Wednesday, 22 February 2006

go on, try it, you know you want to ...

I'm having a homebrew recipe swapping day with Kitchen Witch today. She has posted her Metheglin concoction, because I said that I have never successfully managed to make without it growing blue-green mold on the top.

My big successes in the wine making department are mostly variations on recipes by a chap called Ian Ball. I have two of his books, 'Wine Making With Herbs' and 'Wine Making the Natural Way', both of which are very good. I've also got a copy of C J J Berry's 'First Steps in Wine Making', which has a lot of interesting recipes, but which I have not had a great deal of success with. I think this is more down to me than Mr Berry - as both cook and home-brewer, my attitude is 'stick it all in and see what happens', and he's a bit more scientific than that.

So.

Two different versions of sage wine, one with apple juice:

Sage Wine
Sage (fresh .75 of a pint or dried, .75 ounce)
1.5 lb sugar (I use brown granulated)
Water to one gallon
Tea, half a cup
Sultanas, 12 oz
Lemons, 2
Yeast

Dissolve the sugar in warm water and pour over the sage leaves in your fermentation bucket. Add the tea. Extract juice from lemons and pour in. Rinse and chop the sultanas and chuck them in. Add water up to one gallon and stir in the yeast. Cover and leave in a warm place for seven days, stirring twice a day. On day seven, strain liquid off solids in to a demijohn, top up to neck with cold water and fit an airlock. Leave until fermentation has finished - probably about four or five weeks, but it could be more, or less. Rack in to a clean demijohn and add two crushed campden tablets. Bottle after six months and leave for another two or three before drinking.

Apple and Sage version
Drop the amount of sultanas to 4oz and add a one litre carton of good quality apple juice (ie, no additives) and a quarter teaspoonful of marmite to the mix and follow the same procedure. Because this has less sultanas in it, you can drink it ten weeks after fermentation has stopped; but it does improve with keeping. You can also leave out the sage and just make apple, which is a very nice light sat- on- the- patio- in- the- sun- during- hot- afternoons kind of drink.

You can also add fermentation stopper at the same time as you add the campden tablets - I started doing this after I had a Terrible Explosive Event one summer - I came down to the kitchen in the morning and found that three bottles of elderberry wine had popped their corks and fountained six feet from the wine rack where I was storing them on their side all over the wall opposite. Funny, but extremely sticky. Plus a lot of it went in the hamster cage against the opposite wall and I think the hamsters were a bit the worse for wear.

I'll post elderberry and elderflower success stories in a week or two ...

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