Search Mocavore

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vinegar Vinter

Winter began with me leaching sugar from apples I'd already squeezed the cider from. Then, my juice-aholic neighbor gave me a bunch of de-juiced pulp. Mostly carrot and apple, I think.

Luckily for me, there was plenty of veggie-fruit sugar, and I dumped it in a bin with some artesian well water, snapped on the lid, and walked away for a while. When fermentation slowed down, I strained everything through cheesecloth, put the liquid in the big jar (above), stashed it in a cupboard I rarely open, and walked away for a while.

This is the bacterial mat that made the vinegar. The small light patches are the newborn colonies of mold, I think. The vinegar is ready, and it's time to pull off the mother floccor, strain, and bottle the product before the mold messes it up.

I like the result. Smells as bright as it looks. At about 3.3 pH, it's plenty tangy, and tastes good. I think this one may get really good with aging.

So, it looks like I can continue to wring another product from leftovers of juicing and cider-making. Someone asked where I got the "mother" (the colony of flocculants some people call a SCOBY, used like a sourdough starter to get the ball rolling), but so far I haven't used one. I decided to try an approach that is lazy (or smart), cheap (or frugal), and unambitious (or stoic, maybe zen), and walked away for a while. Unlike beer, where a wild ferment will not yield what beer drinkers want, vinegar makes itself with the microbes ranging free in the Eastside Olympia air.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Crapplesauce (better than it sounds)

You can tell this is not stock imagery or a fine foodie foto, because there's some dried up crap on the stove.

Despite my best intentions, I sometimes end up with produce that did its producing months ago. This time around, it was cranberries I got at the Farmers' Market before Thanksgiving, and apples that my master bartering (again, not as bad it sounds) neighbor had decided were too old and dried out for juicing weeks ago when he gave them to me.

Procrastination and a healthy scientific interest in fruit mummification wanted me to just let it be, but frugality and fear of waste animated me, and I decided to combine apples and cranberries. OK, I admit, the cranberries entered the equation when my commitment to drying them waned. Dehydration by way of repeated low-heat oven exposures (while it may work out as the cheap man's way of heating the house), takes too damned long in a Pacific NW Winter.

So, core and chop apples, and toss them in with the cranberries into a pot on the stove. Add a little water, and avoid the temptation to get it done with fast. Simmer...add some water...simmerrrr...add a little more waterrrr. Listen to Hendrix (the dude grew up in Washington, so he must've eaten a lot of apples, right?)...stir. Maybe add some more water (yep, them apples was pretty dry).

After a while, the album (Are You Experienced) was over, and the apples still had not broken down, so I brought out maybe my most favorite electric kitchenland appliance ever: the immersion blender. And so red-smeared chunks of apple (complete with their old leathery skin) became the paste you see pictured above. It's amore interesting color than you can see on your screen. The flavor is slightly tart, and I added no sugar, so that in addition to being frugal, I could count myself smug over the healthfulness of this concoction.

I the tradition of the Mocavore Blog, I now offer to the gullible world a recipe for something that does not need a recipe:

Recipe for Crapplesauce (I should find a better name)

Apples - however many you feel like coring and cutting up
Cranberries - enough to turn the apples red
Water - small additions to keep from burning the fruit

Combine all of the above and simmer until tinder, adding more water as needed and stirring occasionally. When the apples can be cut easily with your spoon, and you are bored with stirring, blend the cooked fruit until it qualifies as "applesauce," rather than "chunks covered in red."