Persona, SCA Life, Vinegar

Making a Vinaigrier – Part 2

In Pennsic Project, I started telling you about what I am going to do. Now to tell you about what I AM doing.

If I am going to portray a vinaigrier, I need a product to “sell”. I will be giving it away. So, step 1, make 5 gallons of vinegar.

I spoke to two woodworkers. If I end up with two wheelbarrows, great! But my local friend at least thinks he can do it. He found a nice piece of 14 ft, 2″ x 2″ red oak to make the frame of barrow out of. So that is coming along.

I started the wine. As Coresande asked, can’t you just go straight to vinegar? Alas no. There are inorganic ways of making acetic acid but the preferred way is changing alcohol to vinegar. Starting with a wine we will.

I purchased a wine kit box for ~$85. It makes 6 gallons of wine. That is almost 23 liters or 23000 ml. Or more to the point, ~30 750ml bottles of wine. On a good day, (no Trader Joe’s nearby), I can get Pinot Noir for $5.00 per bottle. More like $6 any more. That is ~$150 to $180 of wine. While the bottles are sometimes nice, it is about twice what the wine kit costs. When it is in season, I use Alexander’s Sun Country WIne Concentrate at ~$30 to make 2.5 gallons but it isn’t in season and I need to make this now. So you use what you can get.

Most of the stuff in the box is not useful to me. I am not going to “fake” oak my wine with chips. I don’t care if it is clear. And I am just turning it into vinegar anyway so potassium metasulfate isn’t needed either. But the juice. That is what we are after.

As with all brewing, sanitize your equipment. Pour the juice in the 6 gallon ale pail, add water, add yeast, add a little yeast nutrients, and it goes in a sort of warm corner for a few weeks. My starting SG was 1.1. In a few weeks, we will have wine. Then about a month after that, we will have vinegar. More of that when we get to that stage ๐Ÿ™‚

Persona, SCA Life, Vinegar

Pennsic Project – Making a Vinaigrier

In The Short of History of Vinegar and Oswyn Swann , I start with the whys and wherefores of this. Here are the nuts and bolts.

To do this project, I need the following: a costume (garb), a wheelbarrow, a barrel, vinegar, and probably some way to tell people what I am doing.

I ordered a new doublet because I am like 30 lbs heavier than I was 20+ years ago when we all dressed in Ren Faire garb for a friends’ wedding. The old one is a little tight. But I have a flat cap, white shirt, venetian pants, tights, socks, and shoes. Garb is good enough.

I have ordered a 20L barrel and will learn to do some pyrography on the barrelhead. I just received the wine grape juice to make into wine to then make into ~5 gallons of vinegar. So that is done.

I have reached out to a few people about the wheelbarrow. That is moving forward.

I wrote this: What is going on here?

I will make a little carrier so people can pull the sheets out and learn what I am doing.

I need to make some banners. And if I am going to do it, I might as well make all the rest of the banners I need/want too.

The square is more representative for Oswyn of Baรฐon: Raedas Gewillum Fiรฐraรพ – Plans Gives Wishes Wings. Literally, in Old English is says Counsel (Wise) gives feathers to (your) will. Close enough ๐Ÿ™‚

Then Sanguinum Facit Ars. I really wanted it to say “It isn’t art until you bleed on it” but in Latin that is really awkward. So it literally says, Blood Makes Art. A bit vampiric but understandable. I do glass work. I cut myself frequently.

Lastly, Vinum Exhilarat Amici. The Worshipful Company of Vinters is a real thing. They are an old English “guild”. Their motto is Vinum Exhilarat Animum – Wine Cheers the Soul. Given that they are a real entity, I didn’t just want to “steal” or claim membership where I do not have it. That didn’t feel right. But I wanted something that echoes it. So Wine Cheers Friends. I like it.

The Azure Swan will be the name of my bar, an adjunct to Verena’s Drunken Duck. There may be times when I haul my own bar out but if the Duck is there, the Swan is part of the Duck.

Lastly, the tankards and tun are taken from the Wurmwald Brewers and Drinkers Guild.

I will post updates as they happen. I will likely start that wine next week ๐Ÿ™‚

SCA Life, Vinegar

Solera Process

There are two prestige processes for Western vinegar making, balsamic and solera.

