I Can See Clearly Now (The Juice is Clarified)

This is a pretty nifty trick that will significantly alter the appearance (but not particularly the taste) of juices for cocktails or simply being fancy. All you need for it is:

  • Agar powder (readily available at various online sources)
  • Juice to be clarified
  • Stove Top / A small cook pot
  • Old T-Shirt or cheese-cloth
  • Colander

Figure out how many grams of liquid you have (usually it’s marked on ounces on the front, just use Google to convert the total amount of liquid you have into grams) and multiply it by 0.0026 to find out how much agar you need (For example, 32 ounce container of orange juice would be ~ 907 grams * 0.0026 = 2.34 grams of agar). It doesn’t really need to be perfect, so don’t sweat it too much if you’re worried about how accurate your kitchen scale is.

Boil 1/3 of the liquid and add the agar, quickly whisk until dissolved, remove from heat and add remaining juice. Place this pot in a ice-bath to quickly cool it — it helps to use a thin walled pot for this. Whisk it occasionally as it is cooling; eventually it will be cool and have the consistency of apple sauce.

Look like apple sauce, smells like oranges. It’s a topsy-turvy world.

Pour this mixture into the cheese cloth and twist it up, place that in a colander and place some heavy object on top of it that you don’t mind getting juice on.

You can either be exceedingly patient and slowly squeeze the ball of agar juice, or you can watch TV and put something heavy like a mason jar of frying oil on it.

Now simply funnel the fruits of your labor into a bottle. I chose to carbonate mine for extra fizziness when used in Mimosas.

Clearly done!

Forced Carbonated Ginger Wine (Aka Ginger Beer)

This was a scaled up test batch based off of several smaller one gallon test brews. The concept was to make something approximating ginger ale only with a ginger kick like a mule and alcoholic (ginger BEER!). While this was just a test batch, I ended up with some very interesting and promising results!

Warning: This recipe assumes some basic brewing knowledge. You will need to know how to measure gravity, sterilize, siphon, etc. If you do not possess these skills and would like to pick up a copy of the Complete Joy of Home Brewing (well worth the investment) or browse such free sites as Home Brew Talk, the Northern Brewer Home Brew forum, or the BeerSmith forum.

Ingredients

  • 5 gallons water
  • 8 pounds raw sugar
  • 10 lemons, juice and zest
  • 10 limes, juice and zest
  • 3 pounds ginger, grated
  • English Cider Yeast (White Labs WLP775) — This is a relatively high attenuation cider yeast capable of higher gravities

 

The ingredients were boiled to pasteurize, funneled into sterile carboy, and placed inside a tub of water with a fish tank submersible heater calibrated to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (on the lower side of the optimum temperature range for the yeast to prevent off flavors).  The yeast was pitched at 78 degrees, aerated, and an airlock was placed on the carboy.

Off to the races…

From here on out it is a game of hurry up and wait. The English Cider yeast proved to be a slow but steady contender, which stayed remarkably linear. The OG was 1.07 and the yeast was showing no signs of stopping – it likely would have hit close to 9.74% but I cold crashed the brew to stop fermentation to keep a sweeter ‘soda’ like characteristic to the beverage. The final gravity was 1.024 leaving the brew at 6.64% alcohol by volume.

After cold crashing I bottled and forced carbonated the concoction to 40 PSI.

Tastes like burning…

In the end I am quite content with the results. It is extremely gingery, but crisp and warming. If you do not like ginger you WILL NOT like this at all. Even if you like ginger, it may be a bit overboard. Honestly a pound of ginger would give you more kick then most people want. But if you want a mad elixir that has more ginger than a hippie tonic and more booze than Milwaukee’s Best, you won’t be disappointed.

Final Thoughts: If you wanted to do something like this, I would recommend a secondary source of sugar to complement as well as dropping the Ginger content. Unless you really like Ginger. But I warned you.