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Flower Wines: Basic Recipe

Basic Flower Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Difficulty: simple
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Ingredients:
* 1 large carrier bag of edible flowers
* 1/2 kg castor sugar
* 300g honey
* 1 tsp citric acid
* 1 tsp wine yeast

As has been mentioned everything seems to be in bloom at the moment and we’ve been making quite a few flower wines. The recipes for these are all pretty much the same, with varying flowers but everything else pretty similar. You can also mix flowers if you choose, so an elderflower and rose wine would use the same basic method.

They’re also very easy, simple, ancient country wine recipes (well, except for the rather modern castor sugar of course).

Essentially the method is:

  1. Remove the flowers from their stems/stalks as these will cause a woody taste to enter your wine
  2. Drop the flowers into a bucket
  3. Add honey (if you’re using it), sugar and citric acid
  4. Add boiling water to just over a gallon (you’ll lose some when you strain the flowers out, but you can always top up with cold)
  5. Leave to steep for a couple of days
  6. Strain through a muslin-lined funnel into a demijon
  7. Add yeast and stopper the demijon with a waterlock, then leave to ferment – racking as appropriate

As you can see, all very simple an easy. Mix and match whichever (edible) flowers you want for different flavours. Some (hawthorn) may be edible but rather unpleasant, while others will be gorgeous, but the best way to find out what you’ll like is to try different flowers and different mixes until you hit upon the perfect one for you. On top of that the foraging itself can be very rewarding, and a great way to get out and about.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Experimental, Foraging, Recipe, Wine

 

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Flower Wines: Elderflower

Lilac Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Difficulty: simple
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Ingredients:
* 1 large carrier bag of elderflowers
* 1/2 kg castor sugar
* 300g honey
* citric acid
* wine yeast

Pauline Eccles [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pauline Eccles [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

As everything is in bloom at the moment you may have noticed we have quite a few flowery wines on the brew. The dandelion is still fermenting away at the moment, although we’ll be testing some of it soon. However elder bushes are in full rush, and so we’ve been nabbing some of those flowers (no more than a few from each bush, in order not to over-forage and deprive the area of the plants altogether). So without more ado, an elderflower wine recipe.

First strip the flowers from their stems. I recommend having something entertaining on while you do this, as it is mind-numbing work. Without it you’ll end up with quite a bitter taste to the wine.

Once all the flowers are stripped pour them into a fermentation bucket, boil up enough water to bring it to a gallon and add the boiling water along with the honey, sugar and citric acid. You can actually just use sugar rather than the honey, and add more if you prefer it sweeter, but I find that using a little honey gives wines a slightly richer flavour.

Allow the flowers to steep for a couple of days, and everything else to dissolve, and then strain through a muslin-lined funnel into demijons. Add the yeast, pop in an airlock and leave to bubble away. Rack whenever you feel appropriate until fermentation has definitely stopped (stopper can be added to try and make sure of this, but it is by no means a guarantee and I try not to use additives if I can avoid it, so leaving it until it has definitely finished is my preferred method).

Once finished, bottle and enjoy at leisure.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Foraging, Recipe, Wine

 

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Dandelion Troubles and Muslin Bags

After a while of sitting in the must bucket, it came time to siphon the second batch of dandelion wine into demijons. We use an autosiphon for this, which is usually good at leaving behind anything large enough to cause trouble. Unfortunately this time the dandelions had disintegrated, and within minutes had clogged the valve. This was somewhat annoying, and has led to us having to dismantle and clean out the siphon (even more annoying). Worse, even going back to traditional siphoning (and taking a shot of fermenting dandelion wine to the back of the throat as a result) didn’t solve the problem.

Eventually our local voice of reason (also referred to occasionally as the missus, my better half, the sensible one and/or the smart one) suggested just grabbing a funnel and pouring the whole mess through the funnel lined with some muslin. This worked perfectly, and the resulting mix then siphoned happily into demijons as intended. The autosiphon is currently undergoing treatment to remove the last few stubborn petals.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Equipment, Foraging, Preparation

 

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Flower Wines: Lilac

Lilac Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Difficulty: simple
  • Print
Ingredients:
* 1 large carrier bag of lilac flowers
* 1/2 kg castor sugar
* 300g honey
* citric acid
* wine yeast

Lilac wine bubbling enthusiastically

Lilac wine bubbling enthusiastically

It has been some time since the last post on here, but the busy period should be over (for now) as we settle back down into more of a routine again. Work’s still going on with the apiary project, which you can get updates on from , and we’ll be getting into fundraising at some point.

For now though there’s a few recipes which need to be shared. There’s a bit of a backlog and we have about 20 gallons on brew at the moment (as well as a new, so far untouched pressure barrel for experimental purposes with nettles and others). Today is a rather flowery concoction, made possible by the discovery of lilac plants growing in gardens and generous people in our local community. We’ve sampled it a few weeks into brewing and are pleased to say that it does seem to still have some of the flowery taste that you’d associate with lilac.

