a wicked wind blows

The low for this time of year in Salisbury is 8c. Tonight it will drop to 4. The overnight lows for the next week are all below that. A couple of times it will be 1 or 2c. I feel like I just took my plants outside to get some sun and now I’ve got to bring the less hardy ones back in for several days… The wind is crazy cold already and gusting like a winter storm was on the way. I think I can blame Norway for this one. 🙂

My First Cider in a while…

The first bottles of Grimstead Green to be bottled in over a year. Maybe two. Don’t get too excited though, this is just the side project I mentioned in the previous post. It tastes very ‘citrusy’ at this point. I put in a tiny bit of honey and stashed them away for a month or so.

The main batch will probably stay in the secondary fermenter for another month unless the weather gets really hot. In that case, I’ll bottle it and take it to my inLaw’s garage which is the coolest place I can find. No one I know here has AC or a basement. My Shed is already reaching 30-40c when it’s all closed up, which was exactly why I lost the batch last time. I might have to invest in a cheap secondhand fridge someplace if I can find room for it. 🙂

first bottles of 2020

A litre Cider hustle

This weekend I took advantage of the rainy day to transfer my cider from the primary fermentor to the second one. The foam had pretty much died down and the burps were coming few and far between so the signs were right.

I wanted to add some apples from grimstead but due to the wet fall we had last year there werent any apples left from granda’s garden. I had prepped some back then but they somehow got into apple pie instead (yum!)

So this batch, my first for over a year, will be basic fare straight from the kit to the glass. I did vary my method a bit by putting honey into the secondary fermenter instead of waiting to add it to each bottle. I Might still do that, or I might not bottle it at all, depends on what I get in two month’s time.

However, I couldn’t resist doing a little experimenting while I was at it. You’ll remember that I had drained off about a liter and a half of cider from the Primary into a carboy to ease the pressure on the Primary. When it came time to put that into the Secondary I just looked at it and thought I might try something a bit different. I rummaged for something to flavour it with and debated on ginger or cinnamon, and eventually came across two cans of ‘Appletiser’ that the Mrs had bought and didn’t like. She really LIKES Appletiser but these were ‘Apple and Lime’ flavour and she didn’t get on well with the extra citrus. I liked it though so and since it only contains apple juice and a squeeze of lime I put them both into the carboy to bring the level up to about an inch or so of the neck and resealed the airlock on it. It didn’t immediately fizz or kill the yeast so fingers crossed eh?

The airlock is still burping every 30 seconds or so and I’ll leave it cooking away over there till it quiets down. Then I’ll give it a taste. Something to look forward to before the main batch is ready for bottling.

Gearing up for production

If you had told me yesterday that it would take me 4 hours to get my cider making kit all set up I would not have believed you. And I probably won’t have tried. 🙂

But it did and blame it on the metabisulfite I found in my shed. I was going to make a single demi-John of cider earlier this month but I could not find the sterilzing crystals. When I checked on Amazon, the choices were few and very overpriced. I guess that’s to be expected mid Pandemic of anything that will clean or sterilize stuff.

Once I found that I dragged the big keg that Juliet scored off a community facebook page. She got two of them in fact, and while they were used and grimy from the last brew made in them, I thought I could use them for cider making just fine. Not to mention they are very expensive at retail prices so getting some for free are worth the time to clean them up.
They are big round containers made of tough plastic with a metal lid and are marked ‘King Keg’ on the outside. I believe this model is a ‘pressure barrel.’ They were missing some key parts and a good hour of that time was my trying to fabricate a replacement part from some hydroponic hoses and a bit of plastic tubing. I’ll show off that homemade part once I am sure it is working . 🙂

I’m going to start cleaning the second one now, while I start the fermentation in a 2.5 litre container and cross my fingers. It is very heavy to lift once it’s full of liquid so I need to position it safely before I put in the final location. Also it’s going to be too cold for the yeast overnight but the forecast ahead is suitable for the next month. Fingers crossed!

This isn’t mine but it looked about this dirty when I got it…

Off to a foamy start!

I knew yesterday that I should make a post about starting the primary fermentation but I got distracted by the threat of a late spring frost that had me bringing back in the 30 or so plants I took out last week.

I couldn’t find my packet of EC-1118 yeast that I normally use for cider so I put in the generic stuff that comes with the John Bull cider mix. I’m still cross that I can’t buy apple juice here at a reasonable price but if I bought 20 liters of apple juice it would cost me more than finished cider! So concentrate it is. Maybe when production eventually goes to 100ltrs or so it will meet a price break.

