Showing posts with label Yeast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yeast. Show all posts

Friday, December 2, 2016

All About Vodka

Vodka.  Almost everyone you ask what Vodka comes from, the typical answer is that it comes from potatoes.  Well, that answer is both correct as well as incorrect.  Yes, you can make Vodka from potatoes, but you can also make vodka from any ferment-able substance or biomass.  Vodka can be made from sugar, corn, wheat, rice, sorghum,  rye, barley and the list goes on.

  What a distiller is doing is creating as pure a form of ethanol as possible from a base alcohol.  When this is done, there is pretty much nothing left from the base flavors in the final product.  In other words, you will not get any flavors of potatoes in Vodka nor any base flavors of whatever base is used to create Vodka.

  So what gives Vodka it's flavors?  As a pure ethanol, vodka only has 5 known flavors.  Those flavors only come from two components.  Those two components are the local water supply of the distillery when the distiller proofs down the Vodka, which means watering down the Vodka, and the yeast that was used in fermenting the base mash for making the base alcohol.  There are hundreds of variations of yeast out on the market today and each one has a different flavor.  Those yeast flavors do in fact transfer to the final product.  It does not matter if we are talking about Vodka, Whiskey, Gin, Rum, Brandy or and variations of liquors.

  With that note, what is the difference between a $10.00 dollar bottle of Vodka and a $100.00 bottle of Vodka?  $90.00.  Marketing.  That's mainly it more than any other aspect of the product.  Now there are some other variables that can distinguish a good Vodka from that of a bad one and that is all dependent on the distillery and their practices.

  What is distilling though?  It is merely the concentration and at the right distillery, the purification of alcohol.  What is done in a distillery is, a base, either liquid or a full mash, that has been fermented to produce a base of either beer or wine, is entered into a still.  The still heats the base alcohol up to where alcohol becomes a gas and travels upward in the still.  It then goes through a cooling process to come out as a concentrated liquid spirit.  For Vodka, you run the still at about 190 proof or better which is a near pure ethanol, stripping out the base flavors and smells.

  The first thing out of a still is the lightest forms of alcohol known in the industry as heads.  Heads have some nasty chemicals in them known as hexitones, acetone, and methanol.  These chemicals are very bitter tasting and is the stuff nasty hangovers come from.  Not what you want in your main product.  But, there is no legal requirement to take them out.  These chemicals are in your beer and your wine and there is no real way to get them out except through distillation.  A good distillery will take out these nasty chemicals.  Other distilleries leave them in which will give the final product some very nasty flavors.

  But this is not the only area where nasty flavored chemicals can come into play during the distillation cycle.  At the very end, as distillation is coming to a close, the last part coming out are the heaviest forms of alcohol that are referred to in the industry as tails, which are lighter in taste but again contain some nasty flavors.  Most distilleries separate the tails from the main product, but again, there is no legal requirement to do so.

  So if you leave in both the heads and tails in the main product, you are going to get a rather nasty tasting product.  Are there ways to remove these nasty flavors?  Yes.  Charcoal filtering is probably the most commonly used tactic to rid the product of the nasty taste of these other alcohols.  My own preference is to buy and consume products where the distillery takes out the heads and the tails from the main product.  How do you know which one's do this?  You don't.  There are no requirements to report this information to the public.

  This aspect of heads and tails is true of all spirits produced, not just specific to Vodka.  So these are some of the other aspects that differentiate one product from another.  Finding an inexpensive Vodka that is just as good, if not better than, a very expensive one isn't all that hard when dealing with Vodka.  That isn't the case with other spirits.  Other spirits have many more variables to factor in.

  Pictured at the top of this article is Platinum Vodka.  It's inexpensive and fully agreeable.  Not considered the best out there, but I have no issues with it.  It's 7 times distilled.  What does that mean?  It has more marketing meaning than anything else in my own opinion.  There are two ways to achieve 7 times distilling or 3 times 5 times or whatever anyone wants to claim for their product that seems to separate them from everyone else on the market.  But let's cover the bases here anyway.

