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Mincemeat Mistake

Posted by --- on Friday 30 October, 2015

I posted on one of my favourite forums about having a glut of pears. I don’t have a huge tree full but I did have several kilograms to use up. The suggestions were wine, with a secondary ferment to make it sparkling, jars of mulled pears, mincemeat, muffins, bottled in brandy, pear and pineapple jam, pears added to savoury dishes, poached in orange and spices, and chutney.

At the time, I wasn’t drinking so I dismissed all of the alchol suggestions. I wasn’t going to make the mincemeat either thinking I could pick up cheap mincepies in the supermarkets anyway but the lady who posted told me that homemade pies are much better.

The recipe is

4 x 450g jars

  • 1kg pears , peeled , cored and chopped in to 1cm cubes
  • finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 oranges (you will need 200ml juice)
  • 500g apples, bramley or other that cooks down to a puree.
  • 200g currants
  • 200g raisins
  • 200g sultanas
  • 100g orange marmalade
  • 250g demera sugar
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated
  • 50ml ginger wine (optional)
  • 100g chopped walnuts (i tend to leave these out)
  • 50ml brandy or sloe gin (I usually forget about this step  )
  1. Peel and chop the apple and put into a saucepan with the orange juice. Cook gently until tender, about 15mins. Blend to a purée in a liquidiser or push through a sieve. You should end up with about 700g of purée.
  2. Put purée into a large bowl and add all other ingredients except brandy or gin. Mix thoroughly, then cover and leave to stand for 12 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 130oC/ gas mark 1/2. Put the mincemeat in a large baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 2-2 1/2 hours. Stir in brandy or gin, then spoon into warm, sterilised jars, making sure there are no air pockets. Seal and store in a dry, dark, cool place. Use within 12 months.

Which, on searching for mincemeat recipes, I found was the River Cottage recipe.

She also suggested that you could replace 100g of raisins or sultanas with crystalised ginger for a twist. You can try other variations as long as you aim for 700g puree and 600g dried fruit i.e plum and russet.

I already had apples and pears thanks to the trees we planted on the lotty, I had brandy left over from something I made last year,some demerara sugar in the cupboard, and I had all of the spices in my spice box but had to buy the rest of the ingredients. The currants were pre-mixed and soaked in brandy from Aldi for £2.99 for 800g, the oranges were £1.49 for six and I also bought two jars of marmalade because I bought one from Aldi and another from Asda because I forgot I’d bought the first one! Only myself and DSK like mince pies so I just buy one box so this is working out expensive and I haven’t costed for the pastry yet… But, it’s Christmas and it’s using homegrown produce and of course, anything home grown/made is far better than anything mass produced isnt’ it?!

I ended up making it as a spur of the moment thing. I watched the end of Paul o Grady For the love of Dogs, decided to look him up (no idea why), saw that he had a radio show on BBC2 (I’ve never listened to BBC 2 before) everyone was in bed so I thought, I’d listen to him on my ipad and make the mincemeat. I also decided after a little research to put the mincemeat into the slow cooker overnight. I have no idea what radio 2 is normally like and I normally listen to captial which is more dance stuff but I did enjoy listening to Paul. It was duets night and to be honest I can’t say I enjoyed the music except No More Tears with Barabara Streisand and Donna Summer which I haven’t heard for years.

Anyway I sort of followed the recipe. I swapped the pears for the apples as per the river cottage recipe, I chopped the pears into tiny matchstick pieces so they looked like the suet you see in mincemeat normally. I used 2 tsp mixed spice (which is a mix of all the spices listed) instead of the seperate ones and added 1tsp extra cinnamon. I also changed the walnut for almonds and used up the last of what was in the bag (160g). I ground in too because my fillings have fallen out and I’m too scared to go to the dentist!

I didn’t purée the apples thinking they’d purée themselves when they  cook in the slowcooker. Anyway, it took a while but I really enjoyed it.  It was quiet with everyone in bed and the smell was lovely. I also kept tasting it and it tasted gorgeous! I couldn’t wait for the flavours to develop overnight. I could see me eating it out of the jars! At 11:45 I put the lid on the slow cooker and turned it to low with a final spoonful before bed. The smell of boozy oranges and spices wafted up the stairs so I could still smell it when I went up.

