My First Brew – Ready to Taste

So I’m a little late in posting the results of my first brew. It sat for two weeks in the basement where it stayed at a fairly constant temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

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It had a rotten fruit yeasty smell – it was about as nasty an aroma as one can imagine juice sitting in the basement for two weeks might smell but with a lingering yeasty scent. In a word, it was off-putting. And not in some kind of delightful “I’ve made jug wine!” kind of way – it smelled closer to moldy tennis shoes than to wine.

But I persevered and stuck on the spigot and plastic tubing for the transfer.

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Transferring the liquid is necessary b/c there’s A LOT of frothy yeast in that jug and I don’t want to drink any of it. Rather than go through the mess of a cheesecloth and funnel, I’m going to siphon the liquid into a sanitized brewing bucket, leaving the clumps of yeast behind in the jug. Then I’m going to clean out the jug and siphon the liquid from the bucket back into the clean jug. This process serves two important functions: 1. Filter out as much yeast as possible from the juice and 2. Use the jug as a pretty and practical container for keeping the juice refrigerated and easy to pour.

The other side of the tube goes into the brew bucket for the transfer.

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Now the tube just needs a little bit of suction to promote the siphoning from the jug into the brew bucket. It was pretty tough to do this job with how gross the concoction smelled. I really didn’t want to end up with a mouthful of clumpy yeast juice.

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Don’t I look nervous? It’s a scary job.

Alas, the siphoning began! And I managed to avoid tasting the stuff.

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And then it was siphoned back into the jug.

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The second transfer is definitely important. Look at how much stuff was still left at the bottom of the bucket.

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And now the pretty jug of juice wine! I decided to let it sit in the fridge for a few days to help it carbonate just a little.

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When I first tried it, I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted like wine in spite of its initial off-putting aroma. But it tasted very dry and not so flavorful.  Like church wine….kind of.

So I let it sit for another week and a half in the fridge to experiment with the taste differences of bottle conditioning it for a bit longer. Mostly I just didn’t want to drink it again for a while.

Tonight, I decided to give it another try. There is no off-putting odor anymore. It’s slightly carbonated, which is nice. (Takes another sip) Still dry, though. Very dry. Like a slightly sweet, very dry rosè wine with teensy hints of blackberry. I think next time, I’ll just do straight up apple juice although something citrusy might be just perfect – like grapefruit or mango.

All in all, though, it was a fun experiment in easy, frugal home-brewing fun.

Cheers!

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Garden Variety

There’s no easier way to save on fresh produce than to invest in growing your own. A raised garden bed can last years and save a family hundreds of dollars each year in a yielded harvest. Obviously the ideal time to create a raised garden bed is the moment after the last freeze of the season.

However, The Beard and I were a bit late in creating this structure.

We finally got the lumber this week and managed to squeeze it all into our little car. We were literally up to our neck in landscape timber.

IMG_1167 Lumber: $44.52

 

But finally the structure was built.

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And then filled.

IMG_1168  Soil: $53.84

And finally…….seeds were sowed!

IMG_1165Seeds: $23.10

Total cost: $121.46

Not exactly cheap, but it’s a great investment if it will actually yield all of the cucumbers, peas, spinach, chard, radishes, lettuce, jalapenos, and bell peppers that were planted into it today.

Bon appetit!

My First Brew – an $8 gallon jug of fermented fruit juice aka wine

About 10 days ago, I learned about Mr. Money Mustache and my life has been forever changed. It’s a great blog that perfectly articulates a wondrously frugal philosophy about money, happiness, and life in general.  After binge reading the entire blog, dozens of frugal ideas and inspirations surfaced from those articles. Ecstatic to try them all, The Beard and I jumped all over the Frugal yet Fancy Homebrewing article which details how to make an easy fruity alcoholic beverage.

The premise is simple:

1. Buy a gallon jug of preservative free juice and an envelope of champagne yeast.

2. Pour the champagne yeast into the juice jug.

3. Fit with an airlock stopper that has sterilized liquid in it.

4. Set aside for two weeks in an area of minimal temperature fluctuation.

5. ??? SCIENCE ???

6. Two weeks later……amazing fruit juice with an alcohol kick.

We gathered the necessary supplies. Luckily, because The Beard is a skilled home beer brewer, we already had a gallon jug with a cap, cleaning/sterilizing supplies, and an airlock stopper.

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The juice combo is from Trader Joe’s: Blackberry juice cocktail and apple juice.

It’s important to sterilize all the equipment, which takes longer to do than anything else.

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Using either a kitchen funnel or a very confident hand, pour the juices into the jug.

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Next comes the packet of champagne yeast. Then put that stopper on! We used white rum as the sterile liquid in the airlock. No need to stir the yeast in, science will pull it down into the brew over time.

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See those little granules sitting at the top – that’s the yeast.

And now, an hour later:

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Frothy goodness! Now we’ll just set it in the cool basement for 2 weeks. Since we used a bit more yeast than perhaps necessary (ahem, in our overzealousness we dumped the whole packet rather than measuring out 1/2 teaspoon) we’ll probably have to transfer the mixture into another container once it’s ready to drink. Don’t want a big yeast cake at the bottom of our beverage jug now do we?

I’m hoping we didn’t add too much yeast….we’ll see in two weeks. Or sooner if the jug froths up too much over the next few days.

Our total cost was only $7 for the juices and $1 for the yeast. I’ll post an update as to how it turns out.