Saturday, March 22, 2008

Brewing Time!

A lot has happened since our last post- things are now bubbling away on the top of the fridge- the chicha has arrived!
The first step on brewing day is to take the Jora (germinated dried corn) down to Noble Grape- our friendly local brewing store- where he ground up half of our corn to make TKTKT (germinated, ground jora). It looked like flour, with little chunks of corn in it. There are two ways to introduce diastatic enzymes into the corn. The first employs the enzymes from saliva. Moistened raw corn flour is pushed around in the mouth for a while and then formed into patties called "muko". The second, and the one that we ultimately chose, is to germinate and then grind our corn thus creating "huinapu". When we tasted it- it was mega sweet! Just imagine having to chew it all up like indigenous women and children have been doing for centuries.
We then took 6 lbs of huinapu and added it to 3.5 gallons of water and kept it at a 'near boil' (62-75 degrees) for more than 4 hours. We were stumped by several of the recipes which asked for the mash process to occur at a near boil. If we did that here in Halifax it would destroy the enzymes very quickly; however we finally realized that in much of the Andes a full boil would occur at 90 degrees, so a near boil would have been just right for them. Thus we adjusted to a more normal mashing temperature.
If we were traditional chichieras, something that Jed could never be as he is a man, we would have used a large "wirki" or wide mouthed clay pot. Being the gringo Nova Scotians that we are, we used a giant lobster pot. We let it cool it settled into some level of striation. Most of our sources told us to expect it to be three layers - A cloudy layer called "upi" on top, a yellow, almost jelly-like layer, and the spent grain called "hanchi" at the bottom. Before cheap manufactured sugar was introduced to the Andes the middle layer was scooped out and simmered down to produce a potent sweetener.
Then we strained the whole pot through cheesecloth, wringing it out to extract as much upi as possible. This upi was then boiled down to about 6 liters, and a specific gravity of 1,055, and then divided up into two narrow necked jars called "centaros". (aka: old wine jugs)
In one, we introduced a culture of regular ale yeast from the fridge, and into the other, we mixed a bit of sour whiskey starter and some sour dough starter (containing wild yeasts that would be closer to the traditional means of fermenting than the ale yeast). The jug with ale yeast was sterilized and fermented with an air lock, while the other was left open to the air and any other yeasts that might be handy.
Contrary to what we expected from our research, the jug containing cultivated yeasts fermented vigorously, achieving a high rate of attenuation: a final gravity of 1,018- meaning that this beer came out to be approximately 5%.
The other jug didn't show much progress in the beginning, but got sour really fast. So far it has only attenuated to 1,038.
As you can see from the pictures, the yeast only batch is curdled- making it look a little like brains. The other one is really cloudy and sort of goopy on the bottom.
We have another 6 pounds of jora to work with, so the plan is to make some what of a combination between the open and closed fermentation for maximum "deliciosity " (not Spanish. Jed made this up.) at the end of the term party.
We think it might taste a little like Corona- but it can be served with fruit in it- so I'm sure it will be delicious if not surprisingly brainy. See "upi" there! (That one was Spanish- but also Jed's fault.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beautiful Baby corn

The germination was incredibly high, over 95 percent by our careful count. The formerly bland starchy popcorn is now profoundly sweet - almost sickeningly sweet!

Although the rootlets are over an inch long the acrospyre is only the length of the kernel itself.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I piled up the corn for the last day of germination - I have no idea why, but most of my sources seemed to suggest it. And just like they said, it really did generate quite a bit of heat!

In the second photo you I have spread out the corn, or jora as it is called at this point, to dry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

healthy germination.

Phew, any fears of lack of germinability have been assuaged. The seeds are very definitely germinating. On some the sprout is already one sixteenth of an inch long. We will post a picture of a germinating seed when the sprouting is more obvious. In a few days. Today, for the sake of authenticity the seeds were relocated (again) to a tarp on the floor - and covered with a damp cloth. To tell you the truth they only went into the bucked with a hole in while a better location was figured out.
Isn't the picture delicious? Don't you feel like you are virtually walking the streets of 15th century Machu Picchu?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day two - Germination

After soaking for over 18 hours the turgid seeds have been relocated to a bucket with a hole in the bottom. If they were to be left submerged in water in the other bucked they would be subject to the putrefying effects of anaerobic bacteria. For now, and until we think of a better place to continue the process, germination will continue here - in a damp yet oxygen rich environment.

The smell by the way is delicious. How can I explain it? It is the smell of wet grain! Sweet and fresh like springtime! And no, it is not the smell of 'green corn' or whatever way you want to euphanize that smell.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

re-creation of traditional 'chicha de jora'

Claire Guyer and Jedidiah present: a blog about making ancient South American beer. In this blog we will chronicle the trials and tribulations of producing a traditional beverage from scratch.

Chicha was a beverage of widespread production in the ancient South American world. The term 'chicha' seems to have referred to many types of fermented beverages and beer. Likely the most ubiquitous of these, and most culturally significant of these was chicha de jora. Which is a post colombian Spanish name which basically translates to 'beer made from malted corn'.

As promised: Day One....

Began with a trip to the bulk barn. Having given up on finding a source for any other kind of whole corn (with germination capability) I bought 13 lbs of white popcorn. Seemed like a nice round number - and lucky too!

Then we put it in a bucket with water.

-Jed and Claire