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Aah, the season of mellow fruitfulness...

 
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RogerCO



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Cornwall, UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:27 am    Post subject: Aah, the season of mellow fruitfulness... Reply with quote

As a result of a few days off and the fine weather I am now looking at an array of jars of blackberry & apple jam - excellent flavour this year - but it has got me thinking.

A lot of the techniques for preserving summer and autumn fruit through the winter rely on the use of sugar - either to make jams, or as a syrup for bottling.

Dedicated jam makers insist that only cane sugar (from 3000 miles away) will do, but I have always found beet sugar gives acceptable results.

But even so, I have no idea how you turn sugar beet (a big root rather like an oversized wurzel or swede I believe) into stuff you can use to preserve fruit.

I know the stuff can be grown in east anglia, and possibly elsewhere (westcountry???) but if the refining and distribution system breaks down how will I preserve the fruits of early autumn to fill the hungry gap of late winter? You can make a sugarless raspberry jam, but it doesn't keep. You can use honey for some things but it doesn't set a jam. Anyone got any ideas ?
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They used to dry the fruit before sugar became available.

Smile
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have elderberry & crab-apple straining for jelly as we speak!

My understanding is that 'preserving' sugar is simply ordinary sugar with added pectin. So in the future, we may be able to use honey with apples or plums (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pectin) in the extreme.
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theeggman



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've bottled a lot of fruit this year (as well as making jam) because I wanted fruit to spoon into yoghurt without much sugar. You can do that with either very little or no sugar, so let me know if you want any more details. Honey is fine to use for making jam.

I looked into using beets to make 'sugar' I'll try to drag out the paperwork and get back to you on that one (I don't think I got very far!).
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sol, vind & vatten



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all Sweet people.

I found this about sugar making from sugar beet and it does not seem to be something one would get into if not really desperate for sugar.

BTW The idea of cane sugar being the only thing for preserving I find most amusing probably launched in the Victorian time by some big cane sugar producer.

Read more about jam making under http://www.powerswitch.org.uk Forum Index -> Living in the Future


Taken from Danisco (Scandinavian Sugar Producer) http://www.sockermuseum.com/en/production/readmore.asp?

Sugar production
Beet - a complete cycle
A sugar beet is made up of 75% water, 16-18% sugar, 5-6% beet fibre and 2-3% other substances. Almost half the beet's water content is re-used during sugar extraction, the rest evaporates. Almost 90% of the sugar content becomes white sugar. The remainder becomes molasses, which is used in the production of animal feed, yeast and alcohol, for instance. The beet fibre is used for fibre products and animal feed. The remaining 'other substances' contain phosphorus and magnesium, and are present in the lime left over after sugar production, for example. The lime is sold as fertiliser to the agricultural sector.

When the beet growers deliver their produce to the factory, the load is first of all weighed. A sample is then taken to establish the beets' purity and sugar content. Afterwards the beets are tipped at a depot and taken to the beet-washing unit to remove soil, stones and dirt.

The beets are then cut into thin slices and carried to a diffusion device where hot water at 70?C is used to extract the sugar from the beet. One hour later, only 0.2% of the sugar is left in the beet slices, and these are now sorted and used for animal feed or beet pulp.

The sugar extracted from the beet is in the form of a liquid called raw juice, which contains about 15% sugar, but also 1-2% impurities which have to be removed. This happens gradually as the juice is processed. First of all, slaked lime is mixed into the raw juice - this precipitates some of the impurities and has a sterilising effect. Carbon dioxide is then added, and the bubbling process causes the lime to bind the impurities and sink to the bottom. The juice is now passed through large filters, where the lime is removed. The lime left in the filter is pressed dry and sold as fertiliser to the agricultural sector.

A thin light-yellow liquid is left - thin juice - which is then evaporated in large evaporators. This is done several times until the liquid is thick and brown and contains 70% sugar. This is called thick juice.

From juice to crystals
As the thick juice contains too much water to crystallise the sugar, it has to be evaporated even more in large vacuum pans. The juice is boiled at low pressure, as the boiling point drops when the atmospheric pressure decreases. Moreover, it is important that the temperature does not exceed 80?C as the sugar could caramelise and burn.

Small sugar crystals - icing sugar - are used to get the crystallisation process started. Just 100 g is enough to produce 20-25 tonnes of sugar. The contents of the vacuum pans, syrup and sugar crystals, known as massecuite, are pumped into large centrifuges. Here the brown syrup is separated from the white sugar crystals, which gather at the bottom of the centrifuge.

