Kumquats are the new Bitter Orange Peel
Brewing day is here and typically my life’s in chaos. My sister-in-law is visiting. My wife is working. In addition to entertaining her sister, I’m juggling my kids and trying to get my boil going during the (fingers crossed) two hour morning nap my two-year old usually takes. It’s a short window but it’s all I’ve got.
On the docket for today is the creation of a witbier seasoned with coriander and kumquats, rather than the traditional (not to mention proven) bitter orange peel.
Up early, get the kids fed, get the little one back down for a nap and get cracking. Got my ingredients, got my equipment sanitized, and I’m off.
The boil went almost perfectly smoothly. I’ve never had a boil-over, yet I came awfully close this time. Could that have been due to the flaked oats? I was helping my daughter with her latest craft idea (or otherwise being the perfect Dad that I am) when I realized that a column of foam had formed above the rim of my 5-gallon (19-L) bucket. Leaping into action, I turned off the stove and was able to stave off a kitchen disaster. This time.
Other than that near kitchen calamity all was well … or so I thought. I was following Jamil Zainasheff’s extract recipe, with one or two intentional minor tweaks and one rather major unintentional modification.
My first designed change was replacing bitter orange peel with my new favorite fruit, the kumquat. But how to do it? I figured I’d zest the kumquat just like you would any citrus. I’d scrape off an equal amount of the little fruit’s outer layer and drop that in the boil. However, as I quickly discovered, kumquats are extremely difficult to scrape with a zester. In fact, that kitchen tool, which works wonderfully with an orange or other citrus fruit, is basically useless when it comes to the kumquat. The skin just refuses to give up the goods. It’s too smooth and, well, too small.
So … I tried peeling one. I was hesitant to go this route since I was hoping to avoid introducing the pith of the fruit into the boil. I shouldn’t have worried – kumquats are harder to peel than they are to zest. In the end, I grabbed a handful of the little gems, weighed out 1.5 ounces, or about five kumquats, slipped them into a muslin bag and tossed them in whole.
I also left out the chamomile. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor and anyway the only stash we had in the house was in tea bags that may have been dumped into Boston Harbor in 1773.
I was not going to forgo the coriander, however. Coriander never ceases to astound me. I love the smell – just crushing it slightly in a mortar and pestle releases that intense citrus aroma that screams witbier. I couldn’t wait to taste it in this brew.
Everything it seemed had gone according to plan, for once. Or not.
Much later, with my pot on ice in the tub, I happened to glance at the recipe again and that’s when I realized I’d erred yet again. In my general distraction that morning (read: damn kids!) I grabbed the wrong malt. The recipe calls for 6.6 pounds of wheat liquid malt extract. I didn’t think about, much less notice that I was shaking dried malt extract into the kettle. I just reached into the homebrew shop bag, grabbed the beige powder intended for my next hefeweizen, cut it open and set to shaking. Nevermind that the canister of LME was already waiting for me right next to the stove!
So much for my perfect brew.
Alas, I don’t think it will make a huge difference in the finished product (or will it make it a hefewit?) but it sure calls into question my reading for comprehension skills.Last modified on