8am the next morning I was expecting the same strong smell but I couldn’t smell it very much.  When I looked in the cooker the mincemeat was a dark brown. I tasted it and it had lost it’s lovely flavour. It didn’t taste burnt but didn’t taste good either. I’m guessing the slow cooker got too hot. Even though it was on low it was bubbling. I was gutted. I wished I’d just left it. I threw the lot in the recycle bin because no one would enjoy eating it.

I have since bought sultanas and currants to make some more. I wont be cooking it in the slow cooker though!

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Posted by --- on Monday 12 October, 2015

It’s been quiet on the lotty this week. I did spend a few hours over there but spent most of it socialising. It was lovely though and I came home with some shetland black potatoes from my very good friend, plus a couple of pounds of pears from Plot holder N and a brandywine tomato from plot 8. I roasted my shetland blacks with a little oil, some home grown garlic (the orignal cloves of which also came from Plot holder N last year) and some onions (bought due to failed crop this year) and I roasted them til the onions went crispy! I also put a Seeded cod fillet in the oven to bake and put the brandywine tomato with it. It was lovely!  To be honest, I dont know if all beefsteak tomatoes taste the same as I’ve never bought or grown one before but I’ll be adding brandywine seeds to my growing list next year.

I have had some gardening bargains this week. Firstly as we were leaving Asda (DH was in a good mood and came shopping!) I spotted a stella cherry tree for £5. The trees only just been put outside and as I put my hand on it I heard a lady tell the person she was with that she was going back for the cherry tree. A quick scan (with the tree in my hand) showed that the one I was holding was the only cherry left with tons of apples and pears (I’ve been back twice and they still haven’t got any more) and DH said he’d buy it for me. I’ve already got a morello cherry that I bought from keepers nursery last year with several other fruit trees but the desert cherries I’ve bought the past three years have all died so this is my last try. I’m going to dig up a non productive apple on the lotty and replace it with this. The apple is a braeburm and I’ve already got one of those on the plot.

Another bargain I had this week was a £1 greenhouse! DH constantly complains about my current big greenhouse which is a 10×8. (I also have a small 6×4 that I bubble wrap and occasionally heat) He doesn’t like that the panes of glass in the big greenhouse are non standard and have to be cut. On our estate our neighbours have smashed several panes of glass. We’ve had cups thrown through it along with beer cans and stones and one year it was shot several times with an air rifle. I could understand it if we were close to the edge and it was very visible but we’re in the middle of an estate with huge gardens with high fences and hedges.

Anyway we have had to have several panes replaces and to be honest I can’t see a problem in getting it cut (it’s a problem having to replace it due to horrible neighbours!) but still… Anyway, the last time we moved it, I had the not-so-good idea of putting it on scaffold boards which was great at the time but a few years later and they’re rotting. It means we’re going to have to take it down and resit it on bricks as I did originally. I’ll do all the brickwork but I’m not tall enough to reach the clips to get the glass out so I’ll have to enlist DH again. As DH doesn’t like the greenhosue I thought I’d have a quick look on ebay and spotted this 8×6 free with most of the glass which would keep DH happy as they are standard 2×2 size. Of course I jumped on it, especially as it was only half an hour away too. The chap we were buying it from asked us to pay the £1 that he’d listed it for which he’d later refund. He didn’t but you can’t complain at paying £1 for a greenhouse!

