Booze making

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Cooking it, growing it, eating it. Tell us your favourite recipes and tips, or ask for ideas.

Booze making

Postby Sprocket » August 30th, 2014, 4:20 pm

I'm planning to make cider this year, and have also decided to make elderberry wine for the first time for a few years. I have lots of apples in store, including some crabs, and lots more to pick. When I've picked them all, and let the last-picked rest for a week or two to encourage starch to turn into sugar, I will be crushing them and pressing out the juice, and making cider.
In the meantime, this morning I rode out into the country lanes on my Brompton, with a 5-gallon fermenting bin in the bag on the front and a pair of kitchen scissors, and collected enough elderberries for 5 gallons of wine. Elderberries usually ripen in mid-September - the notes I made of my elderberry wine making in 2008 indicate that I picked them on the 14th of that month - but everything is ripening very early this year. The way I harvest the berries is to gasther all the berries in a bunch together in one hand, and then cut them off with the scissors as close behind the berries as possible. Then I chuck them into the bin until I've collected five gallons of berries and stalks, which, rather handily, is the right amount for five gallons of wine, with the addition of water and sugar. Books tell you to strip the berries from the stalks with a fork, and use a certain weight of berries per gallon, but John Seymour, the self-sufficiency expert, in one of his books recommended using stalks and all, and thus saving yourself a tiresome job. I discovered by experimentation years ago that one gsallon of berries and stalks, not pressed down, is the right amount for one gallon of wine.
Back home, I crushed them by hand, and added two teaspoonsful of pecolase, which destroys pectin, which might otherwise cause a haze in the wine, and eight crushed campden tablets to kill wild yeast and other spoilage organisms. Out of interst, I measured the original gravity of the juice - 1055, which, if I fermeted the pure juice without extra sugar, would produce a drink of between 5% and 6% abv, which is about half the strength of table wine. I have fermented the pure, undiluted elderberry juice before now, with sugar added to bring the gravity up enough to produce a table wine of reasonable strength, and it was magnificent, but usually |I dilute it with water and sugar, country wine fashion, which produces much more wine which is still fantastic. Elderberry juice is strong enough to bear a fair bit of dilution.
Most country wine making books recommend the addition of raisins or red grape juice concentrate to produce "vinocity", but I don't: I don't want vinocity, I want elderberryhocity. Elderberries have their own characteristics, in particular a touch of earthiness, which I like, and don't want to disguise.
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Re: Booze making

Postby GregB » August 31st, 2014, 7:08 am

Out of interest, I measured the original gravity of the juice - 1055, which, if I fermeted the pure juice without extra sugar, would produce a drink of between 5% and 6% abv, which is about half the strength of table wine.

That's also about the strength of the average bottled beer in Spain, though each brand has its stronger variety at around 7.5% to 8.5%. Table wines, as you indicate, are generally around 12%, though some areas produce stronger ones (eg. Priorat wines from the the south of Catalonia are around 14% while Jumilla wines from Murcia are probably the strongest at around 16%, the same as Martini and other vermouths.)

As for cider, it's popular in the north of Spain, especially Asturias, but it's normally quaffed in small quantities poured in a special way, with the bottle held high, into the glass to activate the foam and enhance the flavour (see the brief video clip below.) People here always express surprise when I explain that cider in the UK is drunk in whole glassfuls at a time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6CCLB7dOJU

A video clip about 'sidra' (ie. cider) from the apple crop to the bar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpVY78xn19E
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Re: Booze making

Postby Sprocket » August 31st, 2014, 8:19 am

Thanks for the links - I've added both to my playlist 'cider-making'. I've seen photos of Asturian bar-people pouring cider in that way, and my book about cider says that the ostensible reasons are what you suggest - to oxygenate the cider and produce a foamy head. It suggests, though, that the real reason is to let the bar-person show off!
Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
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Re: Booze making

Postby GregB » September 1st, 2014, 7:00 am

Yes, there's undoubtedly an element of showing off in it - Spaniards are innate showers off!

Another feature of the Spanish alcohol landscape, which may also have an element of showing off, is the use of wineskins to drink wine from. Here is a typical example:
http://www.azorjaca.com/productos/azorjaca13207.jpg

I had several back in the 80's. The technique (which I mastered successfully) is to hold the wineskin aloft and direct the resulting jet of wine into your mouth: http://practicopedia.lainformacion.com/ ... ing476.jpg

The difficult part is to keep swallowing as the flow continues, tricky because we're accustomed to closing our mouths when we swallow and here the mouth has to remain open. I've seen visitors try it and the wine come gushing out of their mouths (and onto their clothes) as they're unable to swallow, and continuously at that.

It's a very satisfying way of drinking wine once you get the knack as the jet hits the back of your throat, the splash diffusing the flavour of the (preferably rough red) wine, and you can keep it up as long as you like (and as long as you can keep standing...)
"We have more knowledge than those who came before us not because of our greater intelligence and understanding, but because we are dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants who preceded us."
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Re: Booze making

Postby Sprocket » September 1st, 2014, 7:11 am

I've seen glass bottles intended for drinking that way, no doubt based on skins.
Pitched the yeast into the wine last night. It's fermenting well this morning.
Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
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Re: Booze making

Postby GregB » September 1st, 2014, 7:17 am

Sprocket wrote:I've seen glass bottles intended for drinking that way, no doubt based on skins.
Pitched the yeast into the wine last night. It's fermenting well this morning.

They're called 'porrons'.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XvtyNBLnaow/U ... 964390.jpg
http://www.demaisonselections.com/image ... s_3_06.gif

When he was here in Barcelona, they reminded George Orwell of bed bottles, which put him off them. (The towers of Gaudí's Sagrada Familia cathedral reminded him of hock bottles.)
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Re: Booze making

Postby Pondero » February 15th, 2015, 5:05 pm

The only place in Port Charlotte.or vicinity where you can buy decent bread, as good as we get in Toronto is at Panola.Sure it costs over seven dollars a loaf of French bread, but it has no preservatives ( no Calcium propionate). They slice it for you and as it will grow stale in a day or two they give you a freezer bag as well..
We last visited Panola when in Niagara Falls New York.
In Canada we visit Dimpelmeirs, a German bakery for similar bread - at cheaper prices -but they do contain Calcium Prooionate)

I moved this over to healthy eating.
.
Last edited by Pondero on February 15th, 2015, 5:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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