October 21, 2011
To hang with local organic farmer and Weekly food writer Jamie Collins at her home/farm/ranch in Aromas is to bask in self-sufficiency. She has goats, avocado trees, a citrus orchard, heirloom tomatoes and herbs galore, and leverages all of them to the maximum. One of the ways she does more with more is by converting her excess harvest—and that of her bountiful farm—into jams, jellies, vinegar, sauces, soaps, compost and…
Can I get an amen from the congregation.
She broke down how she got into it in this week's Wine & Food issue with a piece called "How to Hooch: The easy art of fermenting alcohol at home."
I asked her for some further do's and don'ts so you knuckleheads don't get all pickled, poisoned and otherwise pukey trying to concoct your own sauce.
Here's what she furnished along those lines, plus some bonus guidance from one Abbie Beane, a veteran home brewer who profiled a brand new house-brew supply store in Seaside with her W&F story "Brew for You: A tiny and helpful new homebrewer hub opens in Seaside."
Hooch Hymnal: Do's and Don't of Fermenting Your Own Sauce By Jamie Collins
Do: • Choose ripe fruit, wash, chop and remove stems or cores and blemishes that could be housing worms or insects.
• Keep in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
• Once fruit begins to ferment and get juicy—within the first few days only—push the fruit under the liquid if not already submerged.
• Log the day you start and note how many days until you get the fermentation you like best. That way you can recreate it in the future.
• Experiment. We liked our strawberry hooch bubbly and still sweet, topped with carbonated water and a squeeze of Meyer lemon. You may like yours more like a sipping brandy with higher alcohol content. Share with friends and get some feedback.
Don't: • Use rotting or inedible fruit. You want the drink to taste good, so if doesn't taste good going in it won't be fabulous after it ferments.
• Mess with the top layer of "funk" after the first two days. The goal is to keep the liquid submerged and the fungus on the top layer only. You will attract more than the natural yeasts you want, and no one wants to drink undesired mold. Use the spigot to extract the liquid—avoid disturbing the top layer.
• Keep the jar closed, instead allow for natural yeasts (available on the skins of some fruit already) to multiply, or purchase a yeast from a wine making shop if you are looking for a distinct type of ferment. There are many types available with all kinds of flavor profiles and benefits.
• Bottle while fermenation is still occurring—it could be very dangerous!
• Hog the hooch.
Best DIY Beer Brainstorms: The Do's and Don'ts of Brewing Your Own Goods By Abbie Beane
Do: • Sanitize well with iodine/biodegradable solution
• Relax, experiment a little, throw in some chocolate or chili peppers. Remember: You typically can't overdo it on chocolate, while chilis are seedy characters.
• Sparge, switch off and uncover: Thoroughly sparging grains adds flavor, switching off heat while stirring in malt syrup deters a burned taste, and uncovering boiling hops prevents unpleasant bitterness.
• Invest in a wort chiller to reduce potential contamination
• Drink beer while home brewing, preferably home brew.
Don't: • Play around with your wort during the final cooling process.
• Leave your wort/beer in the light at any stage. Ambiance is key.
• Bottle in green bottles.
• Let inexperienced/drunk friends near pre-beer without supervision