Friday, September 21, 2012

Nevermind what color is your parachute, what proof is your pineapple?

I've been playing with fruits and vodka for flavoring extracts as I hate to pay $3.00-$7.00 minimum for as small bottle to flavor cakes, cookies, and other goodies I make.  You could call me cheap, but with the frequency I go through extracts, I'd rather think of myself as crafty and smart.

Last year I failed to make banana as it kept floating to the top of the jar, so the bananas went brown and bad, so I poured that mix down the sink.  Black cherry hasn't done well at all and tastes horrific, and I'd put my apple and mango mixes also into the same category.

The peach and pineapple extracts came out REALLY great because they fermented, which seems to be the key.  The use of them in baked goods almost seems a crime as they're so smooth, you don't taste any alcohol.  So far I've refrained from sipping them, but I have used the peach to make a fuzzy navel jelly that's pretty tasty!

I've learned that fermenting is the key when it comes to making extracts or extra smooth liqueurs.  Today, I had that point reinforced by a green pineapple that had been sitting in the window between 2-3 weeks to ripen up.  Fred pulled it down and sliced it up, and since I was busy doing something else, I didn't take a shameless opportunity to taste test it.
This morning, I pulled out a container of my homemade yogurt and tossed in some of those overripe chunks.  Instantly "it" hit me...the taste of the pineapple was quite a bit different than I was used to as it was noticeably boozy!  It had fermented to some degree inside the skin while ripening in the window.  I asked Fred if he could pick up on anything, and he said he had meant to have me taste test the pineapple to see if I tasted the same thing!  Of course we laughed about it with jokes of getting pulled over, driving under the influence of "pineapple" and wondering what "proof" the fruit had become just sitting in the kitchen window.

From time to time around here, I make what I call an "executive decision", and I made another this morning.  I need to go out and find another fresh pineapple, some vodka, and wait 2-3 weeks to make the base of a really GOOD pineapple liqueur.

I can remember as a kid my mom telling me about how bees become more aggressive in the fall because they get "drunk" on fermented fruits on the ground, and when you're picking apples and peaches in the fall, that behavior is very much on display.  I take my time and wander around the fallen fruit on the ground as much as possible to avoid being stung.  Now I've had a great example of boozy fruit, I know exactly how the bees must feel!

My apple extract that's been brewing from underripe apples (which are great for extracting pectin from) isn't cooperating at all.  I suspect the sugars are still firmly locked in the cell walls as the apples look almost as fresh as the day they were picked and peeled.  I even tossed the mason jar in the cooler, wrapped it with a heating pad, and tried to force the apple slices to soften and release their sugars that way.  It bubbled a little bit, but it's far from fermenting.

On the other hand, my prize winning fermentation award goes to the watermellon, which keeps on producing fizz at a rate that would make a shook can of coke seem flat!  I have to "burp" the mason jars a couple of times a week to keep it from bursting the glass from gas build up (it did buckle the lid when I let it go too long).  I'm almost dying to see how well that extract tastes when it's done, and I have no intention of stopping it prematurely just so I can sample it.  I was patient enough to wait 13 months on the others, so I can hold out on round two! 

I also have a strawberry extract fermenting, and just so you know what I'm talking about, here's a short 25 second video to show you:

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