Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nettle braggot - Seven Trees style

Start with as many nettles will fit in the picking basket. We only use the top few leaves of young plants. They'll regrow soon and we can harvest more for drying.
Then bring 1.5 gallons of water to a boil. While the water is heating steep 1 pound malted oats (this should add a nice sweet-nutty flavor and a creamy mouthfeel) 15 minutes or until the water reaches 170F. Take the oats out and add 3lbs dried malt extract. Normally we use liquid malt, but we had bought dried so we could make this recipe when we felt like it, without having to run to town for malt. When the malt is dissovled completely, add the pile of nettles. Boil while stirring occasionally for 50 minutes, then add 2 to 3lbs honey. We just spooned in what looked like a quart jar's worth, since a quart of honey weighs around 2.5lbs. Boil 10 more minutes, then set the kettle in a sink of ice water to chill rapidly. Strain into the carboy and top up with cold water. Add yeast (we used Northwest Ale yeast from Northern Brewer), mix and put the airlock on.

After 24 hours or so, the nettle braggot yeasties (oh yeah! a braggot is loosely defined as a beer-type beverage made with both honey and malted grain) decided to take advantage of the extra sweetness to mount an escape attempt. Things have settled down now, and in a week or so we'll transfer the braggot to another carboy to finish fermenting. A week or so after that, and it goes into bottles. Two weeks after that, and we can drink it!
We put the new trailer to good use this weekend by picking up a load of wood. We've gone through nearly double the wood we did last winter, so we want to make sure we restock as soon as possible. Sometimes when summer heats up, the woodcutters aren't allowed into the forest due to fire risks. Then everyone is backed up and on waiting lists, sometimes until the rains come back in the fall.
No wonder Magnus doesn't want to venture outside! Toshi and one of the Red Stars were having a conference on the back porch. The flock always seems to ignore the 'no chickens on the porch' rule, until they get caught and chased off.
Last but not least, a little down time with the house critters in front of a warm fire.

We enjoyed the spring weather preview Saturday, temps in the 70's and a lovely breezy sunny day. The greenhouse sprouts are in the ground now - lettuce, chard, spinach, broccoli and onions. We'll be planting more over the next few weeks, with the warm weather plants - beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, melons - going in late May.

Stella is still going gangbusters as a milk cow. I've taken the luxury of skipping a couple days of milking here & there, so we can use up all the milk she provides. This week we made a soft cheese with chives, roasted garlic and cracked pepper mixed in. A gallon of milk netted 2lbs of it, with 2qts of whey left over for the dogs & hens. We made 4oz of butter from a pint of top cream. Over a quart of yogurt. And tonight I'll start a pint more of cream souring. Yum!!!

Time to start shopping for an ice cream maker.

1 comment:

LGP said...

Toshi is almost as handsome among roosters as Crighton is among cats.

Can you express-mail dairy products?

If you get an ice cream maker and are serious about having the resultant ice cream (as opposed to the experience of making it), get one that stirs itself electrically (though if you expect to be making ice cream after TEOTWAWKI, get a hand crank). I have a hand-cranked Donvier--the kind which has a sealed canister that you put in the freezer overnight instead of having to mess with ice and salt. I suggest this or other similar technology as being simple and reliable and far less hassle than the ice/salt style.

You can also get little single-serving size Donvier ones (hand crank, though), which are great if you like one flavor and your partner likes another.