DH wanted us to sit it on what he calls a proper base, personally I can’t see what’s wrong with bricks but to keep him happy we looked at buying one from ebay. They were selling for £55 plus £5 postage. I looked to see if that was the normal price and found them at B&Q reduced to £50 from £60. As there’s a B&Q pretty much on our doorstep and it was £10 cheaper I suggested we buy it from there. When I got there they were selling their last two green painted bases for £35 each. I managed, on my own, to get one onto a trolly and happily approached the til thinking I’d managed to save £25 over the ebay base and our (my) greenhouse would only cost £26. When the lady who served me said “that’s £15 please” as she did a double take at the base and the til, I handed over my notes and almost ran to the car before they chased after me! £15! That’s a quarter of the cost of the base we were going to buy and I prefer it in green too!
Yesterday we managed to get the greenhouse dismantled and loaded up in the cars and trailer in under and hour and a half. There were a few cracked panes of glass already but we didn’t break one when we dismantled it. While I was standing inside it though, I felt that it was very small compared to my 10×8. I didn’t want to tell DH so waited until he was distracted watching the telly! He was fine about it and suggested we site it over the lotty as either a greenhouse or use the frame as a fruit cage. I promised to measure our existing greenhouse to see if its much bigger and have a think about it. I’m not sure how to use it for the best because I can’t see us using another greenhouse if we manage to get the tunnel done. So I’m going to have to decide whether to downsize my big greenhouse and replace it (I’ve had it for over 20 years!) with a smaller one but first I need to unload the 8×6 from the car….

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DDI Update at 3 1/2

Posted by --- on Wednesday 22 January, 2014

I’ve just read an old post of mine so decided to do a quick update on DDI.

She was 3 1/2 today and I’m still bescotted with her. She is developing well but I don’t “teach” her things as such. We just bring things into every day situations. She just picks it up when she’s ready. A bit like potty training. I asked her a couple of times if she wanted a potty and she said no. Then one day she got up and said she didn’t want to wear a nappy anymore and never had one on again. She had 2 accidents and never wet the bed at all!

She is now at nursery in a main school every afternoon for 3 hours. As it’s no local and we drive most of the way and walk the rest, it takes me about an hour to get her there – a quarter of an hour drive there, a quarter of an hour walk, and then the same back – repeat to collect her.  It was a nightmare getting her to go as she got extremely distressed when I left and didn’t calm down after half an hour like the say they do. The school decided it best (and I agreed) to start with half hour sessions so she knew I’d be coming back soon. She is still very much a mommy’s girl. She’s also still on the go all the time.  She will only go to sleep on me,usually around 9-10pm, and I then lie her in her own bed. She will wake at some point – sometimes only half an hour after putting her in bed, sometimes several hours later – and either come downstairs crying when she’s realised I’m not in bed, or toddle across the room to climb in bed with me. I am now single (long story) after discovering that DDI had been having an affair since shortly after DDI was born until he was caught when she was 2 1/2. He continued to see the OW for another 6 months and continued with his temper – losing it completely and threatening me on a couple of occasions. On the final one, I asked him to leave. It’s difficult and part of me is even considering a reconciliation but I’m not sure (I suppose that should be another post) Anyway, it means that DDI and I can share a bed without it affecting anyone else.
She is now closer to ES than she was, mainly because I encouraged the relationship when I thought we were reconciling. Also, now he doesn’t have the OW in his life or “working away” all the time, he can spend more time with her. Part of me resents her making a relationship with him after what he’s done as he doesn’t deserve her but she loves him and I wouldn’t deny her that. She still wouldn’t stay with him though and, if I’m honest, I’m relieved. I’d miss her terribly if she wasn’t here.

Back to schooling and after weeks of heartbreaking crying she is loving nursery now and can’t wait to go each day. She is making friends and told me today she’s invited 3 of them to come and live with us! I managed to get her a place in what was the best nursery in the county with outstanding results from Ofsted for many years running. It is over 3 miles away though and out of our catchment area so I think we’d struggle to get a full time school place. Also, its a worry getting her there. Most of the time I have the car but for the first time in the 4 years I’ve had it, it’s really let me down this year. It’s had to have new disc brakes and pads, new tyres, handbrake, alternator, battery and spent several weeks off the road with a parasitic drain problem which cost a fortune in auto electrician and garage charges. It means I worry now about transport and have to think how I’d manage with it for the next 9 years. So I’ve put her current school down as second choice to a local school that isn’t as good as far as I can tell but within walking distance.

