Monday, 15 September 2014

Harvest Time

Every year thousands of kilos of wild fruit and berries are wasted by people, who having gone to the trouble of  gathering the stuff, waste it by making pies and jams!

Wild fruit and berries are best made into country wines, this is clearly their intended use because many fruits are high in yeast and you don't need yeast to make a pie. It could be argued that blackcurrants are high in pectin and therefore are designed to be made into jam, this is the exception that proves the rule; blackcurrants make very poor wine.

Damsons, very common in Shropshire and make good wine
2 gallons of damson wine ready for fermentation

Joking apart, wine making can be a very enjoyable and rewarding hobby, gathering the fruit is the most time consuming aspect of the process, but something that I combine with dog walking and find very enjoyable. A gallon of country wine will cost you less than £2 which works out at about 40p per bottle. The only equipment that you need is a fermenting bin (£5.25 at Wilko) a demijohn (£5), airlock (£1).
Other than the free fruit or berries the only other ingredients required are sugar and yeast, sometimes there may be one or two additives all available very cheaply from Wilkos. You do need to keep things clean, I use Milton Fluid for sterilisation.

It is very easy to make wine, you don't need a book, there are many recipes on-line and masses of YouTube videos. If you are just starting don't read any wine forums, some poor bloke normally posts a simple question which receives a complicated but plausible answer, this is normally counteracted by a very different but equally plausible answer. The thread then continues with the two plausible answer guys arguing.

The main thing that you need is patience, your wine will not be worth drinking for a year, you will not have to give it much attention while you are waiting and it will taste very good. It's not an ideal hobby for a live-aboard boater because you will need quite a bit  of storage if you get into full production, but you could still make a few gallons.

I encourage you to try it with elderberries first, these are easy to pick and make a really nice wine and you really cannot go wrong. My other favourites are Damson, Hawthorn, Rosehip and Sloe. If you want something a bit quicker, go for tinned fruit which is ready to drink in about 6 months, obviously this increases the cost. I have never made a wine from a kit, but they mature quite quickly, the instructions look very complicated though.

Even we succumb to a pie occasionally

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