Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goldilocks' Chocolate Stout

Grabbed a all-grain chocolate stout kit from the brew shop (forgot the grain bill _again_.)  8.5 lbs grain = 11 liters = 3 gallons @175 F.  Added the grain and it was too hot.  Dropped some ice in and it was still too hot.  Dropped some more ice in and it was still too hot.  Dropped about a quart of tap water in and it was too cold.  Boiled the kettle and poured it in - 3 times! - and it was still too cold.  4th kettle and it was close enough (148 F) that I started the timer while boiling it one more time.  Bloody hell!

The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the first batch of ice did the job, and I didn't stir well enough or wait long enough for the thermometer to register the change.

Aaaaanyways, the low grain bill is in part because we add 10 oz dextrose, an 12.5 oz lactose.  I'm also adding 3.15 oz (90g - 1 wheel) of Mexican drinking chocolate, finely ground.  All of that went in the wort.

3/4 oz UK Challenger (AA 6.5%) @ 1 hour.
1/4 oz UK Challenger (AA 6.5%) @ 15 min.

initial SG 1.040

Sourdough Baguette

Baking appears to be at least as much chemistry as cooking, so I thought I'd better take notes as I'm experimenting with a new (to me) recipe.  Here seems as good a place as any.

Laur gave me a sourdough starter, and I'm playing with it.  Starting from here, making some adjustments based on the adjustments that worked for my other baguette recipe, and some from a page Laur gave me on making sourdough sourer.  Keeping the adjustments small to start, figuring I can tweak more later once I've seen how well it worked.

Fed 60g of starter (down 5g, for extra sour) with 70g water and 70g flour.  Using Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour throughout.  I was supposed to let that sit for about 6 hours according to the recipe - I gave it more like 15, because I didn't feel like doing the second step at 1am.  We'll see if that matters, but the be-more-sour guide recommends lengthening and slowing the growth stages, so I think its all to the good.


600g flour
187g starter mix (200 less the scrapings in the bowl, down a bit for extra sour)
400g water

into a shaggy mess in a bowl.  (I'll try this recipe in the bread-maker later, but I want the by-hand version to compare it to.)  Sit for ~25 minutes to autolyse without the salt (which I've never done before.)

Knead for 5 min.  Realise I've forgotten to add the salt before kneading; add 15g salt (up a bit for retarding yeast growth at altitude) and knead for 30 sec more.  Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for an hour.

Fold the dough over itself a dozen times.  Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for an hour.

Fold the dough over itself a dozen times.   Cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap (opposite directions, so it can rise without exposing itself) directly on the surface of the dough.  Put in fridge for 12 - 24 hours.

Ohhhhhhkaaaaay.  Didn't rise.  At all.  How is that even possible?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Still More Ham

Hanging ham in the Tomb.

Day late, but hung the ham today.  Thorough rinse in cold water, followed by white wine vinegar, followed by wrapping in still-wet muslin that had soaked in the vinegar for half an hour.  (The muslin, as near as I can tell from most sources, is to keep the flies off.  This shouldn't be necessary here, and I have seen photos of people drying their hams in open-weave mesh bags, but I figured safer was better than sorry.)  Cellar is currently 55 degrees F and 61% humidity.
Cheesy meter came free with Time magazine, but it seems to read reasonably accurately, as double checked against local weather reports when its outside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Ham

In my somewhat-hurried research, I found basically two different ways to salt the ham.  One is to completely bury it in salt, and put weight on it.  This makes the pressure omni-directional, which is good for squeezing out the liquids, but it has some drawbacks: 1) you need to rig up some way to drain the liquid off, 2) working around the bone - to keep it from supporting the weight and keeping the meat from getting pressed - can be difficult, and 3) it takes a heck of a lot of salt.  The alternative method sounded much easier: coat the meat in salt and loosely wrap it in plastic, and press it under weight.  But the pressure then becomes kind of focused; it presses down from above instead of in from all sides.

So I went with a multiple stage solution.  First I coated it in salt, put it in a trash bag, and poked some drainage holes in the bag.  Then I set this in a roasting pan to catch the runoff, put about 12 pounds of weight on it, and put it in the fridge for 3-4 days, draining the pan occasionally.  Then I took it out of the fridge and put it in "the tomb" - the beer cellar under the garage, which stays at a pretty constant temperature of 60 F.  Here I had a bit more room, so I put a beer keg on top of it for more weight (~10 lb. keg + 5 gallons of beer = ~50 lbs.)  Lots of liquid poured off over the next week or so, and I resalted it a few times too.  During this phase I checked the humidity in the room, and its actually holding steady at about 60% - largely because of the pork juices sitting in the pan, I imagine.  Still, this makes me think leaving a pan of water in the room will be enough for the hanging stage, when Flagstaff's natural 25% humidity is really far too dry.

Yesterday was the first time I'd gone for 24 hours without really having any liquid to drain off, so this morning I transferred the ham, wide-end-down, to a food bucket with a layer of salt in the bottom.  Then I coated it with another thick layer of salt, before filling the rest of the bucket with a bag of rice in a plastic bag and a few cans, with salt packed all in around it.  The bag of rice and cans just being to take up room, so I didn't need so much salt.  This allowed me to fill salt almost all of the way up over the end of the ham bone, and then put my 50 lbs. of beer back on top for weight.

Notes from Nik and my other sources put this salting stage at anywhere from 2-4 weeks, and I figure overdoing it is better than underdoing it.  We'll see what I need to do for drainage and how much liquid continues to come out of it - I'm guessing that I'm going to have to end up drilling holes in the bottom of my food bucket.