About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Flower wines: progress report

The thing that gets me about home brew is the amount of washing up involved. Everything needs washing, sterilising, then washing again (unless it was sterilised with heat, but that's not an option with plastic bottles).

Today I started a new batch of dandelion wine and siphoned off the gorse flower wine into bottles. I started by chucking a couple of sterilising tablets in some water in the brewing bucket. I then added five wine bottles to that, which is how many fit in the bucket, by carefully scooping sterilising solution out of the bucket, through a funnel into each bottle, then putting the bottles back in the bucket to keep the level up. I left it a while to do its thing, then tranferred the solution into another five bottles and the lid of the bucket, and rinsed the bucket and first lot of bottles thoroughly. All this takes place in one sink, which isn't that big.

At this point I was able to start the dandelion wine. I chopped a couple of small lemons and put these, with sugar and hot water, into the bucket, then went to collect dandelions. Here they are:

Another picture of dandelions in a basket. 'Tis the season for it.

I didn't bother to look up how many I'd need - these things seem to be pretty flexible. I picked all the flowers between the house and the fence on the north side. Well, nearly all of them. I didn't bother with the ones on the slope that were too difficult to reach. I was a bit wary of any that might have been run over, too.

I then added some cold water to the bucket to make sure it wasn't too hot for yeast, then added the flowers and some more water until it was full. I didn't add any yeast because I'd like to see if it gets going with wild yeast that is (apparently) on the flowers anyway. If not, I have a cunning plan... (I also have a pot of dried wine yeast in the cupboard as back up).

Later in the day, when I could face washing up again, I rinsed out the rest of the wine bottles and siphoned the gorseflower wine into them.

Ten full sized wine bottles, one diddy one, and a glass full. Well, I had to test it, didn't I?
The small glass of gunk is saved for a reason.

The wine was still fermenting when I siphoned it, so I hope it'll continue a bit more in the bottles and make it fizzy (but preferably not explosive, like the elderflower wine). It didn't work for the nettle wine, but you never know, it might work this time.

Unfinished as it is, I had to sample it, if only because I hadn't cleaned enough bottles to store it all. The verdict: I'm not sure the gorse flowers have made any contribution to this wine at all. Maybe I should have used five pints, as recommended by Hugh F-W, but frankly, it would have had to be very good to be worth that amount of effort, and I doubt any wine I make would come out that well. The wine's pleasant enough, but more like alcoholic lemonade than anything, which isn't very surprising, given that I put in lemons and sugar then fermented it. I hope it does end up fizzy.

And the saved gunk? That's still-active wine yeast. If the dandelion wine doesn't get going tomorrow, that's going in it.

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