Sunday, December 19, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
The robins know that they are on to a good thing here - it must be heaven - this one was very much at home here by the bird food display.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
After a couple of weeks or so, the blackcurrant wine has stopped noticeably bubbling through the airlock and just sits not doing much, so fermentation has pretty much finished.
It's time to take it from its nice warm spot by the radiator - where I keep tripping over it - and up into the attic room out of the way in order to clear. CJJ doesn't say to do this here, but elsewhere in the book he says to move wines to a cool place to clear, so that's good enough for me.
I've angled the demijohn (by resting the back edge on a handy inch-thick notepad) so that as the sediment settles, it will all be piled up in the corner rather than a thin layer over the whole bottom area, which will mean it'll be easier to siphon off more of the good stuff later.
When I do siphon off the wine from the sediment, I'll make the level back up with the extra in the milk carton, but there is surprisingly little sediment which means that I might not need all of the extra.
Meanwhile, I can forget about it for a few weeks until it looks clear.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
When the fermentation has finished & the yeast has transformed all that sweetness into alcohol, the SG is taken again & the strength of the wine can be calculated, which is useful so that you know how much respect it deserves - some of the parsnip wine that I have made has been nearly as strong as sherry, so I serve it in a sherry glass.
If mum came round for Sunday lunch after church & I gave her a wine glass full, although it would slip down in a most agreeable fashion, I suspect that she'd fall asleep before pudding was served, & she'd certainly lose at Scrabble in the afternoon.
Measuring the SG is simplicity itself, assuming that you have a jug, a hydrometer & a sample tube (or a tall glass). As ever, sterilise these (DON'T use boiling water on the hydrometer! It will break! Use a tsp of sterilising powder in a big mixing bowl full of water and put the jug, tube and hydrometer in for 10 minutes before rinsing off with cold water).
Dip the jug in the bucket, fill the sample tube with the hydrometer in until it floats. Give the hydrometer a whirl round to dislodge any airbubbles & to make sure that it floats freely and read the SG off the scale.
The wine measures 1086 at the mo (the aim is for 1080-1090 as a start) so that's fine - and off it goes.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
The blackcurrants for my batch of blackcurrant wine have defrosted overnight & are now ready to be crushed, per CJJ's first step.
Except that they are not are they? Close inspection of the bucket reveals that there are leaves & stems still on the blackcurrants due to lazy fruit picking back in July.
Actually, I'm not sure if leaving these in the mix will do any harm - after all, they will all drop to the bottom with the rest of the sediment in due course, but conscience dictates that I should pick out any stems and run a fork down them to ping the currants back into the bucket, & to fish out all the 'extra' stuff to leave just the blackcurrants in the bucket.
Well, what a tedious job that is, but it leaves a bucket of plump blackcurrants waiting to be crushed.
I've experimented with a number of methods of pressing soft fruit to extract the juice, & find that you can't beat using a potato masher (remembering to run boiling water over it first to sterilise). If I had a metal colander, I'd probably press the fruit through that - but I haven't, so the potato masher it is.
Once I'm happy that I've mashed every little currant, it's on to Step 2.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
The golden rule with wine making is to keep everything clean, so even before the first step of making our batch of blackcurrant wine, the kit is sterilised.
This means that 1 teaspoon of steriliser is put in the bucket, & water up to the litre & a half mark, then let it stand for 10 mins or so, giving it a swirl round every now & again. Give the bucket a good rinse out with cold water, and away we go with step one.
Well, precisly 1 second into the wine making process, I have hit a hitch. I have 3lbs of blackcurrants, but they have just come out of the freezer, so although I can put the currants into a plastic bucket or bowl, I cannot crush them just yet.
In this case, something tasty will be blackcurrant wine, so turning to the trusty CJJ Berry's 'First Steps in Wine Making', he suggests the following:
Black, red or white currants 3lb
Water 1 gallon
Yeast and Nutrient
Put the currants into a plastic bucket or bowl & crush them. Boil up the sugar in the water & pour, still boiling, on to the currants. When it has cooled to about blood heat, add the pectic enzyme & a day later a wine yeast, & keep closely covered for five days in a warm place, giving it an occasional stir. Then strain into a fermenting jar, fit an airlock. Let it stand until fermentation ceases & the wine clears, usually in about three months, then siphon off into fresh, sterilised bottles.
I'm going to interpret the above as I see fit - ha! - & I'll try to set down what's happening without any shortcuts - like assuming that sterilising stuff is a given, or thinking that how to do this or that is obvious. After all, you're reading my blog, not reading my mind!
So, being in possession of all of the above ingredients as well as a bucket, sterilizing powder, a demijohn, an airlock, a tube for syphoning, a tall sample jar & a hydrometer (all off the shelf from Wilkinson, or from a brew shop) & a funnel, we're off....
Monday, November 01, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
In the event, I took along a bottle of apple wine as well as myself (which might seem a bit miserly, but then it is 15%, so was served in very small glasses), & found things in full swing.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
- make compost bin
- weed neighbour Jody's plot
- dig up potatoes
- harvest courgette/runners/beans for seed etc
I haven't gone crackers with the item 'weed neighbour Jody's plot' - he was off this weekend doing the Great North Run in aid of the Birmingham Children's Hospital Children's Heart Appeal, as they did such a spiffing job with his young daughter when she was so poorly earlier this year. Helping to straighten his plot was the least I could do whilst he was going about this madness up in the frozen (actually, rainy) North.
Providing that you pass some sort of acceptability test (criteria known only to Reg), you wouldn't actually have to grow anything yourself - maybe one of the criteria is that you do grow things yourself.
After he'd gone & I'd wired together pallets to make a new & bigger compost big adjacent to the two existing ones, I had a brainwave which consisted of turning the contents of the 'nearly ready' bin (in actuality, still full of last years sweetcorn & sunflower stems along with nice composted stuff) into the new bin, then taking out the partition between the two older bins away giving me two big sized bins.
This was heavy going (understatement - there was much going-purple-in-the-face), & the photo reveals a certain crudeness of the project, but after an hour or so, I did achieve a functioning BIG two bin system.
If you want to see how clever beggars do a proper job of constructing compost bins, go up to the Bag End blog.
I christened the bin with a great deal of green stuff which had been growing round Jody's parsnips, but decided that virtue only went so far, after some tremendously sneaky nettles had stung me once too many times.
Returning allotmenteer Christine was working hard next to JB's, & we had a lovely chat about all sorts before she sent me off with a bijou lunch-sized squash from her plot.
I went home with my haul & put JB's 5lb of grapes safely in the freezer - they will be added to the grapes from my vine in the Courtyard which are a week or two away from ripeness yet, for this year's wine making.