Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Honey extraction process explained in detail

I got asked prety often recently how pure and raw our honey is hence I decided to explain in detail how our honey is processed from the hive into the jar:

1. Nectar has been collected by the bees and the water content has been evaporated by fanning with their wings to approx 10-15%. This low water content makes the honey resistant to fermentation through wild yeast and extremely long lasting. 3000y old honey has been found in the pyramids which was still perfectly edible. Ten bees spend their life time to collect approximately one teaspoon.

2. Only when the water content has been lowered to that level the bees will cap the comb and only then the beekeeper will remove the comb from the hive. This cap will then cut off with a knife or scraped of with a special fork and the entire frame goes into an extractor which will spin the frames until all honey has run out and the almost pure beeswax comb remains. From this extractor the honey will flow through a double strainer to filter out almost all remaining wax pieces into a settling bucket.

3. The honey will remain in this bucket for a couple of days until the very last wax pieces float on the top and pollen, which is also stored by bees in combs, and propolis will sink to the bottom. From there it is going directly into sterilised jars and lidded immediately.

4. Pure, raw and non heat treated honey is as clear as liquid gold when freshly bottled but it is a natural process that it will crystallise (5) after a certain time. This process might be accelerated by colder temperatures or through particles/crystals you might introduce with your spoon when eating it. (deliberately introduced into creamed honey)

If you prefer runny honey then don't feel put off. It is a proof of its purity. You can easily reverse this process by gently heating up the honey to about body temperature (Do that in a water bath or by putting it on the radiator. It melts anyway on your toast). Commercial honey will be heated up during the extraction process to more than sixty degrees which of course also destroys a lot of the good bits.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

LONDON N7 Honey Harvest now available

we now proudly present our 2014 harvest of our London N7 honey. it is pure, raw, filtered honey with a visible pollen content. available now directly from us (send us an email) or from:

NEW: Pomona, 179 Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, London

Seven Sisters Road N4 1FS (manor house)

Fine Wine and Quality Food NW5,  Leverton st. corner of Dunolie Road, Kentish town

Mereb Food and Wine N7 6HJ, Holloway Road corner of Tufnell Park Road

An Apple a Day:  621 Holloway Road, N19 5SS

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Home made Sloe Wine and Gin the easy and cheap way

Sloes (Prunus spinosa) are a kind of wild prunes as the latin name suggests. The blue berries which look like frosted when ripe are best picked after the first frost. Unfortunately sloes are getting rather rare nowadays and it's difficult to still find some after the first frost.  Hence if you do find some then just put them in the freezer for a couple of days.

For Sloe Gin you just need to cover the berries in an affordable gin preferably in a big jar. add some sugar and strain them into bottles after two month or so and sweeten if necessary. Don't leave them too long on the berries as the bitterness of the pips will take over the liquid. the remaining berries can be frozen again and used as ice cream or cake topping.

If you are more adventurous then do some wine and  get more booze for even less money. all you need is the berries, sugar, yeast and bottles for storage.

Take the berries from the freezer and in a fermentation bucket cover them with boiling water and add a Campden Tablet . Add some Pectolase which will prevent the liquid from becoming jelly. Also add the yeast which can be a tsp of bread yeast or a dedicated Wine Yeast. Don't use beer or ale yeast.

After 3 days of fermenting on the pulp strain it into fermenting vessels e.g. demijohn with airlock and adjust the sugar content to approx SG 1.10. At this point i want to repeat how important a £3 tool is called Hydrometer for Wine & Beer  to adjust the sugar content and hence the expected alcohol. Just order it together with the pectolase and the yeast from a homebrew shop.

After a couple of month, depending on the yeast, room temperature and SG the bubbling should have slowed down significantly and the hazy liquid should have become clear (It will not if you haven't used pectolase). No its time to bottle. The day before that add one crushed campden tablet to each vessel. Fill  your sterilised bottles the following day and close them properly either with cork or screw whatever you use.

Let the wine rest for at least 3month before you try it. Enjoy and CHEEEEERS!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Cider, actually Cidre making from crab apples

Autumn or fall as our US fellows say is a rather busy time for home making. Veggies are fully grown, animals are fat and hedgerows are full of delicious fruits. So are the crab apples.

Yesterday on a stroll along the Essex coast I found some apple trees. It was rather fast filling up a 12 ltr bucket with small but delicious different varieties. I did read already before that how to make cider and I also was fortunate to have bought a cider press on ebay in spring when they are much cheaper compared to autumn.

Coming home I soaked the apples in campden tablets. After that I cut them in quaters and meshed them with a thick rolling pin while I added another tablet. It prevents browning/oxidation and sterilises. That was by far the worst and time intense job and I will definitely buy a masher - next spring of course. It is also the most important step as you will gain much more juice if properly done.

The pressing process is straight forward. just pop it into a muslin bag and into the press, start turning the spindle and the juice starts flowing. Take off the bag, put it bag upside down and do it again. You also can fill a trial jar and check the specific gravity with your hydrometer. My turned out to be 1.005 which is more sugar content than i expected and it will give me an approximate alcohol content of 6.75%

Because of the high alcohol i decided to make cidre instead of cider. I am not exactly sure what the difference is but i reckon it is the added yeast which will. for cider you will use a beer or ale based yeast whereas in the french brother which i am going to do i will use a wine based yeast which in my case is young's super compound. It already contains some nutrients for a better growth of the yeast. You also could use bread yeast or champagne yeast. The choices are endless. Whichever you use give the fresh juice a day just to wait until the campden tablets have evaporated otherwise the yeast will die.

However long it takes until the yeast has fermented, cider or cidre does not really improve after bottling and should be drunk within six month.

Expenses: I am not counting the equipment, the yeast is £1.

