Two Fermentations Underway

I have two fermented foods going at this time (in addition, of course, to the wine and beer fermenting downstairs).  One is a sourdough bread I call “Poop Bread” – it’s very high in fiber due to addition of 200 grams of bran and cooked cereal and the whole-wheat flour that makes up 75% of the flour.  Well, I cheated on the grandkids a bit this time and added some soy flour to punch up the protein in the bread.  I ferment about half of the flour overnight using a starter I caught in Palisade, Colorado.  Maybe it’s my imagination but I detect fruity ester flavors in the sourdough that carry into the bread.  The loaves are currently rising in their bannetons.

Loaves of “Poop Bread” (High-fiber whole-wheat bread) rising in their bannetons.

I’ll bake them in Dutch ovens.  That keeps the humidity very high for the first 20 minutes, developing a very artisan-like, chewy crust.  The loaves smell of vinegar during baking, a tribute to the fermentation process.  Done, the bread is moist, completely hiding the huge amount of fiber in it behind a creamy crumb and chewy crust.  The family loves it and they don’t even have to know the bread is extremely good for them.

Dutch ovens in the oven warming to bake the bread.

The other fermentation is a lactic cheese I started last night.  It’s very simple:  A gallon of milk and a cup of heavy cream warmed to room temperature, calcium chloride, culture and a very small amount of rennet added, left to ripen overnight.  When the curd is ready, that is, it’s firm and covered with about a quarter inch of whey, I cut it into 1 inch columns and let it stand for a few minutes, then ladle it into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bucket.

Lactic cheese draining

Tomorrow I’ll add truffle oil to half, dill tea to the other half, then mold it for a while.  It’ll “age” for about five days to let the flavors blend, then I’ll serve it.  Yum!

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Beer and Wine Tasks

We’re prepping for our annual Kentucky Derby party so I’ve been working the alcoholic refreshments pretty hard.  I have a batch of Kentucky Common and a batch of Agave Blonde made for the party, a batch of “Nutella” Ale made up for a friend and a Belgian Quad made up just for grins.  Bottled the Blonde and finished off a Helles for Das Projekt.  Many disasters brewing the Helles – too much water in the mash tun and the yeast left at the Homebrew Shop.  It won’t do as a test but it told me how to use my “small” system.

On the wine side, we have a few in process, mostly whites.  We have a Gewurztraminer made from genuine Colorado grapes, a kit Moscato and a very special wine, an Albarino (the “n” has the Spanish tilde).  We got the grapes from the state’s grape expert, it’s been through malolactic fermentation and we just got it to clarify.  The flavor is a blend of Riesling and Chardonnay, the Riesling because that was probably the ancestor grape – the name means “white of the Rhein” and the Chardonnay from the malolactic fermentation.  We intend to make a blend of the three but also to keep some “straight”.  All three are outstanding wines.

Cheese – I wrote about cream cheese.  I have milk for a lactic cheese but haven’t had time to start the process.  My Fourme d’Ambert is growing mold, the erroneously processed Wimer Winter has sprung a leak but is delicious.  It’s going well.

Bread:  For the first time in several months we are eating storebought bread.  No time to mix anything up.  More to come….

Cream Cheese Making Part 1: Ripening

For a while, I’ve wanted to make sourdough bagels, the main reason being the recipe and procedure I’m about to share.  I don’t really make cream cheese, rather Neufchatel:  All the flavor and far fewer calories, something I can appreciate at my age!

Cream cheese – I’ll call my Neufchatel that throughout this post – is very easy to make, an excellent starter cheese.  It’s a lactic cheese – acid developed over about 24 hours is the primary coagulation method but it’s helped along by just a bit of rennet.  It requires a couple of things you might not have, a starter culture and rennet.  I use milk and cream from the supermarket, calcium chloride from my brewing supplies.

