Blackberry Wine/ Booze Recipe and an Update from our Kitchen

It’s late Friday afternoon and it’s the calm before the storm.  By 8:00AM tomorrow morning we’ll be starting the process of preserving 6 bushels of tomato sauce.  Four of us should have the job done in about 10 hours with plenty of time to enjoy each others company and the task at hand!

We’ve been preserving more than we’ve shared this summer.  There’s a few reasons but one of them is simple: some of our recipes are very experimental and I’m not sure they’re going to even work!  Most of those are ferments or fermentation combined with other techniques but most of them won’t be ready for tasting for months; or longer.  We’re fortunate to have a well stocked larder from years gone by to make-up the difference so next summer should be a bigger canning year; especially once we’ve seen the results from this years experiments.

Most of the experimenting we’ve been doing will be very easy to make; we’re not hesitant about the process or the instructions; we just want to make sure we’ll have something delicious when we’re done.

What have we been making?  I’m going to keep most of those surprises for next year but I thought I’d share a teaser for the type of things we’ve been up to.  Please note, I won’t know how this will turn out for 6-9 months so if you decide to make it now, you’ll be learning with me!

I’m fascinated by using natural yeasts captured on organic fruit as a method of preserving and fermenting.  We’ve been doing various forms of fermenting fruit through the summer (such as adding whey, fermenting naturally, adding sugar or honey and adding additional yeast) and most of our ferments have been fairly quick to prevent the large production of alcohol (yeast will break down sugar and produce alcohol as long as you remove oxygen).  In today’s experiment we start a ferment with blackberries before adding sugar (in this case we use honey) and additional yeast.  It’s added to a sterile bottle, topped with pure water and then secured with an airlock where it will ferment for the next few months and they we’ll see what we’re left with!

The results should be a form of alcohol; specifically a hybrid between a fruit wine and t’ej (an Ethiopian Honey Wine).  We’ve left the seeds in which should add a slight bitterness to the wine and can always adjust the flavors later.

Keeping in mind that this is a true experiment, here’s how you can try this if you wish (we’d also love to hear from you if you’ve made something like this in the past):

Blackberry Wine/ Booze Recipe – Ingredients

  • 6 cups blackberries (organic)
  • 2 cups honey (soft is best; unpasteurized is even better)
  • Pure water (free of chlorine/ chloramine); up to 4 quarts/ liters
  • 1 package or ball of champagne yeast (we used yeast balls which we found, after a lot of searching, at a Chinese Grocer)
  • Special equipment: 1 gallon glass carboy, airlock, funnel

Blackberry Wine/ Booze Recipe – Instructions

  1.  Crush the berries.  Place in a large bowl and cover well with a cloth that will keep the flies out but allow air in.
  2. Store in a warm part of our kitchen (out of direct sunlight)
  3. Stir every 12-18 hours and listen for bubbling (that’s the fermenting).  This should happen after 2-3 days, longer if it’s cool.  I waited 5 days in total.
  4. Sterilize the carboy (there are lots of options; the homebrew or wine store you buy them at can walk you through the ones available to you).
  5. Dissolve the yeast in a cup of warm pure water.  Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes to activate (it should become slightly frothy).
  6. Add the honey to the berries, stir to incorporate.
  7. Add the berries and honey into the carboy with the funnel (I had to use a chopstick to help some of the larger pieces through the funnel).
  8. Add the yeast the the berry mixture, gently shake to incorporate.
  9. Cover loosely for a few hours (overnight at longest) which will help get the yeast really fired up.
  10. Top with water (leaving at least an inch or more of headspace).
  11. Place the airlock on the top, rest carboy on a plate (in case the ferment spills out of the airlock) and store out of direct sunlight for 3-9 months, checking periodically to refill the airlock).
  12. Strain before serving or bottling.  It should taste boozy but not like vinegar.

We’ll check in when we know how this goes.  We’re hoping to have some fantastically crazy (yet simple) recipes tested and ready for you by next summer!  In the meantime stay tuned for a few more conventional ones coming soon!

