Sunday, October 10, 2010

recipe development notes

This entry is a placeholder for recipe notes.

black prince tomatoes

We've been getting lots of tomatoes from the greenhouse lately. I haven't kept very good track of the varieties I've most enjoyed, but the Black Prince is a standout both visually and for its flavor. I planted seeds from Territorial. It's an indeterminate variety from Russia that is supposed to tolerate cooler conditions.

They range from golf ball to baseball in size. This one isn't the prettiest but it's fairly representative of ones that should probably be harvested.

I'm still trying to figure out the optimal color and firmness at which to pick them. They tend to have a softer texture than I like when too ripe, but by appearance alone it's tempting to not pick them early enough. I think there should still be a fair amount of green showing to get firmer flesh with good flavor.

The flavor is really outstanding. I've enjoyed them plain, in green salads, and in insalata caprese. These are some of the tastiest tomatoes I've grown. The flavor is rich and sweet. Wedges with cracked black pepper and salt satisfy perfectly.

All the tomatoes are still going strong in the greenhouse, so I'm not sure yet whether these will prove to have a longer season than the others. I will definitely plant Black Prince again next year, regardless. I've had no problems with them at all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

fresh hops American pale ale, part 1

This is an American pale ale made with hops fresh from the garden. When using fresh (wet) hops rather than dried, somewhere between 4 and 6 times the quantity by weight is required. I have just enough fresh Centennial and Cascade to make what I hope will be a robustly aromatic beer.

Here's an interesting article and slide show from the NY Times about fresh hops beer and a hops farm in Salem, Oregon.

I looked to Palmer's American Pale Ale recipe from How To Brew as a starting point, as well as the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone recipe from BYO's May/June 2005 issue.

I probably would have gone with the recommended Wyeast American Ale if The Cellar hadn't been out. Instead I got Wyeast yeast strain 1272, American Ale II, described thusly:
With many of the best qualities that brewers look for when brewing American styles of beer, this strain’s performance is consistent and it makes great beer. Fruitier and more flocculent than Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast, slightly nutty, soft, clean with a slightly tart finish. Ferment at warmer temperatures to accentuate hop character with intense fruitiness, or ferment cool for clean, light citrus character. Expect good attenuation, but this will vary with grist makeup, mashing protocol, or other wort characteristics. Reliably flocculent, producing bright beer without filtration.
Flocculation is high, attenuation is 72 - 76%, and temperature range is 60F - 72F.

The recipe I ended up with for a 5.5 gallon batch was:
  • 6 pounds light liquid malt extract (The Cellar's house brand)
  • 1 pound Briess Pilsen light DME
  • 1 pound 2-row malt
  • 1 pound crystal 40 malt
  • 1 ounce Northern Brewer hops, 8.5 AA, 65 min
  • 4.1 ounces fresh (wet) Centennial hops, 35 min (AA unknown)
  • 4.1 ounces fresh (wet) Centennial hops, 15 min (AA unknown)
  • 2.8 ounces fresh (wet) Cascade hops, 5 min (AA unknown)
  • Wyeast 1272, American Ale II liquid yeast
This is a little heavier on the bittering hops than Palmer's recipe, which would have called for about .65 ounces of Northern Brewer after AA adjustment.

I steeped the grains for 30 minutes, starting at 170 degrees and ending at 156, in 3 gallons. I see from Palmer, page 136, that it's best to have no more than a gallon per pound, so I should have used only 2 gallons.

Refilled the kettle to 3 gallons, added the DME at 200 degrees, brought to boil, and added the bittering hops.

At 30 minutes, added the Centennial. At 45, added the LME and returned to boil. I brought the container of LME up to something over 150 degrees in a hot water bath to minimize the recovery time. At 50 minutes, added more Centennial. At 60, added Cascade. Knockout at 65 and into icy sink where I removed the hop boiling bags.

Cooled to about 90 degrees, aerated by pouring between kettle and fermenter three times, and topped off with refrigerated Crystal Geyser spring water. Mixing of wort and water was very poor, so poured off about 4 gallons into the kettle and back to the fermenter, which did the trick. Temperature was 71 degrees and volume was 5.5 gallons.

