Friday, January 20, 2012

Beer Making Ingredients For Home Brewing

Brewing is hard work. There are no easy sun-filled days of dancing in woven baskets. The brewer must work to loosen its grip on the essential beer making ingredients - sugar. Anyone who seeks to create an alcoholic beverage must have sugar to ferment. There are many details along the way that will determine how the beer will turn out. Every journey must begin with a single step; and when it comes to beer, that first step is preparing the essential beer making ingredients, which is malting the barley.

Malted barley, also known simply as malt, is barley seed that has been steeped in water until it starts to sprout, and then dried out in a kiln. For the brewer, barley has special gifts that other grains cannot offer. Its hard husk, low protein content and high starch contents all making a more suitable beer making ingredient.

From the beginning of the malting process, differences in moisture content, barley variety, and kilning temperatures and times are crucial and result in different varieties of malt. Every variety has a flavor, a color, an aroma, and a purpose. Malt is still the first beer making ingredient we are talking about.

The second essential beer making ingredient is hops. Most people seem to know that beer contains hops. In fact, most people seem to think that hops are the main beer making ingredients and that perhaps hops are grains. Actually, hop is a flower. It lends natural preservatives qualities to the finished beer and provides bitterness plus a range of flavors and aromas. Essentially, it acts as a spice. The bitterness of the hop is the backbone of the beer.

Yeast is another beer making ingredient. The right yeast will produce the right flavors. In many respects, the yeast can be rightly said to be the single most important beer making ingredient the brewer selects. Centuries ago, before brewers learned what yeast truly was, beer was allowed to ferment spontaneously.

The last and not to be forgotten beer making ingredient is water. Water is important. Most beers are at least 90 percent water, so it should come as no surprise that water is a critical element in the flavor of beer. The quality of the water will determine the quality of the beer produced.

Beer is made from simple ingredients but the whole process of beer brewing makes beer a more than simple beverage. To truly appreciate the beauty of beer, you can consider getting the beer making ingredients and start brewing your own beer.

What's the Thick on Roux? Thickening Soups and Sauces

Soups and sauces can be thickened in a variety of ways. A sauce must the thick enough to cling to the food, but not so thick it stands up on its own. Starches are by far the most common thickening agent. Cornstarch, arrowroot, waxy maize and the ever popular, roux (roo). But what is a roux and how does it work?

Roux is a cooked mixture of equal parts by weight of fat and flour. If you mix a starch with water, such as cornstarch it is called a slurry

How does it work?

Starches thicken by absorbing water and swelling to many times their original size. This process is called gelatinization. In order for the starch to function at its maximum, each granule of starch must be separated before heating in order to avoid lumps. If granules are not separated the starch on the outside of a lump quickly gelatinizes into a coating that prevents the liquid from reach the rest of the starch inside. This is accomplished in two ways.

1. By mixing the starch with cold water - This is used with starches such as arrowroot and cornstarch. This method is not recommended for flour because it lacks flavor and has an undesirable texture.

2. By mixing the starch with fat - This is the principle of the roux. A roux must be cooked for a short period of time so the finished sauce or soup does not have the starchy taste of flour. If cooked for just a short period of time, it is called a blond roux. If cooked longer until it takes on a light brown color, it is called a brown roux.

The most preferred roux in cooking is made by mixing melted butter and flour. Many cooks clarify the butter first because the liquid in whole butter tends to gelatinize some of the starch and make the roux hard to work with. A roux made with butter gives a nice rich flavor to sauces and is easy to work with.

Margarine and oils can be used to make a roux as well, but because of there lack of flavor they are very seldom the top choice.

Fat drippings from animals such as chicken and beef can make superior sauces. Animal fats enhance the flavor of sauce, but again must be clarified to eliminate any liquid that might cause lumping.

Mixing it all together

A roux can be added to the liquid or the liquid may be added to the roux. The general rules are: The liquid can be hot or cool, but not cold. A very cold liquid will solidify the fat in the roux. The roux in the same way can be warm or cold, but not hot. A hot roux could cause spattering and possibly lumps. For medium sauces and soups I use 8 ounces butter and 8 ounces flour per gallon of liquid. For home it comes out to about 1 tablespoon each per cup of liquid. Use less or more depending on how thick you like your sauce. By follow these simple steps you'll have lump free soups and sauces for the rest of your life.

Food and Drink to Avoid During Pregnancy

When you become pregnant you will soon realise that there are a long list of things you are not supposed to do. It is better to adopt a "better safe than sorry" approach to the guidelines, but if you do find that you have done or eaten something listed below - for example eaten a soft cheese - there is probably no need to worry. It is unlikely that it has done the baby any harm as most of the risks are very small. Foods to Avoid When Pregnant The following food may contain high levels of listeria, which can cause a flu like illness called literalism and is linked to miscarriage and still birth. It is rare in the UK and America. * Soft or blue veined cheeses (brie, camembert, stilton). Processed and hard cheeses pose no risk. * Pate. This includes vegetable pate. * Prepared salads such as coleslaw. Food poisoning, in severe cases, can lead to miscarriage or premature labour. Therefore you should avoid: * Raw or undercooked meat and poultry. * Unpasteurised milk * Raw eggs or products containing raw egg, (such as mayonnaise) * Raw shellfish Excessively high levels of vitamin A is linked to birth defects. Foods that are high in vitamin A, which it is recommended you should avoid, are: * Liver and liver products such as pate. Fish is very good to you and can still form part of a balanced diet when you are pregnant. But you should not eat more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish include: * Mackerel * Sardines * Trout * Fresh tuna - tinned tuna does not count as an oily fish, but you should restrict your intake of tinned tuna to no more than 4 140g cans a week (equivalent of about 3 tuna salads). Mercury can damage a developing baby's nervous system if consumed in high levels. Do not eat: * marlin * swordfish * shark Drinks to Avoid * Alcohol - Heavy drinking in pregnancy can cause foetal alcohol syndrome. It is recommended by the Department of Health in the UK that pregnancy women consume no more than one or two units of alcohol in one sitting, and should not drink alcohol more than twice a week. Ideally, pregnant women should abstain altogether to ensure no adverse effects to their baby. * Caffeine - High levels of caffeine in early pregnancy has been linked with miscarriage. High caffeine consumption can also deplete the mother's iron levels which can both inhibit the baby's development and make the mother very lethargic. Try not to have more than 200mg a day. The best thing to do during pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy is to use your common sense. Government guidelines and scientific studies are constantly altering or contradicting the current advice on what is safe during pregnancy. So trust your instincts and you are unlikely to go wrong.