Lets Talk Wine

Another sort of kitchen adventure started about seven maybe eight years ago. The bounty of free foods or edible items here in Britain is amazing. I love the idea of getting something for little or nothing (and on the premise I am not taking advantage of others to do it).

My throw into wine making was the seemingly unlimited amount of elderberries I would see but was not sure about what I could use them for until I was reading more about nature’s bounty in various books. Elderberry wine came up again and again. I had never made wine and so started an unending adventure.

Wines I have made over the past seven to eight years include – Elderberry, Rosehip, Apple, Pear, Carrot, Parsnip, Ribena, Rose Syrup (as in Turkish Delights), Potato, Green Tomato, Elderflower, Lemon Balm, Tea and Raisin, Rhubarb, Apricot, Dried Apricot, Port. Plus a few others which I can’t remember.

The initial costs might be a little bit of an investment but most of the items except for things like yeast, nutrient, pectin enzyme, sugar etc, will be one offs. Demijohns cost a few pounds used and are cleanable. If you are thinking about trying it, keep an eye out at the local boot-sale, jumble sale, flea market for people selling assortments of equipment for wine making.

It is a creation that requires patience to some degree, only in reference to having to wait once it is racked off into the demijohns. Wines need time to make their alcohol, age and settle. I have over the years lost my taste for the effects of alcohol so I have all the patience needed.

The best book and my very first (widely recommended by any well-seasoned wine maker) is First Steps in Winemaking by C. J. J. Berry. Can’t rant enough about it. I learned so much from reading it and the recipes are straight forward. It is still my first go to book although I do have an assortment of them now.

The first wine I recommend trying is elderberry. Other than being a little messy cleaning the berries, it is one of the simpler recipes to work with. Starting simple is better than jumping in at the deep end.

I could ramble on and on about wine making. In the future I will share some of my experiences making it and sharing it as well as some ideas, tips, tricks.

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African Violet Update

My single sprouting African violet has turned into three. I planted four leaves in a tub and hoped for the best back in April. Strange that it was a month between each leaf sprouting but I am thoroughly happy with the results.

They are potted and progressing. Planning to give away two of them – one has already been promised when it gets a little more robust. I know I don’t need more than one African violet but my houseplants are like pets and you always keep at least one of the litter.

I have successfully started several Boston Ferns from my main large one. I mean it is not like I did much work providing the runner a pot of soil to root into. Still it makes for happy moments. Planning on keeping those for their contribution to our air quality.

Future house plant adventures include attempting to grow Peace Lilies from seed and propagating my Dumb Cane and Prayer plant (which feels a bit daunting.

 

Kitchen Shenanigans

I get up to some frightful things in the kitchen. The kitchen is a creative outlet for me (one of many) and I spend a fair amount of time in one (I also work in the catering field) on a day to day basis. But my kitchen at home is by far my favorite kitchen to spend time in. It is a place where I can try outrageously strange or optimally normal experiments with food, canning and preserving (from pickling to dehydrating), baking, bath and beauty products, mixing herbal teas and more.

I have more than a few experiments to share but a recent experiment turned out better than hoped for. I had and still have a regular amount of veg rolling in from the garden and I try to do a bit of preserving before giving away the surplus. Normal stuff like Chutneys, Bread and Butter pickles, Green Tomato Salsa Verde, spiced pears as well as pear wine, green tomato wine vinegar and more.

_20170912_152814I purchased an inexpensive dehydrator a couple years ago and it has turned out to be a favorite kitchen gadgets (although I may have to invest in another inexpensive model to replace this one soon, it is sounding more and more rebellious in its assigned tasks).

My most recent shenanigan is pictured here. They are bread and butter pickles made from cucumber and zucchini (courgette) dehydrated into chips (crisps). Bread and butter pickles are sweet and tangy and these dried ones are no different except perhaps they are a little more crunchy to start. Soon after you have crunched on them they become chewy delights to the taste buds.

The best part of making them is once you have made the pickles and they are ready to can you leave them overnight in the pickling solution, drain them well and place them directly on the drying racks. They take a good twelve to sixteen hours to thoroughly dry in the dehydrator but are a worthy snack for the time invested.

I do plan to try drying some store bought sandwich dill slices to see how they taste but for now, I have a few more batches to make before my garden runs completely dry with the end of season.