Ripening the Milk for Cream Cheese

The process takes two full days, one to ripen the milk and another to drain the coagulum – the jelly-like stuff that forms due to acid and rennet action on the milk.  So I’ll split the post into two parts.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the cheese:

  • Some kind of sanitizer.  I use Star San because I have it and it’s easy.   A dilute bleach solution works well, too.
  • A pot large enough to hold a gallon of milk and a pint of cream with room for stirring
  • A spoon to stir with
  • A way to heat the milk without scorching it.  I use the stovetop on low heat, you may want to use a water bath or some other way.
  • Measuring spoons down to 1/8 tsp (or eyeball using a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon)
  • A large colander capable of holding a gallon and a pint
  • About a half square yard of butter muslin (best) or fine cheesecloth (okay)
  • A way to hang the cheese in the butter muslin to drain

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole milk.  I use the cheap stuff from King Soopers.
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream.  I use the cheap stuff for this as well.
  • 1/4 tsp 30% (by weight) calcium chloride solution.  You can buy this or mix it up yourself if you have food-grade CaCl2 around.
  • 1/8 tsp Mesophilic Aroma B starter.  I’ve used 1/4 tsp Flora Danica starter but the cheese didn’t come out as good.
  • 3 drops double strength rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, non-chlorinated water.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.  Since there’s no further ripening of this cheese, either iodized or plain salt will do.

Here’s how you make the cheese:

  1. Sanitize everything.  You’re working with milk and know how quickly it can spoil, microbes like it that much.
  2. Heat the milk and cream to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stir in the calcium chloride solution as the milk is warming.
  3. Sprinke the starter over the top of the milk.  Let it rehydrate five minutes.  Then stir in.
  4. Prepare and add the rennet solution.  Stir into the milk for one minute.  Let the milk stand at room temperature for 18-24 hours.  I usually let it go 24.  I’m sure there’s a way to measure the pH to know when the proper acidity has been reached.  I never have tried to find out.

That’s it for Day 1 of the process.  More to come tomorrow….

Rennet, water dechlorinated with a few drops of milk, infrared thermometer

Time to Resurrect This Site

I sit here drinking a Pre-Prohibition Porter of my own crafting, thinking of writing again about beer and brewing.  I’ve been remiss, busy with other things, mostly life getting in the way.  So what’s Nosy up to?

I’ve started a new hobby, cheese making.  Getting fair at it, too.  Maybe soon I’ll be producing cheese at least as good as I can get at King Soopers.  Hey, they have a pretty extensive cheese selection!  But I still have cheesemaking now, I’m mostly at the same point there I was a few months after starting brewing.  More to come as I learn and discover how to make great cheese.  But the new hobby still fits the title:  Cheesemaking is fermentation.

Baking – we don’t buy bread any more.  That hobby, I’ll start publishing more on it as I bake, again, fermentation!  Wine is going downstairs, three whites to create a blend, a red.  We’ve collected several awards for wine.  As things happen there, I’ll post on it as well.

And finally, beer.  I’ve embarked on a project I’m calling “das Helles-Projekt”.  It’s based around an idea I read where an author drank his way through a certain German city and learned to appreciate different base malts.  My notion is to brew small batches of Helles, all to the same specifications, the only difference being the base malt.  I intend to brew my way through every base malt the local homebrew shop has to offer to learn the differences between them.  Yes, I’ll brew Helles with Maris Otter, Six-Row, Vienna, you name it, if it will convert itself, I’ll brew with it.

And I’ll keep the blog up to date as the project progresses.

Slow Times at Nosy’s Brewery

Not much going on the past couple of weeks.  I got the Kentucky Common bottled soon enough that it should be reasonably well conditioned by the Kentucky Derby party.  The Saison has finished primary fermentation – Wyeast 3724 is a brewer’s test of patience – and is ready to “cellar” for a couple weeks near freezing prior to packaging.  The Maerzen has finished its diacetyl rest and I’m bringing it down to lagering temperature.

It’s snowing again in Denver, for those of you who are interested in such things.  That’s not unusual – our average last snowfall is about April 28th.  I’ve had some fantastic brew days in the snow here.

The bakery is coming along nicely.  A couple weeks ago my grandson and I captured a local sourdough starter.  It makes good bread and is rather fast as sourdough starters go.  My San Francisco starter takes an hour or so longer to ferment and proof.  Yes, when I make a dough, I’m managing a fermentation, whether I’m using regular dried bread yeast or one of my sourdoughs.  This morning I finished my first batch of sourdough wheat hamburger buns.  When I can get to the grill, turkey burgers should be delicious on them with emmenthal or gruyere cheese and chipotle mayo.  As with brewing, there are several keys to good bread and many of them will sound familiar:  There’s time, temperature, “pitch rate” or use of a pre-ferment, starters, how much and what quality of water is used.  My family can eat more bread than I can drink beer so it’s a good way to keep busy between brew days.

