Late summer into early fall is a busy season for a winemaker and food preserver. Gerry completed the stand for my fruit press, which is lovely and functional.
You stand on the lip in the front of the photo and turn the crank. It works well and is easy to disassemble, so it’s in the shed now, with the press. (Side note: what a messy kitchen! I should have cleaned up before the photo, but instead you can see the box the apples came in, my shopping bags hanging from the door, the primary fermentor, rumtopf aging in the corner….) Anyway, I got a little over a gallon of juice from the apples, so that’s now in a couple of secondaries. No photos because it’s just a fizzy brown-yellow like last year’s.
I also started a batch of pyment or grape mead. It’s 3 pounds of Concord grapes and 3 pounds of local honey.
I kept the grapes in for 4 days and then strained them out, so hopefully the final product will be less foxy than last year’s Concord wine. I want some flavor and color, obviously, but I don’t want it to be too strong. It’s a nice purple, which seems like a good start.
I also started a second-run wine with my Leon Millot grapes and some grape concentrate. I took the grapes out of the first batch and popped them into a new primary with some grape concentrate, water, and sugar– the yeast is just what’s left on the grapes. I also drained the yeast from the first-run, since my hydrometer sank all the way when I tested the specific gravity. That’s a pretty fast complete ferment, which I think was from the warm kitchen.
And, of course, since I have lots of Concords, I made some conserve, too. I did a batch flavored with lemon rind and one with orange. You can see the walnuts floating to the top of the jars, even though I cooled them upside-down. We had some this morning on biscuits and it’s very tasty. Funny how the foxiness doesn’t matter in sweet applications like conserve and Welch’s grape juice.
And finally, I harvested my first elderberries. I got a little over half a pound, which is pretty far shy of the 3.5 I would need for wine, so I’m making syrup instead. It’s the fruit, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and honey. I simmered it for about 20 minutes and then strained it. I’m letting it cool a bit, and then I’ll press the juice out of the fruit and figure out what to do with the syrup. I might freeze it in an ice cube tray for handy single-servings for cold season. And since the wine is so good, I’ll make another batch with dried fruit once I have a free primary fermentor. If I get enough at some point, I will try elderflower wine, too, though I’m more excited about what I can make from the fruit.
And now it’s getting close to bedtime. I’m a little sneezy, so I may dose myself with my lovely elderberry syrup before I hit the sack, too. Satisfying!