Original gravity was measured at 1.052, smack in the middle of Palmer's range of 1.045 to 1.060. That agrees very well with the calculated gravity using 22 points from the steeped crystal, 42 from the DME, and 216 from the LME, or 50.91 points per gallon, or 1.051 gravity.

Pitched the yeast and transported to the downstairs bathroom where I think it will stay at the lower end of the temperature range. After seven hours it was down to 68 degrees, with no noticeable activity.

Next time, I need to drain the hops bags into a sanitized bowl. There was 8 or 12 ounces of wort that didn't make it into the primary. I poured it into a jar (unsanitized), added a little water, and pitched the dregs from the yeast pack. Maybe I'll get a picobrew out of it. It was already active after just a few hours.

The wort is quite bitter. There is some hop aroma but it's not a blast in the face or anything. I believe that much of the aroma is transported to the snout via carbonation so it's probably inappropriate to draw any conclusions yet. There is definitely a flavor I have not experienced in a wort before and I'd say it's something close to the aroma of the fresh hops, perhaps a little vegetal. I'm not sure I'd say grassy, though, which is one description I've heard of fresh hops ales. I think I'm going to like this!

Update: 24 hours later I still wasn't seeing any bubbling, but I did notice a strong (and delicious) hoppy aroma in the vicinity. Realizing that I'd first noticed it much earlier in the day I inspected the stopper and found it to be loose. Jammed it in and the blowoff tube began bubbling immediately and continuously. The temperature is holding at 68 degrees. The picobrew jar has a thick layer of krausen.

Update: After a week, racked to the secondary/bottling bucket. Gravity is 1.015 and bubbling is very infrequent. I'm hoping it will clarify considerably in the next week. There's not a particularly strong hop aroma but perhaps that will become evident once carbonated. I'm quite pleased with the overall flavor at this point, though, and the body is really nice. I'll be a bit disappointed if the aroma hops don't make an appearance, but it's likely to be a nice pale in any event.

I think this is the first time I've used a bottling bucket as a secondary. This lets me take gravity samples easily and safely through the spigot and since it's off the trub they should be clean. No racking and less cleaning on bottling day will be a nice convenience.

Update: Final gravity on 10/29 before bottling is 1.014 for an apparent attenuation of 72%. Tastes excellent. Very smooth, good body, nice bitterness, a little sweetness. I'd say it mainly exhibits the expected characteristics of warmer fermentation with this yeast. Still not a particularly hoppy nose. Clarified pretty well, but the sample is from the bottom of the secondary and I'm sure it will be crystal clear in bottles.

Friday, October 8, 2010

face full of lupulin

It was hop harvest day! For 15 rapturous minutes I was in a cloud of aromatic Cascade and Centennial hop cones. It was a delicious sensorily immersive experience, like standing in the cloud of smoke from roasting coffee beans.

Not that I have all that much to show for it. There were 2.8 ounces of Cascade, and 8.2 ounces of Centennial. But it's more than enough to use for aroma in a five gallon batch of fresh hop pale ale, which I plan to do tomorrow.

I should have brought these in sooner, since quite a few cones have brown spots, but I haven't had time to brew and really wanted to do something with them fresh.

Once I got them into bags I noticed that they are pretty buggy. Probably nothing to worry about, but this brew may have a little extra protein.

The Golding hops did not grow very well and the few cones were already completely dried.

Next year will be the third for these plants. They should be substantially larger, but I also think they need more nourishment than I provided this year.

Monday, October 4, 2010

baked Scotch eggs

I had Scotch eggs once, years ago, probably at a restaurant in Victoria. Unlike the fine people of Scotland I don't regard deep frying to be the apotheosis of cooking methods, but a breaded, sausage-wrapped hard-cooked egg hurled into boiling oil is indeed heart-stoppingly delicious.

Deep frying really doesn't seem necessary, though. I thought I'd attempt to make them in the oven.

I like baking eggs rather than boiling them. 30 minutes at 325 degrees is just right. The yolks become exceptionally creamy and it's much easier to hard-cook a dozen or two eggs this way than it is to boil or steam them.

