How to Get Unlimited Grape Vines for Free

Starting a vineyard can be expensive, but if you have just a little patience, you can do it for almost nothing. This can be done through the process of hardwood propagation.

Before you begin, you will need at least one grape vine from which to take your cuttings. At a nursery this will probably range from five to ten dollars, or if you have a friend with grapes it will not cost you a dime. To ensure the health of the vines, wait until February are early March to take the cuttings. This will ensure that most of the harsh winter has passed and will contribute less stress to the vines. You will be looking for vines about the size of a pencil. Once you have located the vines you want to prune, you will cut off four to five nodes, or segments, of the vine. It is beneficial to cut the side towards the roots at an angle to ensure more surface area for water to be absorbed, as they will not initially have roots to do this for them. Also, be sure to remember which side is up and down on the vine when you plant.

So, now you have your cuttings, the next step of the process is to put the bases of them in water as you would a cut flower while you are getting your potting soil ready. After the pots have been filled with soil, it is time to place the finishing touches on the cuttings. Take a knife and lightly scratch up the bark at the bottom of the vines to promote root growth. Lastly, place either honey or rooting hormone onto the scratched section of the cuttings. This final step is optional, but will lead to a higher success rate.

After all these steps are completed, go ahead and place your cuttings in the potting soil a few inches deep. As long as you keep the soil moist, the cuttings should begin to sprout leaves in a month or two. Patience is key here, as it will look like nothing is happening and you will think your cuttings are dead until the spring to life almost instantly. You will want to wait a year to plant them in the ground as you allow the roots to develop.

That is all there is to it. Just a few minutes of easy labor can save endless sums of money at nurseries. I hope that you found this useful and have many grapes to show for it.

P.S. If you believe that a video would be more informative than writing, I made this one.

P.P.S. This process will not work for muscadines, they perform better with green propagation.

The Many Meads of the World

The art of mead making is beautiful due to the fact that it can be as simple as adding water to honey and leaving it out to see what happens, but it can also be as complex as a chemistry experiment with precise measurements and rare ingredients. Mead making can be as easy or as difficult as the maker desires, thus giving the perfect opportunity for artistic expression and tailoring to individual tastes. In the following few paragraphs I hope to open your eyes to just a sliver of what mead can be.

The simplest form of mead is referred to as “Show Mead.” This mead is best as showcasing the natural essence of the unadulterated honey. Just add honey, water, and yeast together and this is what you will come up with. One might think that show meads would be fairly generic due to the simplicity of ingredients, but this could not be further from the truth. There are as many different kinds of honey as there are flowers. Although clover honey is the most common, some popular mead making honey varieties are orange blossom, Scottish heather, and Tasmanian leather-wood honey. In addition to the type of honey, the amount of honey is also a factor in the fermentation process. The general rule of thumb is that three pounds of honey per gallon of mead will ferment to dryness. Of course, the sugar content of the honey and the type of yeast also affect this. If more honey is added than the yeast can ferment, you will end up with a sweeter final product, and if less honey is added than the yeast will ferment you will end up with a dry mead with a low alcohol by volume. If you really want to get crazy, add a small amount of honey to the mead before bottling to get a sparkling mead.

If simply adding the honey to the water is too easy for you, you could always attempt a bochet. This is when you caramelize the honey before fermenting it. This will give your end product a more caramel like flavor. While this can be delicious, it will take away from the floral aromas, so much is to be considered when choosing the right variety of honey for this kind of mead. Also, honey has antibacterial properties, and caramelizing it can negate some of its positive health effects. With that being said, this is a very interesting twist to put on a mead.

So far we have talked only about honey, water, and yeast, but that is only where the story begins. Moving forward from that you have a wide variety of melomels. Now, melomels are any mead made with fruit. Many of these different types of melomels have names of their own. For example, cyser is an apple mead, morat is made from mulberries, and rubamel is made from raspberries. Pyment is a particularly interesting variety of mead, it is made with grapes and has several varieties of its own. For example, omphacomel is made with unripe grapes for a more acidic flare and hippocras is a spice pyment. Just to refresh your memory, Hippocras is a type of pyment, which is a type of melomel, which is a type of mead. The layers go deep. Of course, this is only scratching the surface of the different kinds of fruit that can be added to mead. Someone is sure to have come up for a name for most of them, but if you create something original maybe you can get to name it.