As with most flower wines the first thing is to extract the flavour. To do this strip the flowers from their stems, and drop them into your bucket. Boil up enough water to fill the bucket to the gallon mark, and pour it over. Then leave it all to sit for a couple of days. I tend to add the sugar and honey along with the boiling water, but that can be done later.

Strain the mix into a demijon and add the yeast, then seal and leave to ferment for however long it keeps fermenting. Rack as appropriate (I tend to go with every 2-4 weeks, or whenever the sediment builds up to about a half centimetre in the bottom of the demijon). Once finished, bottle and enjoy.

The basic method here will work for just about any edible flowers, and is a variation of the one we use for dandelions on a regular basis.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Foraging, Recipe, Wine

 

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Not So Secret Project

As you may have noticed things have been very quiet around here recently. This is because we’re currently working on quite a big project (for us). Brewing has still been happening, and once everything is up and running (or at least stable) on the big project all of those recipes will be going up in a deluge of information.

Now, as to the project itself. Obviously hints have been dropped, and if you follow on any of the social media streams you’ll probably know this but I wanted to do a full announcement anyway.

As you may know this is purely a volunteer effort, there’s no commercial aspect to our work on Old Boar’s Brews except for the satisfaction of some people enjoying our recipes, and sharing them with the world. Both of us are quite heavily into the sustainability thing, but have limited time – a lot of which is spent on actually brewing, or clearing up our new allotment plots, or working on the Next Big Thing.

So the Next Big Thing is this: a local business has agreed to give us some land, so that we can set up a small apiary. You can imagine our excitement at this, and it’s been all stations go since this happened as we work out the financials and how best to do it. There’s going to be a lot of work, including fundraising efforts as we’re looking at making this a self-sustaining venture, whereas most of our efforts are purely for enjoyment and not commercial in nature. We’re aiming to have around a dozen hives in place by May next year.

If anyone has any fundraising ideas (currently crowdfunding options are being bounced around, local t-shirt sales with bee-related puns, sponsorship and event a little commercial investment), or would just like to know more about what we’re doing let me know through the comments here, or through e-mail.

We are setting up a separate blog for Old Boar’s Apiary which will have all the latest news, and I’ll share the link here when that’s available.

As for what’s coming up here:

  • Lilac wine
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Elderflower wine
  • Update on the dandelion wine (and we will definitely be making more)
  • Rose wine/mead
  • Plum chutney
  • And more
 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Ingredients, Preparation

 

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Day of the Triffids

Uncleared allotment

An hour or so after clearing has begun a path into the foliage appears

We now have a half-plot allotment, and an option on another full-plot next

A salvaged grapevine, clinging on to life

A salvaged grapevine, clinging on to life

door. That works out around 380m² apparently, which is quite a lot of land (for someone who works full time, commutes, and tries to make a fair bit of homebrew). Whether we’ll get the full plot, or just stay with the half one we have, remains to be seen (but should be sorted by the end of next week).

The important bit is that the bit of land we have is currently somewhat overgrown. There are about half a dozen ash trees (several metres tall), and the entire area is covered in six foot brambles. Or was. We’ve only managed to snatch a few hours of clearing down there, but already have about a quarter of it completely cleared (or at least to the point where soil is visible – admittedly we’ve yet to start pulling up roots) and have made a marvellous discovery. We’ve managed to uncover two living grape vines.

They’ll need some tender loving care, and we plan to plant more (purchased from our nearby vineyard) as well as some hyssop for companion planting, but the sense of achievement

After a few hours of clearing we discover that this is actually land, not simply brambles on more brambles

After a few hours of clearing we discover that this is actually land, not simply brambles on more brambles

at saving them from the thorny triffid occupation is incredible. The plan also includes getting a bed of hops granted, and brewing some beer, with the aim to be that the only thing we need to purchase is sugar (and I’m not ruling out putting in some sugar beet to deal with that).

So in a year’s time we’re hoping that Old Boar’s Brews is capable of producing something entirely homegrown, possibly even with our own yeast strain if we can get one cultivated. There are a few other plans in the offing for the allotment, so I’ll be updating regularly. Once it’s all cleared and planted I’ll be trying to talk the missus into letting me plant more things to brew – but probably best to keep that quiet for now as I believe she has her own plans.

And finally, for the last hobby mention, we’re looking at brewing some small beer at living history events – in the traditional ways that will scare the pants off anyone used to using sterilizer, commercial yeast, additives or anything else. Just need to find a couple of brewing pots, and we think we can get some custom made. Watch this space.

Also watch out for upcoming articles on lilac and cowslip wine, and the challenges of siphoning dandelion after the dandelion flowers have disintegrated (or rather on the importance of muslin bags).

 

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Growing, Preparation, Uncategorized

 

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Simple, easy sharbat (drinking sherbet)

Drinking Sherbet

  • Servings: 30 glasses
  • Difficulty: ridiculously simple
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Ingredients:
* 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.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Recipe, Soda

 

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