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03/06/06 08:31 AM  
Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
In Zymurgy (Mar/Apr 05) there was an article by Tom Nickel & Tomme Arthur on artisanal ales which featured a recipe for SPF8. One of the ingredients is carmelized raisons.

I'd like to try adding this in the secondary (to a blend of the dubbels from the dark candi swap) along with some bourbon barrel char.

Here is the text from the article:

"California raisons are blackened on a skillet and caramelized at the finish with a flash addition of port wine helping to sear the raisons and seal in the flavors."

Not being a chef - how do you do this? Toss the dry raisons in a skillet dry?

"Flash" addition - is that where the port actually flames up?

If any of you Pizza Port regulars or chefs can chime in, I'd appreciate it! Thanks...

03/06/06 10:48 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I made this recipe and had the same question? My other questions was, how much port and how much do you reduce it after you deglaze the pan?

I do know that yes you add the rasins to a dry skillet, adding any oil would be bad for the beer.

The beer truned out very interesting, I did not get my FG low enough. I want to make it again.


03/06/06 11:06 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Wow, crazy sounding stuff. My experiences cooking tell me that the way to do this would not be to let the raisins sit alone in the hot pan. I'd heat it up very hot, toss in the raisins then immediately add the port then proceed to reduce it. If you add the port like that - into a hot pan (for this I'd use an iron skillet) - I think you would caramelize some of the sugars in the port right away. Its a pretty sweet wine. It would also give the raisins some fluid to distribute the heat and reduce the chance that they will burn.

I'm sure he was not suggesting you'll get a flame up, port is not nearly strong enough for that. What you will get is the sound of fluid hitting hot metal and a flash of vapor.

If you do this there will be a point where the port will become syrup-like. It is REALLY important to stand over it and watch the process. The window between a good reduction consistancy and burning will be small, the moment you sense the slightest carbonizing you need to immediately remove the stuff. Have a bowl or something ready, when I say immediately I mean if you walk over to a cabinet to fletch a bowl by the time you are back at the pan it may well be too late.

03/06/06 01:33 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
From the recipe, I would say the raisons go into a dry skillet on their own first, without the port--if you add liquid, the raisins will not get hot enough to actually carmelize. Get the pad good and hot (I'd vote for cast iron, too), put the raisins in, and keep them moving.

Did the recipe by chance specify dark or light raisins? It might be easier to keep track of the carmelizing progress with the lighter colored raisins. Just a thought.

Be careful when you add the port. I'd take the pan off the range to do this...if I'm not mistaken, port IS strong enough to flame up. This is not a necessary step, really...it just evaporates the alcohol more qcuickly than boiling it down.

And I'll echo Steve's comment about having the dump-out bowl ready and at hand. The iron skillet will stay rocket-hot for some time after the heat is off, and the line between perfectly carmelized raisons and burnt raisins is pretty thin.

Good Luck!

03/06/06 03:04 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Interesting point, it is possibly true that the fluid could essentailly protect the raisins. But the way to make classic caramel is to mix sugar and water then reduce it. When it starts getting thick it will begin to turn brown, that is the point when caramelization occurs. I've just never heard of caramelizing dry, it seems like that would invite burning. On the other hand it seems like the method I suggested might really be caramelizing the port more than the raisins. Hum.

The golden raisin thing is a great idea - even if you are not supposed to use golden you could probably do a test using them to better observe what happens to them in a dry pan.

I don't have any port to play with - it is stronger but not brandy strong. If anyone has some and a flambé pan I'd love to know what happens when strong vin meets flame.

03/06/06 03:33 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I have a bit of a reputation for once in awhile having a tad too much Belgian beer and then deciding to flambee things...My wife has stories.

