Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hard Cider Batch #5 -- Part 2

It's been nearly two weeks since I started my newest batch of cider at my new home and I decided it was time to check up on it.
Brew Area 2.0
I took a gravity reading of the cider and it came out at 1.004, giving it an ABV of 7.4%. It's slightly less than my original prediction of 8%. My guess is that there are some other soluble compounds in this juice that prevented it from going below 1.000. Either that or the yeast gave up due to the sorbates in the juice.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cider -- Batch #2

As promised, I planned to make some new pumpkin cider this season. It would be just like last year's batch, except 1/5th the size. I had everything I needed at the beginning of the month....except for my yeast.
Pumpkin Spice Cider
Let's get into this fall holiday season
It finally arrived after being lost in the mail for a few weeks. Due to the way it's packaged, it should have survived the transit being out of the fridge for those weeks, but I have no idea what kind of storage the postal service uses.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Broom Repair

One night, a broom without a handle appeared on the side of the road.  I immediately acquiesced it with the intent to build a new handle out of some metal tubing or something.  As luck would have it, I delayed the project long enough for another broom to spontaneously generate in a trash can as I was passing by.  This phenomena is known as "Scrap Alchemy", where the junk you need to build something appears at the right place and time. (see also: bicycle seatpost part 2)

The second broom had a rather good handle, but terrible plastic bristles, likely the reason it was thrown out.  To further the mystery, it was made in Mexico, which according to research, is the main producer of the broom corn for decent brooms (the assumed material of the first broom). 

Anyhow, the goal was to take the good handle from the bad broom and attach it to the good, handle-less broom to get the best of both worlds.
Two bad brooms make one good broom

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I really hate cabbage moths -- Garden update October 23, 2014

Bok Choy October 16
When I first noticed trouble a week ago.
It's happened again. My least favorite pest has found my new garden. The cabbage moth. They've attacked previously at my old place and my parent's hydroponic garden. Unfortunately for me I did not notice them sleeping on the stems of my bok choy until it was far too late. I've done what I can, but there is irreparable damage done. The bok choy is hanging in there and continues to grow.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tools of the Trade -- Yeast Strains

If you're making any type of homebrew, a key ingredient to a successful brew is the yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) you're using. I've experimented around with quite a few in my beer, wine, and hard cider making. Without going too sciencey, I'd like to share my experiences with these strains.
Yeast Packet
A typical packet of dry yeast
Jump to:
Lalvin EC-1118
Safale US-05
Safale S-04
Cote des Blancs
Bread Yeast

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Homebrewing in new places -- Hard Cider Batch #5

Are you ready for another exciting homebrewing adventure?
Jug of cider
Yay Homebrewing!
I planned to get a batch of some new brew going in my new living place soon, but the yeast I had ordered to make my intended batch got sent to the wrong address by accident.

While browsing the grocery store today, I found a sweet deal on some apple juice for $2.75. I couldn't resist the price, so I bought two gallons worth to make some hard cider. It was especially nice because I could ferment the juice right inside the jug it came in.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Headphone Jack Modification

In preparation for one of my most anticipated projects of all time, the bicycle stereo system, I needed an adequate source for the music to come from. My default choice was the "my first Sony" cassette player, as I've already been using it as a stand alone bicycle stereo (it's actually mono).  This device features a built in 4W speaker and has been working well so far, especially on trails, but if I'm going to compete with traffic, I'm going to need more power, which is where the bicycle stereo will come in.  More on that later.  The first problem was that this cassette player mysteriously didn't come with a headphone jack, I'm going to need one in order to connect to the amplifier later.  I suppose the manufacturers wanted kids to annoy the crap out of their parents by restricting them to using the speaker.

Anyhow, this isn't the first time I tried to add a headphone jack to this thing.  My previous attempt was a failure as I tried cutting the opening with a soldering iron X-acto knife attachment which was really messy and smelled bad.  The aftermath of this is visible in the picture below.  Also in the picture is the new tool that will do the job right, my new Dremel Craftsman hobby tool with grinding disc attachment.
My first sony with botched headphone jack aftermath and Craftsman hobby tool Dremel knock off.

Fresno Chili Pepper

Fresno Pepper Plant

Fresno peppers are very similar to Jalapenos, but are slightly hotter. These pepper seeds are pretty easy to germinate compared to other varieties of pepper I have tried to grow. Even in small containers, these plants can grow a lot of peppers (I got 7+ so far from growing in a 1 gallon pot). They love sunshine and heat, so keep them illuminated.

The peppers can be picked when they are green or red. They'll ripen up even after they are picked when green.