Monthly Archives: April 2014

Simple, easy sharbat (drinking sherbet)

Drinking Sherbet

  • Servings: 30 glasses
  • Difficulty: ridiculously simple
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* 2 cups icing sugar
* 1 tsp citric acid
* 1 tsp tartaric acid
* 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
* 2 tsp flavourings (optional)
Multicoloured sherbet

It even comes out in pretty colours depending on the flavour

Sometimes (and I’m well aware that this is probably blasphemy) you just don’t want an alcoholic drink. Even the fermented soft drinks have a little alcohol and, frankly, are a bit of a faff if what you want is a glass of something fizzy, refreshing and fruity right about now. Having to brew it all, wait a few days for everything to ferment, refrigerate and then drink it within the next few weeks might just be more than you can be bothered with on a boiling hot day.

I know that occasionally I just want something I can throw in a glass and drink, and since it’s socially unacceptable (apparently) to drink alcohol before eleven in the morning this seems to be the solution. Sharbat (also sherbet, sorbot, and various other corruptions) is basically the old familiar powder that comes in tubes with liquorice, looking like sticks of dynamite. It also works very well stirred into a glass of water to give it a little fizz and flavour. Along with all this it’s very easy to make, will keep forever if kept dry, and is cheap. If you’re not thirsty you can even just eat the powder.

So to the whole making bit. Very simple. Get a big bowl. Put all the ingredients in. Stir together thoroughly. Sieve if you want it to look a little more powdery, but that’s not essential. Store somewhere dry. When you’re ready to use some just drop a couple of spoonfuls into a glass of water, stir, and glug.


Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Recipe, Soda


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Passion Fruit Wine – Mark II

Passion Fruit Mark II

  • Difficulty: simple
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* 12l passion fruit juice
* 4l red grape juice
* 4kg castor sugar
* pectolase
* citric acid
* wine yeast

While I, and quite a few others who got to sample it, really enjoyed the passion fruit wine a lot of people found the results to be a bit too sharp for their tastes. As a result I’m having a rethink of the recipe to smooth out the flavour a little, and possibly to bring it more to a wine strength rather than the more powerful version I made before.

I’m using prepackaged juice again, rather than fruit, as it isn’t in season yet and I felt like making more. The recipe is simple – combine everything in a must bucket and allow to ferment until it’s stopped going mad, then rack into demijons and allow to rest. Rack again whenever the sediment starts to show above about a finger’s width at the bottom of the demijon and finally bottle when fermentation has well and truly stopped (lesson learned there).

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Recipe, Wine


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Brew your Hedgerow

Sadly I’m just too far away to make it, but for anyone in the area looking to get into making their own wine it sounds like a great introduction.

Winemaking in west Wales

Just to confirm and remind that there will be a brewing workshop in Small World Theatre on June 21st.

The first workshop focuses on flower wines and you will start the day with a foraging walk gathering fragrant elderflowers to make a delicious collective wine at Small World Theatre. Look at the equipment needed for wine making, discover various dried and fresh seasonal flowers, learn wine making methods and troubleshooting, and of course wine tasting! Participants will have the opportunity to come back and collect a bottle of wine later in the year.

for more info and to book your place go here

3 stages of elderflower

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


Nettle Beer

Nettle beer

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: painful
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* a whole lot of nettle tips (about 0.8-1kg)
* up to 2 gallons boiling water
* 600 g golden caster sugar
* 1 lemon
* brewer’s yeast
Nettle beer

20 bottles of nettle beer for bottle conditioning

I need to emphasize how experimental this recipe is, as it hasn’t yet been tested and won’t be until the weekend. Then I’ll be able to give a better idea of what it produces, whether it’s drinkable, and whether it’s worth doing. Until then a few notes:

  • gloves are vital, long gloves, sturdy trousers, preferably armour if you can get it
  • unlike harvesting dandelions, getting enough nettles takes a long time
  • the nettles can be frozen quite happily

I think that covers the important points. Now for the recipe itself. All we did was gather the nettles, bring them home and rinse them quickly (cursing a little at stings), then throw them in boiling water. Added the sugar, juice of one lemon (and the two lemon halves as well) and allowed to simmer for about half an hour. After that the whole mess was poured into our 2 gallon must bucket and allowed to cool overnight.

