Thursday, March 13, 2014

What to Drink

Anything like beer or wine is safe to drink.  These have their side effects of course.  Not just drunkenness...but a fat ass over time.  Beer and wine are food as are juices...they have calories...if  your calorie intake is low, they can help. 
Water is the best for you.  There is a tiny problem though.  If you do not have a chlorinated water supply, you are taking your life and health in your hands by drinking it.
When I was a child, you could drink carefully from natural sources.  Now, there are fertilizers, feces, bacteria and parasites in most water.  Deep drilled and artesian wells are usually safe.
Do not drink out of dug wells, springs and streams without testing it.  Chlorinate the water if you can.  You could also boil it before drinking or cooking in it. 
Boiled and some naturally occurring water can taste very flat.  Try a pinch of salt to help it out.  Also, aerate  your drinking water.  Put one large pitcher on the floor next to a chair.  Stand on the chair.  Pour a thin stream of water from as high as you can reach, into the pitcher( a couple of times is better.).  This will allow the water to absorb a bit of oxygen.  It will taste better.

If you are like me, you hate water.  I is not rational...but there you are.
Try herb teas...make them from any safe herb.
Try making apple tea, like in the mid east.   Grate or chop an apple up and bring to a boil in a couple of cups of water.  Cool and strain(Coffee filters work, but a cheese cloth will be just fine.).  Serve over ice or hot.  Store for a few days at most.
Don't make huge batches of anything.  Some herbs and fruits have astonishingly potent laxative powers!!!!!  Try a few cups over a couple of days and then decide if you can make a habit of that choice.  Know your herbs before you use them in any quantity.
Mints, Bee Balm, Basil, Lemon Balm, Chervil, Lavender, Roses(including the hips), Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary and a number of anise flavored herbs make great teas, and can flavor alcohol like lemon rind does in Limoncello.

Fruit juices are a good source of drinking liquids.  They also carry a little problem or two with them.
First, juices are very acidic.. This would be most obvious with citrus, but also Pineapple, cranberry and a number of others.  On the surface this seems benign, but  they will tear your teeth apart, as will milk in large quantities.  Perhaps one would be doing well to chew a tums after the juice, and spitting it out.  (Not too many tums either!)  This will neutralize the acid in your mouth.  You could also just brush your teeth.  If you do major damage to your teeth...just where are you going to find a convenient dentist in the woods?
There are tons of calories in fruit juices as well.  This is an non-issue if you are struggling to get enough calories to live, but if you are heading into obesity, this might tip you over the edge.
The last big issue I have with fruit juices is that you are getting the juice, but none of the other benefits of the whole fruit.  Also, you are dumping a ton of fruit in the trash.  You are getting only a fraction of the fiber, losing vitamins etc..  Some people even eat the peels of fruit that we traditionally throw away, not to mention the fact that you can candy and pickle some of them.  (Of course you can do that with fruit that you have juiced already.)
If you have a juice extractor or endless time and energy, you can juice vegetables.   There are plenty of refreshing and healthy liquids in many vegetables, including the perennial vegetables mentioned elsewhere.  V-8 is a prime example.  I do not know if this would be a liquid that I would think of right off to quench thirst, but the liquids are there and the nutrition is stellar. 
If you are having a water shortage, do not forget that cooking liquids, at least those that are not heavily laden with salt, are perfectly healthy drinks. 
Also, save the liquids in canned vegetables to drink.  Beware of salt and other additives in them though.  Lessen your salt intake and do not make these liquids a long term solution unless you use plenty of other liquid sources along with them.

Your kids will turn up their noses at them, but milk by-products are very traditional sources of drink.  If you make simple cheese or butter, you will be left with Whey and buttermilk.  Both are good to cook in or with, and good cold on their own. 

So how do I make a cold drink in July when I did not make an ice house? 
Become a potter, or buy a simple clay container with a smallish neck.  Fill the container with your liquid.  Place the whole thing in a sunny dry place.  The wicking and evaporation through the clay will cool the a good day, ice may even form.  Use a different pot for each type of liquid so that flavors do not transfer.  Scrub well or disinfect for future use.  You could use it one time and find another use for it if you have a ready supply of pots or clay.
Alternatively, place a bottle inside the clay container and fill the container with plain water.  This will cool the contents of the bottle.

