Day: July 4, 2017

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Happy Birthday USA!

09:56 – It was 64.4F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0640, partly cloudy. We’re mostly taking the day off for Independence Day, although Barbara is volunteering at the Historical Society museum from 1000 to 1330 and I’m making up some chemicals for forensic science kits.

I suppose it’s human nature, but I always put off the most obnoxious ones until last. One of those is Kastle-Meyer reagent, which is a concentrated hydroxide solution that needs to be refluxed (simmered) for an hour or so, until the metallic zinc in the flask reduces the bright magenta alkaline solution of phenolphthalein to a colorless (or straw yellow) solution of phenolphthalin (note the different spelling).

The other obnoxious one, for a different reason, is the gentian violet solution used for detecting fingerprints on sticky tape. That one’s obnoxious because it turns everything purple. It’s a very fine powder that wants to go everywhere, and even the tiniest grain–literally one one-thousandth of a grain of sand–is enough to make large purple stains on everything: our skin, the sink, anything it comes into contact with. Fortunately the stain is fugitive. It wears off skin pretty quickly, and any oxidizer (like dilute chlorine bleach) renders it colorless.

As long as we’re making up stuff, I think we’ll make up a test batch of caramel/butterscotch sauce. Barbara used to buy it at the supermarket, but we haven’t had any in the refrigerator for quite a while. Here’s the recipe I intend to try, which was provided by a reader:

⊕ 6 ounces water (0.75 cup; 178 g)
⊕ 12 ounces white sugar (1.75 cups; 347 g)
⊕ 0.75 teaspoons salt (4.3 g)
⊕ 12 ounces evaporated milk (1.5 cup; 192 g)
⊕ 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (7.5 g)

1. Combine water, sugar, and salt in a 3-quart pan over medium heat. Stir until syrup comes to a boil, about 3 to 4 minutes, then simmer without stirring until syrup is honey-colored, about 6 minutes, swirling to ensure even caramelization. Continue cooking until syrup is light to medium amber, a minute more.

2. Add evaporated milk and reduce heat to medium-low.

3. Stir constantly to eliminate foaming, and simmer until syrup reaches 225F, or for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, transfer to a canning jar or similar container, and set aside to cool. Syrup will be thin and runny while hot, but thickens as it cools. Refrigerate the container for storage.

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