How to become an expert winemaker | foraging
Last week when I was taking photos by the canal, I saw wild roses, flowers on the elderberry trees and there were lots of flowers on the brambles. That means if you go foraging there will be rose hips, elderberries and blackberries to be picked soon. That will get you some free fruit and then you have to extract the juice. With soft fruit, a juicer that works on centrifugal force works well and you can extract the juice cheaply. The other alternative is to put them in a saucepan with a little water; simmer for a while and mash. Then you can strain the juice off.
Elderberries are a little bit acid and I wasn’t too keen on wine made from them. Blackberries make excellent wine and it can be drank quite young. It can be a an acquired taste, but you will like it if you enjoy Beaujolais nouveau. If you don’t get enough blackberries, add some apple juice from a carton and make a rose.
If you extract the juice cold, it will contain bacteria and will need sterilising. Add a couple of Campden tablets or the equivalent amount of sodium metabisulphate. Stir it up well to release the sulphur dioxide, then leave it for 24 hours, before using to make wine.
You can put wine into a punch bowl and make sangria by adding fruit or punch with white wine. Just chop the fruit and add to the wine, drop a few ice cubes in and you can also add lemonade if you want it slightly sparkling. Great for a summer’s evening barbecue, cover in case of rain!
Hard fruits like apples can also be cooked and the juice strained, but allow them to ripen well to make it easier to extract the juice. You can strain through muslin, but I used plain net curtain. You can soak it in a solution of water and bleach to get it clean before and after use.
If you are using juice extracted from fruit, then ideally you need it undiluted; but it is quite concentrated and so you can dilute it with an equal amount of water. You will probably find that mixing the juice you have extracted yourself with juice that you have bought concentrated, will work the best. The less juice you use, the lighter the wine will be. If you dilute the blackberry juice that you have extracted, reduce the sugar to around 160 grams for each litre of wine you’re making, for a light red wine that will ferment quickly. Use more juice and more sugar (240 grams per litre) to make a full-bodied wine and you can then dilute it with lemonade to make punch.
Orange juice and pineapple juice is relatively cheap in cartons from the supermarket; these can be used to make tropical drinks. Make a wine from either orange juice or pineapple juice or even a mixture of the two, to make a citric drink that will be good in a tropical punch. If you make it with 240 grams of sugar for each litre of wine, it’ll be quite strong and it can then be diluted a little with fruit and lemonade to make a tropical punch.
If you are making a wine that uses more sugar to achieve a higher alcohol content, then you might have problems with the fermentation getting stuck. You can get a yeast that is tolerant to high alcohol levels from your supplier and it is a good idea to keep a yeast like that in stock in case a fermentation gets stuck.
You might like to read last week’s winemaking blog about clearing and filtering wine too. There are more amazing blogs on the home page about other subjects. Please comment, if you have questions and share with your Facebook friends.