Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bouza!


As I mentioned in Monday's post, the May 2010 Baltimore Foodmakers potluck theme was HOMEBREW.

Since I recently purchased Sandor Ellix Katz's foodmaking must-have text "Wild Fermentation," I decided I definitely had to try one of the projects from his book.

There are recipes for honey wine, fruit wines, even fermented rice wines and more. Since I wanted something quick and am currently enchanted with my sourdough starter, I decided to attempt (drumroll please...)

Bouza! An ancient Egyptian form of beer.

Here it is looking rather murky as the wheat ferments in a few gallons of water.



Not just any old wheat though, this is wheat that has gone through a number of different stages.

It starts out with just wheat berries and sourdough starter. Some of the wheat berries are sprouted, then roasted dry in an oven on low heat. I learned that's what malting is! Yay, beer.

Here I am grinding up both the malted wheat berries and regular wheat berries.

p.s. Thanks for letting me use your food mill Steve! Although their name might indicate hilarity, I seriously recommend checking out The Wild Bonerz new take on bluegrass. They are even better in person. Steve's got the sideburns.

You use the freshly ground whole wheat flour to make a dense loaf of sourdough bread that ferments for a few days at room temperature. Partially bake the loaf of bread, let it cool, then break it up into pieces and dump the whole thing in a few gallons of water.

I won't give away the whole recipe since you'll have to get Sandor's book for that, but I promise his book is chock full of other fantastic foods, beverages, and snacks!


So was it good?!

Not really. After fermenting for a few days, the bouza tasted mainly like I was drinking sourdough juice. Mmmm. And I don't think it was alcoholic enough to be worth it.

Since my first taste test before the potluck was underwhelming, I decided to experiment a little. I added about a quarter cup of honey to one batch, and honey + fennel + coriander to the third batch.

The spiced honey version was actually pretty drinkable. But I wouldn't say I would try this again. Fun times though! And all I used was wheat and water.

UPDATE: After the potluck on Sunday, I left a half filled jar of the spiced honey bouza sitting in my kitchen. Last night, Thursday, I opened up the jar to dump it out and found that the bouza was fizzing! So I filtered it and drank it. Yum! It was sweet from the honey and beer-y from the wheat, with an alcoholic kick about equal to beer. Adding honey and spices was a great idea. Perhaps I will end up making this again after all! In any case, it's pretty cool knowing that as long I have wheat and keep my sourdough starter alive, I have beer.

I had the feeling the bouza might turn out kind of crazy, so I made a side project from Wild Fermentation just in case.

It's a colonial-era drink called shrub.

Shrubs are kind of a precursor to soda, where you soak fruit in vinegar and then sweeten it to make syrup. The syrup is added to water for a refreshing summertime tonic.



I used an unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar since we were going to be drinking it straight. It's crazy easy- all I did was soak a bunch of unsulphered apricots in the vinegar for two weeks.

(Most of the recipes I've found online have you soak the fruit in vinegar for a shorter time and then cook it over high heat, but I lean towards Sandor's policy that not cooking the liquid retains more of it's nutritional benefits.)

Add about a quarter cup of honey to it (adding a little hot water to the honey makes it easier to dissolve into the liquid) to balance out the sourness of the vinegar. Pour a few tablespoons into a glass of soda water, and you've got a really unusual summertime drink!

Admittedly, I do like very sour things, but apple cider is actually incredibly good for you. Just google "apple cider benefits" and you will find all sorts of claims from weight loss, lower cholesterol, even skin and hair care. I really liked drinking it after eating a ton of greasy food since it helped me digest.

Maybe this year I will experiment with making my own cider from some Maryland apples. Maybe.

Have you experimented with making shrubs or other types of alternative beverages?

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