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Catsear Wine

In a Bradbury sort of mood, I decided last week to make some dandelion wine. All the pretty yellow flowers were nodding their head in the yard and I thought “I’m going to do something with them.”

It never really occurred to me that they weren’t actually dandelions until Friday afternoon, when browsing some dandelion related resources, I came across mention of Catsear.

Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata) looks like dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), but has some differences in appearance. The leaves look a little different, and where dandelions grow a single flower per stem, catsear branches. However, it is edible, and it’s got a lovely fragrance. Looking it up netted me this result, which suggested to me that I could still get a nifty little alcoholic beverage out of my yellow flowers.

I have no idea how many flowers I managed to harvest. It was a lot, but I don’t have any kitchen scales, so I can’t say by weight. I managed to repurpose and fill a bucket that once contained 2kg of yoghurt. I could have got more, but I’m lazy.

I then rinsed the flowers to get rid of wildlife.

Catsear flowers, rinsed.

Catsear flowers, rinsed.

Then I set to the tedious task of taking off the green bits.

Catsear minus stems and sepals

Catsear minus stems and sepals

I found that you can get into a nice rhythm of pinching the petals between your thumb and forefinger and simply twisting off the stem and sepals, but there were a lot to get through. I put on a movie and was halfway through it before I finished with the flowers.

Be aware that the sap stains your fingers. Hours after and following numerous attempts at scrubbing my fingers, I still look like I’ve been playing with dirt.

Catsear stains your fingers. This does not come off with soap.

Catsear stains your fingers. This does not come off with soap.

Having finished separating the petals out, I put them into a big pot of water and set it on to boil. I then went and checked various dandelion wine recipes and found that they suggest to put dandelions into boiling water then let it cool. Whoops.

Considering I put in approximately 3750 ml water, it took nearly an hour to come to the boil. Once there, I let it boil for about 5 min then turned it off and let it steep for 4 hours I should have left it longer, but I’m impatient, and I have visions of an irate husband complaining because I’ve left flower soup out for a long time.

Catsear steeping

Catsear steeping

I then strained out the solids, first with a metal seive to get the large bits, then with coffee filters to get the pollen and other smaller solids.

I then added a kilo of sugar into the strained liquid and put it back on to heat.

The liquid I was left with was straw yellow in colour, had a lovely, fresh aroma and tasted (to me) like a combination of wheat, grass and straw. I fed it to my unknowing stepdaughter, who looked at me suspiciously before taking a sip, then called out “Aw, hawhawhaw,” which left me wondering if she had burnt herself on the still hot liquid, then “I need to LIVE on this stuff!”

Liquid after straining

Liquid after straining

I’m now just waiting for the liquid to cool before adding yeast and putting it on to ferment. I’m hoping that delicious and delicate flavour is preserved long enough to feed to others at next year’s Great Northern War.

 

 

Edit, 25/10/2015: I didn’t get back to the brew last night, so it got covered overnight to stop the world from feasting on my delicious flower soup. This morning I put it on to warm, then put it into a 5l demijohn with a water lock. I’ve used BV7 yeast at the advice of my husband, who has played with it using apple, pear and blackberry ciders. (I was considering CL23 but was informed by him that the flavour would drop considerably). Vintner’s Harvest tells me that the ethanol will top out at about 13%, so it’s not going to run anywhere close to the “rocket fuel” that he regularly produces.

The brew has been relegated to our “brewing box” downstairs: a large insulated box we acquired a few years ago from a friend. I feel a little sad locking my brew away (I like to be able to look at the yeast moving around, and be able to see the pressure and watch the bubbles) but as we’ll have a house full today, ’tis safest.

5 litre Demijohn containing future alcohol

Yeastie-beasties Ahoy!

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Personal A&S challenge – The birth of alcohol

Since moving into the house I’m in, I’ve developed a passion for gardening.

In the same time frame, I’ve also developed an interest in brewing.

Gardening + Brewing means that I can create the things I then put in my brews.

So far I’ve done a number of different brews utilising herbs that I’ve grown. I’ve used home grown liquorice, lemongrass, lemonbalm, rosemary, tarragon and other flavour additives in my mash in the hopes of making everything just that little bit tastier. However, something I haven’t yet done is brew anything solely using things I’ve grown myself.

While drinking some of my ale about a month ago, I started to consider what sort of things went into medieval brews. I know that many ales were a combination of grains instead of the straight barley that I had been using. A plan formed in my mind… to have a personal A&S project that would take me all the way through brewing – starting at planting the crops.

