Tag Archives: wine

Moonshine and Mooli pods #gdnbloggers

There are two parts to this blog post. The first involves the stash of home brewed wine that is developing rather nicely.

 

Today, I have bottled up a batch of Rhubarb and currant wine. This has been lingering for sometime and was brewed in August last year. One of many different varieties, the batch was racked off into small bottles, wrapped up and stowed away. When bottled, it was actually transparent-you could see right through it, and there was little or no sediment left behind. Like all the others, this batch has been wrapped up in brown paper so that it doesn’t fade.  I have taken a quick inventory, and we do have something of a stash developing. To date, we have bottled up:

  • Strawberry wine
  • Blackberry, plum and currant
  • Rhubarb and Currant

There is apple wine, blackberry and mixed berry and Rhubarb and goosebery left to do later in the year.

Most of the wine is transparent on racking, and you can see right through it. It is only through repeated racking that you get wine that is completely see through whilst keeping it’s natural colour. As the wines are so varied, they will need to be stored and allowed to  mature sufficiently. I have to say though, that the blackberry ones are a rather nice claret colour that does look rather proper! There id definitely more than one way to preserve alloment produce, and Petal plonk isn’t too bad at all.

That’s the home brew developments today. Then come the mooli pods. Mama F has found some Mooli pods-these are seed pods from bolted radiishes-in the freezer.

Very simple to make, Mama F created a sauteed base of onions, garlic and ginger before adding the mooli pods, tomatoes and potatoes. We might not have got any radishes, but the seed pods are edible and you can see use the produce that you do get quite effectively.

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!

Hello 2017! #Gdnbloggers

Hello, 2017, it is nice to meet you. I’ve been waiting for you to arrive with the hope that I might reclaim my allotmenteering mojo and once more feel the fresh dirt beneath my finger nails. With keen anticipation and lots of hope, I decided to sow chillies today. It is still far too early to sow other things, yet the sowing of chillies heralds a new start and a new growing season. Truth be told, I have very few plans beyond this session of sowing. My seedbox needs an overhaul, I don’t think I have bought seeds ‘properly’ and for a while. I will be looking through the seed box, to see what I can dispatch by way of being too old to be viable and what it is that I might bolster my seed box with. Naturally, this means searching through pages of seed catalogues. I do have a stash, Mum rather like to coo over the pictures and window shop. This years tomato and aubergines are the next to be considered, with Roma VF tomatoes like to fill out the line up in another thinned out parade.

But anyway, New Year!

chilliestosow

I had a rifle through the seed box, to see what chillies I might like to grow. I have grown lots of different varieties over the years; some have been really successful, others less so. This year, I have rather scaled back the varieties. There  are still five varieties being sown, but I am choosing not to go over board and complicate things when I want to keep things straightforward and productive.

You can also view the video here.

(Is that video any good? I did try to make myself look a little more presentable…)

The varieties sown are:

  • Jalapeno
  • Scotch bonnet yellow
  • Purple Haze
  • Cayenne Chilli
  • Nigel’s Outdoor chilli.

As you can see, the list is shorter-much-shorter than it has has been in previous years. However, I have sown at least nine of each variety, and there is always a bit of a steep incline as to which ones actually germinate. It is still very early, and I don’t use grow lights to accelerate plant growth. This lends itself to a fair bit of risk, and the possibility that the seeds will rot, germinate get leggy and then keel over. The seeds were sown into moist jiffy pellets, which in turn are now in the heated propagator. When the seedcase has cracked, the seedling germinated, I will then fish out and pamper the little darling with the aim that it doesn’t keel over and cease to exist. You’d be surprised how well looked after these things become.

Sowing chillies was only part of the plan today; the other thing on the to-do list involves racking and bottling home brew. Last year, much of the plot’s soft fruit found itself being fermented and shoved into demi-johns. Today, blackberry wine is to be racked, as well as another batch of blackberry being bottled (and likely stowed away to see if it does get better) and I think Rhubarb and gooseberry is to be bottled as well; in the case of the latter, we will see just how tart it is.

 

Incidentally, remember all those strawberries that we harvested last year? Don’t suppose you can spot them in this photo?

strawberry-wine

And the book got finished too….It is all handwritten, so that is the first phase.

Blackberry wine, finally! #gdnbloggers

This is probably going to be the last home brew experiment of this year, but I have finally got around to making Blackberry wine.

