Today's Recipe: Fruitfly Party Delight
By Hilde Wagner


I'm so glad I took up frogging.... life's not boring anymore.

Bit of background first:

As you know, one main food for them is fruit flies (FFs) as I call them, makes typing easier. I gave up long ago on flightless wingless laboratory created flies that stay put in one place, because no matter what I try, I get wild ones coming in. I don't see why I should pay $6 for a small vial of maybe 50 flightless flies (oxymoron or what?) and have the wild flies of Borneo come swooping out of the hills to rape pillage and loot my poor pedestrian flies. Before long, I've got some flies that fly, some that can't and some that think they can and try, and some that don't know they can and insist on walking. So, in summer I harvest the wild ones here.

Now, being natives, they should be hardy, but....... I bet somehow they know it's winter outside. Even though they get spoiled rotten here, and never try to see the snow and experience the cold. Maybe they're programmed to expect winter.... I don't know. But whatever it is, they multiply like crazy for a while. Since they're fliers, I keep them downstairs (well.. try for the most part, not many come up to live with us up here), with critters. Since they can fly, some escape the frogs and find their way to the culture containers, and lay more eggs. I've got swarms of them, until around Christmas - New Years. In around there, they slow down. Never to the point of worrying, I've always got tons for the existing frogs, but any day now, I expect to get the word that the permits have come through for those 50+ being shipped up. That means, I can't take a chance. It can take 10 to 28 days for the different ones to reproduce, I've got to keep the numbers up. :) 

And...... well, I try. 

At any given time I have 4 30 gallon rubbermaid tubs filled with margarine tubs, deli-cups, any container that will hold mashed fruit. I walk into the room and a swarm of flies moves out of the way. You might cringe, but I smile (with closed lips and don't inhale deeply).

To increase production, I even add a bit of sugar, and this one yeast that apparently really goes over well with the flies. They need yeast, but I never knew just why. Then I found out - it sems that the larvae eat fruit, but the adults dine mostly on..... alcohol produced by the yeast!! They're boozers! 

I subscribe to the 'a little is good, a lot is better' line of thought, so this particular day,  used a kilo (2 pounds) of  yeast, 4 cups of sugar, to help the fermenting process a bit, and added it to my normal... 20 or so pounds of mashed bananas batch. 

The flies want booze to produce? Well, we'll fix that.....  They want booze... off to the liquor store.

I haven't been in one of them in years. I can't even remember the coding system and how to interpret it. Somewhere on the shelf label is the sugar content, and % alcohol. I had to ask the clerk. I'm to the point now, where I kind of enjoy this. I'm not going to overdo it, just be honest. :)

Could you recommend the sweetest wine with a fair alcohol content? 

Sure, but what kind? Sparkling white red rose table .....???

I don't really care, just as long as it's sweet and has a decent alcohol content.

Where do you plan to use it?  It depends on how you'll use it.

(I opted not to say.... at home) I'm not particular about what, just the content.

Do you have a preference? A wine cooler might be nice, and there's some on sale right now, and they are really nice fruity flavours.

Oh, I don't plan to drink it, I'm cooking with it. 

Then cooking wine is what you want? 

No.... I need the alcohol in it, so they're out. But I'll check the coolers.... 

You're cooking with a wine cooler? ???? ???

Kind of. (I wasn't going to gross her out with the truth just yet, too early in her shift for that).

She showed me how to read the labels and I picked a #10 very sweet, and 8% alc content. Nice Canadian made too, according to her.

Before I left, she asked me what I would be cooking, since it's sparkling, it might affect the outcome. 

I'm making fruit fly culture with it. :) <innocently, matter of fact, nice curteous look on my face, waiting for the jaw to drop>

"You're... um..... you're going to use that....  mmmmm.... well, good luck, thanks for dropping in, come again. (unspoken.....don't tell me how it turned out and I don't want the recipe).

I could see her through the window, watching me until I left the parking lot. Good thing it was early, no one else in the store, so she could keep an eye on this weirdo.

On home, to experiment.

I shook the bottle, slowly opened it a bit to let some 'sparkly' out. It fizzed right out the grooves of the lid. Lucky for me, I'd already made the fruit mash ahead of time, and had the foresight to do this in the herp room, right where I would be using it. The bottle was plastic, like the big pop bottles, standing on
the workbench. Purple fizzy cooler running down the sides. It took all of 10 seconds for the flies to notice. I could hear them passing the word.