The winery is also in a slow phase.  We have two in process right now, a red blend and a white blend.  Rather than following the box instructions, we processed the white blend “Mosel style.”  The box tells us to keep a reserve of grape juice and add that back once the wine is completely fermented.  Now think about that for a minute:  Would you ever keep a reserve of malt extract and add that back to a beer, unless maybe to condition it?  Grape juice does not taste like wine, it tastes like grape juice and the result of adding it back is something that tastes vaguely like grape jelly.  Remembering what my vintner friends in Germany do to produce an off-dry wine, we waited, tested and when the wine was as sweet as we wanted, we added sulfite and sorbate to stop the fermentation and stabilize the wine.  The result matches the great Mosel Reislings I remember fairly well, even though there’s no Reisling in the blend. I may be bottling wines tomorrow and the white blend may be one I’ll forego the occassional bottle of beer to drink.

Today we’re gathering up supplies for the Kentucky Derby party next weekend, 2016’s first beer disposal event.  Cheers!

Brew Day, Maerzen

Okay, so I don’t have umlauts on my tablet keyboard.

There’s something about brewing in April for September consumption but back in the day when lagering was done in ice caves in the Alps, it was what the had to do.  But it is a beautiful sight:

image

I got about 86% conversion out of this batch using a 131 degree, 20 minute protein rest, a 152 degree 60 minute saccarification rest and a 15 minute 170 degree sparge.  The wort came out gorgeous, as you see above.  I got 6 gallons out of it and it’s perking away downstairs at 53 degrees.

All in all an uneventful brew day.  No major catastrophes, nothing went wrong.  Those are the good ones, when you get what you want from the grain and the process, about the only thing that made the day noteworthy was the 25 inches of new Denver snow in the background as I brewed.  But the wind was calm, something I treasure when brewing outside since the least puff of wind can blow my burner out.

My Saison is still chugging away, the brave little yeast cells slurping up the last of the sugars.  It’s down to 1.005 – Wyeast 3724 takes its time but is worth the wait.  It’s now fermenting at 86 degrees, the highest setting on my aquarium heater.  The yeast, known for their finicky nature, seem happy and that’s what matters.  My Kentucky Common is cold crashing.  I’ll put some gelatine in it Wednesday evening to clarify it up for bottling.  It has to be ready for Kentucky Derby day, May 7th.  Still plenty of time to condition.

Fermentation habit number 4 paid off:  I made pizza dough and homemade mozzarella cheese during the Snowpocalypse, pizza from it today.  Sorry, Papa Whozits, mine’s better, right down to the homemade sauce.

Updates

I just pulled a sample of my Kentucky Common.  It finished 2 points lower than I’d wanted – not bad considering I underpitched.  Fermentation control – keeping the temperature cool and within a tight range when the beer is starting to ferment, then letting it warm at the end, is a highly recommended practice.

My other adventures in fermentation are going well.  I’ve made about three batches of fully-fermented sourdough bread over the last two weeks and have been amazed at each.  Not since I lived in Germany have I had such good bread!  The practices used to make the bread are very easy and the results spectacular.

I have a local sourdough starter getting started.  Right now it smells very funky.  Unless it cleans itself up I’ll be feeding it to the sewage system rather than using it to feed doughs.  But I’m following the instructions:  The smell is exactly that of a sour mash.  Come to think of it, the fermentation is very similar.  I’ve mixed up unsanitized flour with water, let it stand open on the countertop to capture wild yeast and bacteria and have cultivated that through warmth.  Since I’m feeding every day as long as it doesn’t go too enteric on me, the “good” yeast and bacteria should crowd out the smelly stuff.  I’m hoping anyway.

My Pre-Prohibition pale ale is great, bitter but not too much so, black currant flavors from the Cluster hops.  Grodziskie also turned out very nice, clear and bubbly and smoky.  I’m happy with all my late winter beers so far.  It seems the Inkbird was a good investment.

Cheers!