30 August 2010

Day Two of Winemaking

The last post was rather tongue-in-cheek, but if (heaven forbid) you did actually try to start a batch of wine, you're going to need to know what to do on Day Two and onward.

Step 11.  Add some potassium metabisulphite or campden tablets.  These kill all the yeast that naturally is in the berries.  I believe this is done so that the winemaker controls the amount of yeast available.

12.  After giving that a few hours to work, add the yeast and stir it up!
 13.  Day 3+ stir it once a day.  You can see how foamy it gets when stirred.  The little yeast buddies are eating all the sugar and turning it into alcohol.  This process will be 7-10 days, then it will start to settle down again.  That is when you know you're ready for step 14.  All that hot pink juice dripping down the ALE PAIL means that the primary fermenter isn't big enough! 
14.  Rack it into a secondary fermenter (carboy, pictured below).  The work is done!  Now it just needs to be aged, and maybe racked one or two more times to get rid of the sediment.  There are other chemicals to add to the wine to enhance it, but they are not included in this crash course.  You can find some recipes at E. C. Kraus, and if you know where to look, you can even find some pretty good information on wine making.
So that concludes this crash course, unless I am able to find some of the photos I took of bottling wine.  In the meantime, check out my guest post over at Balance and Blueberries!

23 August 2010

A Crash Course in Wine-Making

1.  Friends are cheap labor, especially if you spend the first hour picking the wrong kind of berry.

2.  Your brother can help too, even if he's lame.
3.  Beware of the sun bleaching your hair as you pick fistful after fistful of the RIGHT berry - elderberry.
4.  Elderberries come with a lot of stem.  Apparently a little stem is okay but you should get rid of most of it.
5.  Sterilize your ALE PAIL with poison (aka sodium metabisulphite - 1 tbs to 1 gal of water).
6.  Put clean berries into a nylon bag in the ALE PAIL.  If you pretend to help, you can get Mom to do all the work.
7.  Mash the berries with anything but your hand.  They will stain.  It is a known talent of elderberries, in fact.
8.  Dissolve 5 lbs of sugar in 4 gal of water.  (5 gal is ideal but with the bag of berries, it won't fit in the ALE PAIL)
9.  POUR it on the berries when it is still hot.
10.  Check back in a couple days for steps 11 through 96.
Does anyone want any leftover berries?  We picked way too many.
 I know I don't post much anymore.  I'm on vacation from my unemployment - a quick stint up in MI visiting family and friends.  This is how I have been spending some of my time.  I am THIS CLOSE to renaming the blog "Necessity is the Mother of..." because we do so many how-tos here at Of Winds and Water.  I like doing things the old-fashioned way, and I like things to be more all-natural.  I'm a big fan of modern conveniences, but things like wine and cheese are fun to get involved in.  I would really like to make my own cheese once my life is more stable. 

Anyway, it is actually my mother that is making the wine, so when I write the second part of this post, it will probably be sans photos.  Wine is far less complicated than it sounds, if you want it to be.

10 August 2010

A Further Tale of Blueberries

Alright, so I know you're all dying to know what I did with all the gathered berries.  Here's the quick and dirty on how I have become a housewife without even being married.  I made some pie crust and whipped it into tart shells using my handy all-in-one rolling pin/cookie cutter.  A tool with dual functions is twice as useful to keep around.  Actually, I can think of many more uses for this tool.

They baked marvelously despite me having no idea how long to keep them in the oven.  Add some melted chocolate chips/heavy cream (aka truffle filling, which I learned during last winter's truffle experiment), chill, then add blackberries on top.

Don't those look tasty?  Chocolate and fresh blackberries, mmmmmm....
Blackberry angle.
I made more than six.
Then, blueberry muffins.  I had two for breakfast this morning.  I used a recipe for blueberry coffeecake, because I foolishly forgot that muffins would probably be found in a different section of the cookbook.  There are so many blueberries in these muffins that they stay together mostly by fear.

And with about half of my blueberry crop, I used Kelly's tip about freezing blueberries.  If you freeze them on a cookie sheet, they won't clump up in a freezer bag.  Just put it in the freezer for an hour or so then bag!  Voila - next time you want a singular blueberry pancake for breakfast, you can choose the exact number of berries you want, and your cakes won't turn purple because you had to saw through a mass of berries to extract what you needed.

Of course, I left some fresh berries for smoothies and munching.  Oh, that reminds me, I was thinking about making blueberry pie and I don't have enough fresh berries left.  I'll have to thaw some.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

06 August 2010

Fresh Berries and Paper Shorts

Today, Kyle let me borrow his truck while he's off at work.  Woot!  This means I can a) leave the house, b) talk to actual people instead of the five animals that keep me company during the day, and c) run some much-needed errands.  Although it turned out my first two 'errands' weren't open yet after I dropped Kyle off at work.  I knew for a fact that the berry patch was open, though.  I went to Pungo Blueberries, Etc, and if we're around in the fall I'm definitely going to find a farm and get some pecans.  For ten bucks, I got four pounds of blueberries and one pound of blackberries!  I am still deciding what to do with them all - it depends on how much Kyle's family wants me to leave fresh, then the rest will be frozen.  Muffins, definitely, and possibly a pie or tarts.  I think the blackberries will just be eaten with ice cream or as a smoothie.
I got a nice bucket to pick blueberries in, but for the blackberries they gave me a stupid box which was prone to spilling (I didn't spill it, but I came close about eight times).  Just to spite them I ate some extra blackberries.  Okay, that's not true.  I ate the extra blackberries because I accidentally picked more than I wanted to take home...
The goods!  Aren't you jealous?
Kyle's dad has a subscription to Money magazine, which I've been reading avidly because I don't know much about investing and I feel it's something I should be semi-expert on before doing.  I also got a free trial subscription to Investor's Business Daily when I signed up for an account with Morningstar.com, where I have a practice portfolio I can track for a while before I actually have money to invest.

Mac-Mac tried on Rev 2 for me.
Anyway, the IBD subscription isn't doing me much good without a job, so I've been designing a pattern so I can sew myself some shorts.  Rev 3 was actually wearable, so I think I'm almost ready to switch over to real fabric :)  Making clothes out of newspaper makes me feel pretty homeless.  Oh wait, I AM pretty homeless (Kyle and I have been leeches lately, living off the goodness and generosity of Kyle's father and stepmom).
So that's been my favorite diversion lately.  Otherwise, the job search continues.  Next weekend I'm heading up to Michigan for a while to pick up a car of my own so I don't have to be confined to the house all day.  Being unemployed is surprisingly taxing mentally.  There just isn't a whole lot of validation in my life anymore.  Most of my time is allotted to job search or learning, neither of which have any tangible rewards.  Making clothing does, but I don't really want to spend the money on something that I can't wear so I'm hesitant to buy fabric.  I think in about a year or so I'll be ready for Project Runway...
Mac-Mac, contortionist extraordinaire.