Sunday, 26 April 2009

Hunting Lions in the UK countryside Dandelion wine

I was very young, it was the end of April, and the sun was shining, and Dad decided to take us out, which generally meant he was after something for his wine making or a new hobby he had taking up, making these rather odd but very decorative framed dried flower pictures.

Seeing he was packing his tubs, along with a couple of bottles of pop and opal fruits (they are now called starburst,) I figured it must be wine. The Tubs were old ice cream cartons, that all fitted inside each other until they were full and had their tops on, if you want an alternative, then maybe try Tupperware, but they always seemed to suffice, and what's wrong with having to eat ice cream for the price of your hobby, or using the ice cream to keep the monsters happy.

"So what we after?" I asked
He mumbled the first part but I heard the second part, which was "lions."
"What?" I asked, adding "Lions?"
Now if I were older I would have noticed the grin, as he agreed with me, but we had Lambton lion park in our region, so maybe one had escaped. Plus I always wanted a lion as a kid. Everyone else wanted a monkey, a dog or a rabbit, but I wanted a Lion. I did not mention it was to take across the road and bite the head off of an Alsatian dog that had bit me when I was younger.

You would not believe the frustration I felt after walking for miles only to find a field full of "pitley-beds," (a childhood name for the plant, we all seemed to use. No idea why.)
We had walked for miles looking for this field that he had spotted some time before in the middle of a massive forest so we could not hear a car let alone have their fumes spoil the plants sun gold petals.
"And when do you pick flowers" he asked, knowing the answer too well was when they are full of sun. I was still cheesed off with him, as we could have wandered round the streets back home for five minutes and collected just as many, not knowing at the time that we were there because of the location, and the fact they were clean from car fumes and dog pee.
As normal the day ended with some form of ball game, or us ending up in a river.

In any way here is the recipe he added to his folder for this rather pleasant wine, after some trial and error getting the best recipe that he liked. I would suggest you try slightly chilled on a warm summer evening, and revel in the moment that you are making to remember for the rest of your life.

Dandelion Wine
A medium white table wine

First thing first was to remove all the green “we had picked" apparently our nimble little fingers were the culprits and not his big clumpers. But he ended up with two piles of bright yellow leaves, each 3/4 gal. Although this is the use of one of those piles of flowers.

Clean and drain the flowers

After that it was throwing them into large white bin , before pouring over 1 Gallon of boiling water. Apparently you can start with the petals in cold water and bring to the boil but he chose to use the old 5 Gallon tub and boiling water. There are several methods for this if you read the books.

Cover and leave for three to four days. This tub was a posh one, and had its own lid.
He also suggests as the flowers tend to float, you should give the mix a stir twice a day and push the flowers under the water so they stay moist and the water gets the benefit of their flavour, and will also prevent spoiling.

After the four days, strain off the liquid into a clean container, pressing the pulp until it is as dry as you can get it. So you are left with the juice of the soaked flowers

Now you are making wine.

So the ingredients are
  • dandelion flowers you already have, or now you have the juice of the above
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Piece Ginger root
  • Campden tablets
  • 3lb Sugar
  • 1/4 oz citric acid
  • 1/16 oz Tannin
  • Yeast and Nutrient
  • Pectic Enzyme

You need both the rind and the Juice from the orange and the lemon and you need to bruise the Ginger root.

Now to the container with the flower juice you add the rind and juice of the orange and lemon.
Add the ginger root, citric acid, Tannin, and sugar, then bring to the boil stirring in the sugar until it dissolves.
Boil for thirty minutes, then pour into a bucket and let cool, before adding pectic enzyme.

Cover and leave for twenty four hours.

Add yeast and Nutrient, and then leave covered for seven days, stirring daily. make sure you keep it covered as there is a lot that can kill your wine before it has a chance.

Strain liquid into a fermentation jar and then fit an airlock before moving the jar to a warm place for fermenting, leaving it until it stops bubbling or ferments out, as he puts in his notes.

Next you need to rack off into a clean jar with 1 campden tablet and this time fit a bung, then rack off every two months until clear. Rack off just means siphon it into a new jar. There are filters that you can use but a lot of people think that this can destroy the wine, so you may be better off just leaving the filter and sticking to the siphon.

When you rack off you will be leaving the sediment behind, so will have to top up the liquid to the neck. You do not use syrup like before this time you can do this using another wine or brandy or water.
Once it is clear you can bottle it but do not rush it too much, as it is maturing and you really do not want it full of sediment.