One possible way to circumvent the issue of burning might be with a plug-in gridle that can be set to a certain temperature (i.e., carmelization temp.). I tried making my own dark candi rocks this weekend by setting a sauce pan with the syrup in it (one part corn sugar, one part table sugar, one part water, dash of citric acid, dash of corn syrup) on my gridle and dialing in the specific temperature I wanted. It worked nicely. The water is really only to help dissolve the sugar at the outset and prevent scorching...carmelization happens after the water boils away. I was monitoring it with a candy thermometer, and it stayed just above 100C until the water was gone, when temperature and color started to increase.

Alton Brown of Food Network fame has a nice little treatise on sugars and carmelization...I think it's in "I'm only Here for the Food".

03/06/06 05:01 PM  
Is sun drying really all that different?
I just started thinking, does anyone know exactly what happens to sugars when a fruit is sun dried? I know that sun dried fruits generally have a common thread in terms of the impact on flavor. They don't taste caramelly but my impression is that the sugars have already been treated in some related fashion. I mean its not as hot as boiling but being under a hot Sun for an extended time must do something to the sugars. It would seem more logical to me to caramelize something with a greater moisture content, like whatever kind of grape is used to make raisins.
03/07/06 06:01 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Thanks for the feedback guys.

I think I'll try it with the green raisons. Good idea. Another thought is soaking the raisons in liquid beforehand to give them a higher moisture content, maybe?

From info I've read elswhere, the blackening can cause a bit of smoke; the wife wouldn't be pleased with that, so maybe I'll just carmelize...

In taken inventory of wine/etc., we didn't have any port - I could buy some, but we have some raspberry dessert wine that is way too sweet for drinking, and some brandy as well - maybe soak the raisons overnight in the raspberry wine, then carmelize them in brandy...????

What a great hobby!

03/09/06 12:22 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I am pretty sure that they are place in a dry skillet a slight;y charred. It does "raisin's are blackend" At least that is how I read it. You could send Tomme and email and I bet he would answer when he get back from Belgium.


03/09/06 01:06 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I think you're right. Re-reading what Chet posted it does sound very much like the blackening process and the carmelization are two distinct steps.
03/09/06 05:18 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Don't know why this didn't occur to me earlier...rather than worrying with a frying pan and all, why not just stick them under the broiler for a bit? I've never tried it with raisins, but with other things like tomatoes or apples, they'll start bubbling after a short time, then they'll start browning...carmelization!
03/10/06 06:47 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
But tomatoes and apples have built in moisture, thats why they'd bubble. That moisture, until it evaporates, stops them from burning and carbonizing. Raisins moisture level is really low, sometimes they are plump and soft but often they are shriveled, hard and dry. I guess if you shopped carefully and found plump, soft raisins you could be in good shape.

But that being said the idea of the oven vs. the burner crossed my mind too. High heat but contact is hot air, not hot metal, there is a good arguement for that.

03/11/06 12:00 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Also in the oven there is no way to add the port.
03/11/06 03:39 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
You could do one of two things: add the port under the broiler once the raisins start to blackem, and simply reduce it down that way, or pull the pan out, put it on a burner, and flame it there. There's a number of ways to achieve more or less the same result. Just throwing out some options.

Chet, did you do your experiment yet? How'd it turn out?

03/11/06 04:38 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
<<Also in the oven there is no way to add the port.>>

Yes, you'd have to go from oven to pan for that. Actually you could add the port in the oven scenario if the raisins were in some oven-safe container with an edge. I'm not so sure that is a viable way to caramelize though, at least it seems like it would take a whole lot longer than using a pan.

Chet, I too am looking forward to hearing about your experience!

03/13/06 10:55 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I ended up blackening them. They were somewhat smokey, with a light char - I then added the supersweet raspberry wine (maybe a cup & 1/2), carmelized that, then rinsed with brandy.

From there into a hop sack, which went into the keg with the dubbel. The keg is one of two Brett kegs, so that'll have some effect as well. As I keg the additional dubbels, I'll add a bit of each to this keg, and will add bourbon barrel char at some point as well.

