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 🙂

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 🙂

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.


What is my Passion?

I have been seriously thinking about things lately. And more importantly, why do I do it?

I will try to finish my paper project but I don’t love it. That is clear. Why? I find reasons not to do it. I believe my reasons to start it were wrong. I did it because I wanted to give something back but I also wanted something to sell. I don’t really want to sell things either. So we will see but that isn’t my passion.

Brewing is sort of a passion but only because I can turn it into vinegar. But again, there is a bad reason I started it. I was told I wasn’t a brewer because I only really altered existing alcohol. So I did ciders to prove I was a brewer. I know I have people who tell me I am still a brewer but this person’s opinion mattered so I wanted to branch out. Ciders did have connections to my passion though. It was very English (at least eventually). And it could be vinegar 🙂

Glass is a passion and I plan on getting back to it when I can learn some new styles. I need to be able to control my environment. I hope that enamel and cloisonne will help that.

So it turns out that vinegar, English history, cider, and glass are the passions. I will make time to do those things. Everything else takes a backseat. When it is time to make vinegar, I jump to it. I am willing to figure out the steps to “take it one step back” for that.

I am not sure why I resisted it. I did at least verbally. But I am willing to admit I like vinegar. I like making it. I like thinking about how to make more of it and how to make it better. I don’t know why but I do.

There is history as well. I have “mothers” that go back to the first mothers I used. I have generations of acer-bacteria.


Preparing for the Tournament of Art

When I was planning out which events I was going to go to, I wasn’t not at first going to go to 12th Night/ToA. I try to limit myself to one event per month but I am really failing this year.

I wasn’t sure what I would have available to show in the ToA. Ciders aren’t ready. Paper is not cooperating. My glass work isn’t period. That left vinegar. And I have shown vinegar many times but I have one ace left up my sleeve.

I have made a faux balsamic vinegar. The plan was to doing something really special at a Pennsic with it. I only have a limited amount of it. Whereas real balsamic takes years (at least a dozen) to make, my faux balsamic takes 12 to 20 months.

What is this stuff? It is my Pinot Noir red wine vinegar, aged and reduced in an charred oak cask. Roughly 1 liter reduces down to ~4 ounces. I have about 8 ounces of it. So, not a lot but hopefully enough.

That is my plan. I will bring my vinegar poster display, a variety of vinegars to taste and the faux balsamic with a warning to taste it sparingly.

Part of the ToA is good conversation and I can certainly have that. Part of it is feedback and direction. I am eager to see what comes out of this. Wish me luck!

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.

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.

SCA Life, Vinegar

Bring me a Shrub (-ery)

One of the things I have discussed with my brewing mentor and the proprietress of The Drunken Duck is the need for non-alcoholic drinks. Elspeth often supplies with her very fine and delicious syrups. But there is often the need for outside water or some other mixer. Verena will sometimes make a root beer or something well.

I figured this is where my vinegar habit can help.

There is an old traditional drink called a shrub. Sekhangeben is a shrub. Lemonade is a shrub. So it is a very old drink.

I just did the calculations. Basically, when serving a shrub, it is about 1 Tbsp of shrub syrup per 6 to 8 ounces of water. Doing all of the calculations, basically a quart to a quart and a quarter per 5 gallon keg of water. I can do that! I can do that several times per year! I have an entire small refrigerator that I can fill with shrub syrups! Running it out of the keg means not needing outside water and the CO2 for the keg can provide some of the efforvence (msp).

If you go back in this blog, you will see I made about a new cordial per two weeks or so at one point. I make vinegar very often. It takes about 6 weeks to make a quart but I often run 4 to 6 at one time.

If I can get a keg or use one of Verena’s, I can make a keg-able shrub in time for Baroness Wars (or Duchess Wars). Let’s do it 🙂

Uncategorized, Vinegar

Starting Bourbon vinegar

Let’s go back to a safe topic, vinegar.   I started some new vinegars this weekend.  On the left is the bourbon vinegar.  The bottle of Jim Bean Maple said it was 70 proof so 35% ABV.  It was a 750 ml bottle so I added four cups of water (~ 1 liter) to drive the ABV down.  It should be about 12% or so.  I may need to cut it further.  The bacteria should be able to deal with less than 20% ABV but they really like it below 10%.    The middle one is an Orange Pale Ale.  The mother is floating.  That is always a good sign.  The right is a sake.  I added the same volume of water as the sake.  Should be around 8% ABV.


SCA Life, Vinegar

Why Vinegar?

Here is a question that I don’t think I can really answer completely:  Why vinegar?

I know how I started.  I was looking around for something else to do.  I make glass things but let’s be honest, it is all modern glass.  I don’t like lead came, can’t really paint, and I don’t have access to a hot glass setup.  That puts most medieval glass out of my reach.

I make cordials.  I like to think I do pretty well at it.  But again, cordials are only sort of period and are really very easy to do.  Alcohol, sugar, flavoring.

I started teaching a class (now a series) on cordials.  But I wanted something more than how to.  I wanted why.  So the Sweetening the Spirit series (see class notes section) focuses on changing one variable at a time.  The same cordial but let’s change the base alcohol.  The same cordial but let’s change the sugar.  I discovered I wanted people to think more.

I had bits of cordial left over.  What to do with them?  A sane person would have drunk them.  I started planning a series of meads to do the same principle as my cordials.  A basic mead but with different honeys.  Let’s explore how a different honey makes a different flavor.

I had mead leftover.  Again, a sane person would have drunk them.  I started thinking about what else do we take for granted?  What other ingredients are treated generically?  I was probably at a feast or something when vinegar occurred to me.  Recipes often call for vinegar but how much do people consider the type of vinegar?  Stand back, I am going to try science.

I started making vinegar.  But true to form, what vinegar should I make?  I read about how to do it.  It was pretty easy.  It would happen by itself giving the right conditions.  So I made four red wine vinegars and four white wine vinegars to determine which I liked best.  Each tasted a bit different.  My first vinegar class we compared the vinegar to the source alcohol.  Cider and beer make vinegar even easier than wine.   Mead becomes vinegar.  Sake becomes vinegar.  Even leftover cordials can be vinegar.

I had to admit by this point, I had an alcohol problem.  I mean, I am sure Schnuck’s already thought I had one as I tended to buy at least one 750 ml bottle of some alcohol per week, often more. The trash collectors probably also thought I had a problem as several wine bottles and a 6 pack of empty beer bottles were often in my trash per week.   It was worse than that.  I would taste a great beer or read the ingredients of a weird beer and wonder, “what would that taste like as a vinegar?”  I am still in the doghouse for turning Gertie’s favorite beer (a limited edition at that) into a vinegar.  I have so far only found one thing that I can’t turn into a vinegar, Malort.

To date, I have made a wide variety of vinegars.  Amongst the more unusual ones are: black fang mead, orange clove brandy, prosecco, and the mexican chocolate beer (I have no chance of spelling it right).  My favorites and standbys are pinot noir, sauvingnon blanc, blue moon honey wheat, and stella artois apple cider.  Yes, there are many times my house smells entirely of vinegar.   I had plans for about a dozen casks but I only have two casks and that is good enough for now.

Any given time, I probably have at least a quart or two of vinegar I don’t know what to do with.  I have given some away to the local cook guilds and will continue to try to keep the Midlands at least stocked with vinegar.

Now to go find another beer my wife loves and turn it into vinegar.