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.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Blackcurrant harvest; wine and cordial

The blackcurrant bushes have done me proud yet again.


This is not all of the blackcurrants, oh no.

I can take no credit for this. The bushes were here before we arrived and I've done nothing to them apart from harvest the ever increasing crop of big, dark, luscious fruit. So far this year I have used almost 6 lb for wine and over 11 lb for cordial, and there are still more currants on the bushes.

For the record (my record, that is - last year's blackcurrant wine is a bit rough, but I didn't take good notes, so I'm not sure why. I suspect I left it in the bucket too long), I made wine as follows: 3 lb 4 oz of currants picked on Wednesday 2nd July. I ran out of time to pick more, so started the wine then. Currants into bucket, followed by boiling water and 1 lb sugar. Currants mashed with potato masher. Cold water added up to somewhat less than a gallon, then yeast leftover from elderflower champagne, which went everywhere because I inverted the bottle a few times, to stir up the yeast from the bottom. That got going nicely, then on Friday I picked another 2 lb 11 oz of currants, making 5 lb 15 oz in total. I added these to the bucket and mashed. They didn't get the sterilizing effect of the boiling water because the yeast was already in the bucket, so I just had to hope that the yeast was strong enough by that time to smother anything else. More sugar added up to 4 lb in total. Actually, I can't remember how much I added the first time, just the total, but I can remember that I didn't have enough white granulated, so this included some icing sugar and some light brown sugar too. Mash again and add water up to about 2 gallons. On Monday, i.e. after an average of four days, I transferred the liquid to sterilized demijohns using the two jug method.


The two jug method. Yes, it's messy.

This method consists of scooping liquid out of the bucket with one jug then straining through a sieve into the other jug, from which it is poured into the demijohns. Here they are full, after some tidying up:


I do love the sight of demijohns full of wine-in-the-making

These stayed in the kitchen bubbling for a few days before I took them down to the cooler, darker store room.

As for the cordial, I picked the currants for that today. I spent a couple of hours picking 8 lb currants this afternoon, then it was time to come in and get dinner. I put those in the jamming kettle with a very little water, and brought to a low simmer. I left these on a very low heat during dinner, to evaporate some of the water. After dinner, I went out to pick some more (still plenty of daylight!) and discovered how much faster I can pick when the air is thick with tiny creatures that all want to suck my blood. It did take a lot longer when I got them indoors, though, picking out all the stalks, leaves and snail poo, before I added those to the pan as well. The whole lot's still simmering gently as I write this. The next step is to separate juice from pulp, and I'm wondering whether the bowl I usually use will be big enough for all that juice. Tomorrow I'll add sugar, and edit this post to record how much.

2 comments:

  1. Wowsers, you must have the patience of a saint. They are SO fiddly to pick!!

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    Replies
    1. Sorry to rub it in, but these currants are so big they're not actually that fiddly. It does take ages, but that only matters when I'd rather be doing something else. Also, I picked a lot of marsh samphire recently. The marsh in question was grazed by sheep, so all the samphire was tiny. Now THAT was fiddly!

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