It feels like Autumn has arrived, but there are still ways in which you can enjoy your garden. One of the things I love about growing my own fruit and vegetables is using them in my culinary creations. I have yet, however to turn them into alcohol!
Get in Your Garden! Week #25
This week’s Get in Your Garden! guest post is from Nicola from Mummy Wales, and is her recipe for red gooseberry wine. Whilst gooseberries may now be out of season, there are plenty of other fruits in abundance, and this recipe could be easily adapted to fit with elderberries or wild blackberries.
I’m Nicola, a Welsh mum living in the South East of England. My blog is centred around parenting and country living as I love being in my garden and using what I grow there to make tasty food and boozy drinks. I have two boys that keep me on my toes and, whilst they send me round the bend (quite frequently), I like to spread some positivity through my writing and generally write what I feel, with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour, of course.
Red Gooseberry Wine
When my mother-in-law passed me the massive bag of red gooseberries, I had two choices: I could either make them into something to eat, or something to drink. Taking the vote to social media, the response was overwhelmingly in favour of the latter (no surprise there).
My next choice was whether to follow the recipe in my ‘Drink Your Own Garden’ book which happens to be as old as I am (no googling, please!) or to just ask my mum who, by all accounts, has been home-brewing just as long.
Maybe it was giving birth to me that turned her onto it, who knows?
Anyway, again I chose the latter. Mainly because I find mum’s method much simpler and also it requires less jiggery-pokery involving enzymes and other chemicals I’ve never heard of.
That said, as well as the red gooseberry base and a stock of granulated sugar, I would recommend having a pot of yeast nutrient in the cupboard just to help your brew along, should it not start fermenting as expected.
Also, you will need to buy some Bruclens cleaner and steriliser as you will need to sterilise everything before use. This is very important as you don’t want to make anyone ill.
To make about 6 bottles of wine, you will need:
- Brucleans cleaner and steriliser
- 1.8 kg / 4 lb red gooseberries
- 1.1 kg / 2.5 lb granulated sugar
- 500 g / 1.1 lb raisins or sultanas (for body)
- Yeast nutrient
- 10 litre/2 gallon plastic fermenting tub
- Plastic sieve (don’t use a metal one – see my Instagram for why!)
- A piece of muslin, pegs and a couple of large kitchen bowls
- A funnel and a jug
- A glass demijohn, valve and rubber bung
- A siphon tube and tap
- 6 empty, clean and sterilised wine bottles
1.Put the gooseberries and raisins in the fermenting tub. They don’t need to be peeled or prepared in any way.
2. Add hot water from the kettle up to the 1 gallon mark. When cooled, give the fruit a squeeze.
3. For the next two days, squeeze the fruit daily. You should then start to see the fruit beginning to ferment. You will know this is happening if you can see bubbles in the liquid and a scum layer starting to form on the top.
If it has not started fermenting, leave it a further two days, without stirring, then check again.
If, at this point, it has still stubbornly refused to start fermenting, add 1 rounded teaspoon of yeast nutrient with the sugar (step 5).
4. Stir the fruit well and strain through the plastic sieve back into the bucket.
I find the easiest way to do this is to empty the fruit into a couple of your largest kitchen mixing bowls so that you can then strain directly through the sieve back into the tub.
5. Once strained, add the sugar to the tub and stir until dissolved.
6. For two days, stir the fruit daily.
7. After two days, you will now need to strain the fruit into the demijohn. However this time you will need to strain it through the muslin in order to try and remove as much further bulk as possible and leave only the juice.
I’m going to be honest – this can get messy and may take longer than you think, so prepare to set aside a couple of hours or so when you know you won’t be disturbed and can focus on the task at hand.
Once done, you can then pour the resultant juice from the bowl easily through your funnel into the narrow neck of the demijohn.
Top up the demijohn with cold water and fit the rubber bung and valve in place.
8. Leave for 6 months until the liquid is completely clear and has stopped bubbling. At the end of this time, you will see a sediment layer of about a couple of inches has formed at the base of the demijohn. Try not to shake or move the demijohn with any vigour or the sediment will easily rise and you will have to wait until it has settled again.
9. If the wine tastes too sweet at the end of the 6 months, leave it a little longer as it is not ready.
Once ready, however, it is time to siphon the wine into sterilised bottles. And if you’re currently wondering how on earth you will be able to amass 6 empty wine bottles in 6 months, then you and I can never be friends. Sorry.
To siphon the wine, I advise setting the demijohn on a higher surface than the bottles. I usually place mine on the kitchen worktop with the bottles below it on one of my kids wooden chairs. Attach the tap to one end of the tube with the other placed into the clear liquid within the demijohn. Monitor this end during the process to make sure it does not dip into the sediment or it will end up in your finished wine.
At the beginning, to encourage the wine to run through the tube, you may need to suck briefly on the open tap until the wine comes through and then gravity will do the rest. Stop siphoning, obviously, just before you reach the sediment layer, then remove the tube before capping your bottles, labelling and giving yourself a huge pat on the back!
The bottled wine should ideally be left for a further two or three months to mature before drinking.
Both my mum and I do this because it’s fun to experiment with different produce, because the flavours are unlike anything you can buy at the supermarket and it’s also a productive way of using up a glut of fruit or vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.
I hope you enjoy trying this recipe yourself and of course, I send my special thanks to my wonderful mum for showing me how to turn berries into booze.
Thanks Nicola, I am going to have to try something like this. Considering I love a glass of vino, I can’t believe I haven’t yet tried to make my own.
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