Moving on from there, we get a little more adventurous with metheglins. A metheglin is a mead made with herbs or spices. This is a broad category, because this can range from hops to pepper. However, some stand-outs are mulled mead, made with mulling spices, capsicumel, made with chili peppers, and rhodomel, made with rose petals. Basically, if it’s not poisonous and has an interesting flavor it could be right for your metheglin. Spices leave a lot of room for outside the box experimentation… and for disastrous results. Some trial and error will be needed for the perfection of any metheglin.

Last, but most certainly not least, there are braggots. If you like beer and you like mead, braggots are right for you, because it is simply a mix of the two. You get all the goodness of malted grain and honey. I personally have not tried this kind of mead, but I certainly plan on it, because it sounds like a match made in heaven.

This is only a brief overview of the many types of mead in the world. The list is already extensive, and any one of the categories could be mixed with another category to create an entirely new subcategory of mead. With all this room to explore, it is best to get fermenting right away!

Dog-Approved Homemade Dog Treats! (2 Recipes!)

I’m newly married, and I don’t have any children. So this is the content you get. Did you ask for it? No. Did my dog ask for it? No. Were these dog treats made during a caffeine-induced productivity streak at 1AM, absolutely.

All jokes aside, I love my dog, Benny. He’s the cutest thing I have ever seen and loves cuddles and wearing clothes.

He’s four pounds of everything good in the world. The only issue is, he’s not very food motivated. Yeah, he likes food. He’s just not going to go out of his way to seek it out like most dogs would. Finding treats for him is hard. (However, he LOVES greenies.)

I have focused Wine and Vine on more sustainable practices by means of DIY, recipes, and greenery. So why not DIY dog treats? These treats only contain a few ingredients and only ingredients that are good for your dog. We like to know what we put in our body, so why not know what we’re giving our dog?

This post contains 2 (and a half) treat recipes. The first is peanut butter training treats, the second is pumpkin filled, and the half is little biscuits from the second’s dough. (It’ll make more sense in the directions.)

Let’s dive in.

Peanut Butter Training Treats

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Bring all of your ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon. At this point, I like to continue to knead the dough with my hands until it has just come together.
  2. Pinch off little pieces of dough (about 1/8 teaspoon in size) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 in apart. This will take forever. It will not be fun.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Note: If your dog is small like mine, you may want to make them smaller.

Pumpkin Treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin (with extra for filling)
  • 2 eggs

Method

  1. Like the other treats, bring all your ingredients together with a wooden spoon, then finish bringing together with your hands.
  2. Roll out about a teaspoon sized ball of dough, and make a divot with your finger. Use a butter knife to scoop a bit of pumpkin into the divot.

Cover the divot with a small disc of dough, and roll the whole thing into a ball.

3. Place the ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand.

4. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until browned on the bottom.

And a Half

Method:

  1. Take the leftover dough from the last recipe, roll it out, and cut it with your favorite cookie cutter.
  2. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

My dog absolutely loves these, which honestly surprised me. Maybe he can taste the love? Give these a try, and let me know what your dog thinks!

The Cookie Experiment

Part 2: Sugar Showdown

Welcome to part two of my journey of making the best chocolate chip cookie that the world has ever seen. In the first installment of “The Cookie Experiment,” we investigate flour and found that the optimal mix was half bread flour and half cake flour. If you would like to read more, click here.

In this installment, we set our sights on sugar. Flour may be what holds the party together, but sugar is the reason you keep coming back. For the purposes of this experiment, we will be using three types of sugar:

  • Granulated Sugar: No Molasses
  • Light Brown Sugar: Some Molasses
  • Dark Brown Sugar: Maximum Molasses

Really, what we will be examining is the optimum amount of molasses content to include in a cookie. To do this, we will be combining the three varieties of sugar in a number of ways. These ways include:

  • 100% Granulated
  • 100% Dark Brown
  • 100% Light Brown
  • 50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown
  • 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated
  • 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown
  • 33% Each

For the sake of consistency, I will use the same recipe as last time. However, since it has been determined that the optimal flour ratio for chocolate chip cookies is 50% bread flour and 50% cake flour, it will be a fixture in the new recipe. The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 Cup of Softened Butter
  • 1.5 Cups of Sugar (Total)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1.125 Cups of Cake Flour
  • 1.125 Cups of Bread Flour
  • 2 Cups of Chocolate Chips

This is where things begin to get complicated, so I had to resort to the spreadsheets.

