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20150328_190214 A lovely Friday off! We went to the Museum of Nature and Science and saw an exhibit on mythological creatures, and then to Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza for drinks and pizza, and I also had a lovely very strong cocktail.  And after such a pleasant day, we decided that the loveliness of the evening demanded we crack the first bottle of Rebel Rhubarb.  (Though I note that my Art of Making Wine tells me it only needs to be aged 6 months, like the dandelion.)  I was disappointed that it’s quite sweet, though Jolyon likes it.  I think I’ll likely do sangria with mine– it’s quite nice with a little orange juice, and you can still taste the wine.  It has a subtle rhubarb flavor, and is quite refreshing, but I just can’t stand sweet white wines unless they go all the way to dessert wines, like a vin santo or a sweet sherry.  I might try a different recipe next time, to see if there’s a way to preserve the rhubarb flavor but ditch the sweetness.`

At some point (Friday morning?), I also bottled the Christmas tutti-fruti and the mead, finally.  I apparently didn’t take pictures, though.  How many photos of bottles does one need, really?  The mead is quite a nice color, and I used a couple of clear bottles, though, so I will try to remember to get a shot soon.

As I was walking the dogs on Saturday, I noticed that it was time to harvest dandelions, so I did that Sunday morning.  (I actually picked a couple cups’ worth on Saturday, but I left it until too late in the day, so the big patches I saw in the morning were closed up for the day.  I froze what I harvested, but if I do it again, I’ll just put the first batch on a Campden instead.  The frozen ones sort of smell like lettuce about to go off.)  Since we liked the first batch so much, I gathered a double batch: 12 cups.

20150329_111220As a bonus, I learned that if you walk around with a basket over your arm, picking dandelions and looking delighted, people smile politely and keep their distance.  I think they all imagine I’m mad but harmless.  I gathered all over the neighborhood, provided I had no reason to suspect the yards were sprayed.  Then, when I had my 12 cups, I headed home and prepared the flowers.  My recipe calls for only petals, 20150329_114552   but I didn’t want to spend hours pulling the things apart like last time, so I just trimmed them, leaving most of the bitter green bits behind.  I had a very rapt audience, too.  20150329_112940  After the cleaning, and much ignoring of dogs, I put the petals into my big primary fermentor with a couple Campdens, sugar, raisins, tannin, and yeast nutrient. 20150329_121335 I didn’t have quite the quantity of golden raisins the recipes asks for, so I used some regular ones, too.  It will be interesting to see the resulting color, though I suspect it will just be a deeper gold.  The first batch was a sort of straw color, and quite lovely. But a slightly deeper color will be nice, too.  It came out to about 1 1/3 pounds of golden and 2/3 regular.

I have a late classroom presentation tonight, so I won’t likely get home before 8:30 or so, but then I’ll add the yeast and give everything a good stir.  I’ve chosen Champagne yeast, partly because I do plan to sparkle at least half of this (all, if I can get several more Champagne bottles), and partly because, fresh off the sweetness of the rhubarb, I want to be sure this is nice and dry.

Now where can I get 6 empty Champagne bottles?

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Lots of bottling

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20150307_170841I didn’t quite get around to writing about it, but I did bottle the 3 gallons of Sudden Windfall apple wine on the 7th.  It was quite a messy process, as I tried to move the siphon smoothly from one bottle to the next– lots of spillage and evening out of bottles– a little more in this one, a little less in that one.  Still, I did get them all done, and I brought a few in for Molly.  I’ll pass a few along to Kim, too, to give to her friends who contributed fruit.

Today was a productive one, since it feels mild and spring-like.  I weeded a bit, and planted fava beans and edamame, and started tomato and tomatilllo seeds in little pots indoors.  I don’t seem to have any saved seed from my Roma tomatoes, so I’ll need to get some more seeds soon.

Then I decided to try out my new Ferrari automatic bottle filler, which turns out to be among the best $15 I ever spent.  It goes on the end of the siphon and automatically stops filling when the bottle is just the right amount of full. So with that brilliant little tool, I bottled 3 gallons of Super Vixen Concord, this with Bourgovin yeast, and all 5 gallons of Peach Perfection.  20150322_154803 20150322_154757  (The second photo is with the flash on, so you can see the little bit of cloudiness in the last 2 bottles I filled, in front.)  It was delightfully easy, and I barely lost a drop.  I had a nice little system going: pop the auto-bottler in, click it open, and, while it filled, grab the last full bottle and cork.  Downright efficient, that.  Plus, talk about a sense of accomplishment!  30 bottles, all nicely full, and no mopping afterwards.

On another note, a friend (HI MARY!) sent me an article about an extremely cool place in England that rescues overripe or unwanted fruit and turns it into wine, beer, cider,  komucha, and kefir: https://old-tree-oz74.squarespace.com/.  Brighton isn’t particularly convenient to Maidstone, but I’m hoping to get out to this place anyway next time we visit Jo’s folks.  The places is doing all kinds of things to reduce their carbon footprint, and they produce booze, so I love them already.