Tag Archives: currant

Chateau Petal…or Petal Plonk…#gdnbloggers

Yeah, Petal Plonk doesn’t sound that good, now does it?


Not every thing on the allotment ends up being cooked. There is after all, more than one way to preserve something that has been sow and grown for the future.

2016 involved Petal and I carrying out a number of home brew experiments. Whilst there was a lighter than expected vegetable yield, there was quite a bit of soft fruit. Quite a few blackberries were harvested, and there was something of a bumper crop of currants. We also had a fair few strawberries; which since I don’t really like that much were going into ice cream, be used to make wine or be given away. I decided to go with the home brew by way of experiment.

Strawberry wine was the first of the home brew endeavours; the batch where I learned and saw what the fuss was all about. Al the subsequent batches were about replication and seeing if the straight forward recipe given to be my the fabulous Sister Sparrow could be replicated and to what effect. Problem is, I had little patience during this year; a great many things were done in a rush and probably not thought through. In relation to the home brew-strawberries in particular-I may have racked and bottled a little early. Though I have heard whispers of it being best drunk and consumed whilst young.

With the racking, especially the early stages, I learned to be firm with the must. Not let it all through, basically. Okay so the the odd blackberry or raspberry might plop through, but to generally let all the liquid pass through. With the bulkiness of the must now removed, that leaves the likelihood of sediment passing through, that’s the super fine stuff that even a muslin will let through. It is repeated racking and uber filtration that will overcome that. However, I am not aiming to supply the world’s someliers or open a vintners; I can deal with the sediment, with the wine being drunk from the top. Just don’t shake it all too much!

Today was about racking and bottling; it was the two batches of blackberry that would be dealt with today, leaving a demi-john of rhubarb and gooseberry waiting in the wings. The one batch, was from August 2016 and contained blackberries, plum and currants. This was to be bottled. You can see it above; it is a little cloud-that sediment-but hopefully should settle down. The strawberry wine did-the one in the glass-and it didn’t taste too bad either. Drinking it, was alot like eating a Sara Lee strawberry cheese cake with biscuit base. I kid you not, it was the biscuit base taste that got me. Any way, the batch is now bottled, will be labelled and stowed for future consumption. To keep the colour, I will probably wrap the bottles in brown paper. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of bottles, actually; I was only expecting six 500-ml bottles to be filled. I must think of an interesting name to put on the bottles in the same vein that all the preserves have names. Answers on a postcard, eh?

The other batch, was very very recent; blackberry wine that is dated December 2016. This has been fermented, left to settle and now been racked off-as it were. Any sediment and must that crept in has been discarded and with the wine in demi-johns, it also needs to be stowed away. This is the biggest batch by far, and I have no idea as to how many 500-ml bottles this might produce when it is eventually put into bottles. The colour is rather cool and it looks very claret-y.

As to whether it all tastes any good. Well, we’ll see!

Fruit ‘n’ flowers #gdnbloggers

I am temporarily hiding from the allotment. If I head down there now,  rather than be able to stay upright and water things; I will be standing in the poly tunnel sneezing and repeatedly. Admittedly, this is only the second time that I have reacted badly to the airborne pollen. I know that there are people out there who have suffered for longer and with arguably more severe symptoms. They have my empathy, as the anti-histamines turn me into something of a bumbling zombie. The choice is difficult to make, between sneezing so hard you wonder whether you brain is going to fall out through your nose, your ribcage feels a little like it will  crack and explode or feeling so zoned you have no idea what time it, what day is it, and how did you lose six hours whilst asleep?

The aim is to go play on the plot tomorrow during the middle of the say.

Yesterday though, I found fruit and flowers.

In the polytunnel, there are increasing number of purple haze chilli flowers, with one rather pointy purple chilli already formed. The other chillies are at varying stages, but there are buds forming that in some cases have formed lovely  white flowers. There is a distinct size difference. The larger chillies, such as jalepenos and hungarian hot wax form much larger flowers compared to smaller chillies such as prairie fire, sparkler and patio sizzler. I had to try very hard not to jump, as on close inspection, I found that a lovely lady spider-complete with a white spherical ball of a belly-had made her home in the leaves of a devil’s rib chilli. She is far braver than me, and I left her alone; she really wasn’t bothering me. I have started to water the chilli plants once a week. Given how it gets in the poly tunnel, that does mean that the soil does dry out in between feeding, so once fed the soil is moist for long enough. One thing I will say, is that the so far, the copper slug tape is helping. There is the odd nibble of leaves, but nothing has so far been reduced to a stalk.  There are blue pellets of doom, I’m afraid; these are sprinkled sparingly, but are in use.

Then there is actual fruit developing. Aside for the handful of tomatoes that now visible, and the red, ripening strawberries are being picked. I have noticed, that this time last year, I had made gooseberry and chilli jam. Which, seeing as I have gooseberry bushes now laden with fruit is no real surprise. They are all green, the ones that I can see. Though there are red, green, yellow, and one’s called invicta on the plot. This means that I will have to check the colour for ripeness, and probably try and squish them. One just to happen to fall off as I brushed passed, and was just asking to be bitten into. The result being, that I don’t particularly like tartness. I think I leave them for a while, whilst I determine what I might actually do with them. There was both pickle and jam made last year, and I need to decide which I fancy doing again.

Last year, we had a small harvest of currants. This year promises to be a little larger, as observed when riffling through leaves. The fruit hang like beads, and can be found  beneath a canopy of leaves. The bushes are still young, and still become established. The varieties that I have are red lake red currant, versailles white currant and wellington blackcurrant. The blackcurrants just happen to match my current nail varnish.I will be keeping an eye on them for ripening fruit, and again trying to decide what to do with them.

(And yes, that is slug, hovering in the fruit bushes)