Monday, August 28, 2017

Barnhart Cider Werks

I'd say I've been experimenting with cider making but it sounds so much better to call it a micro cider brewery, if that's the right word. So, Barnhart Cider Werks it shall be. Yes, Werks, because my last name is Prussian and it's as good an excuse as any and I think it'll make a nice label and home brew sounds weird to my sous chef ears. ...but yes, it's home brew cider. 

I've payed with cider making a few times over the years, it's interesting but I never took it too seriously. I also didn't bother to read enough and lay hands on the appropriate things to make a respectable batch but a few(5 or 6) months ago I worked with a cideridt turned EMT and pestered him for most of an ambulance shift about how to make cider at home. He was frustrated at my relentless questioning. Now I think that was mainly because it's easy. Very easy if you observe lab cleanliness standards. 

The total cost for the first run was well under $20 to make a gallon of cider, roughly 5 750ml bottles. When you consider airlocks, the glass jug, and flip tops bottles can all be reused the investment drops below $1 per 750ml bottle. That's tough to beat. 

I ordered my Saison yeast from Amazon. It calls for 1g per gallon. I sucessfully used a half teaspoon of dry yeast for a gallon batch. Didn't even mix it with water or wake it up. I'm sure that's a good idea but I've got repeat batches that demonstrate all you need to do is sterilize the bottle before opening, wash your hands and prep area before you touch anything and just add the dry yeast to the juice with a measuring spoon. Afterward go ahead and cap the bottle with your airlock and wait. 

It's that easy. 

Within an hour or so it'll be bubbling away.

Your next step is to wait until the cider stops bubbling and clears. That'll take about two weeks but varies with temperature, yeast and sugar content of your juice. 

I've got new flip top bottles coming in the mail. That bumps the equipment budget up $10 but it's six bottles that can be used over and over. I'll save the bottling for another post. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Assembling the smithy 

I say assemble because it's early, very early in the process but I'm determined to resurrect the family tradition again in a more formal way than I've kept it alive since moving to San Francisco. There's something appropriate about rebuilding in PA both with respect to history and circumstance. 

So far I've got my anvil, hammers and several small torches. Channel locks will have to do for tongs right now and I still need to scrounge some logs. There's a nice little space out back under an eve on our very neglected garage/cottage. I have to start somewhere and it seems like there's a blacksmiths cooking photo essay or cookbook in there somewhere. 

I'm mostly making a point to put this out in the world so it's harder for me to not do it but im committed to making some version of Butler Forge emerge anew. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sous chef redux 

When we arrived in Philadelphia I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Just that I wasn't going to work in EMS as a full time first responder anymore. I don't think I'll ever give up my role as a Coast Guard Auxiliary officer but EMS life is brutal and not exactly family friendly. It's times like these that have historically taken me back to the restaurant world. 

So I asked around, knocked on some doors and found myself in chef Owen Lee's kitchen in the Philadelphia suburbs. I'm learning things, remembering things and getting to explore meditaranian food, something familiar but not an area of expertise for me. Luckily, I love the food! 

I'm not sure where this will go but it's a great place to land while I sort out our new home base. 

I'll try to post a few recipes here and there to share some of what I'm learning and why I keep going back to chef work.