The process is repeated several times, and is complete only when sugar can no longer be extracted from the syrup. A viscous product - molasses - is left behind. This is used for animal feed and as a raw material in yeast and alcohol production. When the sugar comes out of the centrifuge it is still slightly damp. It must therefore be dried with hot air before being transported over to the large sugar silos.

Sold gradually
The silos empty gradually up until the next beet campaign, as the sugar is gradually sold on. The sugar is transported in sacks, big bags or by tanker to the food industry and other major consumers, packed into bags for consumers or processed into other sugar products such as nib sugar, vanilla sugar, brown sugar, syrup and liquid sugar for industry.http://www.dansukker.com/omsocker/sotningslexikon/skrivut.asp?id=253
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Blue Peter



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking along similar lines. Vinegar might also be a problem.

I wonder if there is a more "craft/traditional" approach to sugar production from beet. Something along thse lines was discussed on downsizer a while back (more along the growing and using for wine lines, I think. Not much in the way of detail). I'll post a question and see if we can find out more,


Peter.
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Downsizer thread established at:

http://forum.downsizer.net/viewtopic.php?t=6591&highlight=


We'll see what turns up,


Peter.
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sol, vind & vatten



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Writing from a Northern European point of view sugar is something rather resent in the diet. It was very expensive until the mid 1900?s. As we were not part of a great empire we did not have the same easy access to a lot of goods that would have been commonly used in England. This includes spices, coffee, tea, chocolate and also cotton and sugar. We were poor countries there only the very rich could have afforded these luxurious items. As things got economically better the fundamental ideas for the countries were to be self-sufficient and growing sugar beets and producing sugar from them, but also fodder for the animals and fibre for bread making, was one way to not be dependent on exports. Before sugar ppl used honey to sweeten things but that was also a rare product. Ppl would have dried fruit and berries for longer storage. We also use a strong vinegar which is produced from wood to pickle things in that is not dependent on sugar (wine or whisky production).
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sol, vind & vatten wrote:
fibre for bread making,

How does that work?

sol, vind & vatten wrote:
We also use a strong vinegar which is produced from wood to pickle things in that is not dependent on sugar (wine or whisky production).


Do you have a recipe for that? As I say, I think that vinegar-making might also be a very useful skill,


Peter.
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sol, vind & vatten



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fibre is added to the dough and gives a more moist bread that stay fresh longer.

I do not know how exactly vinegar is made wood. I shall try to find out more. I read a bit about it and the technique and it is supposed to came from France using birch tree wood.
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sol, vind & vatten



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They make ethanol from wood or any cellulose and then the fermentation carries on until all alcohol has turned into vinegar. How they do that exactly I do not know. But that will probably be covered on some other posting as it is the same ethanol as the ethanol used to fuel vehicles.
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sol, vind & vatten wrote:
They make ethanol from wood or any cellulose and then the fermentation carries on until all alcohol has turned into vinegar. How they do that exactly I do not know. But that will probably be covered on some other posting as it is the same ethanol as the ethanol used to fuel vehicles.


There's only one ethanol, the one in alcoholic drinks is also the one that can be used to fuel vehicles.

However, using wood to make ethanol sounds more industrial than craft. I was under the impression that the vinegar you were talking about was a craft product?


Peter.
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sol, vind & vatten



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know that it is only one kind of ethanol but I could not be certain that you knew that.

How you get wood into alcohol probably takes a bit more of heavy industrial resources as you say. Maybe it came with the industrialisation. Wood is a big resource here so it is used a lot.

Alcohol making, stronger than wine that is, is illegal business (in my country at least). However it does not take much brain or equipment, as it is a common enough hobby and I am sure that goes under craft making. Smile
Potatoes is a common starting ground (mainly cellulose and water based) and sugar and yeast are added. As it was used in the old days I am sure that it works nicely without adding sugar as potatoes do contain some sugar and the extra yeast probably just makes the process faster. The alcohol is ?boiled? off as it evaporates at 76 C and cooled to liquid. If the fermentation is carried on you get vinegar as a result. As it is not the finer flavours but the pickling effect one is after I am sure it will be OK. My alcohol consumption is rather limited so it is not really my area.
Smile
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