Sunday, February 16, 2014

Testing boiling peanut butter in water: preparation

In preparation for making a peanut butter beer, I ran some small scale experiments boiling peanut butter in water, to mimic what will happen during the brew.  I had read the biggest concern was avoiding having the beer be oily, so last time I tried peanut butter flavored beer, I centrifuged the peanut butter for ~90 minutes, which separated the it pretty well into oil and dry solids.  I discarded the oil and boiled the solids in the wort.  After bottling (after a secondary fermentation), I tried the liquid at the bottom of the carboy and it had a very strong peanut butter flavor.  However, the bottled beer had no peanut butter flavor.  My guess is that since the beer I sampled had a lot of solids, but the bottled beer had none, the solids were the source of the flavor.  That presents two possible next steps:

  1. prepare the beer with the peanut butter with its oil to try to extract some amount of flavor and or oil into the beer mixture, then remove excess oil
  2. leave the peanut butter solids in the bottled beer, and like a hefewezein or wheat beer, serve with the sediment
I think the second option is likely to work, based on the past experience, but is less "user-friendly".  Since the first option is more desirable, but more uncertain, I decided to run some small scale experiments with peanut butter to test my ability to remove the oil and maintain the flavor.  The basic experiment will be to mimic the boil and subsequent settling process, and observing changes in the mixture, and then after attempting to extract the water (aqueous phase), determine:
  • how much oil does it still have
  • how much sediment does it still have
  • does it taste like peanut butter

This post describes the initial boiling, a subsequent post will report back the results.  The recipe I'm starting from calls for one jar of peanut butter added to the wort, which is 1 gallon of water plus malt extracts / grains.  The jar I'm using contains 16 oz. / 1 lb. / 453 g.  I decided to run the experiment by boiling 1 cup of water, there are 16 cups in a gallon, so that means I need 28 g of peanut butter.

The procedure I followed was to measure 28 g of peanut butter into a small pot, add 1 cup water, stir so peanut butter isn't stuck to the bottom, boil for 15 minutes, then transfer into a glass jar, diluting with additional water so that the total volume is ~4 cups.  I used "Teddie smooth old fashioned all natural peanut butter".

One run, started first, was prepared by pouring the oil off the top of the peanut butter jar into the pot, and then adding the top-most peanut butter until 28 g had been added.  For the second run, the peanut butter was mixed thoroughly, then measured into a second pot.

I started both on burners on the stove on the highest settings, when they came to a boil it was with a quick boiling over, so I removed them from the heat, reduced the heat and continued.  After some fiddling I discovered that ~4.5 / 10 for the heat setting maintained a steady boil without boiling over:

Video of boiling pots

I initially had intended to boil for 1 hour, but because of the small scale, the surface area of the boiling water was high, the water started to run out, so I stopped at 15 minutes of vigorous boiling, at which point a relatively thick mixture remained:

I added ~1 cup of water to this mixture, and then transferred to a mason jar.  I rinsed the pot with another cup of water, scraping up material from the bottom and sides, and then transferred to the mason jar, repeating this until the total volume in the mason jar was ~4 cups.

Initially there were particles in suspension, but pretty quickly the mixtures settled into a thin top layer (probably oil), the majority in a middle layer (probably water), and solids on the bottom (white).

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