I used a mild Italian bulk sausage mixed with a handful of minced onion and chives. I patted a couple ounces of sausage into a thin oval, dredged a wet egg in flour, and packed the meat around the egg. After being bathed in raw egg beaten with Dijon mustard, the egg was rolled in panko bread crumbs.

They rested on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then went into a cold oven set to 350 degrees. After about 35 minutes I turned on the broiler for a few minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

The only problem was that the sausage split on most of them. I really didn't use a thick enough coating. I'd purchased only a pound of sausage and that just wasn't enough for eight eggs. Three ounces per egg would probably do the trick.

Despite this aesthetic glitch, the boys and I were quite pleased. The breading was crisp and not at all greasy, and the flavors and texture were just what I was looking for. And baking is so much more convenient than deep frying. I think I'll be trying this again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Brother Juniper's wild rice and onion bread

I just got the updated edition of Peter Reinhart's Brother Juniper's Bread Book: Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor. I've only skimmed it, liking very much what I've seen, but I did take a stab at the recipe for wild rice and onion bread.

Rather than wild rice I used leftover red jasmine rice, and I also chose the fresh onion variation rather than dried. Executive summary: fantastic!

It's slightly sweet, nicely oniony, very tender, and when freshly baked had a superb crackly crust.

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons active dry yeast proofed in 4 tablespoons water
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup cooked red jasmine rice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1.5 cups water

All the dry ingredients are mixed and then liquids added. I kneaded it in the KitchenAid for about 8 minutes. With this much yeast and sugar it rises aggressively. The first rise was an hour. I formed two loaves and let them rise for another hour. Baking time at 350 degrees was close to an hour. Because the dough contains brown sugar and buttermilk it's important to bake at a lower temperature or the crust will scorch.

This is a good way to use leftover rice. I'd like to try it with a wild rice blend to see how it differs, but the red jasmine rice is also very flavorful, nutty, and firm. I wonder how the recipe would take to a doubling of the rice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

purple gusto pepper pico de gallo

Although the gardening has been wretched this year there are now a few usable purple gusto peppers among all the lovely blossoms on the plants I grew from Territorial seed. Since I'm now also harvesting a reasonable number of tomatoes it seemed like Salsa Night!

I've had one plant in the greenhouse and one outside. The peppers in the greenhouse are slightly but consistently larger.

They are fairly zippy. The flesh is thin and firm and I minced it very finely; any sizable piece would be fiery enough to incur significant displeasure in some of the household salsa eaters. Three of them went into a basic pico de gallo: peppers, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper.

It's very good, but I'd like it better with heftier chunks of pepper. Something meatier like a jalapeño would be preferable. But it's sure nice to be eating something new from the garden.

Monday, September 20, 2010

second biltong

It's been nearly a year since the first satisfying biltong venture, and while I still have a bit in the freezer it feels like time to try again. I did receive a slight prodding from the sight of the disassembled components of my homemade drying rig during a recent garage cleanup operation.

Biltong does freeze quite well, although my wrapping wasn't ideal and I can detect a bit of freezer flavor. We last enjoyed it during World Cup while watching one of South Africa's games. Our respectful gesture did not seem to help them any.

The interior of the first biltong is still pretty pink. It oxidizes in a matter of seconds after being sliced. I think this is probably on the rare side for biltong but there doesn't seem to be any problem with it spoiling in this state.

This time I thought I'd try flank steak. QFC had it on sale so I picked up a little under nine pounds at $5/pound. I used something pretty close to the same recipe, doubling it and also adding a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I did not double the salt, however, sticking with two tablespoons.

The steaks were sliced in half with the grain, yielding eight long slabs. These should all fit in the dryer just fine despite the doubling of quantity.

It went into ziplock bags. I later noticed that the marinade dregs included perhaps a teaspoon of salt, so this recipe is using considerably less than the last. It is very tasty and I should come up with some other use for it.

After marinating for more than 24 hours they went into the Meat Wardrobe on Monday evening. I ran it it a little cooler than last time, probably averaging less than 100 degrees. Since the fan runs only when the heating element is on there's less air flow as well.

Friday evening I took a sample. It was still quite rare inside.