I want to make as small of batches as possible, because last time I ended up with a mountain of extra cookie dough. The only problem is that the smaller you go the more precise you have to be with your measurements in order to keep everything consistent. This is only made more difficult by the fact that the measurements get weirder when you divide them. I decided to double the total recipe and divide that into seven equal batches.

Next on my plate was figuring out how to do this. I decided to combine the baking soda, salt, flour, and chocolate chips into one huge bowl to be divided out later. My next step was to mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in one large batch.

After creating my large mixtures of separate wet and dry ingredients, I had to measure out my sugar into the appropriate amounts in separate bowls. Many maths later, I had all of my ingredients ready to be mixed together. However, in order to determine the correct amounts of both the wet and dry ingredients needing to be added to each batch, I had to find the total weight of the wet and the dry and divide them seven ways into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. After that, I mixed each batch for 45 seconds until my dough was formed.

I chilled them for about a half hour, and then formed into balls and baked at 365° for about 15 minutes.

In order from left to right,
50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown
100% Granulated
100% Dark Brown
50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated
33% Each
50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown
100% Light Brown

One of the main visual differences that I noticed was that the granulated sugar had the tendency to flatten out more. The other key difference was the color, but that was to be expected.

In order from left to right,
50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown
100% Granulated
100% Dark Brown
50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated
33% Each
50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown
100% Light Brown

Finally, it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor… for science of course.

Tasting Notes

  • 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown -These cookies were incredibly soft. They basically melted in your mouth with a crispy exterior.
  • 100% Granulated-These cookies turned out flat, and did not have the nice brown exterior a cookie should have. They tasted a little bland and were missing the richness that the brown sugar provides.
  • 100% Dark Brown- Too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all. These cookies were dark, small, and tall. They were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, but they almost tasted burnt even though they clearly were not.
  • 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated-As soon as I bit into this, I was taken back to my childhood. This is the classic cookie that goes well with milk. It was perfectly balanced, flavorful and deep, but not too deep.
  • 33% Each-It was very soft, and the flavor was good, but it just wasn’t quite right. It almost seemed like too much was going on with this one.
  • 50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown-This one was weird. It was slightly better that the 100% granulated, but not by much.
  • 100% Light Brown- The texture was good, but there was not a lot of flavor happening with the bread. It did highlight the taste of the chocolate, but it was a bit boring.

After carefully weighing the attributes of each cookie, the award for best overall cookie goes to the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated. With that being said, the most interesting cookie was the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown. It was great if you want to try something just a slight bit unorthodox. However, we are looking for the best chocolate chip cookie and not the most interesting one, so it was slightly edged out by the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated cookie, which will be the one that moves on to the next round where we see if butter can be beaten.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you next time!

DIY Toothpaste (Fluoride Free!)

Toothpaste. You brush your teeth with it. It usually has tooth-decay-fighting fluoride in it. It’s usually minty fresh.

While we consider toothpaste a necessity, perhaps some of the ingredients in it are not. Like all the added sugars, for example. While fluoride can be beneficial, some people are allergic to it or just simply wish to avoid it.

With this toothpaste I have combined the idea of oil pulling and the magic of baking soda. Making your own toothpaste is simple and only requires a few ingredients.

DIY Toothpaste

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • (if desired) 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Method:

  • Mix all of your ingredients in a bowl, making sure to whisk out any lumps that may be in the coconut oil.
  • Place into a squeezable container, and try out your new toothpaste!!

Please keep in mind that I am not a dentist. The purpose of this post is to offer a simple alternative to commercially available toothpaste. Also, do not ingest essential oils! Just like manufactured toothpaste isn’t meant to be swallowed, neither is this toothpaste. Please act responsibly!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you give it a try!

The Cookie Experiment

Part 1: Flour Fest

In a world of desserts, there can be only one tasty treat that reigns supreme. In my humble opinion, the only confection that could ever stand above the rest is the tried and true chocolate chip cookie. However, even within narrow definition of chocolate chip cookie there is room for variance. This is why I have made it my mission to discover what the trick is to making the very best chocolate chip cookie that can possibly be, and I hope that you enjoy the journey.

In order to find the best of the best, we are going to have to get sciency and start isolating variables. I can think of no better place to start than the keystone that holds the whole cookie together: flour. This post will focus on making only flour our altered variable.

