It’s a busy harvest season! Lots of stuff to be prepared and me with just one long weekend to do it. Things started when the most excellent Molly gave me a giant box of apples from her mother’s tree. It was 18 pounds of giant, in fact, so I decided to try a fruit-heavy apple wine recipe. I started by chopping up the apples, no mean feat when there’s that much fruit. It only took an hour or so, I think, but I had to put a bandage on my right hand where it met the knife handle. To these I added a gallon of water, yeast nutrient, and a packet of Champagne yeast. I’m supposed to let it all sit, stirring several times a day, for about a week. After that, I will press the apples to get all that good juice out, and add sugar (how much depends on how much juice I get, so Gerry’s going to rig something for my fruit press to sit on) and whatever else is needed. The apples are browning less than I thought they would, and they make a pleasing fizz when I stir.
Then last night, I was out back with the dogs and I started harvesting my Leon Millot wine grapes, sort of on a whim. As it turns out, I had just shy of the 16 pounds I need for wine (15.83, I think) so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately for me, the first step in real wine, unlike my normal country wine, is to pick the grapes, removing stems and other debris, which turns out to be hard physical labor. It took ages! I finally finished at around 10:30, having spent over 2 hours standing at the sink and getting pruny fingers from the water the grapes here in. (I also had to run outside a few times with the small survivors of my picking: a beetle, several spiders, and a ladybug.) So I covered the bowl with a towel, took a bath for my aching feet and back, and went to bed. This morning, Jolyon and I crushed the grapes by hand, though after a few minutes, he resorted to the potato ricer, which did quite a nice job. I just kept using my hands, which was sort of satisfying, even if I did feel a lot like Lucy stomping grapes. It took us a little less than an hour, I think, and I had to add a little more than 2 cups of sugar to get my specific gravity up to 1.100. (I don’t actually have an acid tester so I will have to trust that these are appropriately acidic, though the extremely nice Rykers Cellars guy offered to test it for me.) At first I had all of this in a 2-gallon bucket, but my instructions say to be sure a fifth of the primary is empty because the must expands, so I moved it (messily) to my big bulb fermentor. I have the grapes tied in a bag, which doesn’t really fit the mouth of the bulb, so I might untie and dump, though that will mean straining afterwards. We’ll see. Anyway, it doesn’t start off a nice color. But this photo is from almost immediately after crushing, and the skins are all still in there, so it should look much nicer soon. So far, it’s just the juice, sugar, and a crushed Campden. I’ll add yeast this evening, though I haven’t decided what kind yet– probably Montpelier. I think I’ll try a second-run batch too, since the actual wine grape thing is so exciting. (I’ll need to get grape concentrate but that should be easy enough.) Regular wine a different process, since I didn’t really need to add much of anything else. Here’s hoping it’s good!
The Concords are coming along quite nicely too, and I got some clover honey last weekend at the farmers’ market at East High School with Jen. So a pyment will be next, when I have a free primary. I’ll probably do some grape conserve, too. And I got more nice red jalapenos and cayennes at the South Pearl market with Kim today, so I really need to get on that Sriracha.
And, of course, the weekend always means lots of regular cooking for the rest of the week. There’s a big pot of bhindi masala on the stove now, and apple-carrot muffins, marbled banana-chocolate bread, and lemon-blueberry loaf are cooling. Lily, however, is unimpressed.