Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

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4/20/2015

My husband recently had a hospital stay for a fractured skull after a bad fall. It was an ordeal, but he is expected to make a 100% recovery, fortunately. During his two-night stay, we had plenty of time to observe the hospital goings-on. We started at our local hospital, and everyone there was wonderful, including, of course, the ambulance crew. However, he was soon shipped off to a bigger city hospital whose main characteristic was chaos.

Shaded Forest Lane

On Hospital Food

After several tests and innumerable blood taking (I wouldn’t be surprised he was anemic at some point), the problems were spotted. The only positive thing with a head injury is you don’t have much appetite, and in this case, the hospital food did not disappoint in its terrible reputation. As is usual, you pick off the tray what you hope is edible, and leave the rest. One morning, the only edible thing was oatmeal, the next was toast. I did not ask about dinner. My son and I took to smuggling fresh fruit in, like bananas and apples.

In cruising the halls, I noticed all the food trays stacked up, waiting to go back to be washed. One could not help but notice how much was not eaten. The portions were not large, but most of it was not touched. Now, it is a given that when you do not feel well, you usually also do not feel like eating, so maybe they do not bother trying for that reason. Having said that, when you do not feel well, that is all the more reason for palatable, decent food. It is possible!

That same day, by sheer luck, I had been in another city hospital earlier in the day. Different city, different hospital. We ate lunch in the cafeteria, and I was pleasantly surprised to find fresh items, salads, decently cooked entrees and sandwiches. I had a Western sandwich and sweet potato fries that were quite good. My son had a Caesar salad, milk and a sandwich; my husband, the pizza. They said it all was good, and the Caesar salad made me hungry just looking at it (next time, I will be smart and get one).

Institutional Food

Institutional food has always had a bad rap, and deservedly so. I would have to include school lunches and airlines in this, although we pay dearly for them, either through taxes or fares. In one case, the transatlantic 747 we were on to England ended up with major food poisoning, with the majority of bathrooms no longer functioning due to the fact so many people threw up (only one was left, with a line of fifty to sixty people for it). The beef was literally rancid, and I picked up on it immediately, warning the others in our party not to touch it. We then dove into our backpacks for snacks. One could only hope the one pilot that got stuck with beef didn’t eat it! (Having said all this, I have had decent meals on some airlines, and I was only in First Class once, so it too can be done.)

The school lunches are improving, from what I hear, but when I was a young kid, they were disgusting. My mother could not understand why I refused to eat them after a while, and started brown-bagging lunch. The price was right, certainly cheap enough, and that perhaps is the problem. Somehow, it became acceptable in our society to feed children, the ill, and airline passengers poor to really bad food. Or none at all.

Improving Institutional Food

Today we obviously still live in a society that condones cheap/bad food for those who can’t afford it or have no say. Sadly, many times healthy food is only for those who can afford it or have access to it. Things are improving, but unfortunately, the old rules seem to still apply. Some hospitals have tried mightily to improve their menus, but obviously, some others have room for improvement.

One area of great improvement is university/college level meals, in fact, one could easily argue that a revolution took place on campuses across the country, certainly in Ontario [1]. In some cases, the student meals have been taken over by students themselves, other times restaurateurs have been brought in to do it right. Again, you pay dearly for your education, but your health and welfare used to be a distant second in favor of your mind. Granted, they saw education of your mind as their job, generally, and how well they fed you, well....let’s just say I know personally of several cases of food poisoning on campus in years past. It might be useful for hospitals et al, to take a cue from what the colleges and universities have done.  

As for the airlines, well, caveat emptor.

  1. Knezevic, Irena. TVOntario episode of “The Agenda.” March 2, 2015.

You can follow the adventures of Sue at www.SVanSlooten.com, or email Sue at sueanslooten@ripnet.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/20/2015

Ball Blue BookJust like seed catalogs help backyard gardeners weather the long cold winter, canning books help preserving types get through the planting season. Apple blossoms bring to mind jars of spicy apple butter, and grocery store tomato plants have us planning new salsa recipes. Alas, it’s a bit too early to jump into full-fledged canning mode, but it’s not too early to plan our canning projects. That’s where these favorite canning books come in handy.

Most of these books won’t be found on any best-selling list, but after 30 years of experience they are the books that I find most useful. I don’t receive any free copies or other benefits for recommending them – with one exception, see below. They are the books that you will find on my bookshelf, sticky with spitting jam and stained with sloshed vinegar. I am sure that you will find them useful too.

