Saturday, 27 October 2018

Back to the 90s

Well, it's been an interesting week. I've still had my ear blocked – that's about ten days now. I went to the doctor yesterday and he peered inside and said my ear was full of wax and that I should continue putting in olive oil and Otex on a daily basis because it seems to be working and might solve the problem. But if not, it will make it easier for the nurse to suck it out when I get it syringed on the 5thNovember. Matron!

In the social news – we are shitting plastic. People all over the world have had their poo studied and micro plastic has been found in most of them. So micro plastics are already in the human food chain. Via what? Must be sea fish. That must be the main one. Surely it can't be in fruit and veg or in meat from vegetarian animals, because they just eat grass and seed, right? Is there micro plastic in rain water? Can it be carried up into clouds? Is it sucked up through the roots of plant systems? Surely not. It's the sea fish – it must be. Lazy buggers drifting along with their mouths open taking any old crap that drifts inside. Some animals may dispose of the plastic better than others, in which case we should eat them.

So where do we find fish that have no plastic in them? Fish farms? River salmon? Grow our own? Some day I would like to try to go down the aquaponics route. I have a fish tank, I have a place to grow tomato plants. All I need are the tilapia, some pipes, a solar powered water pump, and to make the greenhouse into a water system. But I think I need more tanks.

Warning : May contain fish

We got a new fridge freezer today, which I'm looking forward to going home to. Not sure what else I can really get excited about it for. I expect I'll just open and close it a few times, enjoying the lack of having to bend down to get milk for the foreseeable future. Then after the first day I imagine it will become hum drum. Mundane. Just another boring old fridge freezer that takes up the whole kitchen and that we can't really afford. Appreciate your fridge freezers ladies and gentlemen! Don't take them for granted! Go out on a date once a week to keep the spark alive.

I wish we could go back to the 90s. That was the best decade for me. Before Bush, before 9/11, before Facebook. I was in my pre, during and post uni days. I drank, I studied, I read, I philosophised, I traveled, I met a variety of interesting people, I wrote, I did judo, played music, and could hear though both ears.

Maybe I should start a petition : Back to the 90s! When people weren't addicted to cell phones, trolling each other on social media, or shitting plastic.

Sign the petition here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Cider Diaries

Day 1 – Sep 26th 2018

Apples! Huh! What are they good for? Cider!

We had an absolute tonne of apples this year compared to last year, when I actually had to supplement the apples from our tree with those bought from the supermarket. But last autumn I was careful to return the nutrient-rich mulch to the soil under the tree instead of the compost heap. I pruned the ends of the lower branches, and took care to water and weed the earth during the hot summer that brought lots of sunshine which must have paid off. I'd also heard that if there's a clump of apples at the end of a branch you take off and discard the smaller one. I wonder if that also helped.

My wife's made apple sauce and we've given a few of the best apples to her friends. I've eaten a couple too and they've been really sweet and only a little bitter - not as bitter as granny smiths. Sort of between granny smiths and the organic ones you can get in the supermarket. If it hadn't been for my sister's partner who tried one when he came to visit I don't think I'd ever have tried them myself!

The first night we washed, crushed and pressed a bunch of apples in the rain. The bucket broke after much bashing so we need to get a stronger bucket, that's for sure. I put the juice in the demijohn using a funnel, added a sprinkle of cider yeast on the top, stuck the tape thermometer on it and placed it in the kitchen on top of the fridge where it's usually quite warm, around 20-22 degrees. It then bubbled away quite satisfactorily for a few days.

Day 2 – Sep 30th2018

I washed, crushed and pressed another pint of apples and just added it in to the same demijohn. I also drank a few mouthfulls of the apple juice and it tasted absolutely great and I felt fine the next day. It was like that scene in The Langoliers by Stephen King when they return to the 'Just Before Present' and all the food is really fresh and delicious. Next time it might be worth making some apple juice as well as cider and sticking it in the fridge for a few days. Then my son can enjoy the fruits of his labours as long as I test it first.

One problem is the bruising when the apples fall from the tree. I can't afford netting but next year I could put down bubble wrap or something to cushion their fall and prevent them from getting mouldy.

An interesting thing I read was that the yeast, which is a kind of fungus, converts the sugar in the cider to alcohol producing Co2 as a bi-product, and it's this process which prevents the cider going off. The alcoholisation continues until either all the sugar is used up, or there is so much alcohol that the yeast itself is killed off.

Day 3 - Saturday 6thOctober

Well, the cider in the 1 gallon demi-john seems to have calmed down a bit now, so much that I was a little concerned that I hadn't put in enough yeast. I thought that maybe it was now just really off, dead apple juice, until I took out the stopper had a wiff and immediately detected the strong smell of alcohol. It's alive - and deadly!

I don't know what day this is in terms of a timeline. Probably it's been about a week since we did the first batch and added the yeast, then a few days later added another pint or so of squeezed apple juice, and there's still another pint's worth on the tree. I wonder if I should add that in with a little more yeast and see what happens. But now it looks quite clear with a layer of crap at the bottom and hardly any gas being emitted. It's a bit sickly looking. I'd like to try sparkling cider but I don't want to risk blowing up the demi-john. It might break into two halves and become ... a semi-demi-john?

A few days later ...

No idea when it was, but I realised I'd missed a step. I was supposed to fill the demi-john to the neck with juice and after the first bout of bubbling I was meant to wipe the crusty crap off the inside of the neck, but as I hadn't filled it up enough I wasn't able to wipe the crap off the inside of the glass as it was too low. So it started sinking into the cider and floating about. I decided to syphon off the cider into two water jugs before washing out the demi-john and returning it back in with the gas release stopper and put it in a cooler area upstairs. Again, the smell of alcohol was unmistakeable.  All I need to do now is just leave it for a year or so to mature and give it a try.

Might try last year's small bottle of cider tonight and let you know how it tastes. If you don't hear from me for a while I've died. I'd like to thank you all for reading! In the case of my death I would recommend you do not follow the above steps...