The Solera process is named from the Spanish word for floor. The idea with this process is you are mixing the age of the liquid (in this case vinegar).

How it works is thusly (assuming it has been running for a while): Imagine a pyramid of wooden barrels. Let’s say three levels. In the top level, new vinegar is aged for 6 months. After 6 months, a quantity of vinegar is removed from the lower levels. A similar amount of vinegar is then put into the lower barrels from each of the higher levels. None of the lower barrels are ever emptied completely. So the vinegar aging in the bottom level is a mix of “new” 6 months vinegar, older 12 month vinegar from the middle layer, and “old” 12+ month vinegar that has been there for a whole. When it is bottled off every 6 months, that vinegar is mix of a variety of age vinegars.

The age categories are as such:

  • Vinagre de Jerez has a minimum of 6 months aging in wood.
  • Vinagre de Jerez Reserva has a minimum of 2 years aging in wood.
  • Vinagre de Jerez Gran Reserva is a new category with a minimum of 10 years aging in wood.

Now, it all has to start somewhere and that is where I am.

A few months ago, I started this vinegar and it is now ready to start aging. I think we got the sherry wine at Aldi or Trader Joe’s.

It is important to harvest your mother’s so you can use them again. The label isn’t right. I just reused the jar. I have a sherry mother ๐Ÿ™‚

I bought and conditioned an untoasted 2L white oak barrel for this project. Here it is.

And it is reasoably full of sherry vinegar for the initial 6 month aging.

In 6 months, I need to have another batch of vinegar ready to start aging and a new barrel. 12 months from now, I add ~ half of “new” 6 month vinegar to half of this barrel. I should get another new barrel let this one age by itself. 18 months from now, I add half of the “newer” 6 month vinegar to the 12 month barrel and half to the 18 month barrel. 24 months from now, I have Reserva vinegar ready. And every 6 months after that.

Now let’s see if the fruit fly colonies will develop sentience by then.

SCA Life, Vinegar

Preparing for the ToA

I had the time and motivation so I decided to prepared for the ToA (Tournament of Arts). Next Saturday (Jan 11, 2020), about three dozen or so of the artisans from the Midrealm will head to Ayreton for the ToA. It is not a Tournament in the strict sense but it is a chance to display and talk with knowledgeable people about whatever you are doing.

For starters, here is my vinegar room.

Ok it is really my hobby room but most of it devoted to brewing and vinegar.

For starters, I needed to decide on what to display and I needed bottles. As Gertie likes to say, “the cobblers children have no shoes.” Or in this case, the vinegarie’s wife has no vinegar. I had to find enough samples for much of it but I succeeded.

I decided to go with 8 oz bottles when I could. For some vinegars, I could have used 12 oz bottles but for many samples, I didn’t have enough.

The top photo is the variety of samples from my tasting classes. Then off to wash bottles.

After the wash, I decided on what to display.

I have a mix of vinegars from alcohols I have made or commercial alcohols. I wanted to show a range of flavors and techniques.

Unless I say so specifically, the alcohol is commercial. From left to right, the Pinot Noir vinegar from the Pinot Noir I made, Prosecco vinegar, Sauvignon Blanc vinegar, Pecan Brandy Vinegar that I made the cordial, Coconut Vinegar that I made the coconut “wine”, Apple Cider vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar from a cider I made, Malt Vinegar, Sake vinegar, the two small jars stacked on each other are the Xocovez malt and the faux “balsamic”, then two different mead vinegar.

Then to decide on what else to bring.

Since I want people to taste the base alcohol, a bottle of the wine and apple cider. Some mustards made from my vinegar. A mother so people can see it. An example of the toasted oak barrels I use (this one doesn’t hold water anymore). And some documentation. I forgot to take a photo of the books.

So that is it. Twelve-ish vinegar. I need to buy some small tasting cups so a trip to Gordon Food Service is in order. I have a box of crackers.

It isn’t sexy. It isn’t flashy. But it is what I do. See you there!

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

Ciderize – progress report on a lot of stuff

I started batch number of two of my cheap cider and added it to the blueberries last night. 2 gallons of cider over 3 pounds of frozen blueberries. I will let that sit for a while and see what we get.

I had friends try my cheap cider this weekend. The two who sampled it said it was good. The one prefers dry and liked it very much. It is dry despite my efforts to backsweeten it. The other also said it was good but prefers a sweeter cider. I will consider it a win.