I have chosen to experiment with three different types of flour:

  • Bread – High Protein Content for a bit of High Rise Flare
  • All Purpose – The Swiss Army Knife of Ground Grain
  • Cake Flour – Finely Milled and Low Protein for Maximum Crumbly Goodness

After I decided what I wanted to test, I was left to think about how to conduct my experiment. It was unlikely that the winner would be all of any given flour variety, so I felt it necessary to test a gradient of mixtures of flower. The proportions I chose were as follows:

  • 100% Cake
  • 100% All Purpose
  • 100% Bread
  • 50% Bread 50% Cake
  • 50% All Purpose 50% Cake
  • 50%All Purpose 50%Cake
  • 33% All Purpose 33% Bread 33%Cake

I wanted to start off with a fairly neutral cookie in order to highlight the differences within the flour, so I scanned the internet and found several popular chocolate chip cookie recipes and combined them, and I ended up with:

  • 1 Cup of Softened Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2.25 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Cups of Chocolate Chips

Of course these proportions would not do, because I did not need seven full batches of cookies, so I had to pull out the Excel Spreadsheets. I wanted to do quarter batches, so I decided to combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs all in one big batch and then divide that out evenly into seven parts. To find the proper proportions I divided the recipe for these ingredients by four and then multiplied by seven. This gave me the right amount of wet ingredients and sugar to mix into the seven half-batches of cookies that I needed to make.

Next was for the flour, baking soda, and salt. I quartered the ingredients in the recipe and was careful to keep careful track of what kinds of flour was in which flour was which as I combined them into separate bowls.

Now I just had to combine the ingredients. I measured out seven equal parts of the wet ingredients and added to a stand mixer on a slow speed. As it was mixing, I slowly added the half cup of chocolate chips to each and then stuck them in the freezer for a quick chill.

Finally it was time to bake, several of the recipes had said to bake at 375° and one said 350°, so I went with an even 365° for about 13 minutes. As it was baking you could observe that anything with cake flour flattened very quickly and those with bread flour chose to retain their shape.

From Left to Right in Columns: Cake, 1/3 Each, All Purpose, Bread, 1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose, 1/2 Bread 1/2 Cake, 1/2 Cake 1/2 All Purpose

Just like in the picture above, cookies were laid out from left to right in the following order:

  • Cake
  • 1/3 Each
  • All Purpose
  • Bread
  • 1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose
  • 1/2 Bread 1/2 Cake
  • 1/2 Cake 1/2 All Purpose

I also alternated between doing two and three of each in order to fit them on one baking sheet.

Finally! It was time for the moment of truth.

Cake Flour

The cake flower led to a very fluffy cookie that crumbled very easily. However, it did not have the chewiness that one looks for in a quality cookie.

1/3 Each

This one was a bit chewier than the cake, but was also a little too bread-like. Better, but not ideal.

All Purpose Flour

All Purpose flour gave a texture that was very familiar, but not outstanding. It had more height than the ones with cake flour, but it seemed a little caky.

Bread Flour

These were by far the most ball-like of the cookies. They were delightfully chewy, but as the name of the flour would suggest, they were also very bread-like. Also not perfect for cookie-making.

1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose Flour

This was a light and chewy cookie that was certainly better than just bread flour. However, it still resembled bread too much.

1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose Flour

This was a soft and crumbly cookie that also had a little bit of chewiness to it. However, it seemed a little bit too crumbly and not quite chewy enough.

1/2 Bread 1/2 Cake Flour

As soon as I bit into this one I knew we had a clear winner, perfectly balanced… as all things should be. Somehow, the bread flour maintained its chewy goodness without cancelling out the crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth delicateness of the cake flour. From now on, I will be making my chocolate chip cookies with this mixture.

I would encourage you to try this experiment for yourself and leave me your thoughts, but if you want to take my word for it, feel free to do that to. Now that it has been established which mix has the most flour power, I can move on with the next phase of my plan to make the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie…SUGAR!

Ghost Pepper Salsa Recipe

You may have seen me make this particular salsa on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eRjGZThIu4).

However, you may not be in the mood for comedic gold and just want the instructions. I hear you.

This ghost pepper salsa is made from peppers my husband and I grew in containers on our patio. Even if you are very limited on space, this is something that you can do! If you have a lot of peppers come in at the same time, salsa can easily be frozen to keep for an extended period of time.

Also: When handling ghost peppers, it is important that you wear gloves!! When chopping, wear gloves and goggles! The fumes will irritate your eyes!! You’ll probably appreciate the goggles for when you’re chopping your onion as well.

