I found myself with a few hours with “nothing” to do. I really didn’t want to fall into the trap that I seem to fall into when I have obsessions, that is do them when I am bored. It was easy when it was TV shows (just finished being obsessed with Lost… silly ending), but when it is food projects, it gets a little excessive.
But I did have 4 1/2 pint jars and some oranges and eggs sitting around, as well as my final Australian organic vanilla bean (smuggled in from Australia). Out of this came orange vanilla curd (recipe from Food in Jars). It took all my will not to just eat it and not put it in the jars. It was that good. The cookbook said that it would taste like a creamsicle. It did. Like a hot, gooey, runny, creamsicle. But I did keep my willpower and jarred up 2 tiny jars of this stuff. Looking through the cookbook it was saying how these curd recipes don’t keep as long as other canned goods… that’s okay. They should be gone soon. Mmmm.
Well, after the dishes were finished, again, I had nothing to do (boy, do I love vacation!). After a variety of cleaning tasks and eating dinner, I decided that I was going to bottle that ginger beer that we had sitting, even if it was a tad early. It really had been taunting me with its gingery goodness. All frothy and cloudy. This is going to be one kick-ass beer.
So out comes the sanitizing equipment, the bottling bucket, the siphon, bottle caps and of course bottles. I wanted to bottle them all in small bottles because I had a feeling this was going to be strong beer (original gravity was 60, final gravity was 10, so this will be roughly 6.5% ABV). So I went crawling around on the floor digging through our stacks of bottles looking for all the nice unlabeled ones. If you are truly special, you have received a gift bottle from us that is unlabeled. And I probably want it back. The labels are so difficult to get off! So I stole them all, leaving Brandon to find other random bottles for his ESB when we bottle that next week. I did have to resort to some sort of labels on bottles so I went uniform and included only Lagunitas bottles.
See that awesome gunky layer on the bottom? Ginger and lemon rind. Let’s say “mmmm” together now. I had laid out 38 bottles, but one got some weird gunk in the bottom, so I ended up with 37 bottles total. I didn’t realize how much was actually in there until we got it into the bottling bucket, but it was exactly 4 gallons, which means exactly 40 bottles.
With the bit of gunk that did end up in the bottom of the bottling bucket, and saving some for the final gravity reading, and spilling just a bit on the floor during the bottling process, I ended up with about enough for 1 more bottle than I had. So I just poured it out into a glass and am currently enjoying my super spicy, warm, non-carbonated ginger beer.
I really wish this was an all organic beer. Due to the fact that we needed 3 pounds of ginger, I figured the best place to get it was some sort of Asian market – therefore so not organic. We did find it at a Korean market over in Santa Clara for a whopping $1 per pound. Yeah, not organic. If I could figure out how to make this beer a little less expensively but still organic, I would totally make this again and enter it into the Seven Bridges organic home brew competition. Instead it will be my herb beer (lavender, sage, rosemary and lemon balm), which I can definitely do organic, and inexpensively, if they let me use herbs from my yard.
So this ends my canning/preserving/bottling/jarring tasks for a few days. We are off to go see some friends who just had a baby (welcome to the world little one!), stay with Brandon’s cousin for a few nights then take the pups camping at Big Sur. So I will be disconnected and unplugged and without a canning rack, forced to resort to walking on the beach and reading books. Let’s see how well I survive…