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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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Flower Wines: Lilac

Lilac Wine

  • Servings: 1 gallon
  • Difficulty: simple
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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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Passion Fruit Wine – Mark II

Passion Fruit Mark II

  • Difficulty: simple
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Ingredients:
* 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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State of Play

The carrot wine is bubbling away happily, and some parsnips will be going on the boil tonight. Still to bottle we have another three gallons of mead, a gallon of peppermint mead, so plenty to go.

Polyscience® - The Smoking Gun Promo Pack (Includes 5 x 500ml pots of wood chips)

Polyscience® – The Smoking Gun Promo Pack (Includes 5 x 500ml pots of wood chips)

I do have a plan for the remaining mead. While some of it will be diluted with another few gallons of the raw spirit I’m going to put some aside and try an experiment. In the worst case, I’ll waste a few gallons of mead. Best case, I’ll be inventing (okay, probably not inventing as I’m sure it’s been done before – I’ve just not heard of it) smoked mead. I’ve wanted one of these things for a while anyway, and this seems the perfect excuse. No idea whether it’ll work but that’s what experiments are for.

On the bottling front there has been some rather significant progress. A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, so it’ll be easier to explain with the below than going into purple prose.

In order from left to right: diluted mead, more diluted mead, pineapple-rum thing, more pineapple-rum thing, kiwi, lychee, parsnip, more parsnip, mushroom

In order from left to right: diluted mead, more diluted mead, pineapple-rum thing, more pineapple-rum thing, kiwi, lychee, parsnip, more parsnip, mushroom

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Bottling, Uncategorized

 

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Heritage Carrot Wine

Basic Spirit Mix

  • Servings: 2 gallons
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
* 2 kg bright purple heritage carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 kg castor sugar
* water to two gallons
* wine yeast
* yeast nutrient

While walking through town last weekend we found that our local food stall was selling carrots. Purple carrots. Naturally on seeing these heritage carrots (I’ve heard of them, but never actually had a chance to try them) my immediate thought was ‘I bet those would make great wine’.

Purple carrot wine

Bubbling away very enthusiastically still

It has been suggested that my priorities may be slightly off, and some people would have wondered how these organic heritage carrots would taste as a foodstuff. I dispute this, as the evidence so far is that they will indeed make very interesting wine. It’s certainly colourful, though I was hoping for a more distinct purple out of the mix.

The recipe itself is very simple. Get a big pot. Put in lots of water and throw in the chopped carrots, as if you’re going to cook them. Simmer gently, and keep simmering for a few hours. Throw in the sugar at some point as well, as it’ll dissolve nicely.

Once you’re fed up of the smell of boiling carrots, let the whole mess cool and pour it into a must bucket. Top up to two gallons, throw in your yeast starter and nutrient, cover the bucket and leave for a couple of nights. After that you should have a nice froth on top of the bucket – siphon the liquid into two demijons, top off with an airlock apiece, sit back and listen to it bubble away happily. Wonder curiously about how it’ll taste.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Ingredients, Recipe, Wine

 

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Basic Mead

Basic Mead

  • Servings: 30 bottles
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
* 1 gallon honey
* 10 tsp yeast nutrient
* wine yeast
* water to 5 gallons
* 1 cup of strong (plain) tea
* juice of 1 lemon

José-Manuel Benito Álvarez [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsDirections
* Put the honey in a fermentation bucket and top up with hot water to 5 gallons
* Add the lemon, yeast nutrient and tea, and stir until the honey dissolves
* Once the water has cooled to no more than lukewarm, add the yeast and seal the fermentation bucket
* Stir daily for 4 weeks
* After four weeks, rack and continue to rack on a monthly basis until fermentation stops
* Bottle and store for at least six months (longer the better)

Just a very simple mead recipe I’ve used before to great effect. It’s only when I experiment with more modern recipes that I seem to get problems with over-sweetness. Once thing to note is that mead ages extremely well, the taste matures as it gets older and so I highly recommend waiting at least a year (though a cheeky taste when you’re bottling is only to be expected).

I may have to return to this recipe, just to reassure myself that I haven’t lost my touch with mead. As it’s one of the oldest alcoholic drinks known (in fact may well be the ancestor of all modern alcoholic drinks) it’s a good one to make. In fact mead was what initially got me into making my own homebrew, quite a few years ago. Mainly it was because it was so hard to find at the time, and since then it’s just become a general passion of mine. If you’ve never tried mead I do highly recommend it, at least once. There is a reason it’s been made (and eagerly drunk) for somewhere around 5000 years.

At some point I’ll go a bit more into the history of the stuff. The recipe has changed a lot over time, adding in fruits, spices and so on, but the basic concept is still the same as that original mead brewed by some nameless stone age human.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Mead, Recipe

 

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