I may take a small taste next weekend to see what the raisons are doing...wish me luck!

06/19/06 12:40 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Just thought I'd report back on how this turned out.

In the first month, the charring had a bit of a harsh effect, and the raisons weren't noticable. After another month in the keg (w/bourbon barrel char added), it became very smooth.

Now the raisons have become very noticable (ala Dogfishheads Raison D' Etre), and the brett is a very slight presence in the background. There is a warming alcohol feel that has increased from the initial beer.

It is a very good beer at the moment, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the brett changes it over time.

If you have thought about trying this technique, I recommend it. Good stuff!

Sean Paxton
06/22/06 01:22 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Very cool Chet,

Thanks for sharing. I forgot to mention that I talked to Tomme about the caramelized raisons and his procedure. I had to laugh; I had visions of a complex method including different rest temps to extract out a certain flavor… All he does is put the raisons in a dry cast iron pan, heats it on high, stirs till the raisons start to smoke and de-glazes with port, and adds to the batch.

Sounds like a great beer. A few years ago, I brewed up a Dubbel recipe and mashed in 2# of organic raisons (pulsed a few times in the cuisinart). Gave the beer a very strong raison flavor, and over time, a big grape twang. I still have some and should go back and taste it. I don’t think I would use so much for a 5 gallon batch, but the mashing did extract out some sugars and flavor.



06/22/06 02:04 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
My notes from Tomme's presentation at Vegas NHC on SPF8 included dry blackening the raisins in a skillet, then deglazing with port. The raisins were added late in the boil(4 hr. boil). 30lbs. blackened raisins in a 7bbl. batch.
Mark A
06/23/06 04:45 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Best method:

Get skillet hot, add raisins. Watch for blistering - the skins will crackle and bubble a little. Watch for wisps of smoke and check the aroma - take them off the heat before you get too much of a burnt sugar smell. A little blackening of the skin won't hurt the overall flavor. Keep the raisins moving so they don't get too black in any one spot.

Take the pan off the heat before you add the port, if only to keep the port from turning into smoke. you can put the pan back on the heat to reduce the liquid.

A few points:

Broiling your raisins would produce good results, but then deglazing the pan wouldn't be as effective. Some of the sugars from the raisins will stick to the pan if you use direct heat and will produce a different flavor when you deglaze.

Sun-drying fruit won't produce caramelization. The unique flavors of sun-dried fruits (or tomatoes) comes from slowly concentrating the sugars, etc. through the removal of water. You can get the same results from using a very low temp oven (under 200F) or a commercial food dehydrator, but sun-drying just seems more romantic. FWIW, raisins are basically just sun-dried grapes.

I think I'm with Steve on this one - port shouldn't flame up. If it does, it will be pretty minimal and won't be dangerous. Sometimes you see professional chefs get a flame up when they add wine, etc. to a very hot pan, but this generally happens when they are cooking over very high heat and the sugars/oils go up with the sudden cloud of steam actually causing the flame-up (not the alcohol). Most people don't have the BTUs in their kitchen to get this effect at home.

07/03/06 10:06 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
I just bottled a beer that used carmelized dried apricot and guava. I rehydrated the fruit in a mixture four parts water to one part port for about two hours. Then I put the fruit in a skillet and put that under my broiler until I got some color on top. Some of the fruit was heavily carmelized, some medium, the stuff on the bottom wasn't touched. That all went into secondary for about six weeks.

The resulting beer is really nice. It is also extremely hoppy, and the fruit notes blended well with the hops. The carmelization added a hint of earthiness to it, although the effect is not greatly pronounced.

Interestingly enough, the guava completely dissolved in the beer. Only apricots came out...

07/04/06 11:42 AM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
That sounds really interesting Mallace - I'll trade you a blacked raison dubbel for one...
07/04/06 01:04 PM  
Re: Blackening/carmelizing raisons - SPF8
Sounds like a deal...email me at matthewhall419@hotmail.com
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