What’s a girl to do when she has a bumper crop of blackberries and she’s already frozen some and made jam and given pint after pint away?
She makes WINE of course! But how?
Dad started his wine-making hobby when we were kids. I can remember him making it in stone crocks in the basement, and ever since, he’s made wine out of all sorts of fruits, dandelion greens and even the leftover mulled cider from Christmas. So it was a no-brainer where I would go for advise as I make my first attempt. I also knew that Son #2 would want in on this venture, as he has always enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen too! Suddenly I saw an opportunity for 3 generations to spend some quality time together.
The first thing Dad gave me was this book (I love the author’s last name), which he refers to as the Bible of wine making. He also set me up with Campden Tablets, a couple of airlocks and a 5-gallon fermentation bucket with a grometed lid.
Dad was right, this little book has a wealth of good information in it and great recipes too. It’s great, but you know what is greater? Getting my dad, my son and myself together in the kitchen to make it happen. So much better to have the memories to go with the wine. 🙂 And since the berries came on at just the time that everyone was going to be at my house, it just seemed destined to be!
So, I picked the berries and chose the recipe for a port-style wine that uses method 1 (there are 2 methods in the book). Method 1 gives a sweeter, more full-b0died wine by fermenting . Method 2 gives a lighter, dryer wine by using only the juices of the fruit.
Here’s the “recipe” from the book, in case you are interested int TRYING it for yourself:
For 1 gallon you will need: 4 lb blackberries, 4 lb. sugar (or 5 lb. invert), 7 pts. water, port yeast (or baker’s yeast) and 1 campden tablet. I had enough berries to triple this and the amounts below will reflect the amounts I actually used.
I began by boiling 3 quarts of water for 1 minute and then setting it aside to cool. While the water cooled I washed the berries in a sink full of water, picking out the bad ones, the debris and the critters. Then I transferred them to a strainer to drain.
Now, I had about 14 lbs. of berries. I asked the expert if I should make it an even 12 and, much like I would do, he said, “Nah, put them all in there.” Of course! Why measure?
For this amount of fruit, I crushed up 3 Campden tablets and dissolved them in about a cup and a half of water. Campden tablets help to kill off the wild yeasts and several kinds of bacteria which can ruin your wine. It is also known as sulfiting, which, according to the book, is a “method used by the trade.” Campden can be found on line or in larger liquor stores where brewing and wine making supplies are sold. Dad got these from Friar Tucks.
We first used the Campden water first to sterilize the vessel in which we would ferment the wine, swirling it around the bucket before returning it to the measuring cup. Then we put the washed berries into the bucket and poured the Campden water and the now cool water that was boiled earlier over our crushed berries. At this point, we let it rest for 2 hours, allowing the Campden to do it’s thing.
This is a good time to mix up the sugar water. Well…1/3 of it anyway. The sugar water will give energy to the yeast. It get’s added in thirds over time, so if you are keeping up on the math, we will need at least 12 lbs of sugar total. This made it easy to figure out the 1/3 bit though.
So the Wine Bible tells me to dissolve 1/3 of the sugar in 3 pints of water and bring it to a boil. Since we are tripling the brew, we dissolved 4 lbs of sugar in 9 pints of water. We gave this job to the Second Son. Apparently, while you are making wine, you need a brew of some sort to drink as well.
Who knew? Anyway, once we had the sugar pretty well dissolved into the water, brought it to a boil and then covered it with a clean tea towel and set it aside to cool.
Two hours later we were ready to make the magic happen! First we spread a little of the sugar water around the lip of the bucket to make sure we had a good seal when we put the lid on. Then we poured the sweet nectar into the crushed berries and stirred it around.
Then we opened 2 packets of bakers yeast and sprinkled it on top. There was some question about whether we should stir the yeast in or let it work itself in. We chose not to stir.
Then we capped it and prepared one of the three-piece airlocks to go on top. The airlock allows the fermentation gasses to escape while the fermentation vessel stays sealed. The apparatus get’s filled with a little bit of water to float the little cap thingy and allow you to see how fast the brew is “cooking” by how fast it is bubbling.
That big bubble means it’s working! Now we leave it for 7 days…
I’m pretty excited about trying new things, aren’t you? I can’t wait to see how the wine comes out. I think we will call it…nah…you’ll have to wait to find that out.
What new things do you want to try?