How to Make Dandelion Wine (Recipe)

Dandelion wine is something I meant to make for a long time; unfortunately good intentions often got swallowed by the many tasks of spring.  Because we’ll age most of this wine for 2-3 years, I wish, more than ever, we would have started making it years ago when i first fell in love with the idea.

Alas, I suppose it’s better late than never!
How to Make Dandelion Wine (Recipe) Dandelion

[Read more...]

How to Preserve Wine Jelly (Recipe)

If you haven’t made wine jelly before (or, for that matter, haven’t preserved at all), it’s a great starting point.  You can use any wine at all; I quite enjoyed using a Rose (Malivoire’s Ladybug in this case) because of the colour (it’s light red) and it’s lighter flavor.

Wine jelly is great with cheese, added to salad dressing (it will dissolve), used as a glaze for meat or served on a cracker (add pate for a killer combination)!

How to Preserve Wine Jelly (Recipe) Wine [Read more...]

Product Review: Gilda Three-Lever Corker (for Wine Bottles)

We’ve got a few bottle of honey wine (T’ej) to bottle tonight.

Dana had bought me a vintage beer capper a few years back.  Although I considered using it (it’s fully functional), I found this great contraption for $15 which works with regular or synthetic corks in any wine bottle:

Product Review: Gilda Three Lever Corker (for Wine Bottles) November [Read more...]

Many Different Ways to Drink/ Eat/ Consume Rumtopf (How To)

For those who have been following along, you’ll know Rumtopf is essentially fruit that has been macerated in sugar and then preserved in booze (we use rum) for an extended period of time (most of my batch is more than 6 months old).  I’ll put some links on the process of making it at the bottom – today’s post is for those who are preparing to crack theirs open (it’s a Holiday tradition around here).

Rumtopf is essentially a very sweet, very boozy concoction.  It’s not meant for kids and there’s only so many things you can do with something with so much booze (most of them essentially amounting to ‘drink’) so I hope you’ll forgive some redundancy on this list.

Many Different Ways to Drink/ Eat/ Consume Rumtopf (How To) Strawberry Plum Peach Fruit December Cherry Blueberry Blackberry Berries

Here’s a variety of ways to consume it:

  • Served on top of ice cream (you can warm it gently if you’d like).  This is the classic serving and is phenomenal.
  • Drink it as a shooter (include chunks of fruit in it).
  • Mix a shot into a vanilla milk shake (or a smoothie).
  • Serve on top of waffles or pancakes – add a dollop of whipped cream to the same dish.  This might be best as a late brunch unless you like an early tipple!
  • Blitz in a blender and serve straight with ice or add to water and maple syrup to taste to make a cocktail (depending how much sugar you used for your rumtopf you may not need a lot of maple).
  • Bake the fruit into a cake (a la fruit cake)
  • Add it to seasonal fruit salad for a change of texture (this will also lower the booze by using less of the aged fruit – the fruit generally packs the most alcohol in your punch).
  • Have with a banana split
  • Dilute with sparkling water for a spritzer
  • Dip freshly made churros or sugar doughnuts into it…
  • Make a slushie or margarita with it
  • Add some to a fruit crumble
  • I don’t know if it would freeze – but would be worth trying o make a popsicle.  If the liquid won’t freeze, you could freeze some of the fruit ‘inside’ of fresh apple cider to make a popsicle!

Some other posts on Rumtopf:

A special thanks to Ellen K on our FaceBook Group for the question which spurred this post!

How do you use yours?

How to Make Honey Wine (T`ej)

Yesterday we discussed the differences and similarities between honey wine and mead – today we`ll share the process of making a simple honey wine in based loosely on the style of Ethiopian T`ej.  Ours is currently in process so I can`t comment on the final flavor yet but am pleased with how the flavor changed in the initial days.  We`ll be dipping into our stock before the New Year – and if you act fast, you can too!

