bought at my local shop, actually germinate and I am able to produce my own, am I a thief? Legally speaking, that is.

Well, there are precedents in some countries that if you buy seeds from a company, you have NO right to save them for future sowing (These companies shall remain nameless… Cough… MONSA.. Cough…)

I saved the seeds and will try to plant them. Does that make me a thief? In my opinion, NO! No one on Earth should be allowed to own any seeds or the intellectual property on them, regardless on how genetically modified to resist pesticides they have been.

Remember, these new seeds came from harvested seeds that belonged to no-one (or everyone). For a company to ruin people’s lives for something they shouldn’t own in the first place is horrible.

Seeds should belong to everyone and everyone should be allowed, without costs, to have access to whatever seeds they want.

But that is just me.