Brewing fun – February 2018

Juicing time – February 2018

So one of the things I do from time to time is a bit of brewing, my philosophy behind this however is as simple as it can get, accessible and as natural ingredients as possible. Sure, I could dive into some sweet fermenters or temperature controlled environments but that doesn’t exactly make what I’m doing accessible and doable by anyone on a budget. Basically my entire kit consists of;

2 x 5L Demijohns

2 x Airlocks and Bungs

1 x Hand pump with filter

1 x PVC hose

1 x Set of jugs

1 x Hydrometer

So for this cider brewing I needed;

9KG Apples (making about 4.5L Apple Juice)

Something to sterilise your equipment and fruit

Yeast (I needed to select one suitable for room temperature brewing, be careful what you choose)

Nutrient (Yeast cannot live on apple juice alone)

Some kind of sugary addition you can add to pitch the yeast (brewers sugar works well)

Priming tablets

Pressure rated bottles, regular bottles won’t cut it here

The first step before I got started was to pitch my yeast, adding some nutrient, some sugar and water together before I got started helped here. Then cleaning my equipment, making sure you’ve cleaned everything is super important here to prevent the wrong things infesting your juice.

Once done I got to juicing my apples, then filtering the juice to get rid of scum on top It’s also important to clean up your fruit prior to avoid natural yeasts infesting your juice. Quite a few people will use a sterilisation tablet either to wash the fruit or in the juice its self and wait 24 hours before pitching their yeast and add it then.

Once the juice was prepped, I added my yeast to the demijohn then poured the apple juice in and sealed with the airlock. I was fortunate at the time my ambient temperatures were in the perfect range but this is something to watch too and can ruin a good brew, read your yeast instructions.

After brewing for about a week, It was time to bottle, about 2 priming tablets in a 750ml bottle was enough to ensure carbonation, Much like prepping the equipment earlier, clean and sterilise everything.

 

Oh and before anyone asks, the apple pulp? It’s being fermented too as an addition to the verge garden. Using bokashi allows me my quickly break down organic matter while also not having the space for a proper compost pit.

 

The bokashi fermenter ready to roll.

 

Early Days in the Verge Garden

So it’s early days on the verge garden and I’m still working on fixing up the terrible soil here. The above picture is what the verge area I’m taking on looked like in January 2018 just after I moved here, even watering this I noticed it’s water repellent and that soil you see on the path extends half way down the street having being blown away over time. One of the neighbours advised me that there had once been a tree here but it was an unfortunate victim of the development of a unit complex nearby, regardless alot of remedial work will be require before I can do a thing here. The soil as mentioned is water repellent, compacted and otherwise devoid of any organic matter. Getting an OK to proceed from the council was needed despite some of the most progressive policies on this front in Australia due to that chicane, in short, I need to keep anything from the line of the sign furthest from the road forward to it below a certain height to retain road visibility.

Mulch pile – February 2018

After doing some things including layering down some cow manure, clay and some wetting agent along came the mulch. This was a huge load as pictured and was a freebie from a local tree pruning company via Mulchnet , while using eucalyptus mulch wasn’t a first preference it’s certainly more sustainable, it’ll just require more work.

Mulch raked – February 2018

After spending a good afternoon raking it out and watering it in, it’s been mostly a case of keeping it moist to try to pull off some kind of hot(ish) composting with the large amount of leaf matter amongst the wood chips. This has involved watering and forking it about once a week to start with to keep air moving to the lower layers.

Mulch – 3 weeks in February 2018

Finally that gets me to where we are now, about three weeks post mulch going down. It’s holding a nice temperature inside and you can see alot of the leaf matter is breaking down quite quickly (those dark brown and black patches) and is slowly reducing in size. I may need to take some off before planting as there’s still alot of bulk there but I’m satisfied so far with progress.

Aside from one or two fruit loops nearby who have grumbled most of the reception has been fairly positive so far to what I’m up to here. As for the what I’m up to part, I’m planning to implement a full herb garden, full of hardy varieties people can still use to cook with around here. As is visible from my photos there are alot of unit blocks near by to me and a large number of those are in lower socio-economic groups, basically people without the means to either grow these or buy them without hurting the limited funds available. I’m avoiding vegetables as there are many problems that I can forsee (pests especially) here and as I am renting this house, I may not be here in a few years to keep this going which would likely be needed for a vegetable garden. Herbs at least will still be useful and make a good use of this space.