These instructions are based on the recipe presented in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.  Sandor (also known as `Sandorkraut`) is an amazing ambassador of fermentation and his book, website and forums are amazing resources any that those interested in fermenting  would appreciate.  The recipe is based on a bunch of further reading on T`ej and Mead that produced yesterdays article.

How to Make Honey Wine (T`ej) Preserving Recipes November Honey [Read more...]

How to Make Rumtopf (the 2011 Batch Arrives along with Redtopf)

I meant to measure our Rumtopf container last year and again this year.  I imagine it`s somewhere between 1-2 gallons:

How to Make Rumtopf (the 2011 Batch Arrives along with Redtopf) Strawberry Rum Raspberry Preserving Recipes Peach Blueberry Blackberry [Read more...]

Maple Boozy Sweet Cherries and Liquer

Today`s recipe is one-part rumtopf and one-part preserved cherries.  It`s also one-part maple and another part kick-butt.

And there`s not many simpler preserves…

I filled a jar with pitted cherries and weighed them – 1 pound, 6 ounces.  I then added half-a-pound of sugar and 3 ounces of maple syrup (50% sugar).

Maple Boozy Sweet Cherries and Liquer Rum Preserving Recipes Maple Syrup Cherry [Read more...]

Berries are Coming – and so is the Hooch!

I know there are berries in this province of mine.  I know they are close.  I know that, soon, they will be mine.  And I feel like a mad scientist…

We launched a poll in November and asked you how long you keep your preserves and we shared how long we keep ours for there as well.  The very unscientific poll showed that the wild majority keeps their preserves longer than a year and often longer than two.

I tend to preserve for 2 years at a time (there are a few exceptions such as tomato sauce – I’ll simply eat as much sauce as we make, regardless of quantity).  This means I don’t make the same thing year after year, allows me a bit more of a chance to experiment but allows us to create a lot of variety on the Great Wall of Preserves.  There are over 100 different flavors in our collection now and the bi-annual batches of preserving allow us a greater variety of options.

And I do love my options…

But just because I have strawberry jam for another year doesn’t mean I won’t be preserving strawberries – it just means I won’t be making as much jam (though I may make a variety such as Kaela’s Strawberry Chipotle Preserves or Tigress’ Smokin’ Strawberries).  I just have to make something different.

My goal for the year is to make about 12 quarts of cordials – such as Kaela’s Homemade Berry Cordial (which is adapted on one by Leda Merideth – isn’t it fantastic how a community can share and learn from itself)?

I plan to make a few ‘special’ jars that I plan to age for a prolonged time (I am thinking about 3 years).  While it’s a heck of a time committment, my hope is that the product will be worth the wait.  I also plan to put special jars aside each year so that 3 years from now I will have aged cordial each and every year by rotating to my oldest bottles.

A cordial is simply a fermented preserve.  It does produce alcohol and will require some learning.  We’ve been researching and experimenting for some time and look forward to sharing the process (but I may hoard the results).  We’ll be trying to keep up to our own self-imposed expectations of safe experimentation and modification of what we’ve seen and learned from others as well.  A recent discovery of new supplies will be shared as part of these posts – I am so excited about it that I can barely hold it in (I’ll share it tomorrow after we take some photos).

Homemade cordials appear to be far more prevalent and popular in Europe (and especially prevalent in the UK).  I love reading about different types of preserving and food traditions from around the world and it was the UK (especially the lovely River Cottage Preserves Handbook) that really opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities of making such a beverage at home.

Of course we’ll also be pressure canning and making some water-bath canning (and the dehydrator and crock pots will be going to).  Look forward to some exciting new preserving posts soon!

In the meantime, has anyone out there been making cordials or been meaning to try?

Our Rumtopf is Complete (for now)

I really do feel like a mad scientist when it comes to our Rumtopf.  We have added our final ingredient (2 different types of plums) to our vat.

I’m not sure the scale of our Rumtopf can be seen in these photos.  TO give you an idea of just how large this thing is, the picture below is today’s addition – 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of plums and sugar:

Our Rumtopf is Complete (for now) Rum Raspberry Preserving Recipes Peach Blueberry Blackberry [Read more...]