The flavor was good and I liked the texture at that point, although it will certainly become a little less pliant after a few more days. The sheen on the sliced surfaces is fat, not water. It's not nearly as moist as it looks.

Saturday morning I pulled one out to take to Matt's pig roast, wrapped it, and forgot it. The rest came out Monday morning, for a total of 6.5 days in the dryer. The final weight was 63 ounces.

I'm very pleased with it. It strikes me as more flavorful than the first one. There's no detectable heat from the red pepper flakes, so next time I might crank that up. It certainly doesn't need more salt for flavor. I wonder to what extent the salinity affects the transfer of marinade flavors into the meat, though. Too little salt may be detrimental in that regard.

I think the slices at an angle across the grain of the flank steak produce a better texture than either the tri-tip or sirloin.

So, good result. If I didn't keep poking at it and taking pictures it would be an entirely hands-free operation between hanging and harvesting, so probably only about an hour of active time is required. It works out to a little more than $11/pound, while I see it advertised for more like $25 - $40/pound. It's much tastier than any beef jerky I've ever had. Definitely a worthy undertaking

Monday, September 13, 2010

homemade biltong dryer AKA the meat wardrobe

Biltong is a cured, air-dried meat. Some people dry it outdoors for a little extra tree and insect flavor, some hang it in a closet for a hint of cedar and lint, and some use a low oven and live without baked potatoes for a whole week. An artificial heat source is optional, although temperature and humidity obviously have a large effect on the drying time.

For my first attempt last year I wanted a somewhat controlled and sanitary environment for drying the biltong, as well as one that wouldn't conflict with other household activities. I ruled out the garage, oven, and my sock drawer and figured I'd build something.

My thoughts quickly turned to the wardrobe moving boxes we purchased several years ago. They were so expensive that I just couldn't bear to throw them out. They have over 10 cubic feet of volume, a shirt and meat hanging rod, several cutouts for carrying and venting, and a convenient access panel. I also had a small thermostatically controlled forced air heater with a safety shutoff. Perfect!

I cut a piece of scrap plexiglas, probably left over from the construction of some reptile enclosure, for a viewing window.

This spare oven thermometer goes down to 100 degrees F, which seems fine for the low end. The heater, pretty close to its lowest power and thermostat settings, holds the temperature just fine at 100 to 120 degrees.

I lined the bottom of the box with aluminum foil for sanitation. At least initially the meat does drip a bit. Here's my five pound first batch hanging.

And here it is all done.

One reasonable modification would be to raise the height of the bar. There's plenty of room to go up with it, and very long cuts of meat might hang low enough to be undesirably close to the heater.

Overall it ends up being a convenient and multitasking tool. The box breaks down for flat storage, and the heater keeps the garage smelling meaty fresh when I'm out there in cold weather.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

first homemade kvas, part 2 (the sour!)

While the first bottle of my first homemade kvas was disappointing, I wasn't entirely surprised. The second bottle made up for it by being something completely unexpected and quite good! The third was the same. The difference? Months of conditioning.

It has been nearly nine months since I bottled it. I opened the third and final bottle tonight, having opened the second several months ago. I don't think there was much difference between those two. But the difference between them and the first was stunning. An aged kvas can apparently be a delightful thing.

It has become something akin to a sour Belgian beer. It's not a beverage I'd want to drink in any great quantity, but a small glass is delicious and refreshing. The molasses flavor, for which I don't much care, is basically gone. There's a slight dark fruitiness, perhaps in part from the few raisins or perhaps as a byproduct of the fermentation. The tartness combined with a medium body and robust mouthfeel is really pleasant. As far as I know bread-based kvas is intended for fresh consumption so this result was a complete surprise.

I've been wanting to brew a sour beer ever since tasting the fantastic Flanders red ale that Zach brought to a homebrew club meeting last summer. Maybe I'll do one of those next.

testing the $3 popover pan

While dropping of some stuff at a thrift store I made my usual book and electronics scavenging run and found a nearly mint condition "professional quality" black steel popover pan in the original box for $3! (I was looking at more than books and bits, obviously.) The heavy black steel is supposed to lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees and decrease the baking time by 10% or more.

