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susan smitten

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700 words on any subject. In this case, beverages. [Sep. 23rd, 2012|12:48 am]
susan smitten
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I just mixed a batch of mead.

Technically, what I mixed is "must," a mixture of honey, water, and yeast which I'll brew for about ten days, and then rack for another couple of months. While I'm confident I adequately sanitized the utensils and mixed the ingredients to proper ratios, it is my first try. If the ratios aren't correct, or if any of the ingredients were contaminated, the product mightn't be drinkable.

So I used cheap ingredients. Bread yeast, which is all I can find in my neighborhood. The cheapest (yet delicious) honey I could get by the 2.5 kilogram jug. Raisins to feed the yeast, because I have a bag I've been trying to finish. It doesn't make sense to use expensive ingredients when my inexperience might ruin the batch, and anyway, I was impatient to get started.

Not that I don't have high expectations for the finished product. I live in a great region for honey, so the "cheap" honey is a decent quality. Additionally, I'll add a sliced vanilla bean when I rack the mead, brought back from Karnataka by some friends last month.

My dad makes wine. Don has made wine, as well as ginger beer. This is my first attempt at brewing. I'm crazy about mead, by the way. I love the delicate simplicity of the flavors. I like blueberry mead. I like macadamia honey mead. I've always coveted it and I've always known it was simple to make. After all these years, I think it's time.

~ ~ ~

I used a Carlo Rossi jug with a balloon on top, the same way my dad brews his Chateau Phanny whites and reds, which he makes with bread yeast and Welch's frozen grape juice concentrate. The only issue was, what should I do with the Carlo Rossi wine? Don makes sangria. I always thought he was a genius for making sangria, but a quick recipe search on Google and reddit convinced me that I didn't need to go shopping; I could mix sangria using whatever I had in the house.

This is how I made it: I poured out a big glass of the wine, and drank it. As I did so, I filled the jug back up with about 3/4 of a cup of not-from-concentrate orange juice, 1/2 a cup of sugar, about two shots of vodka, a few cloves, and some lemon peel. Ten minutes later, it tasted just like sangria, a stupendous improvement on Carlo Rossi's California Red.

An improvement on flavor, at least. I woke up with a headache after just a couple of glasses, thanks to sulphites and the addition of sugar and vodka. It took me five days to finish the 1.5 liter batch, but it went down easy.

~ ~ ~

Anyone who knows me better than slightly, knows how I feel about beverages. Until I moved to Japan, I had a huge collection of fancy bottles, accumulated from my insistence on tasting every new drink that was ever sold in America. In college I worked at a Frullati, a chain in the mall that serves smoothies and fresh juices. There I learned everything there is to know about making blender drinks. I also learned that I never want to work anywhere I don't have daily access to limitless fresh juice. In First Class on Emirates, I'm kept alive by fresh orange, carrot, lemon-mint, grapefruit, and mango juices. One girl said to me, "I've never seen anyone drink as much juice as you do."

I mix fresh lemonade, and squeeze fresh Valencia juice, at home. I've used up two juicers, one in Japan and one in Dubai, and I wore out the gears on a stainless steel citrus crusher. But I'm not a snob about freshness. My sister-in-law called me "the juice monster." It seems that when I come to visit, I drink all the juice in her fridge.

As I'm writing this, I'm enjoying a Bloody Mary. I use an entire lemon in one cocktail.

I'm a bit sad that a friend is leaving Dubai tomorrow. As a consolation, today I inherited her Kenwood blender, her Bosch juicer, and a jar of spirulina. Vitamin Yay! When I wake up tomorrow, I'll break in the blender with a smoothie made from two Valencia oranges, a pear, romaine lettuce, spirulina, and ice.

~ ~ ~

Bubbles! My yeast, it lives!
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2012-09-23 12:17 pm (UTC)
Extremely interesting, Sooz.

Should you ever decide to make another career change there is probably something in this posting that will make you rich!

Or at least less poor.

Y.O.M.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: joshdavis
2012-09-23 04:40 pm (UTC)

JOOS DRINKZ

Citric Acid is an antioxidant. It must be your subconscious causing you to preserve your cellular biota.

And yah, Mead. It's okay to be in love with mead. It's good stuff. I always forget that fermenting is something we can all do at home. I'm not into beer or wine so much, but I like mead. I should try to make some and see if it's survivable. Might be interesting to make some with agave also, though wouldn't that be more like "weak tequila"? hrm.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2013-01-05 10:12 pm (UTC)

Re: JOOS DRINKZ

Update upon tasting the mead: DO IT!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: joshdavis
2013-01-08 03:35 am (UTC)

Re: JOOS DRINKZ

Hrm, well, I have some sort of fruity, meady like substance in my fridge that is waiting for me to test it...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: joshdavis
2013-01-12 08:35 am (UTC)

Re: JOOS DRINKZ

Ok, the stuff I tried to make tasted like a sparkling blush wine, without the sparkles, and with 150% dryness. It wasn't horrible, but wasn't great.

BUT, i didn't follow a recipe either. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: hitchhiker
2012-09-24 12:48 am (UTC)
i've been talking about someday making mead for almost 20 years now :) good on you for doing it!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2013-01-05 10:12 pm (UTC)
Update upon tasting the mead: DO IT!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nativeinformant
2012-09-24 03:22 pm (UTC)
I miss drinking bloody marys with you!
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[User Picture]From: doc_cathode
2012-09-27 11:09 pm (UTC)

I LOOOVE Mead!

When I was wee, I read about it in DeLaurie's Norse Myths.It took me decades to actually get some. I was not disappointed. I love the stuff though it's hard to find in Philly.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2013-01-05 10:12 pm (UTC)

Re: I LOOOVE Mead!

Update upon tasting the mead: DO IT!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)