Friday, May 22, 2015

Get Your Shine On With This DIY Homebrew Wort or Mash Strainer Bag

Hubby has a new hobby.  We used to brew beer at home when we lived in Utah and had a big basement.  We could put the homebrew down there to ferment for a week in the cooler temps and it worked beautifully.  Then we moved many times (many, many times) over the next 12 years and never had a basement again.  Now he has recently started brewing again, only this time it's other things besides beer and it's so fun to try all his crazy concoctions!

He was straining his mixture the other day and was ogling my nut milk bag, which is probably 10"x12".   He asked me to go on Amazon and buy him one like that, but BIG.  I could only find one and it was still too small to fit in a 5 gallon bucket, and it was $30.  WHAT?!  Sorry, I'm way too cheap to spend that much for a bag I could make myself.

You could use unbleached muslin but my nut milk bag is made of a material like sheer curtains are made of, or the silky nightgown you bought for your wedding night and never wore again.  You know the one I'm talking about.  I've seen it called micron mesh but really it's just 100% polyester.

Hubby then stopped at Hobby Lobby on the way home from work and bought a yard of material for $4.99.  It's like chiffon but very strong.  Buy white or off white fabric.  We don't want red dye leaking into the home-brew.

Hubby has a 5 gallon bucket that he uses so my bag needed to fit into the bucket and fold down over the top.  This pattern (if you can even call it that since it's so basic!) fits a five gallon bucket.

DIY Wort/Mash/Homebrew Straining Bag

- A piece of 100% polyester sheer yet strong fabric, 25"x 40"
Cheater version - buy a pair of sheer curtains like this one on Amazon!

- Paracord 120" long

WASH YOUR FABRIC FIRST ON HOT!  If it's going to shrink, let's have it shrink now before you start cutting out your pieces.

***NOTE:  These dimensions are based on a 5 gallon container.  Our bucket is 12" across the top and 18" tall.  If yours is smaller or larger, adjust accordingly.  You want one side of the fabric to be as tall as your bucket + 8" so that it can fold down over the top of the bucket once it's placed inside.  The other side should be three or four times the diameter of the bucket.

Fold over each short edge 1/2" and iron it flat.  Then fold it over and iron again.  Now the raw edge is tucked safely inside and won't unravel.  Do the same across one of the long edges.  For the remaining long edge turn it under 1/2" and then when you turn it under again make that about 1" wide.  You're making a long tunnel where the drawstring will go.  It's not really important how wide the tunnel is so just eyeball it.  Envision your favorite pair of drawstring pants and make it about that wide.

Sew along all four sides.  Sew close to the edge that's toward the center of the fabric panel, not along the very outside edge.  This helps keep it from unraveling.  ***MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SEW THE TUNNEL FOR THE DRAWSTRING SHUT!***  Just leave a small enough opening on each end to run the drawstring through later.

Cheater version - if you bought the curtains just cut the length on one panel to 25" long, leaving that rod pocket across the top.  This is where your drawstring will go.

Fold the fabric in half by bringing the short sides together.  I decided to fold it right sides together and put my seams on the outside of the bag.  I did NOT turn it right side out after sewing.  This was because on my nut milk bag that I've been using for years, the seams are on the inside.  All the almond pulp, coconut pulp, berry skins, etc. get stuck in the corners and it is a PITA to clean.

This way the seams and raw edges are on the outside of the bag so the inside will be a nice, clean edge where crap can't get stuck, harden, and hide.  Not as pretty but much more effective and easier to wash.

Sew the two halves together across the bottom and up one side.  Repeat and sew a second line right next to the first line for extra strength.  ***AGAIN, DO NOT SEW THE TUNNEL SHUT!***

Put a safety pin through one end of the drawstring and thread it through the tunnel.  I tied a knot in each end, then tied the two ends together with another knot.  This prevents the drawstring from ever getting sucked back inside and lost somewhere.  This happens on my favorite pair of yoga pants about once a week and it makes me freakin' insane!

That's it!  Now when you make your brew you will put the bag inside the 5 gallon bucket before you pour in your wort or mash.  Fold the top down over the bucket, pour in your brew, cover, and do whatever it is you do for the next few days.  (For my husband this would be obsessively checking how quickly the bubbles are forming.  It bubbles about once a second at the beginning and once it's down to once every 30 seconds he knows he's ready to move on.)

When you remove the lid and are ready to strain your mixture, just pull the drawstring shut and squeeze into a new container.  Hand wash the bag in the sink with dish soap and hang to dry.  It dries really quickly too - bonus!

Happy home brewing!

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