Experimental fermentations, part 1

What fermented beverage comes to mind when you look at the pic below?


Spinach wine – no? Because that’s what it became.  Or will become, hopefully.  And what in the world would inspire me to attempt spinach wine, you might wonder.  Raw curiosity, I suppose.  But really, I’m jonesing to homebrew yet it’s too cold to brew outside & once you go propane, it’s hard to go back.  And my stove is really, really small.  And I’m a terribly messy person which my backyard can handle but might mean a call to the fire department inside.  So I’m satisfying my fermentation urges in other ways – spinach wine, mead, non-hopped ginger ale – really, the floor is open.  On to the recipes:

Spinach Wine (based on a recipe from a book my friend Molly owns, circa early 1900s?  – need to find out)

  • 2 lb spinach
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • yeast (I used Lalvin champagne yeast)
  • 3 lb white sugar
  • 15 oz raisins (pulverized in small food processor)
  • water

Boil the spinach for 30 minutes.  Strain out spinach.  Bring spinach juice back to boil with a sprinkle of Fermaid K, pour over sugar, add lemon juice and stir over low heat.  Sanitize cheesecloth (by boiling), wrap raisins and peels inside and place in spinach water.  Remove liquid from heat and cool in ice water bath, to around 75ish.  Meanwhile, rehydrate champagne yeast in 104 degree F water for about 10 minutes.  Pour spinach wine-to-be into sanitized 6 qt food-grade bucket and add 1/2 of the yeast.  Top with lid containing air lock.

My first small mead:

  • Trader Joe’s Mesquite Honey
  • Poland Springs spring water
  • Fermaid K

Pour 2 lbs of honey into sanitized 6 qt bucket.  Add about a cup of water and beat with hand mixer – sanitized, of course.  (Thanks to Jamil’s Mead show with Ken Schramm for this tip).  Beat in a sprinkle of Fermaid K.  Add water to the 4 qt mark.  Pour in remaining half of hydrated champagne yeast, hydrate by stirring vigorously and cap with sanitized lid containing air lock.

Non–hopped ginger ale (based on a recipe in a very cool book I picked up at The Strand last week, Strong Waters)

  • 3 oz ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced
  • 13 oz light DME (dried malt extract)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Safale-04 English Ale yeast, 2 months past its due date (rehydrated to check viability)

Wrap ginger & jalapeno in cheese cloth and simmer in a quart of water for about 30 minutes.  Remove bag and pour water over DME, add a sprinkle of Wyeast beer nutrient.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice then chill in ice water bath until around 75 degrees F – transfer to 1 gallon glass jug and pitch dry yeast.  Aerate by shaking and top with air-locked stopper.

IMG_1452We finished around 11 pm.  The containers were around 61 degrees F all night.  This morning, the ginger ale was bubbling away, the spinach wine had a nice krausen and the mead was looking, well, the same as it did last night.  I stirred the mead some more (with a sanitized stainless spoon) and went to work.  As of writing, the ginger ale is still bubbling away, the spinach wine is still krausening and the mead has a beautifully bubbly covering.  I stirred the mead again this evening (as per Ken Schramm’s instructions though this should really be done with more nutrient additions as I understand it.  However, I couldn’t find DAP & I added more Fermaid K in during beating than I wanted.  Yes, my technique needs some work but it’s a start).  All good, I suppose.

It was fun to make these – and a far cry from my homebrewing regimen.  And I really, really want to bring a damn good spinach wine to my homebrew club meetings.  Spinach wine.  Two words that should not go together, yet I really want it to work out.  And I’ll probably learn something that I can apply to my beer making.  And I want to make awesome mead and this is a good start.  Wish me luck, please.

Tales about my other brewing adventures to come – cause I’ve got 10 carboys of sour beers in my basement and need to write about them…


  1. Molly said:

    The book is a collection of the Women’s Institute recipes – published just after WWII with a nice forward about how naughty it is to try to sell homebrew or to distill anything.

    I’ll swap you a bottle of tea wine for one of spinach when they’re done!

    What’s Fermaid K?

    January 21, 2011

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