The next day we skimmed out the nettles and lemon halves (giving a good squeeze to get the liquid out) and a little sugar and yeast was combined with water to activate it, then poured in. Again it was left overnight (this is the experimental bit – normally I’d bottle straight away but since I’m trying to avoid explosions, and have the bottles last for a few days outside refrigeration, I’m trying to let most of the fermentation get out of the way before bottling, in the hopes that the next couple of days won’t cause enough pressure to build up for detonation but will allow enough for a nice fizz).

I will say that the result does look quite good at least, a nice clear golden colour with a touch of green to it. Whether it lives up to my hopes or not I’ll be able to report back on Tuesday.


Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Beer, Experimental, Foraging, Nettles, Recipe


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Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold Brewed Death Wish

* 100 g coarse ground Death Wish coffee
* up to 2L water
Death Wish Coffee, The World's Strongest Coffee

Death Wish Coffee: The World’s Strongest Coffee – this is an Amazon affiliate link

And now for something completely different. Or a little different anyway. Like many people I’m a big fan of coffee. Not an addict, despite the twitches and headaches when I don’t get my daily dose. Definitely not an addict. Nope. Never.

But recently, and I have no idea why I’ve never come across it before, I discovered something called cold brewed coffee (also known as Dutch coffee, Kyoto coffee or sometimes toddy coffee). This seems to be quite a big thing, with specialist equipment, alchemy-workshop type setups and all sorts of other bits and pieces being available. So naturally I decided, in my amateurish and rather haphazard way, to give it a shot.

It works. It gives a really nice coffee concentrate that keeps well, works brilliantly as a quick shot in the morning to wake you up (a very strong shot, I understand why people talk about diluting it now), is much sweeter and less acidic, and so, so easy to make. Really, I can’t express how easy it has been. Well, actually I can.

I’ve been making it using Death Wish coffee. For those who haven’t heard of it this is supposedly one of the strongest coffees you can get. All I can say is that I love the stuff and highly recommend it to any other caffeine aficionados. I’ve also skipped all of the complex preparation, straining, and most of the filtering to come up with my own method. It’s rather simple. Any other beans will work, but if you’re basically looking for the coffee version of an adrenaline injection to the heart then Death Wish is probably the one to go for.

First take 100 g of coarse ground coffee beans. Then take a big preserve jar, jug, or whatever else you have lying around that can hold two litres and be covered. I’m using a 2 quart preserve jar which is working fine. Put the ground coffee into the jar. Top it up with water and close it up. Leave the whole thing for 14 hours or so, then pour it (slowly) through a funnel lined with a normal paper coffee filter into one or more bottles.

That’s it. Use it as a coffee syrup, cooking ingredient, wake-me-up shot undiluted, very strong coffee diluted about 1:1 with water, slightly less strong 2:1. Use hot water if you prefer your coffee hot (though I’ve started to take a liking to it cold), pour over ice if you like it iced, whatever you want.

There are much more advanced, complex details available all over the place online for those who want to put in the time and effort, but for those like me who want a simple life this works just fine.

And for anyone worrying that I’m drifting away from my brewing obsession, I am thinking carefully about how to turn some of this into a coffee wine.


Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Coffee, Recipe


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Dandelion Clock

Dandelion wine

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: easy
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* 1 kg dandelion flowers
* up to 2 gallons boiling water
* 1 kg golden castor sugar
* 1 jar honey
* 1 lemon
* 1 orange
* wine yeast
1 kg of dandelions

About 30 minutes worth of collecting

A simple, cheap and very traditional one here. Can be made pretty much all year round, with the possible exception of winter. Just collect dandelion flowers. As many as you can. It works out about 1/2 a kilo per gallon, so the more the merrier (if you have somewhere to store everything of course).

Simply collect the flower heads. Some people will recommend to take just the petals, as it takes some of the bitterness/dryness out of the wine, but I’m rather lazy and not about to strip off that many petals.

Then, add the juice from your lemon, the juice from your orange, your jar of honey, your castor sugar, and boil the water. When the water is boiling nice and hot, pour it in and leave it for a couple of nights.

Finally once everything’s cooled add the yeast and stir, then leave few a few hours. After this you can rack the liquid into demijons and put into storage, racking when the sediment gets too much and otherwise just waiting to enjoy your wine.

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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Experimental, Preparation, Recipe, Wine


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