Alright, good beans. Let’s jump right in.

Ghost Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 6 average-sized tomatoes (a bit larger than a tennis ball)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (I love garlic and prefer 2)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ghost pepper (fresh or frozen will work, if using dried pepper flakes, go with about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 lime
  • 20 fresh Cilantro leaves (optional)

Method:

  1. The first step is to peel your tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to place your tomatoes in a pot, and pour boiling water over them. After about 20 seconds, you should see the skin cracking on its own. At this point you can just pour the water off and peel the tomatoes when you’re able to handle them.

Dice your peeled tomatoes. Size of your pieces isn’t super important since it’ll end up in a blender at the end, but you want to make sure they’re fairly small and fairly even.

2. Dice your onion (peeled), mince your garlic (also peeled), and finely chop your ghost pepper, including the seeds, but chop the step off first.

3. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and ghost pepper to a pan (or pot) large enough that almost all of the contents should be in contact with the surface of the pan. Simmer on medium-high heat for five minutes. Then, remove the pan from heat and let sit for another five minutes.

4. Transfer the contents to a blender. Add the juice from one lime and the cilantro leaves.

5. Blend to your desired consistency. This will not take long at all, 15 seconds maximum.

6. This should yield a little over 2 pints. Place into your containers of choice, and enjoy!! If freezing, try out these freezer jars so your product will keep!

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a second pepper in the mix! (If you dare!)

DIY Cinnamon Bun Coffee Creamer

Finally. It’s FINALLY less than 90 degrees in the southeast. Nothing says “fall” like cinnamon, am I right?

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy my morning (and afternoon) coffee with some sweetened coffee creamer. But we all know: things are just better homemade.

Making your own coffee creamer is just so easy. There are so many things you can do once you figure out a good base. I don’t like to rant too much, so I’ll get on with it. A couple of notes first, though.

  • I did not want my creamer to have a syrup-like consistency. However, if you’d like a thicker coffee creamer, I recommend adding sweetened condensed milk and removing the white sugar.
  • You can make this diet-compatible by using alternative sweeteners and/or almond milk. It’s literally melting some things in some milk and adding cream to it. The possibilities are endless.
  • I like my coffee creamer sweet, but not too sweet. That being said, if you’d like a sweeter coffee creamer, add a bit more sugar!

Alright good beans, let’s jump right in.

DIY Cinnamon Bun Coffee Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (use dark brown sugar for a more authentic cinnamon bun flavor, but light will work fine)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan gently (a medium-low heat works fine). You aren’t aiming for scalding, just enough to melt the sugars and marry the flavors.
  2. Add the cinnamon, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Stir your mixture often as it heats.
  3. Once your sugars have dissolved, remove the mixture from heat, and stir in your cream.
  4. As a storing suggestion, check out these milk bottles. This recipe will yield about 24 fluid ounces. Be sure to give a gentle shake to disperse the cinnamon before use!

Give it a try! Make it your own! Try it in a chai tea latte!

Nordic Summer Hopped Mead

It’s been a long day and you desperately need a drink. Wine just doesn’t refresh, and beer is getting old. If there was only another alternative that was delicious, crisp, and refreshing. Fortunately for you, this alternative exists… you just have to make it. This drink is what I like to call “Nordic Summer Hopped Mead.” It has all of the hopped and bubbly deliciousness of an IPA, but it also contains the exciting but delicate flavors and aromas of mead. The alcohol for this recipe is between 4 in 5 percent by volume, but if you would like a little more kick just add a little more honey. Also, since you make it yourself, you can tweak the recipe to your liking in order to make your new favorite beverage, so let’s get started.

Before you start, you are going to need a few materials:

This may seem like a lot at first, but is almost all reusable, so you are set for future boozy endeavors.

And you are also going to need some ingredients:

Once you compile everything you need, you are ready to begin.

1)Freeze about a quart of ice.

2)Bring half a gallon of filtered water to a boil.

3)Measure out about a third ounce of the hops. 

4)Create a pouch of cheesecloth and trap the hops inside. This will make a sort of hop teabag that will minimize the mess.

5)Drop the teabag into water for fifteen minutes.

6)After the 15 minutes is up, take the teabag out of the water and remove from the eye. 

7)Add the ice to the water.

8)Warm a teacup with about an ounce of water in it until it is in between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and pitch about ½ the pouch of yeast into the teacup.

