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 🙂

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 Baðon: Raedas Gewillum Fiðraþ – Plans Gives Wishes Wings. Literally, in Old English is says Counsel (Wise) gives feathers to (your) will. Close enough 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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

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

This is going to take CONCENTRATION

In researching what it takes to make cider, I priced equipment and apples. A good commercial cider is ~ $10 per 6 pack. That is ~$90 for 5 gallons.

The apples I priced out the grocery store (~$2.00 per pound). That won’t work. That is nearly $200 per 5 gallons to make cider. Nope.

The local orchard (assuming I have equipment) anywhere from $60 to $160 per 5 gallons for the apples. Better, sometimes much better. But need the equipment to juice apples.

Store bought juice anywhere from $25 to $60 per 5 gallons. With frozen concentrate being the $25 option. It is a good and inexpensive place to start. I believe Conal (Jim Hart) made his Lemonade cider from frozen concentrate.

Planting my own trees and getting the equipment, I can get the price down to $20 per 5 gallons, once the equipment and trees are in, producing fruit, and that stuff paid for. Long term goals.

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 🙂

cider, SCA Life

First Cider

I started my first cider this weekend. It was an easy recipe so I am confident it will come out okay. I bought a high-end apple juice and used a packet of what says it is cider yeast. A little pectin enzyme to clear things up and wine tannin and acid to balance things.

In the meantime, I had some very good ciders. The Blind Pig, a local brewery, has a cider that is a short term goal. They used the soft apple cider from the local orchard to make their cider. I want to do the same in the near future.

I had a blueberry cider that was just dreamy. I have read about peach ciders as well.

I foresee a small orchard in my backyard once I get good at this.

I also talked to several potential new members of my shire recently as well.

Slowly, the list is getting worked on.

Persona, SCA Life

It’s what’s in CIDER you that counts

Last weekend with the Middle Kingdom’s 50th celebration. As usual, Verena ran the Drunken Duck and I, per usual, helped her run it. I am not sure what real relationship as it pertains to the bar is. It is HER bar. I run it when she is gone. Others brew way more than I do and that is what leads to this post.

A while ago, a good friend said of me that I was not a brewer. And to a large extent they were right. I don’t brew. I make cordials. Cordials are fun and easy and by and large not really period. Oh there were some cordials but for the most part it is guesswork on whether any particular one every existed. Oswyn of Baðon wouldn’t have a clue what a cordial was. Oswyn Swann might but since he is now a paper merchant, they aren’t his thing either.

And truthfully, cordials haven’t thrilled me in a while. I have made at least 50 different kinds of cordials in the last 5 years. I have made over 20 gallons of the stuff in that time. I make a pretty good cordial. I have taught about cordials. And I have watched my cordials mostly sit on the shelf in our tavern. By and large, people don’t want them. This weekend, it was mostly mead, ciders, and beers that people wanted. Maelcolm kicked 4 kegs to my knowledge. Dai about 3. Jhondo 2 and some. Bottles of meads were consumed. When people wanted a cordial, it was easier to steer them to Liaden’s very tasty but single flavored berry cordials than try to explain a blueberry lemongrass gin to them. So partly my own fault really.

I really don’t drink much at home. Especially given the amount of cordials I make. I still love my Grand Manier, St Germain, and a few beers and ciders.

So it hit me, why am I making cordials? Just because that is all that I have made? I made a wine to turn into vinegar (yeah I know. I am weird). Then it occurred to me, I could make my own cider. And then turn some of that into vinegar too. And it is something that Oswyn of Baðon might have made. Let me explain.

From one of the classes I teach, the Anglo Saxons knew of four alcoholic drinks, medu, ealu, win, and beor. Mead, Ale, wine, and we don’t know.

But Oswyn, that is obviously beer, you say. Nope. Pregnant women were advised to avoid beor but not ale. That suggests a drink higher in alcohol than ale. While hops were used occasionally in early period, this isn’t the time to distinguish beer from ale yet. There is this word in Old English, beordrunken . It means very drunk. There are several words about getting drunk from mead. None of them mean “very drunk”. So this also suggested beor is stronger than it seems. And in French, cider is bere. So beor might have been a cider, a super cider, or an freeze distilled applejack. And cider in particular is missing from our 4 drink list.

I want to make a cider. I want to make a signature cider for the Drunken Duck. And then I want to turn it into vinegar, because I am weird like that.

Yes another hobby but one that fits into the greater picture. I have been told I lack focus. That is only because you are standing too close to see the whole picture. Trust me, it is all related.

Cider fits in with my persona, fits in with one of the things I do on a regular basis, and helps to give back to those who gave to me. It is all there folks. Wish me well.