A friend recently asked me if my adventures in Canning had something to do with my adventures in Brewing. I capitalize the terms because it’s love, sweet love.
The answer is yes, sort of. I mentioned reasons in my first post, but here I want to think about what canners can learn from brewers, and why I’m probably a better canner than brewer in some ways.
- Big pots. Canning involves putting quart jars in pots and boiling them. Brewing requires putting large amounts of liquid in pots and boiling it. Both involve big pots and boiling. This, of course, is the reason behind the title of the blog.
- Sanitation. Fundamental to brewing decent beer is attention to sanitation. Really, the rest is just following a recipe, but if you don’t have good sanitation, you’re going to have many uncontrollable factors messing up your beer. Various bacteria battling yeast for the tasty sugars. Some of these lead to interesting flavours, some lead to very gross ones, but if you can’t control the process, you never know what you’re gonna get. Waiting a month to find that your beer is crap, or, sharing a beer that was awesome when you first popped it only to find that it’s become disgusting and fart like a month later, is no good. Fortunately, the bacteria in off beer won’t kill you, they’ll just gross you out. For brewers, sanitation involves chemicals like chlorine, Star San sanitizers, or other products. For canning, sanitation is essential, too. But it is somewhat easier to achieve. While you can’t boil your beer after you’ve brewed and bottled it, you normally do this with canned stuff. Boiling kills bacteria. At the same time, canning some things requires creating a good ph level to inhibit bacterial growth. This is something brewers should be aware of anyway, because things like Star San actually are acid based sanitizers (30 seconds in contact creates a sanitary surface). Also, when brewing, it’s good to have ph test strips to check the ph level of the wort (this has something to do with flavours later). So brewers can actually test the solution of the canning mixture to check ph. That is, if you’re that geeky. It will allow for some innovation later, because most canning recipes say not to mess with them lest you undermine the acidity and therefore create a botulism zone. With ph strips, you may be able to avoid such a fate.
- Process. Both canning and brewing, especially the bottling phase, require you to pay attention to what can be a complex process involving very hot liquids, sanitized containers, and tasty foods. As you begin brewing or canning more, you get into a bit of a groove, and some processes become instinctive. My bottling system runs like clockwork (at least that’s what I like to believe).
- Control. You control what goes into the product you will eventually consume. For the most part (especially with all-grain brewing) you know exactly what has gone into it. Nothing processed, except at your own hand.
- Outcome. You get to eat or drink your products later on. the satisfaction of a job well done (when the canning or brewing is over, everything is cleaned up, and you’re relaxing afterwards) returns when you pop that lid or cap and enjoy the results, months later.
You see, really I’m just a glutton with time on his hands.