For starters I tried the recipe on the front of the box. At the time I didn't have any all-purpose flour so I figured I'd experiment with what I had: whole wheat pastry flour and white whole wheat flour. I also added the "speck of soda" penned in by the previous owner. I wasn't surprised when this didn't produce the ideal result. Probably any significant proportion of whole wheat with its jagged shards of bran is going to prevent the batter from capturing the steam that makes the popover pop. They did puff to a degree, but the interior was fairly solid. Still, they were light and tasty, like a whole wheat German pancake.

After restocking the cupboard with unbleached AP flour I tried again, omitting the soda speck. Now that I think about it, the author of that modification surely meant baking powder, not soda. Perfect results this time.

Alton Brown's popover recipe in I'm Just Here For More Food is a little different, adding some butter, using some water and less milk, and using one less egg. I'll have to try that next.

first coffee roast in modified Popcorn Pumper

I cleaned off my work bench the other day, organizing and storing the bazillion fasteners, tools, scraps, instruction manuals, and spare household pets. It was a beautiful blank slate for the first time since we moved in, what, five years ago? And it was literally crying out for projects!

While cleaning up the rest of the garage I found the Popcorn Pumper, which I haven't used for roasting coffee since finding the Poppery II. Seemed like a good time to toy with a few modifications. I started small, simply bypassing the thermal switch (and thereby creating a magnificent fire hazard). This is just a matter of soldering a wire between the terminals on either end of the thermostat and fuse, more or less according to this Engadget how-to. This keeps the heating coil on constantly, delivering significantly greater heat. (This great article has more explanation of the circuitry in these things.)

I also made an aluminum chimney to replace the bulky plastic hood, which really does not care for these temperatures. This was just some leftover aluminum roof flashing, rolled and fastened with J-B Weld.

The first trial run was excellent! I took it outside, preheated for a minute, and added enough beans for there to be some agitation but no swirling. I stirred occasionally with a wooden spoon, which is now possible since I can get straight into the chamber. The difference in heat was obvious. Roasting time was greatly reduced, and it's clear that any desired roast can be achieved without baking the beans. The chaff was all blasted directly out the chimney.

I didn't take any measurements but the results are clear. This is an enormous improvement over the original machine and the Poppery II as well. This was Sweet Maria's Classic Italian espresso blend and I took it to a very dark roast with a speed and consistency I've never seen.

2010-09-13 update: Tried again, this time shooting for a lighter roast. 4.65 ounces for five minutes produced this:

It was just entering second crack. That may be a little faster than is desirable. The roaster could have handled more beans. Adding beans generally speeds things up but I'm not sure that would be true in this case where I'm doing some manual agitation until the beans are light enough to fluidize. I guess the best approach will be to vary the supply voltage.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Naturally Preferred Organic Whole Wheat Rotini one word review: yech

In a few more words it's flavorless, roughly textured, and has no elasticity (and not as a result of overcooking). It may be a step up from the cardboard box it comes in, but only because that little plastic window would get stuck in your throat.

This is a Kroger house brand. I won't buy the stuff again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

homemade ciabatta bruschetta with tomato salad

Leafing through the Sunday paper I saw a recipe for tomato salad on grilled bruschetta. (I think "grilled bruschetta" is redundant, but this was that stellar food journal Parade, after all.) Sounded like an excellent appetizer for a day that was predicted to reach 95 degrees in Seattle. It called for ciabatta bread, and I recalled the one minute ciabatta recipe I'd enjoyed before. But it was already 1:30... could it be done?

I threw it together, experimentally using white whole wheat for one third of the flour, and set the bowl outside to rise. By 5:00 I figured I'd better get moving if this was going to end up on the dinner table. It had risen adequately, it seemed, although if I'd been thinking I would have increased the yeast. I certainly did not want to use the oven, so I fired up the grill and baked it at about 425 for 25+ minutes on a hollow cookie sheet.

The tomato salad was a basic combination of fresh tomatoes, red onion, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pretty standard, but there is simply no bad way to combine those ingredients. Sadly, only the basil was from the garden. Mid-August and I've had two ripe tomatoes. And don't even get me started on the peppers. This has been a stonkingly unproductive gardening year so far.

