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.