The yeast was a bit slow starting so I put in another half packet and the mysterious ‘nutrient’ packet you find under the lid of concentrate. It looks just like granulated sugar but not really enough to make a difference in a large batch (IMHO) so I looked it up and it’s actually ‘Diammonium Phosphate‘ which is used in a lots of industrial ways, one of which is encouraging yeast growth in home brewing.

I put the half a litre of brewing sugar, the yeast, and the nutrient in a carboy and left it in my study away from near freezing temperatures for about a week. Once the airlock was bubbling away at nearly 1 burp a minute I mixed it, the concentrate, and some warm water into the new primary fermenter I purchased via Amazon. I should mention that all brewing supplies are scarce, I could have started a new batch two weeks ago if I could have found any sterilizer powder for sale. It wasn’t until I found my previous tin of Sodium Metabisulfite that I was able to move forward.

By bedtime a tiny bit of pressure had built up inside the fermenter but it wasn’t burping regularly yet. I have a 30litre tub and it was filled to just past 23litres. I could make more cider in it but I find it gets a bit watery tasting if I do that.

Fast forward to this morning. I open the door of my study and can immediately smell the cider yeast much much too strongly. I see that the rusty brown foam that forms on the top of the cider had pushed its way through the airlock and is bubbling down the side and pooling on the top of the fermenter. THAT means that I had over 7 liter’s of foam form in my tub overnight and this wasn’t even the champagne yeast I usually use! Fortunately, it wasn’t enough to cause alarm but it showed no sign of stopping and the top of the fermenter was tight as a drumhead under the gas pressure. It was still only 1 degree outside so I didn’t open the window but soon as I could I went out to the shed and recovered the carboy I’d used to start the process, cleaned it and siphoned off about a litre of cider. I was glad I bought the primary fermenter with the tap built-in. Made the transfer mostly drip-free. 🙂

I put an airlock on the carboy as well and I plan on reuniting the two batches once the angry bubbling slows back down. I was tempted to make this smaller batch into another flavor but all I had on hand was the dregs of a bag of cider from Lilley’s I bought a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t sure that was a safe experiment after I’d been out of production for a whole year. This is back to basics time my friends but I will add my own signature bits to the secondary fermenter in a few weeks. Fingers crossed!

I am calling this batch ‘Grimstead Green: The Bank Holiday Batch’ because I started it on this past bank holiday and I expect to be drinking it the 31st August, also a bank holiday.

Display case 3:

This was my weekend project: displaying a few of my finds in a glass-front case. Notes from various sources including myself, and maybe a little shifting has occurred since I hung it on the wall…
1- LEAD TOY GUN: An incomplete lead toy gun of Post-Medieval date, c.AD 1600 – 1750. Only the stock remains. This is likely to have been a firing toy, and would have taken small powder charges. It is unlikely that it could have been charged sufficiently to have caused any damage, nor could it have been fired with any accuracy.
2- COIN WEIGHT: A Post-Medieval copper alloy coin weight, probably dating to AD 1604 – 1619. The obverse depicts a half-length figure of James I. This weight measured a ‘unite’ which was 22 shillings. 
3- Shoe fastener: An almost complete copper alloy clog clasp (c. AD 1500-1800). 4- Star of David Prayer medallion (WWI)
5- Spectacle Buckle:  17th c. Whitehead, 522.
6- Toy Cannon: A cast copper-alloy toy miniature canon (17th-19th century).  Seal Matrix: Incomplete cast copper alloy seal matrix (c. AD 1700-1850). 
7- Purse Bar-WILT-36ABE3: An incomplete Post Medieval copper-alloy purse-bar, dating to AD 1450-1550. 
8- Watch winders: AD 1850-1900
9- Spur and Buckle: 17th c.
10- Ballerina:  modern: 1950’s
11- Snake Buckle and Annular Brooch: Copper alloy snake buckle, Post-Medieval to Modern, 1850-1950. A complete medieval copper alloy annular buckle (c. 1300-1400.)
12- Harness Pendant: A Medieval enamel inlaid copper alloy harness pendant, (c. AD 1200-1400.) The design represents the arms of East Anglia (azure three crowns or.)
13- Fox Family button: Confectioner Walter Richard Fox, 18th c.
14- Otter hunt buttons: 17-18th c.
15- Stock Buckle: It was used to hold a length of silk around a gentleman’s neck like a cravat. 1720-1780.
16- Girl guide promissory pin – 1970s

Marantha leuconeura kerchoveana

Saved from a basket someone left at work. My wife has been calling this her Office variegated. Now that it’s home I should learn the proper name for it. Common name, prayer plant.
There are many varieties of Maranta. At least 3 are described in this article (2 having blotches), plus it tells how to take care of them: https://www.thespruce.com/grow-maranta-inside-1902647

Thank you Plant Identification and discussion group on FB.