Verdict: Not bad. The bread was certainly a bit rushed. It didn't really open up like a ciabatta should, and I'm sure flavor would be better if the yeast had more time to do its thing. The whole wheat probably interfered with the usual texture, too. But once grilled and topped, totally satisfactory for the wall time and level of effort.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

potato towers take 2

After the somewhat disappointing yield of the potato boxes last year I was sure I'd done something wrong. A little searching makes it clear that a lot of people have had similar results. (Actually, my results of 29 pounds in one box and 18 in the other seem quite good compared to most, but what I did not get was potatoes above the bottom layer.)

Today I happened across some good stuff at which refers to, and The right way to do it may be to keep only the top inch of vine uncovered, which is definitely not what I did last year.

According to Ciscoe's instructions I was already behind, with some plants at 12 inches and more, so I did some hasty shoveling. I also tossed in three tablespoons of Osmocote 14-14-14 per bin. I'll continue using soil for the bins, I think.

In this tower I have German butterballs.

And this one has All Blue.

For the potato bed, which had already been fed with bone meal and an organic vegetable fertilizer, I began mounding with rough mulch from some recent shredding. I'll see how that goes in comparison. This isn't an extremely sunny area so yield may be limited for that reason.

The bed has Russian banana fingerlings, Desiree, Yellow Finn, All Blue, and German butterball. These are all late season varieties. The Desiree and Yellow Finn were from last year's harvest. I know there's a chance they won't produce well, but I'm curious to see what happens. They weren't suffering from any diseases as far as I could tell.

gutter planter update

The gutter planter I built and planted back in March is now producing. We had a nice bunch of mesclun and baby bibb lettuce at dinner as a result of the afternoon's thinning efforts.

As I should have anticipated, the squirrels were disruptive and messed up a lot of the early seedlings. Since then I've put up a system for draping bird netting. The aesthetics are annoying but not egregious.

Monday, April 19, 2010

seventh brew (Belgian witbier), part 1

Brewing my first witbier was a lengthy and educational venture. More educational than fun, as a recall. I've wanted to brew another for many months, both because I love the style and because I was so thoroughly tormented by the first. Everything has been in the garage just waiting since last June!

In my witbier tastings I've certainly encountered great variety in the implementation of the style. I don't know that it's my very favorite but Hoegaarden is surely a benchmark and I like it very much. I would be thrilled to come close to the great original, even if it has suffered at the hands of InBev.

After scouting around online I settled on this recipe for a Hoegaarden clone.

So, I finally got things together on 2010-03-27. First order of business on brew day: follow the sage advice of Charlie Papazian. Relax and have a homebrew! One of the few remaining witbiers from last March seemed appropriate. Not bad. The phenolic notes have quieted a little, but are still dominant. Nice body and carbonation. I do like it; it's just not the result I'm after.

The ingredients and recipe for what I guess I'll have to call Clonegaarden ended up like this:
  • 2 cans Muntons wheat liquid malt extract, 3.3 pounds (unhopped)
  • 4 ounces flaked oats
  • 8 ounces flaked wheat
  • 8 ounces aromatic malt
  • 1 ounce Kent Golding hops pellets, 5.0% AA (60 minutes)
  • .5 ounce Saaz plugs, 7.7% AA (15 minutes)
  • .5 ounce Saaz plugs, 7.7% AA (5 minutes)
  • 1 ounce coriander seed (15 minutes)
  • 1 ounce coriander seed (5 minutes)
  • 1 ounce bitter orange peel (15 minutes)
  • 1 ounce bitter orange peel (5 minutes...but I forgot it)
  • White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast (WLP400)
All the ingredients except the coriander came from Brewmasters Warehouse. Good site and good prices. No complaints at all for my first order.

The grains in separate bags went into 1.5 gallons of tap water at 157 degrees. I kept the heat at 3, and the temperature actually climbed to 170 after 30 minutes. Research: what is optimal, and what about thermometer calibration?

