Make merrylegs perry cider

Make Merrylegs perry cider with pears in just three days; it could not be simpler.

“Give credit, where it's due,” is a very old saying. Another even more ancient is “can anything good come out of Bethlehem?”

I should have bought shares in SAB when I was a teenager, little realising just how much I and a few others would contribute to the company over the next half-century. We would all have become very wealthy. There have not been many days since that first pint at the University of Natal initiation that I have not enjoyed a beer or two.

Merrylegs perry cider.

For several years when the Rand had value I actually indulged in brewing my own beer. Using a concentrate from Millers in Australia I made a "braggart;" a very fine pint first mentioned by Chaucer using honey instead of sugar, though it no doubt predated him by centuries and perhaps millennia.

Millers has become unaffordable, and I’d rather support a SA company anyway. The local concentrate is not as good though; it has a metallic taste and you do have to wait at least a month for your braggart to mature.

Then the pandemic arrived on the scene; abruptly my beer-swilling habit, no doubt an addiction, was cut off at the knees. Can anything good come out of a Zuma? Yes, it can. I have to give credit to Dr Nkosozana for helping me break my dependence on SAB, not assisted by seven years living in the Netherlands where an excellent "biertje" is to be had; some a great deal cheaper than in SA.

Did it help me break my addiction to alcohol? Decidedly not, I turned instead to making my own ciders, perries and mead[4].

A cider is a wine brewed with apples instead of grapes, and a perry is made from pears. Mead uses honey and perhaps a fruit in which case it is called a melomel.

In the early days Merrylegs was fermented from a pear variety called a Perry.

Unlike most other tipples, ciders and perries can be brewed and enjoyed within a week at a fraction of the price of any other alcohol. What is more, it’s pretty darn good. At the moment we have a glut of apples and pears on the market, perhaps because overseas doors have been closed, but no doubt in time the cost will rise again.

So what is needed to make a perry or cider? About 20 of the ripe fruit, washed, halved but not peeled and a few spices is all that is required; and perhaps a couple tablespoons of natural honey.

A pressure-cooker makes the whole process much quicker. I don’t know how people manage without one, but you can use an ordinary pot; it is just a little tedious and needs a good deal more electricity.

If you want a Mumblehead Perry then use four tablespoons of honey and brew it for a whole week. I don’t recommend it; it will blow your head off.

Make merrylegs perry cider

Make Merrylegs perry cider whenever you have access to cheap fruit or better still from your own garden.

On turning 21, my stepfather who used to run the pub at the Thornville hotel about a century ago, warned me of only one thing; that his whiskey (he was of Scots descent) made a very good servant, but an extremely bad master. I will never forgot his words.

There are many definitions of alcoholism; the one that I adhere to, is that when your booze starts to affect your work, or your relationships, you are on the edge of a precipice. Out of control our favourite tipples can literally destroy our lives, particularly when combined with malnutrition, which it often is. Then you will develop Korsakoff psychosis.

And of course, every alcoholic was once a moderate drinker.

And so, Nanny Doek, as some rudely call you, South Africa does not love you, but there is at least one person who appreciates the help you gave him to face the hold that SAB used to have over his life.

For those who love a good book, Memoirs of an Unfit Mother by Jane Robinson, famous for the "The Weakest Link," and the most highly paid female journalist in British history, is stunning. For a period in her life she was gutter-drunk by 11am. Her daughter was actually taken away from her for several years. Let us not forget it; a very bad master.

This wheat beer recipe too is very simple to make and you can control the alcohol content.

Probiotic

Commercial alcohol has been pasteurised to kill all the yeasts and bacteria; but if you brew Merrylegs Perry Cider yourself it contains the living normal-flora that we need in our alimentary canals[1]. It is a natural probiotic along with kefir[2] and sauerkraut.


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