You can get dried flowers, which you will only need to use one pack for the above mix, the book bellow shows two different recipes for dandelion wine than the one shown above, I would suggest trying different recipes until you find one that suits your pallet, rather than discounting the wine on one recipe.

This recipe can be used for a long list of flowers, but please find a good book like the one bellow that lists the ones you can and can't use. Some flowers will taste rotten and some will kill you, or at least make you very ill, so you really need to take care.
If you are struggling to find any of the ingredients, such as campden tablets, citric acid or tannin tablets, then try a search on the google search I set up for wine making ingredient suppliers.
A good tip if you run out of tannin, is to use a dessert spoon full of cold strong tea.

The book I am reading at the moment is:
C.J.J. Berry's, First Steps in Winemaking.

Which you can find if you do a search for the title on the Amazon search I set up on the right. Just copy and paste the title

This really is a great book, with so much in it for those wanting to step out from under the wine kit, and make your wine from fresh or dried fruits and flowers.

The book has two different recipes for dandelion wine, and a lot of good information, perfect for the beginner or as reference for those with more experience.

There is also a great seasonal breakdown of what to start making, and when it is available if you are determined to use fresh ingredients, which are readily available at the right time of year, but don't stress if it is not the right time of year, as you can always buy dried ingredients from a reputable supplier. Try out the Google search I have set up, as it is designed to the search for wine and beer making products and other things you may need.

Don't forget to read the reviews on Amazon for this book, as it really is seen as the one you would recommend by most winemakers.

Enjoy your wine, and remember to make use of that slave labour in the guise of a good day out.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Welcome to my Blog on home brew and wine making

Welcome to my blog on home brew, wine making and all that goes with it.

I will hopefully have some useful links and a few tales of where my interest in brewing comes from. and a list of recipes that my father used successfully, and I am going to try to make, after a long absence away from any form of home brew.

Added Amazon search for those that wish to search for books and other items on or for home brewing.

Added links to some other projects I have been involved in, such as the T shirt and other items that have some logos I have created my self and some created by others. sorry about the logos I created myself, just learning as I go, which is as much learning what the specifics are that can be printed, as thinking of designs. You can find it and other items here

A lot of the T shirts are made from Organic or recycled materials so are perfect for those worried about what we are doing to this world.
The gents T- shirt shown in the example can be changed to say what you like and is available in a number of colours and sizes.

Also two YouTube selections on brewing at the foot of this page, that you may like to look over. Some are informative and others just funny, so always worth a look.

If you are eager to get started, then may I suggest adding this blog to your favourites, and trying out the searches, the google search has been set up to bring the best results for wine and beer makers, and I will be adding to it as I go, to keep it relevant. Try a search for How to make, and add your preference on the end, wine, beer, or what ever. It will give you a great selection of how too's and recipes, from all manner of websites and blogs.
If you are starting from scratch and want to start buying the kit you will need, then why not search both google and Amazon and see what deals are available, as Amazon are offering free postage on items over five pound and they have a growing selection of things you will be able to use, like home brew kits, which is great for those of us that do not feel like trudging round the various home brew stores searching for the best deal, but on saying that if you use the google search and it may find you the best on line home brew store.

I suppose I should add by giving a little advice from what little I know of making both beer and wine.

I suppose the most important thing that my father always tried to point out, was clean and sterilise everything, as if your life depended on it. Think operating theatre, when cleaning your kit, or bottles.
Every book I have read has chanted the same mantra, that anything you use that will come into contact with your mix has to be sterile, which did have me puzzled, for a long time when you consider the products in a lot of the recipes, but even though I have yet to have a problem, I do follow the rule, and maybe that is why I never had a problem.

You can read the books and find out why or the best way to clean your kit, as I will try and avoid the boring stuff, as much as possible, when I know there is a better source.

Some of the recipes I will be adding are using plants and flowers, rather than the store bought mix that some of you will be used to. May I suggest you try and take the hint from the story, if there is one, or if I don't point it out, and head for some place away from traffic and other things that may contaminate the ingredient. As with cleaning it may not have any effect, but why take the chance?

Hopefully some of what I have written will spike your interest enough to come back or at least prod you enough to try searching for things you will need for the hobby that will make you the most popular person in your street.

And as the government keep adding more and more tax, then maybe it will save you some money.