Ball Blue Book: The Ball Blue Book, published in cooperation with Ball® has been the go-to canning guide for over 100 years. This is the first canning book many new canners purchase, and many long-time canners own more than one version. The Ball Blue Book is updated periodically, as canning and safety guidelines are updated. The most recent version is from 2004 and includes all the basics about canning both low-acid and acid foods, freezing and dehydrating. There are numerous recipes for soft spreads and pickling as well as some less well known recipes like Chablis Jelly and Maple-Walnut Syrup.

So Easy to Preserve: If the Blue Book has all the basics covered, So Easy to Preserve takes those basics and does them one better. So Easy to Preserve is published by the Cooperative Extension of the University of Georgia, where the National Center for Home Food Preservation is located. It is a coil bound book with few illustrations, but chock full of canning/freezing/drying charts, tips and recipes. For example, there are 12 salsa recipes alone. As might be expected, there is quite a bit of southern region food information like how to can okra or black eye peas that might not be as popular elsewhere. You will find something about almost any meat, fruit, or vegetable that you are interested in preserving in this tome.

The Joy of Pickling: I borrowed this book, along with its sister, The Joy of Jams and Jellies, from the library so many times that it’s a wonder the staff didn’t buy me a copy. Finally I ordered both books, and haven’t looked back since. Linda Ziedrich is the genius behind The Joy of Pickling. It is divided into several sections, each highlighting a particular kind of pickle, e.g. fermented pickles, fresh pickles, sweet pickles, chutneys, and even pickled meat, fish and eggs. The instructions are well written and easy to follow and all include an interesting head note. My favorite thing about this book? The variety. Along with recipes like Old-Fashioned Bread and Butter Pickles and Sweet Gherkin Pickles you’ll find Robert’s Tea Pickles and Pickled Walnuts. In fact, I try to make something new and different every year. This book has kept me going for several years now with no end in sight.

Preserving Memories: Preserving Memories, written by Judy Glattstein, is a one-of-a-kind book primarily about jams, jellies, and other soft spreads. Since jams are my very favorite canning projects, I fell in love with this book because of its shear scope of recipes. Not only will you find recipes using common fruits like raspberries and blueberries, you will also find recipes for rose petal jam, cranberry butter, rowen jelly and caramelized apple-sage relish. Just looking through the recipes will have you out foraging for saskatoons or lingonberries. This is the perfect book if you really want to wow your gift recipients with something unique.

Saving the Season: Saving the Season, written by Kevin West, is a hefty hardcover book, with an in-depth index, a bibliography, and informative appendices that provide information about popular fruit varieties, peak fruit and vegetable seasons by region, and a helpful pH guide. All the basics are here too; canning how-to, canning equipment, jam making directions and explanations, and pickling tips. There are canning and preserving recipes here, everything from a basic strawberry jam to lime curd to pickled cardoons. One thing in particular I love about this book is how deep the author delves into the why of canning and preserving. Most canning books simply cover the how and what of canning but Saving the Season explains why canning requires certain steps too. You can find more about this book over on my blog where I reviewed it last year.

The Confident Canner: Full disclosure – I wrote this e-book. All of the above books belong on your bookshelf and in your kitchen, but I have found over the years that canning books don’t always answer the niggling little questions. You know the questions I mean, things like “Do I have to add salt to my canned vegetables?” or “Is it ok to design my own canning recipes?” or “How do I keep my cooking jam from boiling over?” The Confident Canner is like having your grandmother standing next to you, teaching the finer points of canning. After 30 years of canning and giving advice, I pulled the questions together so everyone could benefit from mistakes I had made. For example, boiling jam all over the stovetop is a mess, and something you definitely don’t want to repeat.

Honorable Mention: Since canning is so popular once again, there are plenty of good new canning and preserving books. I can also recommend Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan, and Put em Up by Sherri Brooks-Vinton.

Do you have any favorite canning books I haven’t mentioned?

Renee Pottle is an author, Family and Consumer Scientist, and Master Food Preserver. She writes about canning, baking, and urban homesteading at Seed to Pantry


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/17/2015

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I’m a big sourdough fan, making wild starters in almost every place I’ve lived. I’ve cultivated and eaten wild sourdough from south eastern Oregon, the north coast of California, famed San Francisco, ultra urban Los Angeles and now sourdough from Minneapolis, Minnesota (Kitchen Sink Sourdough here). Memory being what it is, I can’t quite remember the differences. I wish I still had samples of all my sourdough starters, but life has a way of making you leaving such treasures behind.

Time to do a taste test! How different is my Minneapolis sourdough from the classic San Francisco sourdough? Since I no longer live in the city by the bay, I ordered wild San Francisco sourdough yeast from Cultures for Heath. I followed their instruction for culturing the starter, which took about 4 days. Once the starter was active, I began my test.

