From time to time I decide I need a challenge. Sometimes this comes in the form of trying to learn a language for which I have no reasonable expectation of ever speaking conversationally with another human being. That is not entirely true, I know one person who speaks Irish. That isn’t really the point. The challenge I have been rolling around in my head is brewing mead. It is possibly the oldest fermented beverage. It is very simple. It has three ingredients. Water, honey, and yeast. That is all.
Your biggest task in this whole endeavor is sanitizing everything that will come in contact with the must. Must is the term for the unfermented honey and water. There are a number of ways to sanitize. Bleach and water is probably the least expensive. At a concentration of 1 TBSP per gallon of water it doesn’t need to be rinsed. It needs to soak for 20 minutes. If you decide to rinse, you should use boiled water to make sure that you’re not adding new life forms to your sanitized items. I didn’t rinse, but I did give it plenty of time to dry. Hopefully it won’t cause any problems. Once you have sanitized do not touch the surfaces that will be in contact with your mead.
Once you have everything clean, and sanitized you can begin. The recipe I am trying is pretty straightforward. Boil 1 quart of honey, and 3 quarts of water for 5 minutes. Cool to about body temperature, and add the yeast. Stir. Pour into a container to ferment. In seven days refrigerate, until the sediment settles in about 2 days. Strain, and bottle. It should be drinkable, but it is supposed to be better when aged for several months.
I’ve been thinking about how to do this, and I’ve decided that I am going to do the fermentation phase of this recipe a little differently. Rather than refrigerate after a week I am going to let the yeast do what it does. I’ve done a bit of reading about this, and as the yeasts die, the air lock will stop bubbling and then the sediment will settle out. Once it is settled I will bottle it, and allow it to age. I’m not sure how long this will take. I started Tuesday night, and I’ve still got bubbles every few seconds on Saturday. I’m keeping it in a box, and have a second box that is on top of it to keep it in the dark. Mead ferments best at room temperatures. Depending on the style beer does better in cooler temperatures.
Obviously at this point I have a ways to go before I have anything I can drink, but it is interesting to think that it is possible to make our own beverage. Is it something we all need to do? Of course not, but it is kind of interesting to try once. Besides if it turns out to be something you enjoy drinking and enjoy doing, why not?
Well, now, for a quick bit of trivia? What does Doozy refer to? Give up? Dusenburg were at the time the most expensive, fastest, most powerful and most advanced American built cars. Thus the expression, “Its a Duesy.” Why I know this is a good question, and I have no answer. Why I titled this post this way, well… let’s just say, “Its a doozy.”
I’ll start by giving you the plan. Use the CIA’s gluten-free baking book, and adapt to what I have on hand to make the focaccia recipe.
Here’s what is in the CIA’s book:
1 packet instant yeast
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Flour blend #1 (their weakest blend)
1/2 cup Flour blend #3 (medium strength)
1 1/4 cup sparkling water (room temp)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp white vinegar
olive oil and coarse salt for garnish
As it stands, right now I have broken my mixer. The motor literally was smoking! So I continued mixing it by hand to the best of my ability. It proofed, but didn’t look like it did much to be honest. It is now in the oven. We shall see what happens.
So, what I did as far as the recipe goes
1 packet of yeast
1 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill AP Baking Flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/4 cup sparkling water
1/3 cup canola oil
I would have added the vinegar because I was looking at the recipe while mixing, and suddenly I smelled ozone, then smoke, and the mixer stopped dead. I grabbed a spatula, and started mixing by hand as well as I could. I was a bit nonplussed, but decided to continue. So I put it in the pan I had chosen for this particular adventure (an old skillet I have), and let it proof for about 35 minutes. Right now, it is in the oven. It smells good, but I’m a bit dubious at the moment.
It just came out of the oven, and since I don’t have any olive oil at the moment I used a little bit of the smoked Extra Virgin rapeseed oil I have and a little kosher salt sprinkled on top. What does it taste like? I have no idea right now. My plan is to let it cool fully overnight, and see what it does in the morning. Of course, right now I’m thinking about new mixers. I’ve hated the one I had, and now that it has finally bit the dust I can justify a new one that will hopefully be able to stand up to what I am trying to do! So, this didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned, with any luck it will still be tasty!
I decided I would take a shot at eating a piece of the bread. I should have thrown it like a frisbee into my neighbors yard. You could tell that there was almost no leavening going on, which may have been because it wasn’t fully mixed, but also because the buckwheat was cold and didn’t let the yeast really do anything. Or the yeast may have been dead, that was an old packet of yeast. I’ll try it again, but for now I need to find a new mixer! It didn’t taste bad, but it is just kind of a slab of cooked dough.