9)When the water reaches a level that is warm but not boiling, pour the honey into the water and stir vigorously.

10)From this point on, it is necessary that everything that the honey-water comes into contact with is properly sanitized. Immersing in boiling water will sanitize, but using One Step sanitizer is easier. Different sanitizers have different specifications, but those should be in the instructions.

11)When the water/hop/honey mixture is cooled to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, begin spooning a spoonful of the water into the teacup of yeast at a time. This will inoculate the yeast to the sugars and prevent from shock.

12)After spooning several spoonfuls of the mix into the yeast over the course of a few minutes, add the yeast to the pot of honey-water. 

13)After the yeast is added to the honey-water, you are ready to transfer into your fermentation vessel by siphon (or pouring if you are careful).  

14)Add the box of raisins into the fermentation vessel to act as a yeast nutrient.

15)Fill remaining space in the fermentation vessel with filtered water, only leaving about an inch of space at the top of the bottle.

16)Add the airlock with water in it to the fermentation vessel.

17)Place in a dark corner until it stops bubbling. (It should take about a month, but it depends on a number of factors, so it could take more or less time. Also, hops and sunlight do not go well together.)

18)After a couple of weeks of fermenting, it is time to dry hop. This will add hop flavor without the bitterness to the final product. Empty a teabag of its contents and fill with about 1/3 ounce of hops. 

19)Add the teabag to the fermentation vessel.

20)After the mead stops bubbling, it is time to rack by siphoning into another vessel. This should leave the sediment at the bottom. Also, remove the hop teabag at this point.

21)After the sediment has been removed from the fermentation vessel, siphon the mead back into the fermentation vessel and place the airlock back onto it.

22)Repeat this process over the course of a few days until almost all of the sediment is removed.

23)It is almost time for bottling, but first you must prime the mead in order for it to become carbonated. Do this by adding 3.5 teaspoons of honey to the mead and shaking vigorously. 

24)Bottle the mead into beer bottles.

25)Set in a dark corner for a couple of weeks and let the yeast do its magic.

26)Move to refrigerator.

After you do this, your patience will be rewarded when you crack open one of these delicious cold ones and impress all of your friends.

As you can see, there are many places in this recipe that you could add your own flare. I believe that is the beauty of home brewing. There are a million different possibilities, and I hope that you find the one that suits your tastes perfectly.

How to Make Butter (It’s Easier than you Think!)

When you think about making butter, do you think of churning away for a good while? I did too, until I learned that making butter takes one ingredient and a mixer. Shook? Me too.

In this post I’ll tell you how to make your own butter step by step. All you’re going to need is:

  • heavy cream
  • salt (optional)

Yeah, I know.

The amount of heavy cream is entirely up to you. A good rule of thumb is that 1 cup of regular quality whipping cream will make about 1/2 a cup of butter and 1/2 a cup of buttermilk. (Yes, you get buttermilk too!!)

Here we go, good beans.

How to make Butter

  1. Start by pouring 1 cup of heavy cream into a stand mixer. (You could do this with a hand-held mixer, but a stand mixer makes quick work of this.)
  2. Whip on medium speed. The cream will begin to get foamy.

3. Continue to whip on medium speed. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl fairly often. Eventually, you’ll have what looks like whipped cream.

Then you’ll have a curdled mess as the fat starts to separate from the milk…

And finally the butter will stick together on your beater

4. Strain your buttermilk through a cheesecloth and add the bits of butter you retrieve from this process back to your bowl along with the butter from the beater.

5. Add really cold water (warm will melt the butter) to the bowl. Use a utensil to fold the butter around. This will wash more buttermilk from the butter, which will make it better to cook with and keep for longer. Repeat this washing process at least twice, draining the cloudy water each time.

6. After draining the cloudy water off for the last time, turn the butter out onto a good quality paper towel and past dry as much as possible. Using good quality paper towels will help you to avoid fuzzies in your butter. At this point you would mix salt into your butter (1/4 tsp at a time). Work as quickly as possible to avoid melting the butter. I chose to leave the salt out, since I bake with unsalted butter frequently.

7. Form your butter into a rectangle(ish) shape using two spatulas. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate.

Congrats! You’ve just made butter! Use it just like you would regular, store-bought butter.

As for your buttermilk, it too can be used in any recipe you’d like to use buttermilk in! (I’m thinking biscuits!)

Give making butter a try! You won’t regret it!!