I took my Minneapolis starter and the San Francisco starter and, following the exact same culturing method, made two very bubbly, healthy starters from the same flour and water. Then I took 1/2 cup of starter from each batch, placed each starter in a clean mason jar, added 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c water to each jar, stirred to combine (don’t use the same spoon or you’ll cross contaminate your starters!). I covered each jar with a piece of cheese cloth held with a rubber band, and then set them on the counter for 24 hours. I repeated this process for 5 days - yes you are throwing out over half your starter everyday. You will have leftover starter, which can be thrown in to regular pancakes and bread recipes, or thrown away.

Once the starters are bubbly within a few hours of being fed, you are ready to make bread. Using a soft sandwich bread recipe, I fermented and rose the bread for almost 24 hours, using the same ingredients, rising time, baking temperature and pan size.

The finished bread loaves were almost identical, with the same rise, air bubble size, crust and texture. But the taste was totally different. The Minneapolis sourdough was sharp, tangy and mouthwatering, with a slight bitterness (in a good way.) The San Francisco sourdough in contrast was buttery and nutty, with a slight sour cream tang that was much more subtle than Minnesota.

Which one did I like best? I loved them both! The Minnesota sourdough really tasted like it had rye flour in the mix and paired just beautifully with salted butter. I loved the pronounced tang! The San Francisco sourdough was much more accessible, and worked really well with in the ham sandwich I made with it, not competing to heavily for your attention. Now I have two great sourdoughs in my arsenal of taste and will be making many more in the future. Next time I travel for a week, remind me to capture some local sourdough as a souvenir!

Sourdough Starters

Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe

Activate your sourdough starter by taking out 1/2 cup of starter, mixing it with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour.  The next day, take out 1/2 cup of starter and do it all over again, discarding the remaining starter or using it as filler in pancakes or other breads with regular yeast or baking powder. After 5 days your starter should be good and bubbly.  Once it strongly bubbles within a few hours of feeding, you're good to go.

Ingredients:

1/2 c active sourdough starter
1 c water
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbs honey
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 c whole wheat white flour, plus more for kneading

Instructions:

This recipe takes 16-20 hours to ferment, rise and bake.

1. The night before you bake, combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a spoon until a sticky dough is formed. Turn into an oiled bowl, flipping over once to cover both sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment overnight.

2. The next morning, about 8-12 hours later, dump the dough onto a well-floured counter and knead until you have a smooth elastic dough, adding flour as needed. You could add as much as an additional cup of flour. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then form into a loaf. Grease a loaf pan, and add the dough. Cover the pan and let dough rise until double.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack placed in the upper middle. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the bread reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees or so. Turn bread out on to a cooling rack. Try to let it cool before you slice it, if you can.

Minnesota and San Francisco Sourdough Breads

Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One Tomato, Two TomatoA cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/15/2015

Slice whole olives into a simple spinach and chickpea salad and skip the oil for more flavor and nutrition. This thrifty recipe tastes like a splurge but only costs 37 cents for a side-dish serving using organic ingredients and less if you grow your own spinach. It's quick to make because my recipe makes good use of the "meanwhile."

Greek Spinach and Chickpea Salad

For a potluck at my friends' farm last weekend, I wanted to show off their lively fresh spinach. I also wanted to bring a dish that would give the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd a good source of protein. This quick recipe let me get out and enjoy the glorious spring weather.

Using Whole Foods Instead of Extracts

Sliced olives provide intense flavor, decorate your salad, and don't puddle at the bottom. Unlike extracted olive oil, they also nourish you with calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, E, and C. To give olive oil credit, it does have about four times as much vitamin K than whole olives for the same amount of fat.

The Magic of Meanwhile

draining chickpeas

This salad recipe uses one of my favorite techniques: get something started and let it work while you do something else. Let the chickpeas drain while you start the spinach soaking. Let the spinach soak while you slice the olives. In just a few minutes, you've got a gorgeous, lemon-scented salad.

Greek Spinach and Chickpea Recipe

Yield: serves 24 as a side dish or 8 as a main dish.

Ingredients

• 4 cups cooked, cold chickpeas
• 4 ounces fresh, raw spinach
• 4 ounces pitted Kalamata style olives or other olives of your choice
• 1 lemon or about 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

1. Drain chickpeas. I cook several pounds of chickpeas at once so I can have them on hand for hummus and stews too. I drain chickpeas for salad right over the pot to save the delicious broth for gravy. If you used canned chickpeas, rinse them in water and don't save the broth.

spinach soaking

2. Put spinach in a clean tub full of water and swish it around. Most of the dirt will sink to the bottom and any critters usually swim to the surface.

