Making a homemade muddler, naturally – part one
The wind and rain are starting to blow a bit now that the Autumnal months are bleeding into winter. Much of the grown and foraged food by now, should all be stored away, preserved to get us through the coming time of darkness. A natural time to go indoors, get more writing done, relax a bit more and spend time with family and friends. It’s also the time for sitting by a fire (or radiator in my case) to turn our hand to crafts, just as our forefathers would have done.
As I’m venturing through my journey further into wild drinks the crafts I choose are of course a reflection of this. I’m tinkering with all sorts of plants and fruits and in many cocktials this means I need a muddler. Up until now I’ve been using a highly sophisticated, upsidedown wooden spoon as a muddler. It’s too small and Emma is getting fed up of getting herbs on her fingertips every time she tries to make soup. It’s time to go out and make my own muddler.
What does muddling mean?
Muddling means crushing herbs, fruit or occasionally vegetables just enough so that they release their natural oils or juice and help to flavour your cocktails. It may seem simple but as a novice the action is easy to get it wrong. Muddling isn’t about pulverising your ingredients it’s about crushing them just enough so they release essential oils or juice.
Stage one – Getting wood for your homemade muddler
My first step is to check out the wood database to ensure that the wood I choose isn’t going to poison me or my drinking buddies. Rowan, bamboo, ash, birch, buckthorn, various cedar, chestnut, holly were all out. Even though the wood was to be dried out and treated, I though it better to be over cautious than ill. These muddlers are going to get a lot of useage. I ended up opting for sycamore and oak. Both were “green” wood, that is non-treated or fresh wood cut straight from the tree.
The size really does matter, a muddler should be at least 20cm (8inches) long, it needs to reach the bottom of a glass. So roughly the same size as a Schmeckle.
Stage two – removing the bark and carving your homemade muddler
Once you have chosen your branches you then need to cut them to size and peel off the bark. I used a bushcraft knife, but I imagine a sharp kitchen knife would suffice. I copied Chris Lubkemann‘s technique using long strokes of the knife.
Once the wood was peeled of all its bark I then carved it to shape. Bushcrafters like the folk at Natural Bushcraft recommend working fast on green wood.
Stage two – drying you homemade muddler
Then the wood needs to dry. I have heard of people microwaving to dry wood. But I intend to dry mine naturally, I’m just going to leave them on a shelf and allow them to dry. In 4-6 months (March-May 2015), I’ll report back about how it has gone. If I don’t please give me a nudge!