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Flower Wines: Basic Recipe

Basic Flower Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Time: 2 months
  • 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
  • Time: 2 months
  • 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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Flower Wines: Lilac

Lilac Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Time: 2 months
  • 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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Nettle Beer

Nettle beer

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Time: one week
  • Difficulty: painful
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Ingredients
* 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.

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

 

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Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot label

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

Beguilingly Brewed Beetroot

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Time: two seasons
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
* 2 kg cooked but not pickled beetroot
* 2 kg sugar
* water to 1 gallon
* some grated ginger
* wine yeast
* yeast nutrient

I’m getting fond of colourful wines recently – something other than the usual red or yellow colours. I feel it makes them stand out a little, and gives a little variety to the (now full) wine rack, and the stacks of more wine beside it. So when I discovered that beetroot is supposed to make a lovely pink wine (although turning brown if left in a clear bottle in sunlight – so dark bottles in a dark place it is) I had to add it to the list. I’ve not actually made this one yet, but when I do this’ll be the recipe.

Slice the beetroots into itty bitty bits (or largish slices, it doesn’t really matter) and throw them into a big pot to simmer with the water. Adding the sugar and ginger at this point won’t hurt either, as the ginger will add a bit of warmth and the sugar will dissolve. Leave to simmer for an hour or so, then take off the heat and allow to soak overnight.

The next day add the yeast nutrient and yeast. Cover, and leave overnight again. Finally rack into demijohns (with a siphon, or through a cloth to avoid bringing across too much sediment) and allow to bubble away quietly for a while, racking regularly and keeping in a nice dark place. When ready, bottle it up and enjoy.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Experimental, Recipe, Wine

 

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Basic Spirit Mix

Basic Spirit Mix

  • Servings: 5 gallons
  • Time: 48 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
* 6 kg castor sugar
* 1 kg demarara sugar
* 2 gallons boiling water
* water to 5 gallons
* turbo yeast
* yeast nutrient
Homebrew & Winemaking - Alcotec 48 Hour Pure Turbo Super Yeast

Homebrew & Winemaking – Alcotec 48 Hour Pure Turbo Super Yeast

This is the nice, simple, basic mix I’m trying to put together to dilute things which are a bit too sweet, or a bit too strong on flavour, without reducing the alcohol content. In theory it should only take a couple of days with this yeast – though for this time it needs to be in the bath as the fermentation is somewhat…dramatic.

Young's 100g yeast nutrient

Young’s 100g yeast nutrient

First off add the sugar to the fermentation bucket. Boil the water, and gradually add it to dissolve the sugar. Top up to five gallons with cold water once the sugar is fully dissolved, and add the yeast and yeast nutrient to the directions on the containers (I used one sachet of yeast, and five tsp of yeast nutrient).

Then stand back, keeping it somewhere waterproof as it almost certainly will foam over. Fermentation should finish in a couple of days, and the spirit ready to add to whatever you’re trying to dilute. I’ll be trying this at the weekend, raw, and then doing a lot of experimentation with the mead to try and hit the right notes. Keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll work out, though I may have a fair chunk left over afterwards (and will have to use it on other projects, obviously).

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Recipe, Uncategorized

 

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Killer Kiwi

Recipe
2kg kiwis
1 1/2kg castor sugar
water to 1 gallon
1 cup strong tea (no milk or sugar)
wine yeast

First take and peel the kiwis – I found that a potato peeler worked well for this, after top and tailing them with a knife. Slice thinly and place in the water for 24 hours, along with the sugar and cover with a damp towel.

After 24 hours add the other ingredients and move everything into a fermentation bucket for about a week. After the week is up, strain the liquid into a demijohn and leave to ferment as normal, racking on a semi-regular basis.

I’ve never tasted kiwi wine before, and won’t be for some time to come as it apparently needs a long time to Killer Kiwi labelferment, and needs to be stored for at least a few months before becoming pleasant to the palate. However kiwis were on special offer and curiousity got the better of me.

The peeling is tedious and sticky, but not as difficult as peeling lychees or chestnuts, and only took about 20 minutes. Due to time contraints the fruit was then dumped whole into the water to try and prevent it oxidising while we slept, or while I’m at work today. I’ll be finishing up the preparation when I get home tonight and hopefully have an update to this post later.

Update: Slight delay to the preparation, but the slicing is now done and sugar is currently dissolving. It’ll be soaking overnight, and going into demijohns tomorrow. No oxidation at all on the fruit, so keeping it soaking worked, and hopefully it’ll all be good to go into the brew tomorrow.

 

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