So...... mixed it with the fruit and yeast. There was a veritable explosion in the mixing bowl. The yeast had about 6 hours time by now to make CO2..... down underneath the 'fruit crust' that had formed on top. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens when you add some super charged fizzy wine sparkler to that. One small opening is all it took for the cooler to run down, and set off the gas that was almost compressed under that dry crust.  There wasn't any 'small opening' until after I'd dumped about a quart of cooler on top of the fruit, and stuck a spatula in....... PPOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFF.

Got the flies attention though. 

I cleaned the mess, (no wasting if I didn't have to, so I scooped what I could salvage into a plastic ice cream container or two... 3....  5 in fact. Set them aside, might get some flies out of it, might not. 
Cleaned myself up too..... and noticed that I had attracted a few flies. Looks like it might work.

There was just enough cooler left to add to the cultures in one of the rubbermaid tubs. I carefully mixed it in, no blowups, so at least one tub was 'seeded'.

Okay.. now, I have about 20 pounds of bananas to replace, and no cooler left. Off to the stores, more bananas and..... you guessed it - more cooler. :))))

She's still there.

Back again???

Yup, I need more cooler, it needs more than one bottle. (not telling why though).

How did your ... flies? like it? 

They loved it, when they smelled it they came right over to me and crawled all over me trying to get to it. <<they did too, honest>>

Kind of like beer bugs around beer?

Yup, but I don't have any of them right now, that's summer bugs. Right now I'm working only with fruit flies.

YOU WORK with BEER BUUUUUUGGGGGGSZZZZZZZZZ????? 

Only in August and September. Not long, they get to be too much sometimes. :))))

I'm not even going to ask. I've had some strange requests from customers, I think your's takes the cake for this month. 

Thanks... and just think.... that means, since it's January, I also win the first one of the Millenium.... what a treat!! :)

Uh huh.

Well.. thanks again, and, yes, I think you recommended a winner. Looks like it will work just fine. You really know your stuff. Thanks again.

Byeeeeee.... <<shudder shiver shake....eewwwwwww>>

I'm really getting to like this herp business...it's got some smiles along the way that the books never mention. LOL

Back home, make up a few batches of fruit, then downstairs, try again.

It had been about 2 hours since I left the room .... 

I walked into a party. I mean WILD party. The type I hope my girls never to go. There were flies dancing around naked, buzzing, dive bombing, making out on any surface ( they have no scruples morals or self respect at the best of times, but this was almost unreal). There were flies I had never met before, must have come from all over the neighbourhood! I can see it .. come on over to the Wagners... wild party. Don't BYOB they've got lots. She  won't even call the vice squad, so come one come all.... let's go!!!!!!! 

I quickly realized this IS what I wanted to achieve, so I just 'didn't see' what was going on, and respectfully turned my back, went to the workbench.

This time, I removed the bottle cap, carefully, and stirred the wine to release some bubbly. Worked better. Without any mishaps, I managed to mix the cooler with fruit, served it up in containers,  and got the labels off the empty bottles before the girls got home from school. One bottle I MIGHT have been able to explain, but not the second one. They know I don't drink.

Now, a few weeks later, I'm overcome by a sense of awe and wonder as I walk into the herp room.
I feel like I'm reliving the Parting of the Red Sea. A solid wall of flies parts before me, and closes behind me. It's like an aura of flies - my personal fan club..... There she is!! There...see her? The Bringer of All
Booze....CHEERS!!!!!!

This was the same day I burned the blender and got a snowbank smoldering....directly related.

That fateful day  I set my blender on fire from overdoing the fruit batches. I was anxious to get the next batches done so I could get the booze bottles out before the kids came home!! That's why I pushed the blender to the limit and burned out the motor. There weren't any flames, but it sure stunk up the house.
The smoke detector scared one cat out of 2 lives, made the dog cringe.... I must be trying to cook again, - and the gluttonous cat came to see if she could lick the bowl. It was, to say the least, a very interesting day. I just didn't mention this part, since I wasn't sure it would work as planned. I wasn't going
to tell until I knew it worked, no use giving out more clues as to the state of my sanity, if I don't need to.  I'd be accused of cruelty to fruit flies - death by drowning or explosion.

Not to mention, I dumped the smoldering blender into the snowbank outside. There's a rumour going around here, that I'm such a rotten cook, I even burn snow :)