Fermentation is an important process that you should learn to harness. It can help you feed your family and could turn out to be a hobby that becomes a source of income when the Stuff Hits The Fan.
In this podcast I talk about three applications of the process of fermentation: Composting, Bread-making, and Beer, Wine, and Mead-Making.
(Side note: Aerobic composting is actually decomposition, not fermentation. But that doesn't keep me from blindly lumping it together with the other two applications here! And another mistake in the audio--standard cinder blocks or concrete blocks are 16" by 8" by 8", of course, not 16x4x4. Many thanks to feedback from early listeners!)
A fun-topic show, with real, practical application. And even two recipes!
Pete's No-Knead Dutch Oven 5-Ingredient Bread
- 3 cups flour (freshly ground from hard white wheat is best)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1.5 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees F, no hotter)
- 1/2 teaspoon regular bread yeast (the dried kind from the grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar, grapefruit juice, or orange juice (optional)
Mix the flour and the salt well in a large, oiled bowl. Add the yeast to the water and stir. Let sit for a few minutes so the yeast can bloom. Add the vinegar or juice to the water and yeast.
Next pour the water into the bowl of flour and salt, and using a spatula or a large spoon, stir the contents until they are mixed. Only 6-8 turns of the spatula should necessary; do not overwork the mixture. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or seal with a plastic cover.
Ferment the mixture over the next 18-24 hours in a warm (70-75 degrees or so) area. You can take a peek every 6-8 hours if you want. You will see the dough has grown considerably. You can fold the dough with a spatula 2-3 times on itself, but no more than that. Do this a couple of times until the 18-24 hours is up.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured towel or piece of wax paper. Fold the dough on itself twice, then cover with the towel. Let sit for 2 hours.
Preheat the dutch oven and cover in a 500 degree oven. When ready, uncover the dough with floured hands and drop it in the center of the scorching hot dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove carefully from the dutch oven (it should slide right out after a few minutes of cooling), cool, cut and eat.
Pete's Soda Bottle Mead (an easy, homemade, and LEGAL adult beverage!)
- One 12-16 ounce jar of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast (regular bread yeast, or champagne yeast from a winemaking store)
- Yeast nutrient (a half-cup of tea, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, or yeast nutrient from the winemaking store)
Sterilize a large bowl and any utensils you use in the dishwasher or with very hot soapy water (use a teakettle on the stove, but don't melt your bowl or utensils). Pour in the honey, and about the same amount of water. Whisk the honey and water mixture until the honey is fully mixed and dissolved. Whisk strongly so as to aerate the honey-water mixture. Add in the yeast nutient you have selected.
Bloom the yeast in a cup of warm water--no hotter than 100 degrees, else you'll harm the yeast.
After a few minutes, mix the yeast water in with the honey water, also known as the wort. Using a sterilized funnel, pour the wort into a clean two-liter bottle. Add water until the level reaches the "shoulder" of the bottle. Cap tightly, and shake vigorously for a minute.
Place the bottle in a warm, safe place. After a day or two, check the bottle. You should see signs of bubbling and even frothing at the top of the liquid, and the bottle may feel pressurized. If it is, slowly and carefully unscrew the cap until it starts to hiss, and watch the contents closely. If they threaten to stream out of the top of the bottle, screw the cap down tight, and try again. Eventually, burp all of the pressure from the bottle.
Revisit the bottle daily, burping it as necessary. It WILL be necessary for at least a week, and then things will start to slow down. After 2-3 weeks, the fermentation process should be complete. Decant the wort into another two-liter bottle, or a gallon-sized sun tea jar (the kind with a spigot near the bottom). Let it age in this container for as long as you can wait, though it is perfectly fine (and understandable) if you can't wait to sample the brew.
If you want, you can add 3-4 quarts of fresh or frozen (unsweetened) raspberries to each gallon of wort. After a few weeks you will have a pleasantly clear, red beverage that is tasty and will continue to get more mellow in taste for each week and month that you wait. Once again patience when it comes to fermentation is well rewarded.
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