Friday, 20 May 2011

How big is 'a pinch'?

If you read my Banana Milkshake Cake post, you will know that I like a bit of certainty in my recipes and that therefore vague measurements such as
 'cups' and 'handfuls' and 'pinches' just don't cut it with me.   

Especially 'pinches'. 

 In my Mum's recipe book, the recipe for 'Mamma's Scones' has 'a pinch of salt' in the ingredients and then, handwritten beside it 'NOT LIKE YOURS!'  I'm not sure if this comment was made after a disastrously sodium-laden batch or ones rendered bland by lack of salt, but I've always been wary of 'a pinch'.

It's not so bad when the pinch concerned is to be one of salt, as bland or salty just spoils the enjoyment.  But when I began on my Elderflower Champagne experiment, I was mildly alarmed by the idea that 
'a pinch of yeast' might be required.

'Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it's not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.'

I thought my Elderflower Champagne would behave  as it should and ferment without support but alas, I was disappointed.  No fermentation was evident when I looked at my brew and I had to get out the yeast and ponder exactly how much to throw in.

Because in this case, too small a pinch and my brew might never get started on its journey towards fizz and a hint of alcohol, and too big a pinch and I might have mass explosions in my kitchen.  I remember a sticky ginger beer splattered kitchen many years ago and have no desire to repeat the experience.

Erring on the side of caution, in went a small pinch.

A day later, still no signs of micro-organisms making merry in the sweet, fragrant liquid.

So in went another small pinch.

The next day, plenty of bubbles were rising and I wondered if the second small pinch had been a mistake.  

But I have strained and bottled the fizz, and jolly good it looks too, with the grand labels that I couldn't resist in the home-brewing shop.  I've used the pretty lemonade bottles that we always bring back from France, because I had read that the IKEA stoppered bottles aren't up to the job.  

And here they are...

And here they are with some of the cordial, which was bottled earlier in the week.  

My plan is to test out a little of the champagne in about a week, to check it is quaffable, then to lay it down in preparation for a 
Summer Drinks Party once Mr U-t-B is up and running again.

But just in case my pinch was too large (especially once doubled!) and the brew too lively, I have put the champagne inside an old sleeping bag.

No way I'm having shards of glass and sticky patches all over my kitchen for months to come!


  1. The champers looks great - posh labels! Hope it doen't explode for you! I found, when I made it, it was a good idea to keep the bottles a bit away from each other - if one exploded, it had a tendency to break another bottle? Individual sleeping bags?! - maybe bubble wrap? Have a good weekend, Abby x

  2. Encasing in sleeping bag - great idea! We had a bit of a disaster with sparkling wine a few years ago - fortunately it was stored in the garage! Good luck.

  3. Thanks Abby - useful tip! Maybe I'll have to cut that bag up - well, I like recycling, don't I?

  4. Your Champagne looks great! I think a pinch is right up there with a dash.

  5. I had to laugh. When we first moved into our house we had dozens of wine grape vines in the backyard. So I did my homework and made some wine...of the exploding bottle variety. My husband removed the vines the following spring:)

  6. I've never tried making this, although my parents do. Guess I should be quick if I want to try this year! All I've made is sloe gin and plum vodka, although I must say they were a resounding success!

  7. Gosh, I must get a move on and pick some elderflowers. Fab sleeping bag idea - will be copying that one!