I divided up the malt vinegar I had for those who wanted it. The Xocovez is different than I remember. Time is an ingredient you shouldn’t forget with brewing or vinegars. Gertie suggested I make more and then do my cask aging on it. I think I will ๐Ÿ™‚

Started a new batch of malt with Blue Moon. 14 for a 12-pack was too much to pass up for new vinegar.

I figured out some character issues in my roleplaying ๐Ÿ™‚

That is it for progress report for now.

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

Blueberry cider

I finished the first round ciders. I set aside 16 oz bottle of each to be a sampling kit for my cider class. I then took ~ 1/2 gallon of one to make into vinegar. This is part of the “step back process”. The rest are for general consumption of my gaming group to improve what I am doing.

What do I mean by “step back”? I mean “can I take this process and make it a step closer to period practice?” Doing the Orleans Process on my apple ciders is a step back. Making my own alcohols verses store bought is a step back. There aren’t a lot of step backs in vinegar making. Once you are growing your own fruits and making your own alcohols, that is about it. I guess you could try to reverse breed back to a medieval strain of fruit. I suspect that is very hard and unless you can go back to Europe and figure out how to reset the soil chemistry 1000 years, you have made a close as you can get.

I started a new cider to make a blueberry cider. I think I have frozen cherries and raspberries I need to use too. Just like when I started cordials, I am in the “let’s play with this” phase. Make a ton of variants to see what I like and what works.

I still need to make “Froderick’s World Hopper” Perry. That is a goal. French pears and Indian spices. Looking at cardamon and vanilla I think.

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

From A to V – cider and vinegar

Sometimes when someone asks me about vinegar, I mention how there isn’t much depth to it. It is a basic ingredient. It is like flour. Yes it is from time immemorial. You could get that special volcanic rock from Germany to grind the grain. But past that, it is grain ground down into a powder.

Vinegar is much the same way. It is a bacteria eating alcohol. It is hard to make it more complicated. Like varieties of flour, you can make it from a lot of different alcohols but at the end of the day. it is what it is.

Compare to one of my other hobbies, paper making. Paper making is also simple. But it has depth. This culture used this fiber, beat it this way, and cast it using these materials. A different culture used a different fiber, beat it a different way, and cast using different materials.

To add depth, I need to backtrack how the base materials are made. I don’t mean research, I mean agriculture. I have one example where I made the wine from canned wine grape juice. I was thinking of planting grapevines but grapes are picky. I then moved to ciders and apples. Apples come in faster and I can specify the variety grafted to rootstock.

But then I discovered that a friend of mine has apple trees and pear trees.

Still trying to identify the types. I have asked the Illinois Extension but no answer so far. I will keep hunting though.

I can take the apples, press them into sweet cider, make a hard cider, then make a vinegar. That is about as much depth as I can do with vinegar.

Actually, I can take it one more step. I have made a faux balsamic vinegar with Pinot Noir. I can do the same process with the apple cider vinegar.

So that is the plan. That is as complex as I can make vinegar. Starting with fruit, make the alcohol, make the vinegar, and reduce it to something like balsamic. Give me a year.

SCA Life

Same Rules Different Game

I made a FB post recently

Had another experience to post about.

At work, there is a small group of us who play pickleball. About a year ago, I got persuaded to join in. I played a bit of racquetball in college but sports aren’t really my thing. I have made it clear to everyone that I play for the physical activity of it. I want to run around. I would prefer not to embarass my teammates or myself but I am not necessarily interested in winning.

There are about 3 of us who are about my skill level and about three of who are much better than that. One of my co-workers is pretty competitive. He saves his John Macinrow tantrams for himself at least.

We rotate around today and he gives me some unsolitcited advice on how to play better. I somewhat sarcastically acknowledge it.

I then go on to play worse for a while. Not on purpose but he is my head now. In waiting to hear more advice, I am tempted to tell him “you can either be on my team or in my head, pick one.” I also wanted to give my own unsolicited advice, “get out of your own head as well.”

The whole point however is more about playing the game. While he and I are playing by the same ruleset, we are not playing the same game. He wants to make good shots and would really prefer to win. I want exercise. I am willing to improve at the speed of my experience but no faster.