Today I have segregated a bed specifically for grains. The spot gets shade in the early morning and late afternoon, but has nice, bright sunlight through the day. It’s not a large bed by any means, and I’m not expecting to have a massive crop, but I hope there will be enough to brew a decently sized batch of ale. I’ve planted a third of the bed with wheat, a third with rye, and a third with barley.

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

My new garden bed, planted with wheat, rye and barley

I will document the progress of the crop through the coming months.

Song: Three Mavens

In the lead up to Great Northern War, I’ve been thinking on the songs I’ve been packing away in my arsenal. I think that must have been seeping into my subconscious, because at roughly 2am this morning I had a song pop into my head, almost fully formed. I’ve worked on it through the day, and I bring you my song:

Three Mavens (to the tune of Three Ravens)

There were three mavens sat on a bench
Down a down they tore her down
Staring at a badly dressed wench
With a down
The one of them said to her friend
Look how badly that dress is hemmed
With a down truly truly they tore her down

That outer layer’s Florentine
Down a down they tore her down
But that chemise is from an earlier time
With a down
That’s a Viking circlet on her head
Why does she mix her period
With a down truly truly they tore her down

They called her over eagerly
Down a down they tore her down
And she stepped to those mavens three
With a down
She hoped for wisdom and new friends
They lectured her on fashion trends
With a down truly truly they tore her down

This fact will shock you and appall
Down a down they tore her down
The garb she wore was borrowed all
With a down
She quickly saw she was outclassed
Her first event shall be her last
With a down truly truly they tore her down

I’m releasing this song under a CC0 Waiver. For those familiar with Creative Commons, this is the least restrictive licence they supply.


CC0

To the extent possible under law,

Kristine Sihto

has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Three Mavens.
This work is published from:

Australia.

#47 Lucet

Some time ago, I came across an online image of a Viking line winder. You can find an image of the specific find here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/511440101403969955/. Falling somewhat in love with the image, I decided to make lucet with similar markings. So I prepared a nice piece of beef bone and here’s the finished product at roughly half the size of the original find.

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

Bone lucet based on a linewinder found at Sømhovd, Norway

 

A Proper Sonet, Wherein a Louer Dolefully Sheweth his Grief to his L. and Requireth Pity

This is a song I’ve had in my songbook for a few years now. I spent quite a lot of time researching it and its tune, as (at the time) I had a fair amount of trouble finding ‘Row Well Ye Mariners’ online. I eventually settled for learning the tune off a wav file that played at incredible speeds.

The tune is fairly complex and took me a while to get down. I physically can’t sing the song any faster than I’ve sung it here – my tounge gets tied and trips over itself. It’s lyrics also indicate that it’s been written for a male vocalist, so my mezzo-soprano vocals are at odds with the intended outcome.

Online, you can find the transcript (along with other pretties) here: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ballads/handful.html, and a copy of an 1878 print here: https://archive.org/stream/handfulofpleasan00robiuoft#page/20/mode/2up.

The Spirit of Lochac

I’ve entered Known World’s Got Talent. So give the video a thumbs up and help me climb the ranks.

Breadth challenge #27: flat woven bracelet

I was bumbling around on youtube a few months ago and I saw a post on weaving bracelets.  I think I may have been looking for Viking Wire Weaving techniques, but that’s not what this was.  This was a true weave, very simple and relaxed, and very quick, it looked, to make.  

Last night I decided to actually try it.

The basic techniques is this- you take however many short strands you want your bracelet to have (for the width of the bracelet) and one extra long one (I just left the wire on the spool) and put them all lined up, long ends out, in a vice grip, with the extra long strand at the end.  Fold the wires down alternating forward and back, then bring the long strand over. Tamp it down, say with a block of wood hit with a hammer, or something similar.  I think if your wire is coated with something, say a laquer or a coloured coating, don’t use the hammer on bare metal, as you may end up destroying  your coatingthen go back and repeat the process.  Fold your strands, lift your long strand over, tamp it down, repeat.  Every so often you’re going to want to drop it down into your vice so it sits flush, I recommend every couple of weaves  just to be safe, otherwise your bracelet will bunch up on itself.  Once you’ve got it to the right length, stop.  I wasn’t so sure about finishing off, so I clipped all the tail ends fairly short, pushed them down into place, and covered the ends with my clasps, which were basically done with wire wrapping, much the same as all other jewellery I make.

Unfortunately, I am unsure how to add a photo of my finished product into this post, as I’m using an iPad with my wordpress account for the first time.  I’ll try to get the photo uploaded sometime in the next 24 hours.

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