Thursday, March 8, 2012

How To Make Beer - Partial Mash Steps

Partial Mashing Steps

1. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water per pound of grain to your brew pot. So for example, you are using 5 pounds of grain then you will need 7.5 quarts of water or almost 2 gallons. Your water should have a ph reading between 5.0 to 5.5 to achieve optimal results.

2. Heat water to between 160 to 168 degrees F.

3. Add crushed malt to water and mix well. Ideally when you crush the malt it shouldn't look like cornmeal. The husk on the grain should be split but not completely off. Personally, I tend to crush my speciality grains to a cornmeal consistency. It seems to me that I get a thicker more flavorful wort that way. I have also done it for an all-grain batch, but it tends to be messier and more of a hassle when draining and sparging.

4. Stir the wort and check the temperature. You want get the temperature to 158 degrees F. Once that is done, cover the brew pot and maintain that temperature for 60 minutes.

5. In a separate pot, heat 2 quarts of water per pound of grain to between 160 to 170 degrees F.

6. After the starch conversion (original pot with grains) has simmered for 60 minutes, raise the temperature to between 160 to 170 degrees F and hold for 15 minutes.

7. Pour the mash into a strainer that is suspended over your brewing bucket. I bought a large stainless steel colander to use in cottage cheese and it fits perfect over the brewing bucket. Allow to drain for a few minutes.

8. Next take the strainer full of grain and put it over your brew pot and pour the cloudy wort from your brewing bucket over the grains in the strainer.

9. Pour the sparge water over the grains and allow to drain for 5 to 10 minutes.

10. Remove the strainer, add your extract and begin your beer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Starting Rosemary From A Clipping


Rosemary is usually propagated by cuttings. Seeds can be difficult to germinate and often don't grow true to their parent. It's much faster to start with a cutting and you will be sure of what type of plant you will get. It's possible to root rosemary in a glass of water, but a bit more effort will give more dependable results.

Snip about a 2 inch cutting from the soft, new growth of an established plant.

Remove the leaves from the bottom inch and dip that tip into a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones can be found in any garden center.

Carefully place the dipped end into a container of dampened, sterile seed starting mix. Choose a mix that says it is well draining, like something containing peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.

Place the container in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.

Mist the cuttings daily and make sure the soil does not dry out.

In about 2-3 weeks, test for root growth by very gently tugging on the cuttings.

Once your cuttings have roots, transplant into individual pots about 3-4 inches in diameter.
Pinch off the very top of the cutting to encourage it to develop branches.

Begin caring for your cutting as a rosemary plant.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

How To Grow Lemon Balm


Lemon balm is easy to grow from seed, rooted cuttings, or by root division. It prefers light soil, but will adapt if some amendments are worked into heavier clay soils; soil should also be fairly fertile and well balanced. Balm thrives in full sun but can be grown in partially shaded areas. (The cultivars ‘All Gold’ and ‘Aurea’ have variegated and yellow foliage, and need some shade since the full hot sun tends to burn them.)

A member of the mint family, balm looks and grows much like mint, though it does not send runners. It will compete for space and is best planted next to other vigorous perennials that will hold their own against this sweet, yet invasive herb. Balm grows from 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall, bushing out laterally, so give each plant 2 feet all around.

Trim plants to help maintain their handsome bushy appearance. The hardy root system will survive the coldest winters if the plants are well mulched.

Read More: Herbal Harbingers of Spring: Lemon Balm - Vegetable Gardener