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
- Crush the berries. Place in a large bowl and cover well with a cloth that will keep the flies out but allow air in.
- Store in a warm part of our kitchen (out of direct sunlight)
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- Add the honey to the berries, stir to incorporate.
- 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).
- Add the yeast the the berry mixture, gently shake to incorporate.
- Cover loosely for a few hours (overnight at longest) which will help get the yeast really fired up.
- Top with water (leaving at least an inch or more of headspace).
- 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).
- 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!