Monday, July 20, 2009

Tis the season for making wine! Here's the family recipe!

Wine making .......I come from a long line of bootleggers,ridgerunners and blockade runners. One of my great uncles was killed by gubment 'revenuers' in the 1930's while tending/defending his still. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I was born with the booze-making gene. Been doing it since Dad deemed me ready for initiation into the wonders of alcohol production at the tender age of 16. Just a little back history here....... When I was a teenager, my father and I couldnt be in a room together for more than 10 minutes without all hell breaking loose. (some say its because we are too much alike). Until the night he needed my assist with the family tradition.... something clicked between us that night and we found a common ground. Dont get me wrong. The fighting still raged on until I left home, but now there were these productive breaks of mutually agreed cease-fire,where we almost liked each other. Years later Dad and I are great friends and we still work together to produce some truly amazing beverages! (and it looks like my son got the gene).
Onward and forward... there is a reason for this post. Its THE SEASON, In a couple of more weeks the first fruit of the year will begin showing up. The eternal question "what do we do with all these plums/apples/cherries/blackberries etc" will arise. After all you can only make so many pies and so much jam before you have too much. But in my experience you can never have too much wine. With that in mind I have opted to share the family recipe with you. Its a basic,simple,organic starting point. The original is written in fading ink on a piece of torn brown paper grocery bag that I have laminated to preserve. The steps are not in order on the original so I took the time to put them in coherent step by step form for you. Keep in mind, some of you will read this and know exactly what to do. You will immediatley understand the alchemical process involved. Others will read this and re-read it and never really get it. If you are one of those who gets it .... you have the gene. If you are one of those who don't get it.... Its ok, someone has to be a jam maker!
So without further ado here is a gift from me to you!

Make your own wine.
To do this you will need:
1 five gallon plastic bucket with lid
1 five gallon glass water jug (called a carboy)
1 plastic airlock
1 cork for carboy with whole bored for airlock to fit
Large stew pot
Potato masher
Sterile siphon hose
Cheese clothe or old Pillow case
2 oz ‘s of pectic enzyme
1 lemon
10 pounds of sugar
1 small packet of wine yeast
10 pounds of fruit (plum is the easiest to start with)
1 packet campden tablets
All items on this list can be purchased either online or at your local brew store
Step 1. Sterilize all equipment
2. Pit ( no need to peal) and cut up fruit and put in plastic bucket.
3. In a large stew pot put 2 ½ gallons of water, juice of half a lemon, 5 pounds of sugar and 2 oz of pectic enzyme. Heat to just under boiling, making sure all the sugar is dissolved.
4. Pour sugar solution over fruit in five gallon bucket.
5. Wait one hour or until solution and fruit have cooled to room temperature and then add the packet of yeast and stir lightly.
6. Put lid on bucket and let sit over night
7. Each day for 7 days , remove lid and mash fruit with a potato masher.
8 .Day Seven , strain juice from fruit through cheese cloth
9. Put juice into Five gallon carboy
10 Put 2 gallons of water in stew pot and heat to just under boiling
11. Put remaining 5 pounds of sugar in hot water and dissolve thoroughly
12. Wait until sugar water cools to room temperature and add to juice in carboy
13. Slide airlock into bored cork and place in opening of carboy
14. Add 1 campden tablet to airlock and 2 tablespoons of water
15. It is wise at this point to seal cork with wax from a candle
16. Put carboy in a warm place and walk away for 1 month
17. At the end of one month you will notice a heavy sediment on the bottom of the carboy….siphon the now ‘working ‘wine back into the sterilized plastic bucket leaving the sediment behind.
18. Pour sediment down drain and clean carboy well
19. Put wine back into carboy and re-seal as before
20. Repeat siphoning process (called racking) every couple of months or so until no sediment forms on bottom
21. When sediment ceases to form, your wine is done and ready to bottle
22. The fermenting process could take from 6 months to a year but it is well worth the wait!
Don’t forget to treat yourself to a glass every time you rack the wine…….. You will be able to taste the changes as nature makes its bounty.

Just a few notes. Wine made with this recipe will be higher in alcohol content than commercially produced. There are no sulphites in this wine. You should get 2 1/2 cases of wine per carboy (give or take). Bottles fished out of recycleing, de-labeled and sterilized will keep costs down. Try to use real cork when it is available and never never never use a screw cap for homemade wine. Once you have made a batch of this wine you can add specific herbs to make it medicinal. When winter weather arrives I will post a mulling recipe that will make the holidays oh-so-much easier to tolerate!

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