Category Archives: crafting

Fruitful Dividends – –

Jack creeps over the line just in time for the Wednesday guest post – –

Back when Wendy and I were first married we lived in a very small rural village in Scotland. We were surrounded by the ‘fruits of the land’ – wild raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, apples etc. So I got into making wine, some of which was tasty and some not so much. All I had was a book, a carboy, a bucket and an airlock! The best was elderflower and rice but there were others that turned out pretty well too.

Now that we’re again living in a rural area and with lots of stuff growing in our backyard it was time to get back to wine making.

But it had been so long that I struggled to remember the process. I knew I needed the aforementioned carboy, bucket and airlock, so we got that and various other bits and pieces.

I started with left over juices from the fridge that had gathered over time, put them in the bucket with sugar in water and some baker’s yeast. But nothing much happened, so I consulted with my friend and wine expert Beth and she pointed me to a source of specialist wine yeast and it was duly ordered. That didn’t make much difference so it was time to consult Dr Google and it looked like temperature might be the problem. In the end I just racked it into the carboy and hoped for the best.

Meantime I started another batch with homemade apple butter, firethorn berry juice and banana. Now that brought back memories as it started frothing and bubbling! So I combined the two in our bigger carboy and it’s bubbling just like I remember.

In a few months we might have a palatable rose – – –

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Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Failure to Froth – – –

Jack gets over the line again – – –

Many years ago when we were living in Scotland I made wine, mostly from things that grew around and about in the fields near our house. Raspberries, blackberries, apples, elderberries and elderflowers. Particularly raspberries, which grew in a sunken pasture at the foot of the lane; we would lift our terrier over the stone wall and remove his leash, clamber down, and pick for hours while he ran about making himself crazy pretending he owned the place.

A few months ago we decided to revive the activity and ordered a kit on-line. The delivery date kept going back and back so we canceled and bought from a local source—which turned out to be cheaper. Shop local, kids; we learned our lesson. When the stuff arrived, I recognized some of the doohickeys but found it hard to remember exactly how I’d done the process years ago.

We put together firethorn berries and black raspberries from our yard, along with various fruit juices plus sugar dissolved in hot water and added the yeast. Then we waited for the frothing to start – and waited, and waited. Nothing! Maybe the temperature in the house was too low, so we upped to 72 degrees and didn’t lower it at night. (Every night about 2 am Wendy throws off the covers and mutters something. I think it’s “I’m melting.”) Still nothing!!

I made a yeast starter with some of the juice, more water and sugar, and yeast and yeast nutrient. It started to bubble and then stopped.

I don’t remember ever in the old days having this problem, so I will be getting advice from my friend Beth in a few days. She regularly makes wine from grape juice and never has this problem; she even made the wine for her own wedding, which for a good Baptist girl is quite something.

Whenever I need to get advice about something that may be going wrong I usually consult Dr Google but she hasn’t been much help this time – lots of differing and confusing instructions.

Likely Dr Beth will have the answers and I’ll get that elusive primary fermentation frothing happily soon. It’s begun to feel personal, this failure to froth….

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Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table