Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wine from the Yeast Cakes

Now that the yeast cakes are ready, and nice and dry (they firmed up quite nicely after drying), I'm ready to start making wine from them.

Qimin Yaoshu is structured around the yeast cakes, and to help keep them straight, I'm numbering them and the wines that are attached to each cake recipe.  These yeast cakes are the first "exceptional" yeast cakes, so I'm calling them YE1, and below are the translated directions to make two different wines using them, a millet wine (YE1W1) and a rice wine (YE1W2).

I'm starting the process of making these now, and I'll report back once I have some more photos to show.  For sizing, the recipe clearly tells us that one volume of yeast cakes is enough for 21 or 18 volumes of grain, which means something like 60 volumes of alcohol, if you figure that you get about as much liquid out as cooked grain, which is about three times the volume of the dry grain.

Since I'm making this to hopefully panel at Birka in two weeks, and complete at King and Queen's A&S the week after, I probably want at least a liter of each, maybe two.  that'll also fit with the size of the bowls I'll be fermenting in.

Working backwards, 2L / 60 parts = 33mL of yeast cakes.  Taking a likely looking cake...
I start grinding it, since I don't have the time to dry it in the sun, and they're already clean since I didn't make them on dirt or leave them outside.  Unfortunately...
It wasn't so dry on the inside.

Oh well.  I've broken it into pieces and left it to dry in a warm part of my kitchen in a cheesecloth bag.  I'll see how it is tomorrow.  The recipe is very clear about the yeast being dry, so I should probably aim for that.

Broken up, this cake is about 100mL, so this should be plenty for both wines if I'm aiming for two liters each.

造酒法:A method for making wine

YE1W1 (millet), YE1W2 (rice)

Take whole yeast cakes, dry them in the sun for perhaps five days, and three times a day, take a pot scrubbing brush and brush them well, making them really clean.  
If you happen to have good weather, you can [just] dry them for three days.  Then, break them into small pieces, gather them in a large cloth, and place them in a high place in the kitchen to dry for one day, not allowing wind-borne dirt to soil it.
Take one level dou of the crushed yeast cakes, and grind them into a fine powder in a mortar.  Soak them in five sheng of water.  Soak them for three days, and when bubbles the size of fish eyes rise from them, add the grain.
The grain must be meticulously clean [polished].  Rinse the grain perhaps 20 times.  The grain should be untouched by people or animals.  The water you use for rinsing the rice and in the cauldron, and for cleaning any tools used in brewing, should always be river water, as it is the best.
When making wine with glutinous millet or proso millet, one dou of yeast cakes can ferment two dan and one dou of grain [21 dou]: [divide the grain into charges and add it to a weng as follows] for the first charge, use three dou; wait a night, for the next charge use five dou; again wait another night, for the third charge, use one dan [10 dou]; again wait three nights, and for the final charge, use three dou.
The millet should be cooked until soft [twice steamed], but cooked in the same way as for eating; then spread it out until it is completely cool, and finally use it.
When making [this] wine with sticky rice, one dou of yeast cakes can ferment one dan and eight dou of grain [18 dou].  Use only the first three charges of grain [above].  To cook the rice, just steam it until steam exits the steamer - no need to steam it twice.  To steam the rice in this way: take it out of the steamer [once steam has begun to come out of it], place it in a weng, and pour boiling water over it, just enough to cover it.  This is the method used by Yuan Pushe’s family.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Making Exceptional Yeast Cakes, Weeks 4 and 5

Week 4

After another seven days, bring them out, pack them into a weng, and seal the head [with clay].
Still not having a weng, I settled for some air-tight glass jars.  I think that, because I was simulating the hut with a plate and some boxes, this stage was pretty much a no-op compared to stacking the cakes on the plate like we did last week.

The cakes smell about the same as they did the week before: sweet and caramely, with some odd alcoholic notes.  They leave behind a pretty large amount of a dark brown liquid.  I didn't taste it.

Week 5

After another seven days, bore a small hole in each cake, thread a rope through them, air the whole string in the sun, really make sure it’s dry, and then place the cakes inside.
The cakes are still really damp, about the same as last week, and have the same smell.  I think that they came out of the "hut" way too damp, but I'll have to roll with it.  Next time, maybe I'll use a cardboard box with saran wrap on it or something.

I used a small copper needle that I hastily made out of some wire to thread some clean string through the cakes:
One lesson for when I do get a proper weng is that the opening needs to be somewhat larger than my hands!  It was really hard to get the cakes out.
Now I have a beautiful yeast cake necklace.

The cakes are firm but still a little fragile.  I'm nervous about lifting up the string off the table top for now since they're still very damp and they break apart under pressure.  Some of them are firmer than others - the ones at the bottom of the jars seemed to be particularly firm.

I'll let this dry on the table for a few hours and then move it somewhere less in the way, with some air flow.

But!  Now we're ready to start fermenting.  And not a moment too soon, since Birka is coming up  in three weeks and I want to bring something to enter, plus I've committed to making three things for the arts and sciences competition at King's and Queen's A&S the week after.

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"Boiled" Millet Wine

I brought one new wine to King and Queens Arts and Sciences : a "boiled" millet wine.  This is the first wine for the second "...