Ebulus Cervisiam Delectamentum

EbulumCDepending on where you live, it’s not to late to get out in the woods and gather some elderberries. They make a nice wine of course, but they also make a tart and fruity beer. An elderberry braggot (beer and mead hybrid) is also a tasty possibility. The berries are the fruit of Sambucus species. In Europe, they come most commonly from the Dwarf Elder (Sambucus ebulus.) This tree was known as the Ebull in ancient times, the term taken from its Latin name. The beer made from elderberries is called Ebulum, and appears as a recipe in books from the early 1700s. The Oxford Dictionary defines ebulum as a name for elderberry wine, but London & Country Brew III (1743) says “make a white Ebulum with pale Malt and white Elder-berries.” This was possibly a barley wine.

Elderberries have a long history of medicinal use, with a reputation for successfully treating colds and flu. For this purpose they are usually made into a syrup. The raw berries are somewhat toxic, and so they are cooked. Elderflowers also have medicinal and culinary uses, notably as a background flavoring for the cordial Sambuca.
Sambucus-berries

This Ebulum has a Chocolate Surprise. In addition to the pale malt (in this case Maris Otter) in traditional recipes, this one has chocolate malt, an English blend of crystal malts, and Dingeman’s debittered black malt. It is spiced with elderflowers, grains of paradise, and cinnamon, finished with Muscovado sugar at flameout. A touch of lactose added just before bottling creates a full mouthfeel and a bit of residual sweetness that balances the berries’ tartness.

Stripping two kilos of elderberries from their elaborate stems is tedious work. Drinking the results after a year of aging is a delectable reward.

Advertisements

FAQ: AKA The Umami Factor Elevator Pitch

Umami Factor_front1w

WHAT IS THE UMAMI FACTOR?

It’s two things. It’s the title of my new book, and it is the principle for making fermented beverages that provide a complex, mouth-filling, satisfying flavor sensation by balancing multiple aromas with the five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.

WHAT IS UMAMI?

Umami is the taste sensation of savory foods. The word is Japanese for “delicious” taste. It’s provided by receptors in your mouth, throat, esophagus, and even stomach that detect the presence of glutamates, which are derived from amino acids. The umami sensation is pleasant for the same reason that “sweet” is pleasant.

The body is cued to detect vital, high-engergy nutrients: carbohydrates with sweet taste, and proteins with umami taste. Natural, unfiltered fermented beverages are packed with umami-producing compounds from the fruits, grains, and yeast they are made of.

WHAT IS FULL SPECTRUM FERMENTATION?

Full-spectrum fermentation describes a process of techniques combined with intricate ingredient formulas that create complex flavor arrangements evoking the response “There’s so much going on there! How did you do that?”

Full-spectrum beverages are complex and improbable, but ultimately well-balanced drinks.

coachandsix
WHY IS THIS BOOK DIFFERENT?

It takes a full-spectrum look at beverages from soft drinks to hard liquor. It thoroughly discusses the components necessary for flavor balancing. It examines related spectra, such as the inebriation spectrum and the commitment spectrum. It has a textbook approach to data, with a multitude of tables for ingredients and supplies. It provides recipes and detailed instructions, but more importantly it is a call to chefdom for aspiring fermentation artists. Tally Ho!

Buy The Umami Factor now for a substantial pre-release discount here.

Cherry Apple Sky Cyser

cherry apple skyW1When it comes to creating full-spectrum recipes, it’s important to be open to inspiration at all times, during the random events of life. For example: you are in a nice grocery store and see a bag of dried Montmorency cherries. Perhaps you’ve never heard of them, and have no idea what to do with them. Grab a bag anyway, buy them and put them away for later.

Then, say you are driving through spring orchard country just before sunset. Rolling hills, air fragrant with blossoms, and the words “cherry apple sky” pop into your head. What does that mean? You have no idea. Don’t dismiss it; put it away for later.

When later comes, and you’re casting about for something creative to do, perhaps some leisurely Sunday, you look about for what’s on hand: some Winter Banana apples you bought because you were intrigued by their name; some farm-stand apple juice you bought for later; the bag of Montmorency cherries; a jug of honey.

Suddenly you remember “cherry apple sky” and you know what it means.

Cyser is a hard apple cider that is made with honey. It is among the many different varients in the mead family. Apples originated in Central Asia, from where the spread to Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire.

Now, apples may taste sweet but they are comparatively low in sugar, making the juice by itself capable of producing a fermented beverage of about five percent alcohol. While sugar was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, it was exotic and scarce. Fortifying apple juice with it would have been prohibitively expensive. Adding honey then, to the natural juice of apples to boost the alcoholic strength of a fermented beverage, must have been an inevitable choice.

The term “cyser” is derived from cicera, which was used as a way of spelling in Latin the Hebrew word for “strong drink,” shēkār, in the Old Testament. It was only after the early 12th Century that sugar replaced honey in Europe, which up until then had been the only available sweetener. Thus, if you had plenty of apples, and you wanted a strong drink in Classical times, you made a cyser.

The Montmorency is a sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L), most often used in making cherry pies, but also available as a healthy snack in dried form. Though they are called “sour” they are actually quite sweet, but with a serious tang to them that balances the sweetness. In this respect they are similar to the varieties of crab apples that are grown for eating.

They have strong anti-oxidant properties, containing flavonoids which inhibit cancers by scavanging reactive oxygen ions from the body. Their red pigment adds to the color of the cyser, giving it hints of a rosé wine.

This cyser certainly lives up to that expectation, with a starting gravity like a good wine. It has a beautiful rosy orange color like a mountain sunset, and a nice aroma that suggests pineapple and a flavor just hinting of the mildest mint. Because the tartness of the cherries comes from their considerable acid content, it can be sweetened to taste before bottling. It will continue to improve for many years.