Monday, October 8, 2007

Guerilla Gleaning and Apple Mead

Yesterday at the Coop I came across one of the guys in my banal Education class and we started talking fermentation. He mentioned that he and his roommates had collected 500lbs of apples in the last month around town and told me where to find some trees that had a lot left on them even after they had filled a few bags yesterday.
So after scouting the spot, finding three very fruitful apple tree and jumping over a fence with my trusty Guthrie Center State Bank duffel bag I was the happy bearer of 50 lbs of free apples.
Which needed to be washed and the tub was the only thing I had that was large enough for them all.

Definitely not eating apples but still rather lovely.

What to do with 50 lbs of apples? I wanted to make hard cider but I don't have access to a press and I had promised PeatMoss and Ben a case of mead for their wedding. The awnser to my abundance of apples was melomel; or a mead that uses fruit juice in lieu of water.
So I chopped and boiled; and chopped some more.
The process is the same as making jelly toss the pulp into a bag and squeeze out the juice.

After burning myself the first time trying to pour into the 5 gallon crock I realized that bag fit nicely around the 2 gallon.
We had knitting tonight and so my playing was interrupted but it gave me an excuse to go get a new fermentation toy.

Behold the "Ale Pail". Not nearly as pretty as a five gallon glass demijohn but a 1/4 the cost and much more movable.
It's best to siphon rather than attempting to pour a five gallon stoneware crock.

The recipe for melomel goes as follows.

1 lb of sugar (brown preferably)
1 lb of honey (16 ounces = 2lb to a quart)
1 gallon of juice

Toss in a packet of yeast (you can let it ferment wildly but I'm not taking any chances with such a big batch). Champagne yeast produces a harder mead and this is for a wedding celebration after all.
All told I got bout 3 1/2 gallons of apple juice and made up the rest of the five gallons with water, the sugars, and honey.
The major cost for this project will be the bottles and the honey as I had 70 dollars worth of apples for free. I expect to get 4 bottles to the gallon; so 20 altogether, sixteen of which will go to the blushing grooms in May and four of which will be Christmas presents for a few people.

A cheese cloth goes over the ale pail until the mixture starts bubbling and then it gets sealed up until the fermentation slows. Probably 5 weeks given the size of this batch.

Today I'm going to ferment some radishes but I need to throw together a Multiple Intelligences project for class.

And look the mead is already bubbling happily!



frelsingi said...

fermenting wildly with sugar -- adding sugar to honey, that is -- would be a no good situation methinks... so twas a boon to add the champ yeast

dickie said...

hi! I'm not sure how I found your blog. It was probably linked to another blog I read. =)
I love your step-by-step pictures.

Eric & Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric & Tony said...

Awesome! You are inspiring me to try new things.