Happy brewing!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Pike and bass fishing with self-made lures

Everybody should know by now about the massive decrease of fish stock in the sea hence eating fish should be sustainable. So it became very important to choose the right fish. If you eat sea water fish make sure it is line caught and avoid fish like cod and try mackerel or gurnet and have a look at Hugh's Fish Fight.

On my recent trips to the continent i was accompanied by my telescopic spinning rod and some shop bought lures for fresh water fishing. If you are not an angler: the lure is thrown out and reeled in again. the fishes which are predators like bass and pike will bite thinking its real prey. It just need to be shiny or colourful.

Unfortunately you always have some weed, plants and other resistance in the water so it happens sometimes that you will lose a lure . This becomes quite expensive as lures start from £5 upwards, some exceed even £15. After loosing four in three days i tried to duplicate my most successful ones:

Keep a couple of these old tins from tomatoes from pasta sauce making or beans from your breakfast. Beer cans are too thin. Cut out your desired shape. The back should be slightly bigger and heavier or you will entangle while casting. Strong scissors will do the job. you can smoothen the edges with a file or sand paper. Now is the time to get the coating off. A blow torch is perfect but you can put it on the hob of your gas or electric hob. just until the coating turns black as you don't want the tin to oxidise. Give it a good scrub with a wire brush or sandpaper.

With some flux and soldering iron fill the concave side with solder. Bore a hole at the front and back. Attach a swivel or small key ring  to the front and a treble hook and a key ring to the back. I cut out a small fin from a red plastic bottle lid to give it a fishy look. Feathers will do the same job.

Polish everything so it will shine and reflect sun even in deeper waters and as tin rots fairly quickly you can give it a coat of translucent pain and an eye if you like. The third from the top is a double tin layer one, just the back is soldered and the upper tin layer is just attached to the front swivel.

For bass and salmon i recommend some slender ones approx 2inches long and for pike some heavier 3 to 4 inches long. treble hooks according to the size of the body. A good spinning rod is about 7-8ft (210-240cm) has a full length curve action as pikes can give a good fight and the rod needs to cope with the force. It should have a casting weight of 5-25grams.

Best time to catch predators is during the day, when its hot and sunny try below surface. best months are June to December but the earlier the year the more bites you will get but the smaller the catch will be.

 Costs some solder and hooks and swivel which shouldn't be more than 50pence per piece

Happy fishing! Don't forget to follow the local rules and minimum sizes. put all undersized back! We want to catch pikes in the future too!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

My Solar Panel and Grid Tie Inverter Setup

Here is a quick summary of my solar panel setup:

3 x 80 Watt Akt solar panels (UK company)
Vmp: 17.5V, Imp: 4,57Amp,

all are connected in series with 4.5sq mm cable
which go into a Soladin 600 Mastervolt Grid tie inverter which you can see in the video left. It transforms the energy coming from the panels directly into grid conform electricity. Over the last year i certainly covered all standby appliances during the day as Tv, fridge and other idle devices

On a good day with plenty sun i reach approximately between 170-190 watt which is not that bad but with a better optimisation of the panel's angle, which are currently too steep i would get perhaps another 10-20 watt.

When it comes to solar energy you either need a serious conciousness about environmental issues or a long breath in terms of Return of Investment ROI. With an unlicensed setup which means not G83 approved, you will not be able to sell your electricity to your supplier for more cash than you are going to buy it back. On the other hand G83 stuff is almost double expensive and you also rely on government laws. They have been scraped and will be even more. So in the end you end up with more expensive equipment just to meet laws and two years later you won't get anything for that in return.

Hence I decided to go with 'half price' equipment, being independent and as it seems to have the same ROI as approved equipment which is approx 10years in my case. On the other hand if you only have space for less than 3 or 4kw then dont bother anyway with G83 because you have to meet a minimum size for 'poor' electricity companies anyway.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Self made elderflower champaign - champagne de sureau

self made elderflower champaign
The smell of my elderflower bushes in my back garden is mesmerising me since two weeks. They started flowering on the very top which is unreachable but the good weather also opened the lower flowers. It is time to make some elderflower champagne or should I say champaign?!

This is the third year and after the huge success of my last year's recipe I haven't changed it at all. First i prepared a huge bucket of 15 litres or three gallons of sugar water which i brought to boil. the 3kilo of sugar gave me an approximate Specific Gravity (S.G.) of 1.080. This should be enough for a final alcohol content of 10.5%.

While my sugar solution was cooling down I got a long ladder, a long hook and a bowl. After cutting down all sting nettles around the bushes i was able to erect my ladder and climb up to get the elderflowers. Greenfly likes them too so i selected mostly clean and importantly fresh and open florets,
After half an hour the bowl was full of elderflower (approx 1lb) and my clothes covered in pollen.

Back in the kitchen the solution had cooled down to blood temperature. I added the zest and juice of 6-8 lemons. All elderflowers went into a muslin back but an old pillow cover would do it too. Tied it up and threw it into the solution. The good thing about elder is that it has its own yeast. If it shouldnt sparkle after a day i will add a pinch of bread yeast. Stirr daily and remove the flowers after 3-4 days to avoid bitterness.

After 7 to 10 days the S.G. should have fermented to 1.010 to .005. It will then be ready to bottle but not earlier than that as the bottles could explode. Sterilise and rinse old champagne or other pressure proof bottles. Seal it with crown corks or in my case fliptops and wait until the remaining sugar has fermented into more alcohol and bubbles.  Drinkable immediately but time will improve slightly.

À la vôtre.

cost: limes £1, sugar £3. some steriliser (campden tablets £1 or 15min chlorine but rinse well)
Get appropriate bottles. do not buy I#ea fliptops. My did explode 2years ago.
read Ben Turner - Home Made Wines and Beers for some technical knowhow