This wort ended up surprisingly dark. Gravity at 170 degrees (77 C) was 1.00. Correcting for temperature, that's 1.025. Research: How much of that is fermentable? All three grains need mashing. According to Palmer, temperatures above 158 inhibit starch conversion, so I was running pretty hot. Palmer's typical malt yields table (Table 27) says PPG for steeping these grains is negligible. So what does that gravity mean, exactly, considering that the final gravity was 1.014? Some significant fraction ended up being fermentable, right? Ah, but on other hand this is the boil gravity, so 1.5 gallons of wort at 1.025 becomes only 1.007 at 5.25 gallons. So I guess it's quite possible that none of that is fermentable.

Added a gallon of water, probably splashing a bit too much. The wort was tasty with lots of body. Brought to boil and added Golding hops. 

Based on my earlier research I've pretty well decided to add malt extract near the end of the boil. Added extract at 45 minutes. This knocked the temperature down to 160 and it took maybe 15 minutes to come back to boiling. That's something to think about with respect to the boiling hops. Also added first half of Saaz hops, coriander (coarsely ground), and orange peel in a nylon hop bag. 

At 55 minutes added the rest of the hops and coriander, but forgot the second half of the orange peel. Grr. I wonder whether I shouldn't make a strong tea and add it during fermentation. (I didn't.)

Cooled, aerated heartily, and added 60 degree tap water to get about 5.25 gallons at 75 degrees according to the bucket fermometer. However, the base of the bucket felt much warmer than the top. I was startled to discover just how ineffectual the delivery of water from the faucet is at blending, even from a height of a foot over the bucket. I'd pulled my original gravity sample already from the spigot and realized that it was useless. Mixed by pouring between kettle and bucket, by which time I'd reduced the temperature to about 66 degrees. And, I also discovered that the kettle thermometer may be high by 8 or 10 degrees. Nice. So, the above temperatures for the steeping are probably erroneous.

The upshot of this latest temperature fiasco is that I really need to mark the kettle so I know exactly volume I'm trying to cool, and I need a new floating thermometer.

Pulled another sample to measure an original gravity of about 1.066. The recipe says OG is 1.055 (and is based on 7 pounds of extract). That's a pretty big difference. The 6.6 pounds of LME at 36 PPG would account for 1.045. I'm not sure whether that's the right figure for wheat malt or not; it may well be lower.

Comparing the two The first one was like syrup compared to the second. I'm shocked at how poor the blending is even when adding that much water. I really need to get the water into the bucket first and then pour in the wort.

The yeast was a bit past its "best-by" date of 2009-10-30. Pitched and and plumbed a small diameter blowoff tube.

Just for fun, I poured the gravity samples into a jar with a sprinkle of Red Star dry champagne yeast I had in the fridge.

Fermentation took a couple of days to get going. I put the bucket in the downstairs bathroom and ran the heater, keeping it in the 70s. During my tussles with the last witbier I had my know your yeast epiphany, so I made sure to keep this at a happy temperature. A week later was still blowing bubbles every several seconds, down from a peak of every second or less. The blowoff tube worked beautifully.

The champagne yeast sample seemed to finish up in a few days. Tasty, but none of the Belgian goodness that the wit yeast should deliver.

By 2010-04-12, or two weeks after visible fermentation started, it had pretty much stopped. The gravity was about 1.017, getting pretty close to the recipe's final of 1.014.

There was just a thin layer of krausen. This one never went berserk -- no crap gunking up the blowoff tube, no cranky stopping and starting.

The flavor at this point was dramatically different from the first witbier. There was no harshness, no phenolic band-aid character. It's good! The bittering hops are detectable and it is considerably more hoppy than the first one, although no hop aroma, really. There's some fruitiness and slight tartness. It's lively on the tongue, almost as if it were already lightly carbonated. There's some bitterness on the finish, and I think that's where I pick up the coriander. Maybe a hint of yeastiness. This is a low-flocculation yeast and it is quite cloudy. From my limited experience I'd say it tastes green, expectedly, and with some time I think it may become quite fine. I am pleased.

Bottled on 2010-04-18, at a final gravity of 1.014. Oh, it's very tasty! No question about its Belgian lineage. It has smoothed out a little in the last week. I think I'm going to be happy with this one aside from the color, which certainly is not possible to achieve using the the Muntons wheat LME.

Bottle count was 25 twelves and 21 sixteens.