... and now their hard work has borne fruit, literally.
Even better, we had a few hours of sunshine the other day, enabling me to get out and pick a goodly harvest. I'd forgotten quite how many uses I'd found for blackcurrants last year. What I hadn't forgotten, though, was how good the wine was. There's still some of the jam left, the fruit cheese didn't keep well, I don't feel like ice cream in this weather, but that wine is now a fond and distant memory.
I didn't have very much of that wine after the great store room shelf collapse, but what there was I enjoyed very much. I can't remember how long I left it to mature - obviously not as much as a year - I think it was about six months, but that was enough. It didn't taste much like
normalwine, i.e. wine made from grapes - funnily enough, it tasted of blackcurrants. Once I'd got used to the not-wine flavour and started to appreciate it for what it was, this wine went firmly on the
More of that next yearlist.
I was pleased to find that I'd made fairly good notes on how I made the wine last year. My first colander-full of currants weighed 2 lb 10 oz, almost exactly the amount I used last year, and there were plenty more on the bushes. I went out to get a second colander full and ended up with 5 lb 11 oz - enough for two gallons of wine.
I picked the currants over to remove caterpillars, spiders and snail poo, but didn't bother topping and tailing them. They went into one of the nice new* buckets I bought from Jed at Aberystwyth Recycling Centre.
If you start with elderflower champagne, as I did, you might be surprised to find out quite how much fruit you need for red wine, but trust me, it's worth it. On top of the fruit I added a kettleful of boiling water, hoping that would be enough to kill off any mould spores that had got in (some of the currants were mouldy on the bush, due to the wet weather. I didn't pick any of those, obviously, but some of the nearby ones may have had a dusting of spores). I then stirred in 2 kilos of sugar, mashed it all up with a potato masher, and topped up the bucket to nearly full. Finally I added some yeast from the bottom of a bottle of elderflower champagne that's still very much alive.
I thought it was a 10 litre bucket as it has 10L moulded into the bottom, but looking at the website now I see it says they're 12.5 litres. Oh well, if I've made more than two gallons (bearing in mind I'll lose some volume when I strain it off the fruit) then I'll have slightly lighter wine and extra bottle or two of it. It all went into the bucket on Wednesday, so I'll leave it until Sunday before straining into demijohns.
Just a note on the elderflower champagne, as I've mentioned it a couple of times. Last year I enthusiastically made lots of this, planning to keep some through to Christmas, at least. I also gave some away as wedding presents, which didn't go terribly well: Even after depressurising, one bottle exploded en route, making a sticky mess of the gift bag, hand made labels and card (sorry Tim and Sarah). Lesson: Just because a bottle looks like it's designed to take the pressure, don't assume it actually will!
I also found that I didn't like this drink so much as it aged. I really like it fresh and sweet, before all the sugar's been turned to alcohol. I've decided that this is a summer drink, and I'll make and drink it in summer. By Christmas time, the sloe wine is much more to my taste, anyway.
* When I say new, I mean second hand. They come from Rachel's Dairy and these ones smell of strawberry and rhubarb conserve, even after lots of washing up. There are worse things to smell of.