I have used a recipe-a recipe that is henceforth know as Sister Sparrow’s fruit wine recipe-that is really easy to follow. A quantity of fruit is prepared and placed into a brewers bucket. You boil up a sugar syrup-say a couple of litres of water and a bag of sugar-add this to the bucket. When cool, pectolase, yeast and nutrient are added and stirred in. I then keep an eye on the mixture, it is kept covered and in a warm place; stirred twice daily. After about a week, I transfer the mixture into demi-johns. You can see the mixture brew up as real-life science experiment. I also tend to keep it covered, as otherwise you might get an interesting waft of brewing filling the house.

This time I have used all of the blackberries foraged from the plot. However, in something of a disclaimer, I have also added shop bought frozen berries. This is a mixture of additional blackberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and currants. The bulk of the wine is blackberry, and that was always the aim.To further play with the flavour, I did throw in some star anise and some cinnamon. We are unlikely to age the wine in oak barrels, so this flavouring with spices might make for an interesting experiment.

You can also view the video here.

There was quite a lot in the brewers bucket, enough to fill two demi-johns, making this batch the biggest batch I have made to date. This will either turn out okay or go drastically wrong! It is always an interesting experience transferring the ferment into the demi-johns as you try not keel over.

blackberrydemijohn

Two demi-johns are now placed aside to clear. There is a slight colour difference, as one demi-john was filled before the other. Red in colour, the wine does look rather pretty! The air-locks are deliberately green so I can see whether or not they are bubbling.

experiments

Over the course of the year, there has certainly been a number of home brew experiments. This latest batch and of blackberry wine carries the tally up to six different varieties. I’m not sure if that is a good thing, or that I should be a little worried as to how much has been made and whether or not it will all be consumed. One thing that is true and most certainly, is that it is all the product of the plot.

I will have to consider how long the wines are left in their containers before racking and putting into bottles. The first batch that I ever made was the strawberry wine, and that is the one inside the bottle beneath the brown paper.  I suspect friends and family are going to get some interesting gifts in the future, other than jams, jellies and chutneys. It has been fun making Petal plonk-as it were-it doesn’t half make you think of what goes into wine, how and why.

With everything stashed away, each batch will need a name-all the preserves have a name!-other than Petal’s Plonk…..

Preserving without a pan #gdnbloggers

For me, preserving plot produce without a pan, can only mean one thing. Homebrew. Over the last year or so, whilst the growing season has been a little hit and miss, I have been able to experiment beyond jams, jellies and chutneys.

Today’s experiment, involved blackberries that were foraged from the plot sometime ago.

There have been a number of experiments and with assorted plot produce.

experiments

I did double check, and the variety that we have are:

 

  • Rhubarb and currant
  • Blackberry and plum
  • Rhubarb, strawberry, currant and gooseberry
  • Apple
  • Strawberry

There isn’t actually a lot of sediment or lees in the bottles, so I will keep an eye on them and see when each one can be decanted into bottles.

Yes, make and drink responsibly, folks. Believe it or not, I do tend to have adult supervision 😉

Strawberry wine and beyond #gdnbloggers

From the last post, you will have seen that there was an experiment on the go with strawberries. It is time now to move the experiment on.

The youtube version can be seen here.

 

Having left the fruit to ferment for three days, the must  is suitably calm and ready to be transferred into the demi-john. It was a slow but steady process to strain the must through the scalded muslin, as I was doing it pint by by pint and there were five litres in the bucket. As you can see, this has nicely filled the glass demi-john. For now, I am using the demi john and will most likely be transferring and racking into five litre water bottles fitted with a grommet. I know that  second had glass demi -johns are available, and this is something that I might look into should the experiments work. The plan is to now leave the demi john alone, for about three months. I will need to keep any eye on the bubbles.

There is still a lot of fruit to use, and the next experiment is going to involve rhubarb and red currants. These are sat on the side defrosting.

Beyond this experiment, there is the small matter of the plot grapes.

There are three vines on the plot, red and white. These are boskoop glory and madeline sylvaner, which are dessert varieties. These can be used to make wine, the second hand wine making book suggests that acid is added to them, if these are the only ones available. I am not aware of any of the plot neighbours having vines, and there was a crop last year. So the plan-I think this has always been the plan really-is to wait til October when the now baby grapes have ripened to harvest and to try and make some wine out of them. Other than making vinegar, my other concerns in the volume grapes required. The recipes all require a significant amount of grapes, at least 13-14 lbs of fruit. Right now, the wine being produced is using 4 lbs of fruit, so that is a significant difference and depends on the vines producing enough. That, or the quantity will have to be scaled down.

At least now, there is a big enough fermenting bucket.