I have been thinking about wine making as another way to use up the fruit from the allotment and hedgerows.
We dont have a huge amount of storage space - just a shelf in the shed really although I could always squeeze some into the bedroom if necessary.
What are the basic things that I need for wine making and also, can anyone recommend a good, idiot proof book on wine making?
I'll start with the last question first - I've been making wine for a few years and never actually got around to buying a book. There are quite a few websites which cover wine making and there are various e-books available to download, usually for free. I'll recommend 2 websites for starters:
To make wine, I'd say the bare minimum equipment is:
A 1 gallon demijohn with airlock, a length of tube for syphoning, a clean bucket, a funnel.
The bare minimum of chemicals and additives:
Sodium Metabisulphate (either powdered or in the form of Campden Tablets), Potassium Sorbate.
Yeast nutrient, finings.
Of course you need yeast too - you can buy general purpose brewing yeast, or specialist yeasts designed for beer, cider or different types of wine. We always have bakers yeast in the house so I just use that instead of buying specialist yeasts.
You can use the same kit to make wine or cider, both still and sparkling - I'll post a recipe later.
Blackberry and Elderberry Wine
2.5kg of fruit " a mixture of the two berries.
1 litre of red grape juice or small tin of red grape concentrate (optional)
water to 1 gallon
yeast + nutrient + pectolase (an enzyme which removes pectin, which can leave a wine hazy).
Sterilize everything first " crush one campden tablet and dissolve in a pint of water. Rinse the demijohn, pan, a fine mesh sieve and a funnel in this sterilizing mixture.
The next step is to extract flavour from the berries. Elderberries need to be cooked first so I tend to put all the fruit in a big saucepan and pour over a litre of boiling water. After simmering for 10 minutes or so, I then squash the fruit with a potato masher. Leave it to cool then strain the extracted juice into the demijohn. I then put the pulp back into the pan and add another litre of water to get as much flavour out as possible.
Dissolve 1 kg of sugar in water and add this to the demijohn, along with the juice (if any). Don't fill the demijohn up to the top because when it starts fermenting, the foam will overflow out through the airlock.
Add a teaspoon each of yeast and pectolase, and optionally a teaspoon of nutrient. Put the bung and airlock in the top of the demijohn. After a few days when the vigorous fermentation has settled, top up to the neck with water. Leave to ferment until the bubbles have stopped.
To finish off the wine, crush one campden tablet and add to the demijohn, along with a teaspoon of potassium sorbate. Leave to clear (adding finings will speed this up a bit).
If you have a 2nd demijohn, you can syphon the wine into that to let any more sediment settle to give a clearer wine. When the wine has cleared properly, it can be syphoned into sterilized wine bottles.
Unfortunately the wine is best kept for a few months before you drink it.
Thanks for that. I will take a look at those websites and hopefully will go and start kitting myself out in the next week or so.
We have some elderberries on the lane opposite us - they are red at the moment. I am sure that I read somewhere that red elderberries can be poisonous - is this right and if so, what colour should I be looking for?
The elderberries near us are still green - I'm not sure if they pass through a red stage before they go the dark purple colour of ripe berries. Even ripe purple elderberries are slightly toxic and need cooking first, which is why my recipe above includes simmering the berries.
If the berries near you are a particular type of red elderberry, then hopefully someone else will know whether they're safe to use or not.
I think it depends on which site you look at as I read that Sambuca Racemosa was okay when cooked - see Wikipedia but better safe than sorry methinks.
Always glad to help
I tend to get very enthusiastic when talking about homebrew and will go at length to anyone who is prepared to listen
I have bottled up a demijohn of 2006 elderberry wine tonight and it is sublime ater maturing for so long, well worth the wait if you have the space. If you make enough there isn't the pressure to drink it all too soon which is my justification for trying to do 5 gallons a year.
Interestingly given the comments about toxicity I have never simmered my elderberries just covered in boiling water . I would also agree with Bob that there is a huge danger of the wine coming out of the airlock as the fermentation is so vigourous so it does need space in the jar and a gradual addition of sugar or the floor will be dark purple.
The book I would recommend is CJJ Berry First steps in winemaking, it tells you all you need to know and has recipes for most of the wines you would want to make. Most other books are just variations on a theme. I inherited my copy from my Father who bought it in the 60's, it is thus rather old fashioned but may have been updated. The Jack Keller website is also a brilliant source of reciipes.
Start my elderberry today .mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm i brought some miltons for sterilising it only takes 15 mins to be ready and got 28 tablets thats 28 gallons.
Not sure yet but 1-2 gallons for now, im just boiling up the rowen berries have done the marrow and thats bubbling nice then on to the elderberry next.
Drank our first bottle of homemade wine today - it was a bit of a cheat, but I bought one of those country wine kits as my first attempt, this was last autumn, bottled it shortly before Christmas, tasted it and winced. Put it under the cupboards in the pantry. Anyway yesterday I was moving stuff about and one of the bottles was wet, the screw lid was from a gin bottle and it must have been ever so slightly too big. I was going to chuck the wine thinking, it was disgusting to begin with, it's sure to be rank by now, but I thought, what the hell, and I put it in the fridge.
Tried it tonight, wow, well maybe wow is a bit of an overstatement, but it's a pretty decent wine, or should I say, it WAS a pretty decent wine, because it's gone. Hurray - a success at my first attempt, encouraged now, and going to make some more
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