“basket pressed” pineapple juice

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I just bought a ratcheting #25, five gallon basket press. I was intending to use it to make cider but thought I could also put it to other uses around the bar. The main bar problem I’ve been wanting to find a solution to is creating large volumes of clear pineapple juices to offer at brunch instead of orange juice. The fresh, tart juice can be incredibly refreshing.

To test things, I bought eight pineapples for a dollar a piece at Hay Market. I peeled the skins in about a minute and tossed them into the press after a simple dicing.

The press has a ratcheting mechanism so you don’t need to be able to move around it 360 degrees for use. You can easily put it on a bench top but I do recommend bolting it down. I was lucky that I could drill bolt holes into my bench top otherwise you could mount it on some plywood then clamp that to the bench top.

Pineapples are loaded with juice so eight yielded an entire gallon of really clear juice in just a few productive minutes with the ratchet.

Reloading the press is pretty easy. Ratchet backward, take off the ratchet lever, then unscrew to the top with a 360 degree motion using your hands. you can then simply release the slats and pull off the press cake. You could make multiple gallons of juice in about a half hour. Cleaning to be honest is a bitch. You need to loosen the bolts on every slat to get all the fibrous junk in between but with the right socket wrench it really just takes five minutes.

Pressing is a really good option for pineapples because any grinding whips huge amounts of air into the juice and they get really frothy. Also, no affordable centrifuging juicers can put out the same volumes as the press.

Now that brunch is over and you didn’t quite sell all the juice you can give the rest the “ice wine” treatment to make a decadent (but not obnoxiously decadent) syrup. Freeze concentrate only 50% of your juice to increase its extract and marry it back to the rest then use your refractometer to hit 40 brix.

The resulting syrup is a killer foil for lime juice

1.5 oz. gin
.5 oz. kirshwasser
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. “ice wine” pineapple syrup
2 dashes angostura bitters

My next project is to press apples and concentrate the juice into a syrup I can fortifying with Laird’s apple brandy to make Feux Pommeau. [I eventually made the feax pommeau but the aroma was sort of ordinary. I think I had boring apples.]

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The “Maraschino” Blackberry Illusion

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The maraschino cherry is an interesting art object. To many it is just a preserved cherry. But it also can be a trick of expectation and anticipation. You expect this simple looking preserved cherry to taste like a cherry and it does, but also with the intense almond-y note of the pit. This was done by an alcoholic solvent bringing the character of the pit to equilibrium with the rest of the cherry. But you can’t just use any alcoholic solvent. Because we are dealing with equilibriums and certain expectations that must be met, the solvent has to have the same aroma as the juice of the cherry. Therefore it must be a cherry eau-de-vie. That is usually the first mistake people make in making brandied cherries. If you use something with different aroma than the fruit, equilibrium will strip the flavor out of the fruit with often horrific consequences.

Maybe we could do this with another fruit than cherry. But none really have a pit or inhomogeneous element that a solvent could homogenize. So what we would have to do is aromatize a fruit brandy with a spice and push it into a fruit instead of pulling it somewhat out. Hence we have the “maraschino” blackberry. Blackberries soaked in blackberry eau-de-vie that was distilled with mace and grains of paradise (then mixed with vitamin C powder as an anti-oxidant).

I more or less executed the maraschino blackberry idea but came to a stumbling block. I made a nice blackberry eau-de-vie that I distilled with an intuitive amount of spice (I didn’t measure). The resultant elixir was definitely palatable on its own and not over intense in spice by itself. Things got messy after I added the black berries and let things sit for a couple weeks. You can drink the liquid on its own, but the spice aroma in the black berry upon eating seems wretchedly over extracted. You have to spit it out. There is obviously some trick of perception that amplifies certain sensations, but how the hell does is it work?

I think I will just dilute the spice extract with more plain eau-de-vie and see what happens. The maraschino blackberry may still be salvaged, but I need a better understanding of this flavor illusion. I’m reminded of two experiences. Years ago I made a simple clove infused whiskey with Seagram’s VO and probably ten cloves per liter. The infusion tasted really flat and un-clove-like until you added some triple-sec. Wow did the flavor wake up. Sugar is a known flavor enhancer and likely its full potential was unleashed on the cloves. The same could be happening to the spices from the sugar in the blackberries. But there isn’t much sugar in the blackberries (maybe just a few %) and much of that sugar was brought to equilibrium with the rest of the liquid. So what is really happening?

Another experience was drawn from making a simple pineapple rum infusion. When it comes to equilibrium and you eat a piece of pineapple you get a sensation that you’ve just taken in over proof rum. Even to someone quite desensitized, the sensation is a jolt. It doesn’t seem probable that the pineapple has more alcohol than the liquid. So what gives? Is it a result of the texture? Maybe. Blackberries and raspberries taste great whole but when you juice them and rob their texture they taste flat and muted. To get any life back into them you need to abstract and ameliorate them with more sugar and more acid.

Maybe we are experiencing an abstraction through texture. All those tiny blackberry cells keep popping in your mouth, hitting you with barrage after barrage of sensation. It echoes and amplifies. I know Ferran Adria experimented with “limes with texture” where he overshadowed the character of cucumber with lime to borrow their texture. I wonder if anything was amplified and maybe he was inspired by other fruit abstractions that we more commonly encounter.

Potential amusement abounds.

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