This applies to many things, especially the SCA. We are all playing broadly by the same rules (the mega ones; obviously our specific subsets have other rules). But we are all not playing the same game. Before you are tempted to help correct someone’s game, find out what they are actually playing and whether they even want your help.

One commentor thought I should expand on it so here it goes. And I noticed that Sir Gebhart posted similar about heavy fighting.

People have different motivations for what they do. They have different goals. They have different access to resources. This should be obvious.

However, unsolicited feedback is a giant assumption that the other person wants to achieve the same goals as you. You are forcing your vision of “the game” on them. We have seen these comments before:

That outfit isn’t period; You should do this.

If you want to be a knight, you should do that.

The assumption is, you aren’t doing it the way I would do it so you are doing it wrong. Basically, you must share my goal of being the best.

But not everyone is playing that game. Perhaps, they enjoy something different. If you want to give legitimate feedback, then you have to work to understand what you are seeing.

The first thing is you need to understand the other person’s goal. What are they trying to achieve? What is their motivation?

Next once you have that, what kind of feedback are they looking for? Pretty often with my crafts, I am pretty aware of my limitations. I may not have access to certain equipment or certain techniques. Feedback that involve those things isn’t helpful.

Lastly, that feedback needs to be given in such a way that the other person will accept it and do something with it. This doesn’t mean sugar coating it and it doesn’t mean the “compliment sandwich.” But it also doesn’t mean snide one-liners either. The feedback also needs to be something the person can do. Telling someone who is just starting that they need to improve with an advanced technique isn’t going to help.

What does all of this mean? It means that you have to get to know the person you are giving feedback to. It is not as simple as a few sentences. It is a conversation. If you don’t have time to learn all of these things, then maybe you need to keep your feedback to yourself.

It is quite different when someone approaches you and asks for feedback and that is almost always a conversation.

Paper, Persona, SCA Life, Vinegar

Post about Posters

At Duchess Wars, Hrefna held a class on SCA:iri and other ways to present information. She mentioned tri-fold posters are popular in the science community to give quick updates on research. And one of the things she stressed was develop your own “brand” or “theme” so people can readily identify your posters. I do have more current drafts; below are the images from before the more recent revisions.

I like the idea. Here are three mock-ups on posters I will put together for upcoming craftperson’s displays.

I have chosen to use my device colors to help brand them. On the more recent versions, I have included my name and contact information.

Here is a persona study poster. I talk about Bath, and the three Oswyns and where they are in development.

I think this is my favorite one. It is about vinegar and why I call it anti-brewing.

Then lastly one about paper. It is medieval recycling; especially compared to modern paper.

Paper, SCA Life

Second Pages

I pulled my second set of sheets this past weekend. Basically I am on hour 3 of the 10000 needed for mastery. But it is getting there. It is kind of relaxing.

We will take it as read that I have the vat charged. Here I am getting ready to put my mould and deckle together. In most moulds, the screen is attached to the mould. I actually like this one better because it is easier to clean off and couch the sheets.

Then you dip the mould into the vat. In general, you start away from you and pull it towards you.

It is hard to show the detail. First notice, the screen is completely covered. And I am doing very little shaking. Compared to the first sheets I pulled, these are much more smooth. The fiber was beaten much more finely. That is the big difference. And I am getting less clumping.

Draining the sheets. It takes a lot of water to make paper and then you need to give rid of a lot of water. This is another reason I like the removeable screen; easier to drain. Notice, the paper fibers aren’t moving anywhere. It is not very strong because it is so wet but they are holding together well enough to resist gravity.

Now couching (rhymes with smooching) the sheet onto a felt. It is not necessarily actually felt. Felt is just jargon for whatever wick-able substance you try the paper on. Several of these are built up into a post.

Here is the post on the press.

I transfer the sheets onto boards to dry and as proof of concept, it works! As you can see, when the sheets are dry enough, they start to peel off the boards by themselves.

Ok. They look like crap. I will grant you that. These are much smoother than the first sheets. There are tears and folds due to poor technique by me. Those will get better with time. And I need to glaze them yet. That should help with smoothness as well. I think they are too thin for the purpose as well. But for early stages learning something? I will take it.

Might pull some more before Artisan’s Day but if I don’t, I feel I can demonstrate the process well enough to talk about it.