3. Slice olives. Zest the lemon and save the zest for another purpose (blueberry pancakes!).

4. Gently lift spinach out of water, empty tub, and refill. Swish spinach again and lift out. Repeat until the water is clear. Usually three rinses are enough.

5. Stack spinach leaves and cut into ribbons about 1/2 x 3 inches and put into a bowl. Set aside a few of the prettiest olive slices for the top, then add the remaining olives and the chickpeas to the spinach.

6. Juice lemon and pour juice over salad. Toss to combine and top with the pretty olive slices.

7. Serve at once or cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Source for nutritional information: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27.

Photos by Linda Watson (c) 2015 Cook for Good, used by permission.

Check out Linda's website Cook for Good for more recipes and tips. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. She is the author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet — All on $5 a Day or Less and Fifty Weeks of Green: Romance & Recipes.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/15/2015

The Mason jar, historically known for its utility of food preservation, has become a multifunctional tool used in countless ways from drinking glasses to blender attachment to decorations. The possibilities for Mason jar creativity seem endless. My experiment is to create the ultimate strawberry shortcake by baking cupcakes in a jar to create a triple layered treat: a white cake layer topped with strawberry gelato with fresh sliced strawberries on top. To make this eye-catching dessert, follow the steps below.

strawberry shortcake

Step 1: Cupcakes in a Jar

Simple. Follow any cake recipe, replacing the cupcake tins with jelly jars. I used 8-ounce jars, but any jelly jar size will do (other sizes are 4-ounce or 12-ounce). Grease the inside of the jars and fill one-third to one-half full. Here is the most important part: place the jars on a cookie sheet! To reemphasize, the jars cannot sit directly on the oven racks. Hopefully, I learned this lesson for the sake of many others. Living on the adventurous side causes massive cleanups—when I opened the oven door to check on the status, all eight jars toppled over simultaneously. No toothpick was needed. The batter dripping into the bottom of the oven relayed the message. Fortunately, my quick reaction saved the lot from demise. Baking the jars on top of the cookie sheet seemed to extend the overall baking time, so check at 5-minute increments beyond the recipe instructions.

For the strawberry shortcake, I use the White Cake Recipe from Better Homes & Garden New Cook Book.

Ingredients:

• 4 egg whites
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup butter or shortening (for a whiter cake)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1-1/3 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease cupcake jars. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Pour batter into jars.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Cupcakes in a jar will take considerably longer, but check incrementally after this time until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly.

Step 2: Homemade Gelato

For the gelato, I use the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. The recipe is straightforward but must be made well in advance so the mixture has time to chill. My favorite part is that the gelato is the perfect counterbalance to the white cake, requiring egg yolks. It’s the small things in life.

Ingredients:

• 2 cups reduced fat milk
• 6 coffee beans
• 5 egg yolks
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries

Directions:

1. Scald milk with coffee beans in a heavy medium saucepan.

2. Whisk yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk half of scalded milk mixture into yolks and return to saucepan with the remaining milk. Stir over low heat until mixture thickens slightly (approximately 8 minutes). Do not boil. Strain into medium bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.

3. Assemble and engage the ice cream attachment to the mixer. Turn to STIR (speed 1). Pour mixture into freeze bowl and continue on STIR for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for several hours to allow the flavors to develop. Gelato can be prepared up to 4 days ahead.

Step 3: Assemble the Shortcake

The hard work is finished, and now you must make a choice: assemble and freeze for later or assemble and serve fresh. Either way, the cupcakes and jars should be completely cool to the touch. Scoop gelato into each jar, top with freshly cut strawberries and try not to devour in one bite.

Two additional steps could be added to this recipe for an even livelier dessert: strawberry glaze and homemade whipped cream. Other adaptable desert ideas: hot fudge sundaes in a jar, cheesecake in a jar, and even holiday treats (a bit unseasonal) like Frankenstein, Mummy, and Ghosts.

halloween jars

Be creative and explore the endless possibilities of upcycling the basic to the extraordinary.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/14/2015

Time to make your own mayonnaise! Making homemade mayo is bigger than saving a couple bucks. It takes minutes to whip up a batch and then you feel like you have bested the commercial industry as a whole. It proves that we can do for ourselves. Mayonnaise may be the simplest empowerment tool for the do-it-yourself Viking.