She will love that I hope as she likes being outside. She loves to walk (half of the reason we park and walk to nursery as well as avoiding hte parking chaos that happens close to the school) and run. She often runs most of the way back to the car each day. She likes the things I do – gardening etc – and when I was setting up the brother today asked if she could have a knitting machine for christmas! She loves her food too but I still struggle to get her to drink. She doesn’t breast feed anymore but that was somehting I struggled to stop. I felt guilty stopping her but she was still having a night feed after she’d turned 3. I ended up refusing her and saying she was too big. She did cry a bit but I started taking a bottle of water to bed and offered that instead. I told her we’d still cuddle but not have any mommy milk and she only took a few nights to accept though she would try to sneak a boob if she thought i was asleep or turn to nuzzle if she was half asleep. I miss it in some ways but am glad its finished.

Oh oh. I hear footsteps upstairs. time to get up before the tears start…

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Oh Brother

Posted by --- on Wednesday 22 January, 2014

So I finally found time last night to try to set up the Brother we fetched on friday. To be honest, looking at it properly in the light of my kitchen, I’m disappointed with how much it cost. I’m watching one on ebay at the moment that is closer, has the knit radar plus all the accessories and the ribber and it’s still less than I paid. I’ll try to remember to update with the final price.

Anyway, this machine… The listing said it had rusted on the catch that holds the cast on comb – which she pointed out when we arrived late on friday evening after our 4 hour drive. What she didn’t point out, and we were too busy chatting to look (stupid), is that it has also rusted the cast on comb, parts of the machine, and the needles. Non-plussed – I can rust treat it can’t i? – I began setting it up, following the manual (which is a black and white print out off the internet with pages upside down interspersed with those the right way up) I managed to get to page 13 where it tells you about the buttons on the carriage. I tried to press them in and the tuck and skip stitch buttons worked, but were stiff and sometimes wouldn’t stay in, but the centre fairisle and lace buttons wouldn’t press in at all. I managed to get in contact with the seller who was helpful on the phone and offered to repair it if I return it to her. We agreed to do that (she would refund the postage) but this morning she rang and suggested I mix methelated spirit (meths) with the machine oil that came with it and brush it over the cams to try to free it. I spent over an hour doing that without any effect. Then I searched the internet for a way to dismantle and clean it as I had done for the passap. The internet didn’t disappoint and sent me in the direction of the answer lady, Kathryn, and her husband, Jack. They have a video showing how to dismantle it. I then spent another hour trying to clean and free the buttons. In the end ES arrived and he had a go too. We managed to get it free and then I carried on scrubbing the meths mix over it while pressing the buttons. In the end after around 3 hours on and off of soaking, scrubbing, and pressing, the buttons were fairly free but still sticking occasionally so I decided to give it a bath in mystery oil (MMO) Jack had recommended in another video. The carriage is quite big and I struggled to find a container big enough and then the container I ended up with was so big i didn’t have enough MMO to bathe the carriage so had to keep scooping it over. I left it in the MMO for a couple of hours occasionally brushing it over the mechanism and pressing the buttons. It ended up that it was working most of the time but the buttons wouldn’t return to start position. I decided to drain it and dry it and send it to the seller to have a look. I cleaned the carriage off again with meth & oil mix and left it to dry off. Then I started putting it back together. It was then it hit me. The plastic buttons have a spring on (you know where I’m going with this…) which, when in place, put pressure against the carriage to assist the button to return to it’s starting position! I’ve reassembled the carriage and so far, fingers crossed, it seems to be working! As soon as it’s dried completely I’ll be giving it a whirl.

While I was doing all of this today, I got the KM out and was going to have a go on that. This also needs cleaning up. I’m not surprised as it’s been in the loft (in it’s case in bin liners) for a few years and I haven’t used it since I bought it. It also needs a sponge bar I think (novice talking…) because some of the needles are sitting low down at the butt (technical term 🙂 ) end and don’t have any “bounce” when you push on them so I’ve put it back in it’s case for now.

On a good note, the passap seller refunded me my money! That’s great. When DDI is at school full time I’m hoping to spend more time learning how to use it because at the moment, by the time she is in bed, I haven’t got much enthusiasm to go and start setting it up.

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Knitting machine addiction!