If you have fruit trees, you can make cider.  Cider and hard ciders are a very old and time honored drink.  Ciders have just as long a popular history as beer and wine in some areas.  Normandy and Ireland are significant examples, though England is also a contender.
Cider, hard cider, Scrumpy, Poteen(spelling unsure) Calvados and apple brandies are all wonderful drinks.  Ciders have a reputation of messing with your mind, however.  Scrumpy served in pubs cause so many fights, that in some places, Scrumpy production has gone underground.  Poteen is illegal in most areas, though that stops few people.  I think that cider products, especially only slightly hard cider, are so delightful to drink, that the alcohol creeps up on you. 
If you were to have fruit trees and were able to produce these drinks, you would have a hell of an income or trading power.  Unfortunately, your customers may return in a drunken stupor and kill you all.
Cherries make the very best cider, and a number of other great drinks.  They can also, like many fruits, be added to beer, either fresh or fermented.  Make drinks from peaches, plums, berries, citrus and pears for all sorts of applications with beer, wine and other alcohol.  Ciders and juices can be added to sparkling wine....who knows there may be some available after the apocalypse.. for a great drink like a Bellini.  They can be used to extend more expensive drinks or even a limited supply of water.
A still is not hard to make for higher potency alcohols.
 You can make non alcoholic cordials out of fruit juices.  They are nothing more than crushed, steeped and drained fruit, with lots of simple syrup added.  These are pretty good for short term storage, especially if you have a clod spring to store them in, or some form of refrigeration or an ice house.

For cordials:

  • 4 pints (48 oz.) raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 12 cups water

You will also need

  • Very large bowl, large spoon, medium saucepan, plastic wrap or towel, fine mesh sieve or strainer, medium bowl, 2 pitchers or gallon container.
Total Time: 24 Hours
Servings: 12 cups cordial (24 servings, or more)
  • Note: many stores sell raspberries in half pint sized boxes, which means you would need 8 boxes of berries. Double check the weight before purchasing-- you will need 48 oz. of berries total.
  • Clean and rinse the raspberries, then place them in a very large bowl.
  • Pour the lemon juice over the berries. Use a large spoon to stir the juice into the berries.
  • On the stovetop, heat 12 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar to a boil. Stir till the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the boiling water over the raspberries. Allow the water to cool for 1-2 hours to room temperature.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel that you don't mind staining. Place in the refrigerator to steep for 24 hours.
  • Pour the cordial through a fine mesh sieve to strain.
  • Push gently on the solids with the back of a spoon, if you wish, to extract more juice. This will produce a slightly cloudy effect in the cordial, which will settle at the bottom of the storage bottle, but it won't change the flavor. If you'd prefer a clearer cordial, do not press down on the solids-- just strain them.
  • Once you've strained the juice from the berries, you will find that the leftover berries are mushy and quite sweet. Save them in the fridge, they are terrific served as a topping for ice cream.
  • This recipe makes a large batch of cordial, which will store very well in the refrigerator if you use a clean gallon jug. You can easily halve the recipe if you don't need quite so much cordial.
  • To serve, mix 1 part cordial with 1 part water or seltzer water. If you prefer a less sweet drink, dilute the cordial to taste. Serve cold.
1 Litre of Everclear alcohol

10 medium to large lemons(try to get them unwaxed or processed in any way.)

1 1/2 litres of water. It is a good idea to bring water to a boil for a couple of minutes to get gasses and chemicals out. Otherwise it might be a good idea to use bottled water or water that has somehow been purified.

3 pounds of white sugar.(Honey or other natural sugars might work though who knows what it would taste like.)

Scrub the lemons well. Do not use hot water as you will evaporate some of the oils in the skin.
Take off the lemon zest with a lemon peeler. Do not dig too deep. You want as much yellow and as little white as possible.
Immerse the zest in the alcohol, covered for at least seven days. Try to use a glass container and a glass cover. You might try a large glass jar and cover it with a glass plate. Use plastic wrap to seal it all together.
On day number eight, strain and discard all the solids.
Simmer the sugar and water for about 15 minutes or until you are absolutely sure the sugar is dissolved.
Cool the sugar mix and add to the alcohol.
Pour into pretty glass containers and chill. Keep refrigerated. In Italy they do not worry so much about spoilage, but there is enough organic matter in this to error on the side of caution.
I keep mine in the freezer.

Second option:

2 750 ml vodka(the highest proof you can find)

4 cups of sugar

5 cups of water.

Zest the lemons thinly

In a large all glass container, put one of the bottles of vodka and the zest.(drink the other bottle of Vodka)(NO, NOT REALLY)

Let it sit sealed for 10-40 days. (this is about the color and intensity of flavor) in a cool place.

In a pan, make a syrup from the sugar and water and boil.

Cool and add to the alcohol along with the second bottle of alcohol.

Allow it to rest ten to fourteen days.

Bottle as in the first recipe.

You can substitute any citrus peel that you like for this.

You can experiment with other fruit as well.