  There are a number of different stills out on the market from which to make spirits.  The three main types of stills are the continuous still, the pot still and the column still.  We won't cover the continuous still as that would not be used for this type of statement in production.  That leaves the pot still and the column still.  If you are using a pot still, 7 times distilling means you have put the alcohol through the distilling process 7 different times which is a real time nightmare.  In a column still, one only needs to put on 7 heads on the column.  Each head on that column produces it's own distillation and the 7 heads covers the term, distilled 7 times.  Another term would be a 7 times re-flux system.  One run still equals 7 times distilled.

  At present, Vodka sells more cases nationwide as well as worldwide than any other spirit on the market according to Beverage World.  Whiskey produces more revenue, but bottle volume, right now Vodka is number one.  That changes a great deal.  Usually whiskey is the number one consumed spirit throughout the world.  Flavored Vodkas have had a massive impact on the market which is starting to soften according to industry insiders.  Most of the flavored Vodkas are referred to as Candy Vodkas by many in the beverage industry.  Vodka takes just about any flavor well as again, Vodka has little in the line of flavor profiles on it's own.

  Now here is some fun.  How many people know what Vodka means?  It has a number of meanings from little water, to burnt water to even burned wine.  Vodka as we know it today is mostly a 20th century product dating back to only 1934.  Earlier products called Vodka were usually strong flavored spirits of all kinds and from various bases for production.  The name Vodka goes way back to the 8th Century and possibly even earlier.  No one is sure and research still continues.

  Enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yeast Bread - Recipe of The Day

Bread (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)
With these materials two loaves can be made: Two quarts of flour, half a cupful of yeast, nearly a pint and a half of water, half a table- spoonful each of lard, sugar, and salt. Sift the flour into a bread- pan, and, after taking out a cupful for use in kneading, add the salt, sugar, yeast, and the water, which must be about blood warm (or, say one hundred degrees, if in cold weather, and about eighty in the hot season). Beat well with a strong spoon. When well mixed, sprinkle a little flour on the board, turn out the dough on this, and knead from twenty to thirty minutes. Put back in the pan. Hold the lard in the hand long enough to have it very soft. Rub it over the dough. Cover closely, that neither dust nor air can get in, and set in a warm place. It will rise in eight or nine hours. In the morning shape into loaves or rolls. If into loaves, let these rise an hour where the temperature is between ninety and one hundred degrees; if into rolls, let these rise an hour and a half. Bake in an oven that will brown a teaspoonful of flour in five minutes. (The flour used for this test should be put on a bit of crockery, as it will have a more even heat.) The loaves will need from forty-five to sixty minutes to bake, but the rolls will be done in half an hour if placed close together in the pan; and if French rolls are made, they will bake in fifteen minutes. As soon as baked, the bread should be taken out of the pans and placed on a table where it can rest against something until cool. It should then be put in a stone pot or tin box, which has been thoroughly washed, scalded and dried, and be set away in a cool, dry place.

Make something extraordinary.
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Recipe Of The Day - French Rolls

Ramona's Table Grilled Beef on French Roll 10-...
Ramona's Table Grilled Beef on French Roll 10-16-09 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)
To one quart of sweet milk, boiled and cooled, half a pound of butter,
half a tea cup of yeast, a little salt, and flour enough to make a soft
dough, beat up the milk, butter and yeast in the middle of the flour,
let it stand till light, in a warm place; then work it up with the
whites of two eggs, beaten light; let it rise again, then mould out into
long rolls; let them stand on the board or table, to lighten, an hour or
two, then grease your pans and bake in a oven or stove.
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Recipe of the day - Sweet Dough

Yeast bread dough after proving for 40 minutes
Yeast bread dough after proving for 40 minutes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the days of long ago, yeast, ammonia, pearl ash, honey water and
a treacle mixture were used to lighten cakes--before the time of
dependable baking powder.

In Europe the housewife makes from bread dough delicious cakes with
yeast. These provide splendid variety. They include savarins, babas,
and yeast-raised fruit cakes.

Many women fail in making these delicious goodies because they do not
realize that the addition of large amounts of sugar, fruit, shortening
and eggs to yeast dough, unless carefully handled, is apt to produce
heavy, moist cakes that lack the light, velvety texture which makes
cake a success.

The addition of nuts, cake crumbs and fruit will afford a large

A sponge dough is necessary for successful results.

From Mrs. Wilson's Cook Book by Mary Wilson.  
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