Posted by --- on Monday 13 January, 2014

Well I’ve done it again. I’ve still not knit a stitch on a machine but have bought another one and am on par with this lady except she can knit! And again, it’s miles away. Over 150 miles away in Norfolk! Actually it’s in Essex but the seller will take it to Norfolk so that it’s a little closer to me. This machine was also expensive (£307) compared to the others but my reason for buying it is this: it will enable me to use up my stash! That’s the theory.

Now as you know, I have no idea about machine knitting and I’m rubbish at hand knitting but I can’t resist cheap yarn. As I’m rubbish at both  I find myself buying this cheap yarn and not knowing anything about it! Stupid I know. As I’d bought the pfaff, I bought a lot of yarn off ebay to use with it but it has no labels and I don’t know what it is. All I know is that it’s thin – very thin – some of it is like embroidery cotton. Without knowing the weight I don’t know how to set up the pfaff and I dont know if the machine is jamming because there is a fault, the tension arms aren’t working right, the locks aren’t working right, I’ve put it back together wrong or I’ve set the stitch length wrong. I am probably over-thinking it and making it complicated but I’m nervous.

The machine I’ve bought is a brother KH260 which is a chunky machine and can knit anything from DK upwards. That is something that I do have and tons of it! So I have no excuse not to have a go at using it. We will be driving down to collect the machine on friday night. I have no idea where I’ll put it as I live in a tiny council house which has the passap set up in the only free space I have – at the end of my bed – but I’m hoping its more like the knitmaster and a little more portable than the pfaff.  I’m also hoping it’s easier to use than the pfaff, which I still haven’t tried.  I’ve joined several groups including the passap group on Ravelry and when I read about it, it seems the passaps are very temperamental and even experienced machine knitters struggle.

And on a plus note, the seller of the pfaff has messaged me and says they will be refunding me the money I paid for it! I’m not convinced they will but it will be lovely if they do.

Posted in Brother, Knitting, Knitting Machine | Leave a Comment »

Knitting machines intro…

Posted by --- on Sunday 12 January, 2014

Several years ago, I bought a knitmaster off ebay. I’m an average hand  knitter but I get frustrated as I’m so slow. I thought the knitmaster (KM) would be my answer. It came with loads of accessories (which I intend to list) but never knit a stitch and put it in the loft. I’ve been thinking lately about digging it back out and started researching on the web – fatal. Everyone seems to think that Passap/Pfaff machines are the bee’s knees so I had to have one. I bid on one on ebay and got it for £70! The problem was that it was over 2 hours away (add £30 fuel) and DDI was still quite poorly but ES offered to collect it. When it got here I couldn’t wait to have a look but it wasn’t like the KM, it was big and heavy. It was also packed in a battered box and full of tissue. When DDI had gone to bed and ES had gone home I started unpacking it. I know nothing about these (or knitting machines in general) and it came with no books but even I can see when something is wrong. It looked like the box had been kicked around. It was torn and ripped with parts missing and only tape holding it together. The machine inside was battered and scratched too. The tissue paper that someone had carefully wrapped it in was torn off leaving the machine open and enabling parts to fall out of the box. The deco unit was bent and cracked, cast on combs (?) were folded in half. Everything was dirty  but the main problem was that the colour changer was broken with springs missing so I wouldn’t be able to use it, and therefore couldn’t use the machine. I was gutted. I pushed everything back in the box on the side in the kitchen, poured a snowball and logged into runescape (not that I have a clue what to do on there but that’s another post!).

I looked up passaps on the web and found a video on how to set it up (which I have since edited, adding titles and time frames to enable skipping to the part that interests you) and decided to set it up to see what else might be missing. I also found the manual which I printed off. It took a couple of hours with distractions from DDI but I set it up. There was a tension mast missing, the one that remained was bent, the cups had been forced together, gone brittle and split, the colour changer broke, tools were missing (bodkin, transfer tools,) the orange tool had the tip snapped off, the main deco unit, as I said earlier, was bent (how would you do that?!) and broken, and the U70 linker that came with it had rusted completely too.