Mayo

Making mayonnaise takes two minutes, one egg, and a cup of light oil. There is also a teaspoon of mustard, the juice of a lemon and a dash a salt. That’s it--for pure, light, creamy real mayonnaise. These ingredients cost $1.50, according to Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese.

So why don’t we make our own mayonnaise? Hellmann’s came onto the market in 1912. Miracle Whip followed in 1933, replacing real mayo with a cheaper mayonnaise product in a base of water and soybean oil. They offered the shortcut. It whisked away our knowledge of how to make a simple spread and now we spend $2 a jar, more for the good stuff, with no idea how easy it is to make fresh.  

Even Hellmann’s “real mayonnaise” has calcium disodium EDTA in it, a controversial preservative. Homemade mayo costs less, uses better ingredients and skips the preservatives, all in a few minutes.

Mayo Making Tips

It can be whisked and drizzled by hand, but that is a little like torture. My friend, Sarah, and I tortured ourselves, laughing, one holding up an arm to drizzle the olive oil slowly while the other was constantly whisking.  A test of endurance. Cuisinart to the rescue! Did you know there is a little hole in the bottom of the push top, special for this reason? Pour olive oil in the push top and it drizzles out the little hole into the mixing bowl.

Don’t have a Cuisinart? I have an idea, for those handmixing or using a blender. Use a plastic squirt bottle and prick a hole in the top with a nail. Add the cup of olive oil into the bottle for the recipe. Duct tape the bottle upside down, hole facing down, to the overhead cabinet so it will drip into your bowl hands-free while you whisk or blend.

Use light olive oil, usually a blend of olive oils, or vegetable oil. Extra Virgin olive oil can be too strong; I didn’t like my mayo until I lightened up on the olive oil. Don’t keep it too long. Remember that it’s a raw egg and no added preservatives. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter says three days but I keep mine a week.

We can re-learn, we can do for ourselves. We can make our own mayonnaise.

A Recipe for Mayonnaise

Ingredients

• 1 cup olive oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil
• 1 room temperature whole egg, but you can also add an extra yolk or use two yolks. Experiment.
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 to 3 tsp fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
• Pinch of salt

Directions

1. Put the egg, mustard and salt into the blender.

2. Start the machine

3. Drizzle 1 cup of light oil while the machine is running. (mild olive oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil)

4. After it's all blended and emulsified, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice (or white vinegar)

Yield about one cup of mayonnaise.

Based on the basic mayonnaise recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life at MOTHER EARTH NEWS  and House in the Woods, easy to follow from our Facebook Page. For more about the farm, and to join our CSA in Maryland, go to House in the Woods.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


4/7/2015

 The mead is working

Boy did I screw up - or did I? I started my first batch of mead after all these years back in October-November. You all may remember my post about the mead. Well, I had trouble with getting the damn thing to start. I tried adding more yeast, I tried energizer, I tried damn near everything...and no bubbles out the airlock.

Thinking Failure

I gave up and made another batch of must (that’s the raw ingredients that ferment to turn into mead) and put it in another primary fermenter (I have two). This time, I started the yeast in a sanitized half-gallon milk container about 12-hours ahead of time before adding it. It seemed to be going smoothly. So, I cracked open the original batch still in its primary fermenter and was greeted with an alcohol odor. I took a sanitized spoon and tasted the must. WOW! THAT'S STRONG! A powerful mead with strong overtones of the orange I put in. Somehow, it fermented without bubbling through the airlock, even though I'm pretty sure I kept it airtight.

Getting Advice

So, I have a very strong, but unfinished mead. I spoke to the brewer supply store and a mead group on Facebook; they all said that I should rack it. Racking involves syphoning off the top layer of the must and leaving the chunky stuff behind to throw out. Which means I had to pick up some racking tubes. And a second gallon container, called a gallon carboy. And probably lose my mind in the meantime.

Rack ‘Em

So, I pretty much blame hunting season and the holidays for the lack of care. But it seems like I have a mead that needs to be taken care of now. Racking used to require syphoning using your mouth to get it started and letting it drain from one container to the other. The one you’re racking to should be lower than the one you’re racking from. Nowadays, the brewers have a handy little self-racking device where you pump it a couple of times and it does the rest. Easy-peasy.

So, I racked the must and came up with a gallon and a quarter that will sit in my office for a while. I’ve been told that the longer you wait, the better the mead. Right now it is too dry and strong, which means it needs time to mellow.

Stay Tuned…

You could probably get high off my laundry room because I put the leftovers in the trash and am soaking the primary fermenter to get the orange gunge out. More on the mead-making as now I have a primary fermenter and an itch to get another must started.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 












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