DON’T ‘CHUCK BERRY’ AWAY

Well, here we are again, a new post and a new look and what better way to start anew than to talk about wine. What a year it’s been for winemaking as we had an abundance of produce. We do love our wine making as it’s creating something new that you can play around with. We started with Elderflower Champagne, something we’d never made before. It just takes 2 flower heads, sugar, yeast and 3 weeks! It starts out tasting like fizzy pop, but if you leave it for a few months then wow, it really does taste like champagne ! Because of the nature of champagne, you must put it in a fizzy water/pop bottle, as the gas has to be released very gently !

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The bottle on the right is water, the misshapen one on the left is Champagne ! You have to gently release the gas or something will go pop !!

The next wine we made was an old favourite of ours, Dandelion. We still have some left from last year and the ratio of sugar to yeast may be wrong but oh well, we have a nice Sherry, and it blows your socks off !

We then went on to black and red currants and the reason for the title of this post is because if you don’t chuck your pulp away, you can get a second brewing from it. From 4 pounds of currants you can get 2 gallons of wine by adding 1 pound of raisins and boiling water to the second pulp. If anyone is interested in the full recipe just let us know.

We did exactly the same for the blackberries and the elderberries and with using the pulp twice we managed to brew 14 gallons of wine ! The sound of all the demi’s plop plopping in the kitchen was amazing, it’s a wonder the dogs got any sleep at all! We did after drinking some of last years brew!

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People seem to think that you have to have a constant temperature to brew wine but no, not really. We have a range that goes out at night and the wine all slows down but once the range is re lit, it all starts up again, as long as there’s a temperature of around 15c it will still brew.

After a month or two, and if the ‘blups’ have slowed down, you can rack the wine off so it doesn’t sit on the ‘must’ as this can affect the taste, and then after about 6 months the wine can be bottled. We still have a few bottles of apple wine from 2 years ago and age does make it better. But it’s so hard to sit and wait for all of this good stuff to mature, so we came up with an idea. As grapes make wine, why can’t we use grape juice? So we added some sugar and yeast to a supermarket grape juice

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We heated up the grape juice to dissolve the sugar and added the yeast once cooled.

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Because we’d run out of demi’s we had to improvise by using 2 x 5 litre water bottles and drilling a hole in the lids and inserting a rubber grommet ( that I got from the motor factor’s) for the air locks to fit.

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There’s no sediment to rack off and it’s ready in 4 weeks ! And it works, we’ve just enjoyed our first bottle and it’s as good as any inexpensive wine from the supermarket ! Wait until we try the tropical fruit one !!

This was just an experiment to see if it was possible, but that’s the sort of thing we do here at ‘The Willows’ we try, we experiment, we see what works. It’s the only way.

Anyway, happy brewing and let us know what you think.

Enjoy. ‘The Willows’

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MMM….IT’S ALL A BIT MINTY.

Well, here we go again, over the past few weeks we have been building more things,busy planting more winter/spring veg, and gathering herbs and veg. But, first things first, Mint is fantastic as it grows so well, especially as it is so wet over here and one of the things is, that it makes LOTS OF WINE!!! So, we thought we would share with you some of our collective knowledge of this great herb.

Part of the mint patch.

We use our Stanley range on a low heat to dry the herbs slowly. A range isn’t just for winter it’s for life !

A small grater is used to grind the well dried herbs, we then use this for tea throughout the winter, as well as Fennel, Chamomile,and Lemon Balm, all of which are grown in the garden.

This is the start of our mint wine. This had been placed into boiling water and left for 24 hours to infuse, but here’s the recipe so you can make it yourselves if you want to. It’s from a book from 1980 ( yes, my grandad gave it to me), so some of the quantities may seem strange.

MINT WINE

1  1/2 pints of mint leaves ( about 5 oz) lightly bruised

1/2 pint of strong tea

3  1/2lb sugar

2 lemons

Yeast nutrient

Yeast ( 3/4 oz or 1 level teaspoon of granulated ) or forget that and throw loads in !

Water to one gallon

METHOD

Place the mint leaves and sugar in a fermentation bin and pour boiling water over them, stir well, put on the lid and leave to infuse for 24 hours. Then add the lemon juice, yeast, yeast nutrient and tea ( I warm the mixture up slightly to activate the yeast). Leave this for another 48 hours and strain into a one gallon jar and make up to one gallon if necessary. Put the bung and trap in and keep it warm and watch it blub away for about 2-3 weeks. It won’t be ready for about 6 months and over time the sediment will settle and clear. Rack it into bottles and then leave it again, sitting there begging you to just drink it !!

Another wine we make is Dandelion wine.

The dandelion heads were gathered on a sunny day whilst they were fully open.

DANDELION WINE

2 quarts dandelion heads ( 1lb)

2 1/2 lb sugar

4 oranges

Water to one gallon

Yeast and nutrient

Pour boling water over the flowers and leave for 2 days. Boil the mixture for 10 mins with the orange peel and strain onto the sugar. When cool add the fruit juice, yeast and nutrient, cover and leave in a warm place for 4 days. Pour into fermenting jars and fit trap. Leave to clear.

The mint wine with a temperature gage. As you can see one of the demi-johns is a plastic bottle ( we ran out of glass ones !) but we find that it works just as well, at the end of the day it’s just a container.

The dandelion wine is already starting to settle and will be ready for racking off soon. We have 3 gallons (18 bottles) all fermenting like a good-en and about 20 bottles from last year that are maturing nicely, so, party at ‘The Willows ‘!!!!

Bring on the Blackberries !! ( woo-hoo).

Hope you enjoy, we certainly will !