I contacted the seller and said I wasn’t happy but haven’t heard anything since. In the meantime another seller listed a lot of parts which included the colour changer! I was very tempted but the parts were a buy it now listed for £72. Plus they were located 3 and a half hours away – another £45 fuel! ES pointed out that I might be able to sell some of the parts and with the colour changer and other parts I could use the passap. So off we went to collect those and as soon as I could, I replaced the colour changer. In the spares was also a couple of transfer tools and another deco as well as some old brother parts.

I’d been on a couple of yahoo forums and told them about the machine and was trying to get a link to some videos that had been posted. It turned out  that there was a lot of concern over copyright, which I can understand, and I never got to see them but it introduced me to a couple of very nice ladies who email me and one of which I am now quite friendly with and she has sent me some new locks! I’ve also bought a small course on using the passap.

I also found knitsings website which is full of useful information about knitting machines but has a particularly good article on cleaning the passap so I figured I had nothing to lose and began stripping it down to clean it. It was in a mess with what felt like sand in the needle beds and the old oil sticking parts solidly together. It also had missing needles, a few missing washers on the rails, a missing extended nut off one end to fit the deco extension bed – which I still need if anyone knows where I can get one – and missing shims from in between the needle channels. It took me a week but I have stripped it completely, cleaned and rebuilt it. It wasn’t as hard as I’d anticipated but was a long tedious job cleaning hundreds of fiddly parts. While I was doing it I was still scanning ebay (I could spend a fortune!) and found some deco cards. I messaged the lady and asked if she would wait and send a combined invoice if I bid on more of her cards. She said she would and we started chatting via messages. I told her about the state of the machine and she told me she’d bought an E600 – lovely machine! Anyway, when she sent me the deco cards, they arrived with some spare needles, a bodkin and an orange, well red, tool! I think I now have everything I need, except time, to make a start on learning how to knit on this wonderful machine!

Posted in Knitmaster, Knitting Machine, Passap | Leave a Comment »

Cranberry & Raspberry Wine & Turbo Cider Started

Posted by --- on Saturday 14 July, 2012

Raspberry & Cranberry Wine

Following this recipe using a 1 litre Lidl grape juice which is a mix of red and white grapes and a a 1 litre Lidl raspberry and cranberry juice.

03/07/12 – Started at 11pm. Tastes good before it’s fermented! SG C&R 1.092+ (?),

13/07/12 – checked SG which is down to 1000 at 19oC. I wanted it to be around 1010 and I was going to attempt to stop it fermenting to make a medium dry wine but have left it too late. I read a post that said if I added a campden tablet and some potassium sorbate that it would halt the fermentation but I’ve since read that this is not true. I will try it on this wine as I don’t really like a dry wine. I’m also trying to rack more often as most of the wines I make have a taste that I dont like. I can’t explain the taste. Its tastes very alcoholic but not in a pleasant way. I also, and I know alot of wine makers or home brewers will think I’m crazy, would like to make them less strong as I enjoy drinking but don’t like being drunk.

This one  I have calculated to be 12 % already and I’m sure it will continue to ferment for a while yet. As it is only up to the shoulder of the demijohn I will top it up with grape juice which  will hopefully sweeten it and reduce the alcohol content a little

Today I racked it on to a crushed campden tablet in a clean demijohn, half way to filling I added the potassium sulphate which I’d mixed with some of the must, then I continued to rack the remainder. I added the airlock and put it back in the utility room.

Turbo Cider

Began 3/7/12 – Using 4.5 litres of Lidl apple juice, 1 tsp wilko yeast nutrient and 1 tsp youngs wine yeast compound. SH Turbo Cider 1038

13/07/12 – Racked into a clean demijohn. SG today is

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Elderflower Champagne & R&O Wine

Posted by --- on Sunday 8 July, 2012

Elderflower Champagne day 2

I was going to make elderflower champagne following the post from here but decided to try this one instead.
  • Ingredients
    • 6 large heads of elder flowers – make sure that they are fully open, preferably facing the Sun
    • 1.2kg of sugar
    • 2 lemons
    • 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
    • 10 litres of cold water

