Adventures in fermenting #5

Excited by my experiences with fermented soft drinks, I decided to purchase a book that would inspire me to experiment with other types of fermentation. Something with such a wild cover could only be inspirational, right?

Hmm, not really. Or maybe I’m not quite ready for the full fermentation commitment yet. Certainly I’m not ready to make chicha, a fermented drink made from chewed corn. No, that is not a misspelling. You chew the corn, spit it into a jar and let it ferment. No, thank you.

On a more normal kind of drink, my second batch of Ginger beer turned out nicely. The organic ginger I used to make this bug fizzed up much faster than the last batch (see those lovely bubbles!). As ginger can handle stronger flavours (according to my class notes) I used a mix of sugars (all the sugars in the house – white, soft dark brown, light brown. muscovado) and the final product is now bottled and was technically ready last weekend but friends of ours want to be (virtually) there when we open it so we have it chilling in the fridge until they are available to be online with us.

Inspired by the natural wine we drank in Georgia, my husband wanted to see what grape ferments would be like. Of course we don’t have a qvevri (terracotta amphora buried in the ground) to ferment our wine like the Georgians do, so we had to use glass. After a week’s ferment, the resulting beverage was a pleasant like pink colour and smelt of prosecco. The disappointment was that despite the super fizziness in the fermenting jar, the final bottled beverage was completely flat.

We got four 500ml bottles from the first ferment and added more water and sugar for a second ferment from the same grapes which got us another one and a bit 500ml bottles. The colour was just as strong but not sure how the flavour will go. We blended the leftover grape with some leftover peach kefir (not kvas as it says on the bottle). These are all in the fridge now ready for drinking.

The peach kvas was not as successful as we hoped. I think it’s because the peaches disintegrate too easily, so there was a lot of sediment. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes, it’s also in the fridge.

(I’ve had to call a halt to fermenting for now until we get through some of the 5 litres of beverages we have in stock.)

An update on previous beverages – pineapple works really well in kvas or kefir. The zingyness of the fruit mixes nicely with the fizz and the slight sourness of the ferment makes it quite appealing and thirst quenching (compared to shop bought pineapple flavoured drinks which taste mostly of sugar and just make you more thirsty). The pear kefir and kvas also worked although obviously pear is milder in flavour than pineapple. Later in the summer I might look for some whole pineapples at the local market. I’m need to try tepache – pineapple skin beer (yes really) and I could use the pineapple flesh to make some more kefir or kvas.

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