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Making country wine and cider  RSS feed

 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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It's autumn here and we've been making booze
First up was cider and its not-insignificant sidekick, vinegar. I started off talking about vinegar, but was veering off into alcohol, so...
If anyone wonders about just how dodgy you can be, here's some of what I've got away with so far: I had loads of wine fermenting at once and ran out of demijohns, airlocks, bungs, you name it!
I ended up with plum, blackberry and rhubarb wines fermenting in wine bottles in the living room. On each bottle, I rubber-banded a thickish plastic bag tightly over the top, poked a skewer through and gently worked silicon fishtank hose through into the air gap and immersed it in a jar of water and S02 at the other end.
My house looked like a really cheap and nasty horror flick with 20-odd bottles of "blood" with attached hoses all stuck in a jar
I made the cider first, and had always thought I'd be all 'natural', I mean suphur dioxide's pretty nasty stuff. Well after spending twelve hours washing, milling and pressing apples, I wasn't going to risk it and I've been chucking so2 around with gay abandon! Not really, it freaks me out actually, but I strongly suspect I would have lost some, if not all of my efforts and considering I've over 100 liters of cider vinegar developing out the back, vinegar isn't at the top of my 'wanted' list!
I'm interested in people's experiences, tricks, favourite ingredients...
My cider doesn't have added sugar, so it will be too dry for many American tastes, but that's how I roll!
There's a dandelion wine thread at the moment; anyone made other flower wines?
Has anyone made perry?
 
Kat deZwart
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Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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I like making wine even more than I like drinking it...

My neighbour has a complete semi-pro winelab in his basement, complete with modified freezers to take the yeast out of champanoise-style wines. He's in a local wineguild and they are all scientific about it, measuring acidity, sugarcontent, alcoholcontent etc. I'm not... I bung stuff together and it usually turned out fine. My favorite is homemade mead. I usually adapt the recipe given by Laurie Cabot in her 'Celebrating the Earth' book. The original recipe goes like this:

MIDSUMMER MEAD

Ingredients:
1 gal. water
12 oz. fruit juice
2 1/2 lbs. honey
1 sprig saffron
2 tsp. powdered ginger
5 whole cloves
2 capfuls of rosewater
1/2 cake yeast

Bring water to a slow boil with cinnamon, saffron, ginger, cloves, and
rosewater. Add honey until dissolved, then add fruit juice. Cover and
boil for 15 minutes. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water
and add. Cover with a towel for 2 days before straining and bottling.
You may need to air mixture periodically. To eliminate the need for
airing, a fermentation lock may be purchased from a home-brewing
supply store.

I don't use sulfur, but sterilise my equipment with Chemipro Oxi... (a compound of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide)...


 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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Right now I'm trying out a recipe for gingerbeer:

2 ounces of grated fresh ginger
juice of half a lemon
200 grams of sugar
500 ml water

boil for a few minutes

ad 1500 ml of water and bit of yeast

Ferment in open vessel (under teatowel) for a day,, strain and fill in clean plastic reused sodabottles and let it rest for a few days (maybe letting the pressure out once day). I usually only fill them partially, squeezing the bottle so there's no air and cap it. That way, there's a lot of room for the CO2 to form and expand before the bottle goes pop.

It should be drinkable in 3 days, not for keeps though, just a quick fun thing with low alcholcontent.
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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I am going to put ginger beer on my list of things to try!
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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You should, it turned out great!

Next batch I will double the amount of ginger though, because I like it with more of a "bite"...
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Kat, what is 'cake yeast'? Mead's on my list and I like the look of the Medieval spicing in your recipe, although I'd leave out rosewater as it tastes like what I imagine melted pink 'my little ponies' might be like
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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I just copied the recipe from Laurie Cabot. For myself I make alterations according to my mood and the contents of my cupboard.

The rosewater is strong in itself (and yes, it smells a bit like pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows), but its just a little touch in the finished product. Don't be afraid to use it.

The cake yeast is fresh bakers yeast (pressed in grey doughie blocks). I've used powdered breadyeast, beeryeast and champagneyeast (when I felt extrafancy) and although a special mead- or wineyeast is best, simple bakersyeast will do just fine.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Hi all. I love making boooooooooooooozzzzee!!! Made cider two or three years running now. The last lot I made was so potent it blew my husbands head off! I've got these wines on the go; coffee wine, tastes yummy so far, sloe wine, sloe gin, lovely, lovely, lovely. Apple and Dandelion, not going so well and dandelion, that either. Apple wine is tasting good. Finished brewing slider and now have some slerry on the go. Loads and loads of cider, the alcoholic type for you lovely over the water creatures. This brings me to the main reason for my post. Some of the cider has scum on top, any ideas what it might be? I'm not sure how it works where you guys are so you might not have the answers for me but I sure hope you do.

 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Wenderlynn, what does your "scum' look like? Does the cider smell ok? I have a couple of bottles I made without added yeast (but s02) and they have a bit of a film on top.
The info I've read says scum, gunk and goop is bad, but maybe that's not always the case. Is the cider bottled yet? Is it on any lees? Maybe siphoning it off might help.
Btw, did you add sugar originally? There was never enough natural sugar in mine to get it partiularly alcoholic, and while that's totally fine by me (I have A LOT of cider in the house and can't be pissed/hung over all the time!), it's always handy to know how to blow people's heads off
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
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Location: United Kingdom
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ahahaah I love your post Leila. It looks like a thin fluffy film sitting right in top. If you break through some sinks or floats. I have to say this batch....and I've been racking some tonight........doesn't taste brilliant. It has a slight burn to the back of the throat but I know some scrumpies can taste like that. One batch I did tonight blew my head off as I started to siphon it. It's only fir for the vinegar category.

The cider is not bottled. I've made it before and usually after a couple of months it's ready for drinking but the trouble is we've moved twice since making all this booze so things have been left longer than they should of been as we were so unsettled.

I did add sugar. I usually add more than is needed to give it some kick. I like to blow my own head off never mind other people's. I'm lucky because most people I know don't like cider. All the more for me!.
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