How I made elderflower champagne

  1. After the very wet year we’ve had so far, I couldn’t be choosy about my flowers; they had started to drop, a few were turning brown and they were picked early yesterday evening between rain storms
  2. The flowers were placed in a saucepan late last night and 8 pints of water was poured over them. 2 lemons sliced were added
  3. This was covered and left 24 hours
  4. Tonight, I’ve transferred the must to a 10l fermenting bucket, the white wine vinegar added and then the bucket topped up with water to 10l under the tap
  5. 1.2kg sugar was added and everything stirred until the sugar was completely dissolved.
  6. The SG read 1044 at 23oC. The actual SG according to the calculators here is 1046. If I can stop the fermentation at around 1000, it should have an alcohol content of 6.1%. I assume that there will be an icrease to this figure when I prime the bottles but I’m not sure how to calculate that yet (I will have to update my post if I find out…)
  7. I placed the lid back on the bucket and will stir it regularly over the next 24 hours and wait to see little bubbles. If no bubbles have appeared by Tuesday morning I will add  yeast and some nutrient. From then I will leave it a week and then strain it into a couple of demijohns (or plastic water bottles) and leave it to ferment for a week or two until its hit 1000 but before it clears too much. Then I will syphon it onto primed 2l bottles at the rate of 1/2 tsp sugar per 1l if it’s 1000 as discussed in this thread or 1tsp if it’s 990. The again following the suggestion in the thread, I’ll leave it in a warm place for a fortnight before storing (horizontally) in the cold.
9/7/12 – no sign of fermetation so I added a tsp youngs wine yeast compound but left the must in the bucket
10/7/12 – the lid of the bucket is bulging this morning showing signs of fermenting.

Rhubarb and Orange day 2


I strained the rhubarb and orange fruit juice to a demijohn.To get as much juice as possible I put it into a colander and pressed it out into a bucket first but it didn’t go well and the colander kept falling in the bucket! What I extracted I put into a demijohn and topped up with water to the shoulder of the demijohn. I then added 2 tsp of pectolase. I think I should have added the pectolase before now; probably with the fruit after I’d added the sugar as the pectolase breaks down the cell structure and helps to extract more juice as well as helping the final wine to clear by reducing the risk of a pectin haze.

I will now leave it in the kitchen for 24 hrs before adding the yeast.

The SG (temp corrected) is 1086 so at 1010 (medium dry) the ABV should be 10.1% . Oh and it tastes lovely already!

Posted in Brewing, Elderflower, Rhubarb, Wine making | Leave a Comment »

Elderflower Wine

Posted by --- on Saturday 7 July, 2012

I know it’s late this year but the weather has really thrown me out. In a dry hour today me, DSK and DDi went to get a bag of flowers. Our normal picking spot was disappointing with only a few flowers and lots of nettles (should have took gloves!) but I spotted a few huge bushes by the park nearby. With odd looks from passing dog walkers we grabbed about 30 heads. Tonight I’ve put 6 in a gallon of water with 1 1/2 sliced lemons ready for champagne and a pint of flowers in 4 pints of boiling water waiting until I go and get some raisins tommorow which I thought I had. I’ve not had much luck with the elderflower recipes over the years; the river cottage recipe exploded the glass bottles and put holes in the roof of the verandah! Its a good job no one was close. . My elder wine tasted horrible as I said most of my wine does. I did make a wicked cordial one year but last years went into the freezer but wouldn’t freeze so went in the bin months later. I don’t know why I’m bothering! Here is this years recipe for wine

Elderflower Wine     
  • 1 pt elder flowers
  • 250gms of chopped raisins
  • juice and rind from 2 lemons
  • 8 pints of boiling water
  • 2 Campden Tablets
  • 2lb of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Wine Tannin
  • yeast and yeast nutrient

