Mead

IMG_20170411_184954_036This has to be my favorite drinks. Great chilled in the summer, or warmed in the winter. Its probably one of the first ever alcoholic drinks ever made and is mostly out of fashion these days. It due a resurgence!

For years I was reluctant to make mead, due to the high cost of obtaining honey, I was always worried that if it went wrong it would cost too much. Luckily I overcame this fear, as I now make a very good mead, that proves popular with many. I have even converted non-mead drinkers to it.

Due to the aging process this is best made in regular bulk, to avoid disappointment of it all being gone!

Check out my blog on the basics of home brewing before you start here.

Ingredients:

  • Clear honey – 2kg for sweet/1.7kg/for medium/1.4kg for dry
  • 4.5 l water
  • 2 teaspoons of citric acid (or the juice and rind of 2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon of wine yeast (I use Young’s super wine yeast compound
  • 1 campden tablet (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)

Method:

Put the honey into the bucket with 2 litres of boiled water and stir until dissolved.

Add the citric acid and 2.5 litres of cold water.

Make a note of the gravity.

When the liquid has cooled to room temperature, add the yeast. Leave to ferment for 3 days.

_20170501_212145Strain the liquid into a 5 litre Demijohn, fit with an airlock and leave to ferment until it stops bubbling – this depends on the general surrounding temperature.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already, and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Finally, siphon the mead into bottles and cork. Age for a minimum of 3 months before drinking.

The basics of homebrew

 

FB_IMG_1493570193695​I love making my own booze, it’s great fun and the results taste fantastic. There are a few basic rules that you need to follow. I won’t go into too much detail here, as there are plenty of books out there that do it better, and I really want this to be as simple as possible so that brewing doesn’t seem daunting.
The first rule of making any kind of brew, is to make sure you sterilise everything. Buckets, bottles, siphons – everything that comes into contact with your brew. You can buy sterilising powder in home-brew shops, Wilko’s or online. Follow the directions on the packet and clean everything thoroughly.

Once clean, rinse the equipment well.

The next thing is to make sure you have a hydrometer. These are cheap to buy and will help you to know when your brew is finished fermenting. It will also enable you to estimate the alcohol content of your finished brew.

  • Take a reading before you add your yeast. This is known as the Original gravity or OG
  • Take another at the end. This is known as the Final gravity or FG
  • Using a simple formula, (OG – FG) x 0.13 = %, you can then figure out the alcohol content of your finished brew
  • For example if your original gravity is 1080 and your final gravity is 1000, then using the formula (1080 – 1000) x 0.13 = 10.4% alcohol content

The original gravity of most wines and meads should start at around 1050 – 1100

The original gravity for beer should start at around 1040

The higher the number, the higher the potential alcohol content of your brew, however this is also limited by the type of yeast used.

Your brew will either finish fermenting when the yeast runs out of food (sugar) or when the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to live in.

When your brew stops bubbling, or slows to less than 1 bubble a minute, use the hydrometer to see if your brew is finished fermenting. Move your brew somewhere warm and check the gravity over a period of 3 days and if the reading doesn’t change, fermentation has stopped.

At this stage there are a few optional things you can add to your brew. Not everyone does, but I like too. The first 2 things are fermentation stopper, and campden tablets. These are generally added at the same time to wine, mead and cider, and help to stabilise the alcohol by killing off any yeast that might still be hanging around. They also help to prevent any bacterial growth during the ageing process. Add these as per the packet instructions, usually you’ll need to stir your brew daily for 3 days after adding, which will also help to remove any trapped co2.

The next thing is bentonite. This is a naturally occurring clay that draws particles from the alcohol and settles it to the bottom of your container. This clears the alcohol, so you can siphon your liquid into a new container or bottle to prevent a hazy wine.

Spicy roasted chickpeas

IMG_20170430_144535_346These make a great healthy snack. They are rather more-ish though, so don’t last very long!
I got the idea from my sister in law, but went with my own flavourings.

 

 

 

 
Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method:

Drain the chick peas, keeping the juice to use in cakes, instead of eggs (see my chilli chocolate brownies recipe here).

Pat the chick peas dry with a tea towel and put them into a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat all the chick peas.

Add the spices and mix well, making sure all the chick peas are well coated.

Place them onto a baking tray in a single layer and cook in a pre heated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes until crisp

Dark chocolate rocky roads

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I made these for my wife as a dairy free alternative Easter treat, to get round her allergy.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g vegetable fat spread (I use Flora Freedom)
  • 200g 70% dark chocolate (Green & Black’s)
  • 2.5 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g rich tea biscuits, roughly broken
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 100g cranberries100g
  • Brazil nuts, roughly chopped

 

Method:
On a low heat, melt the spread, chocolate and syrup together in a pan.

Line a square baking dish with cling film

Once the chocolate and spread mix is completely melted, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and mix through.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and place it in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, until set.

Remove from the dish and discard the cling film. Chop into bite-sized squares.

Ginger wine

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This one is super easy to make and great on a cold winter evening by the fire. I make 5 gallon batches as it never seems to last long enough!

Check out my blog on the basics of home brewing before you start here.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g root ginger
  • 1.5kg granulated sugar
  • 100g raisins
  • 2 tsp of citric acid (or the juice and rind of 2 lemons)
  • 4.5l water (boiled)
  • 1 tsp of wine yeast (I use Young’s super wine yeast extract)
  • 1 campden tablet (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)
  • 350ml brandy

Method:

Grate the ginger into a bucket, add the sugar, raisins, citric acid and 2.5l boiled water and stir well.

Mix in 2 litres of cold water and finally add your yeast. Check and make a note of the gravity.

Cover loosely for 1 week before straining into a demijohn with an airlock.

When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew!

Finally, share the brandy between your bottles,  siphon the wine in and cork. Age for a minimum of 6 months before drinking.

Vegan chilli chocolate brownies

FB_IMG_1493492384700Chilli and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations, so these brownies are perfect for me!

The original recipe for this one came from the RHS Red hot chilli grower book. I have adapted the recipe several times, more recently to allow for my wife’s dairy and egg allergy.

If you are into spicy things you can up the amount of chilli to your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 300g really dark chocolate
  • 300g light soft brown sugar
  • 250g dairy free spread (I have used both Flora freedom and Stork)
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 220g plain flour (sifted)
  • Juice from 1 can of chick peas (also known as aquafaba)


Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Put the chocolate, sugar, spread and chilli into a pan and slowly heat until dissolved

Meanwhile whisk the chick pea juice to form soft peaks

Take the chocolate mix off the heat and stir in the flour. Fold in half the chick pea juice, followed by the other half

Distribute the mix between cupcake cases. You should end up with around 16

Cook for around 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch