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Foamy Black Bug Juice

[Reposted from 2009.]

I hope you are planning your Halloween dinner menu. How about starting the evening with Foamy Black Black Bug Juice?

foamy black bug juice

Foamy Black Bug Juice photo by vsimon

Foamy Black Bug Juice

Sweet, tasty, fragrant. Spicy fragrance, not icky stinky. And just gross enough in a clear glass. Make this right before serving for maximum foam. You can spike it with ETOH (alcohol) for the adults if you like.

serves 6 metric measures
1 tablespoon honey 15 ml
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 gm
2 tablespoons dark raisins 15 gm
1 cup grape juice concentrate 240 ml
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate 80 ml
5 cups sparkling water 1.200 liters

In a small bowl, stir cinnamon into the honey. Drizzle honey mixture around the inside rim of the glass. You will have sticky fingers if it gets on the outside. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

Add a few raisins to each glass.

Carefully add juice concentrates to a tall glass pitcher. Try to be neat and not to get it on the side of the pitcher. Or be messy, it just adds to the eeewww factor.

Add the sparking water and watch it foam.

Pour into prepared glasses. Garnish with lots of foam. It will sparkle in your nose.

Stay tuned for the entree.

start

This was the start of my first airlock cap attempt.

I new that I was not satisfied with our fermenting set up.  Not the antique 2 gallon crock nor the one gallon glass jar with glass lid.  The mold and scum, while expected, was not acceptable.  Internet research had turned up fermenting systems that used an airlock but I was unwilling to spend what they where asking.  So we set out to make our own airlock system.

I started by buying a half dozen, half gallon, wide mouth, Ball mason jars.   3capsThen I found a local beer making supply house that sold airlocks.   So my first airlocks where constructed using the standard wide mouth two piece canning lids,  a couple of varieties of airlocks and some tight fitting o-rings to seal the airlock to the lids.   I also used one piece metal lids saved from grocery store products that fit standard Ball canning jars.

From these first tries I found that the o-rings did not seal well enough by themselves.  And the 2 piece canning lids where not convenient to use during fermentation.   All the metal lids tended to develop rust spots after repeated usage.   And the one piece “S” shape airlocks where too difficult to clean.

 

final

That brings me to my present, and very acceptable, airlock cap system.   The o-rings have been replaced with 100% silicone sealant.   This needs to be food grade silicone,  no kitchen and bathroom silicones with mildewcides.   Most, easily found, aquarium 100% silicone sealants are food grade.  But check the ingredient list.

 

ballcapThen there was the rusty metal lids.  These have been replaced with plastic lids made by Ball.

They come in wide mouth and standard mouth sizes.  I found them at my local grocery store along with the other canning supplies for about $3 per box of 8 caps.   These are also very handy to use to cap the fermentation jars after they are done fermenting and need to be stored in the refrigerator.  If not found locally, they are available on EBay.

airlockAnd for the airlock itself, I have settled on the 3 piece design made by Buon Vino Mfg.- Canada.   It is inexpensive and the unit comes apart for cleaning.   These cylinder airlock units are carried by most beer and wine making supply stores.   I have also seen them for sale on EBay, just search for “airlock”.   Locally they cost me $1 each.

 

 

 

The actual construction of the cap system involves drilling a hole in the center of the plastic cap.  The three piece airlock shaft has a slight tapper, so the hole is sized such that the airlock fits snuggly when inserted to a depth of about half an inch.

outsidebeadinsidebead

A bead of silicone is then applied around the shaft both on top of the cap and then on the underside as well.   Wait a couple of days for the silicone to completely cure before using the cap.

And that is the airlock cap design I am presently using.

Future design changes:  grommetMy next version will incorporate a grommet seal instead of the silicone sealant.   I hadn’t already gone this route because of the cost of the grommets in small quantities and the fact that I could not find the correct size locally.   I’ll post pictures when that design change is made, but until then I’m satisfied with the performance of my current airlock caps.

 

Final design upgrade using rubber grommet.

UPDATE:  

 I just made my final design change incorporating a rubber grommet to hold and seal the air-lock into the plastic cap.  Picture shows completed design with an extra grommet on edge. 

Found an online site that sells them in small quantities for a reasonable price.

Love this design.

 

fermentedbeets (3)

fermented red beet slices

photo by vsimon

 

I am in love.

With my fermenting husband, and these fermented beets.

Vibrant, colorful, crunchy, tangy, salty, probiotic, raw.

 

Last summer he experimented with sauerkraut, the old-fashioned way. In a ceramic crock, with a rock as a weight. It was beyond gross. Under the rock was blue, green, gray, and white mold. Supposedly, this is to be expected. Nothing wrong a little (or a lot of)  mold, they say. My response? “Yuck, no!”