  1. Gather the elderflowers on a sunny day (hah! NOT IN 2012…) when you can smell the distinctive aroma of the flowers. Separate the flowers from their storks by pulling through fingers or cutting with scissors. 
  2. Add chopped raisins and the rind from  lemons to the petals in a clean plastic bucket and pour over boiling water.
  3. Allow to cool and add 1 campden tablet. 
  4. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to stand for 3 days stirring occasionally. 
  5. Add sugar and stir well until all the sugar is dissolved
  6. Add lemon juice, tannin, yeast and yeast nutrient
  7. Strain through a fine mesh bag or muslin into a 1 gal fermenting vessel or demijohn. 
  8. Fit an air lock and leave the vessel in a warm place about 20-22deg C for about 5 days. 
  9. Strain the liquid off again into another clean fermenting vessel and add another campden tablet. 
  10. Leave until the fermentation is finished. This will be when the S.G. is near 1.000 (if using a hydrometer) or when the bubbles no longer pass through the air lock. 
Gradually the wine will clear and after about 8 weeks it should be ready to syphon into bottles.
It is best to leave for about another 6 months before drinking.
my method
add flowers and rind of 1 1/2 lemons to bucket, pour over 4pts of boiling water meaning to buy raisins the next morning! Forget all about raisins..
09/07/12 @ 23:15.
30 hours later send son to shop for raisins. 48 hours later add 200g of chopped sultanas that son bought instead to flowers. add 4 pts boiling water and stir. cover with a clean towel and leave overnight to cool
Have hectic few days so forget about wine again…
13/07/12  @ 11:25
add 1 small cup of strong black tea plus 1kg sugar and stir to dissolve. pour through seive into demijonhn. when half full, add 1 tsp wilko yeast nutrient and youngs wine yeast compound. top up to shoulders and put a bung and airlock on the demihohn. place in unheated utility room. SG 1086 temp 19oC

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Rhubarb & Clementine

Posted by --- on Saturday 7 July, 2012

Following this post I’ve started a batch of Rhubarb wine.  The poster added oranges to his which I thought sounded nice but having none in the house I added the zest and juice of 4 clementines. My first thought was that there was a lot of sugar in the recipe and looking it up in Complete Home Wine-Making by Gillian Pearks, who has a recipe using 2.5lb sugar to 6lb of rhubarb I still think it’s high but will follow it and see how it turns out. Recipe: Rhubarb Wine (To make 1 gallon)

  • 2kg Rhubarb
  • 1.4kg Sugar
  • zest from 2 oranges
  • juice from 4 oranges
  • 2tsp Pectolase
  • 1tsp All purpose wine yeast
  • 1tsp Yeast nutrient


  1. Wash and cut the rhubarb into chunks, freeze overnight and then the next day defrost in a bucket or FV.
  2. Once defrosted add the sugar, orange juice and zest and leave for 24 – 36 hours.
  3. Strain the rhubarb liquor into a demijohn, add some cold water to the bucket or FV and swill around to remove all of the liquid – add this to the demijohn.
  4. Top the demijohn up with water to the shoulders
  5. add the pectolase, yeast and nutrient. Fit an airlock.
  6. When the fermentation has slowed down top the demijohn up with cooled boiled water.

After looking at a lot of the posts on the same forum I now think I’ve been making wine wrong all these years and that’s why I’m not keen on it. I tend to bung it all in a demijohn and leave it there ’til it’s finished bubbling completely. I’ve had some that have gone on for years! What I’ve ended up with is a nasty tasting very dry drink that goes down the drain.  I think now I’m leaving it way too long. I should test the hg and when it’s medium dry (or what ever my taste is – I need to find it!) I stop it by adding a campden tablet and some potassium sorbate. I’m not sure when I rack it really or when I go from a primary fermentation vessel to a secondary. I was following my old copy of First Steps in Winemaking by C.C.J Berry but I don’t think I’ve read it properly. My wines have always taken months before I think of racking them and those on the forum seem to rack within weeks. I need to do lots of research I think. The TC and RCW are bubbling away nicely now on day 3 in the utility room which has no heating but does have the tumble dryer etc which probably kick out some heat. The TC went a bit bonkers on the first night and filled the airlock and neck of the dj with foamy gunk. I cleaned the air lock but have left the bubbles on the dj til I can clean it when I rack it. Next time I wont add all of the juice in one go. Next on my list to make is some mead and some elderflower champagne and wine when the rain eases off a bit!

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