Saturday, March 17, 2007

Malting at Home

Last night I had some time to listen to a podcast from the crazy guys at Australian Craft Brewers. The show was about malting at home and the processes involved. I will encapsulate for anyone that is interested. Note the same techniques can be used for malting rice.

Steep and Air Rests
Steep - soak grains in water for 8 hours
Drain - drain and allow air around the grains for about 1 hour.
Steep - add water again and soak for overnight, say 8 hours.
Drain - repeat the drain and air rest.
Repeat this process for 2 days or about 48 hours.

Tap water usually ok. Chlorine is going to prevent molds from taking to your grains.

Drain and spread the grain out so that air can circulate around the grains. We need to keep the grain moist, so spray with water if they are getting dry. Not too much water at this phase.

In a few days the grain will sprout. If you are curious, take a razor blade and slice a few kernles open. You will see the shoot or acrospire starting to grow. When the acrospire pokes out of the husk you are half way there!

Let the rootlet reach a length of 2 times the size of the seed. This will have to be an approximation as not all of your grain will germinate at the same rate. When the majority of your modified grains are sprouted it is time to dry.

Spread the grain on a dark surface outside, say black plastic garbage bags and let the sun dry them. Spread them thinly. They will dry in one to two days in the sun. Watch out for the birds! Maybe a net is advisable if the sparrows are a problem there.

It's important to note that the grains should not dry out at a high temperature. We're looking at about 50ÂșC until it is dry. Two days in the sun should do the trick. Once the malted grain is dry, you can increase the temperatures and leave the valuable enzymes in tact.

The last step of the drying process involves more heat than the sun alone can produce. Spread the dried grains on a big baking sheet and pop them in your oven to finish them off. This will bring the moisture content below 10% which is ideal for storage. I don't have an oven, but I have a solar oven.

If you want to roast a few kilos of malt to create some different darker malts, put a half kilo in a big wok and stir them over the gas cooker. They will smoke so keep tossing them. When they are the desired darkness, dump them in a pot and add some more to the wok. This is smoky business, but roasting malt smells so yummy (especially if you like dark ales and stouts).

Later I'll talk about the water here.

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