Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blackberry Pomegranite Cordial

Bring 1 and 1/2 cups distilled water to a near-boil (but not boiling)
Put 1/2 cup blackberries and 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds - let steep for 20 minutes covered
Crush and mangle seeds, releasing juice into the water, then strain fruit meat and add to quart size mason jar
Add 2 and 1/2 sugar to heated water to make a simple syrup. Once all sugar is dissolved, add to jar
Add 2  cups brandy to jar, cover and shake vigorously.

I've put this cordial up to rest with the others, now. But right away, it has a very sweet but not too strongly sweet taste. The brandy still comes through very strong, but I can tell it will mellow as it sits.

Happy Anniversary

On our trip out for our anniversary, my Lady and I picked up a bunch of fun stuff.

Blackberries, brandy and sundry for a new cordial. I've been studying a lot, and find it instructional and helpful. This is what prompted me to put away my first two autumn cordials, at least until October.

Cucumbers, dill, fennel (anise) and turnips for some fun pickling projects.

A bottle of commercial mead, for discovering how horrifying that is (hint: very; I have an excellent picture of Serra's reaction to it).

Jug, bottles, bung, airlock, yeast and sundry for my very first batch of mead!

It sounds odd, but I'm particularly excited about the turnips. Thomas Hill's "Gardener's Labyrinth" contains instructions for ferment pickling these beauties, and I'm eager to try my hand.

Stolen directly from:

This one is period-- Thomas Hyll, The Gardener's Labyrinth

"And to preserve the Rape or Turnup roots to serve the winter and Lent
time, the owner may work after this manner, by washing first the roots,
and these raw, bestow in ranks one upon another, and in each rank strew
salt, fennel seeds and sauerie [savory], or onely cover them with salt,
close couched, and on such wise letting these remain for eight days,
powre so much fair water on them as will cover them, which done, let the
vessel stand in some vault, or seller, to serve for the above said
times, or longer if the owner will, if so be he fill up the vessell,
when these lie bare and drie." p. 171.

Clearly, I need to invest in a paperback copy of Master Hill's work if I persist in mangling vegetables.

First Pickle

While researching various tidbits of data concerning fermentation, I came across a lot of recipes and information regarding lacto-fermented pickled fruit and vegetable.

Now, technically, brewing and pickling aren't necessarily related, but then again who doesn't want a nice snack with their mead? I chose to pursue the art.

My first attempt, currently bubbling under an apron in the kitchen - is a half red onion, single cucumber, lemon cucumber, watermelon rind, and a bit of garlic. It's very simple, and I only wanted to get my feet wet - so to speak.

The method I used was a simple as I could make it.

Brine from a quarter tablespoon kosher salt (to about a quart of water), then set aside. Added, and packed lightly in kosher salt the vegetables in what layers I could make.  Added brine, then set a stone atop them to keep them under the brine. Loosely cover with a lid (let out the "bad" oxygen bearing air as the "good" air was produced by our lacto-bacillus friends - thereby preventing "the mould" on the top of the jar"), then set aside in a cool dark place.

This morning, I tried a piece of onion and found it very very strong in flavor. Looking forward to the other veggies as it may need to sit up for perhaps another day or two.

It's been six days, and the cucumber in my firs ttest pickle is only partly translucent, and doesn't seem to be taking to the ferment very well. I suspect I didn't add enough salt to the brine (I was attempting to adapt a recipe that called for 1 gallon of water, to one quart). I added more salt. No scientific way here, just dump a bit into the top. Hey, it's an experiment.

First Cordials

For my first job, I'm trying a simple cordial of rosemary, watermelon, apple and cinnamon. For the base I used vodka - which I found too late was very un-period. It's on day four, sitting in two quart mason jars, and has a very interesting flavor - the strong flavor of spirits subsiding more every day as the watermelon disintegrates. Soon, I will want to strain and bottle it.

Why did I pick watermelon and apple? Simply put, they are in season right now in the Outlands, and both easy to obtain and fresh tasting. The rosemary was added to give the cordials  that medicinal/herbal quality so sought after in the original, period, products.

And Well Met

Being an account of the travels, trials but mostly experiments and experiences in fermentation and brewing during the Current Middle Ages.

I'm keeping this primarily as a means to record my brewing and fermenting crafts while participating in the SCA here in the Barony of al-Barran, Kingdom of the Outlands.

My wife and family are new to the SCA, and quite excited about various crafts and lore. Brewing, especially, interests me, and part of doing a good job there is recording measurements, times and experiences. Over the last two weeks I have benefited greatly from reading mailing lists, blogs and posts about the art of medieval brewing, and I want to contribute to that stockpile - as I've noticed a whole lot of dead links where the art is concerned.