Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recipe: Rose Hip Wine

Has it really only been 6 weeks since I started this wine? It has gone through a lot in that time, and is nearing the drinkable, if still rough stage. As promised, the recipe follows-

Rose Hip Wine - Makes 1 Gallon

-1 1/2 lbs rose hips, well washed, cut in half & crushed*
-2 1/4 lbs sugar
-1/2 pkg Montrachet yeast
-1 tsp yeast nutrient
-2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (minus the pulp, if possible)
-1 tsp citric acid
-1 tsp pectic enzyme

Put the crushed hips and sugar into your primary fermenter (I use a food-grade bucket) and cover with 2 quarts of water. Allow to sit for 24 hours.

Mix wine yeast, yeast nutrient and orange juice in a small container with a tight-fitting lid (a jar or plastic glad-ware type container work well.) Shake well to combine. Let stand at room temperature for a few hours until the mixture begins to look bubbly. Add this mixture (your "yeast starter") to the must (the mash that is currently in your primary fermenter.)

Add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. Allow it to ferment for a week. At the end of the week, strain out the solids and pour the liquid into your secondary fermenting vessel (I use a glass gallon jug.) Top up the jug with water if necessary to make one full gallon. Top your jug with an airlock to continue to let the wine ferment and bubble away without blowing the bottle to smithereens. Re-rack (siphon wine into a new, sterilized vessel) every 3 months or so until the wine is clear and the vast majority of the yeast sediment has settled out and been discarded.**

After a week in the secondary fermenter, quite a bit of the yeast has died off and the wine is ready to be racked.

Age the wine for as long as you can bear not to drink it. In our house, it doesn't usually have a chance to reach it's first birthday, though we're trying to exercise a little more self-control in that department. ;)

If you have any questions about the recipe or about wine making in general, drop me a line and I'll help if I can. Though I bought all of my equipment locally, for wine making supplies online, you can check out grapestompers. They seem to have a pretty good selection, and their prices are comparable to what I've paid.

*I actually used 1lb, 4oz of rose hips and 4oz of diced Golden Delicious apple to make up for the shortage of hips. ;)

**I totally encourage you to compost your dregs and must solids once you are done with them. The yeast will do wonders for your compost heap.

Container Taters

Since I was a kiddo, I've grown potatoes. I'd find a gnarly, leggy, wrinkly one in the cupboard and I'd sneak it out back and plant it in my mom's flower bed, which she did not exactly love. She also did not love it when, once, in a digging frenzy, I accidentally cut the phone line to our house. Sorry 'bout that, Mom...

My sneaky potato past not withstanding, I feel like I've grown and learned a thing or two over the years about growing the mighty spud. Just today I put my latest, greatest idea for growing container potatoes into action, using a spankin' new compost bin, of all things.

It might seem a little weird to grow potatoes in a compost bin, but if you have a compost bin and have ever thrown a potato into it, I'll bet that you've noticed that the discarded 'tater sprouted like mad. They love the dark, wet recesses of the compost heap, and they produce the best when new soil or straw are regularly added to cover their growing vines, which is pretty much exactly how the ol' compost pile works. And so, I embraced my potatoes' love of the damp and dark of the compost bin and bought a new one expressly for the purpose of growing potatoes in it.

Here she is, the wonder bin-

This bin is actually meant to be 3 tiers high, but I'm going to wait for the vines to come up a bit before adding the 3rd layer, all the while covering them with soil/compost/straw as they pop through and keep on going until I have all 3 layers chock-full of taters. Note the netting on top. This is to deter my bottomless-pit chickens from climbing in and scratching and pecking my tater bin to death. My fingers are crossed that this will work, because we're using the same "bird netting" on all of our raised beds this year. I love my hennies dearly, but when it comes the the garden, they are like a plague of locusts and must be stopped from devouring the whole kit & caboodle.

I planted just 6 potatoes in the bin - 3 Yukon Golds (my fav), 2 Yellow Finn and 1 nubbly-old Russet that we had in the cupboard. I'll be interested to see how much my 2 lbs of seed potatoes yield. As I do with pretty much everything I grow, I'll do my darndest to keep track of the pounds harvested to give myself (and you) an idea of what kind of return on investment can be expected for the relatively little time and trouble required to grow potatoes. Check back in August for a progress report.