So I bought some glass crocks with loose fitting glass lids. And tried fermenting diced beets. They were equally disgusting. The brine became as thick as honey and everything turned brown. These were dispatched to the compost bin.

We learned about fancy-dancy German crocks with air locks in the lids. They are lovely, prevent mold and spoilage, but cost three figures. That would make for some expensive veggies.

Then Vince’s engineering nature kicked in. And his frugal streak. I will let him explain from here.

***************************************************

fermenting jar with air lock

air lock lid on a canning jar

photo by vsimon

 

Simple Raw Fermented Sliced Beets

The recipe is simple enough, but I wanted the fermentation process to be just as simple.

Normally fermented pickles are done in a crock or glass container with a weight on top to keep the contents below the brine level. And then you have mold and scum that needs to be occasionally and regularly removed. This is not a nice task, and rather off-putting for some.

Another common practice is to use a large plastic bag filled with additional brine as a weight and a seal against mold and scum. But it doesn’t always work and can spring a leak.

The method I like best is to use an air lock to keep out the exchange of air during fermentation. Off gassing is allowed by the air lock during fermentation while maintaining an air seal, thus eliminating almost all mold/scum growth.

To begin with, you will need the right equipment. Any size jar will work, just adjust the recipe to fill it. But the jar cap is not typical. I made the air lock cap by purchasing a simple inexpensive air lock from a beer and wine making store. It cost less than $1. Then I fitted it to a standard jar lid by drilling a hole and sealing the air lock into the hole with silicone caulking. I’ve made several of these for different size jar lids, regular and wide-mouth. You will also need a small weight to keep the beets submerged in the brine. We went weight hunting at a local re-sale shop and found small round glass coasters that just fit into my jars. The weight has to be made of materials that are not reactive with the brine. Glass works great. Marble, and the previous rock, started to dissolve in the brine.

Half-sour pickles. What?

My recipe is based on the basic Half-Sour Brine recipe from Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, with a couple of added ingredients.

Half-sour pickles are not pickles stopped half way through the process. They are pickles that are fermented in lower salt brine.

Classic full sour fermented pickles are fermented in a brine of 5 to 8 percent salt to water ratio by weight. Half-sour pickles are fermented in a 3.5 percent salt brine.

Half-sour pickles also do not take as long to ferment as full sour pickles. These beets will be ready to eat after about 2 weeks in a dark location at room temperature.

fermentedbeets (7)

light streaming through paper thin fermented beets

photo by vsimon

Fermented Red Beet Slices

Equipment

1 quart jar

1 air-lock cap

1 glass weight

Ingredients

fresh beets – thinly sliced. Estimate 6 to 8 medium beets.

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brine

2 cups water

1 tablespoon pickling salt

Begin by thinly slicing your washed raw red beets. Do not remove the stem end, use it as a handle while shaving off the very thin slices. I use a mandolin to slice the beets, but you could slice the beets with a knife.

Pack the beets into your jar until you are within about 1-1/2 inches from the top. Add the ground cloves and cinnamon. Place your weight onto the sliced beets.

Mix brine in a separate container until the salt is dissolved. Pour the brine mixture over the beet slices until it completely covers all the slices and yet is below 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Save any unused brine, you will need it later.

Install the air lock cap and fill the air lock half way with additional brine mixture. Set aside in a dark location at room temperature. Place a saucer or plate under the jar to catch any possible spillage as the fermentation process “breathes”. Bubbling should start within days and slow after a couple of weeks. Keep the air lock half filled with brine during the process adding more if needed.

At the end of 2 weeks, remove the weight and replace the air lock with a regular cap. I found the top layer of beets where a bit off color, but where easily removed. Refrigerate and enjoy.

*************************************************

3 kinds of garden beets

fresh beets

photo by lsimon

More notes from Linda:

Use organic veggies. Fermenting cultivates bacteria and yeast that come with your veggies. They will have more if they aren’t sprayed with killing chemicals.

Vince talks about room temperature. That will vary of course. We put our ferments in the basement when our temperatures are over 85 degrees. If your veggies are bubbling vigorously and so much brine has overflowed that the beets appear “dry”, move them to cooler quarters. And add more brine.

We have used this equipment for sauerkraut with caraway, shredded carrots with thyme, cucumber pickles, and hot radishes. The cabbage, carrots, and cukes where as wonderful as the beets. The radishes were musty and nasty. So far, four hits and a miss. We are waiting on green beans and garlic.

What delicious fun!

Are you fermenting yet?

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