Home Made Country Wine

As promised in my last post “Forever Foraging“,  here is the recipe I followed for my home made elderberry wine project.

This was my first time making wine, so fingers crossed it tastes as good as it currently smells leaving me with a lovely smooth, rich flavoured country wine that I can enjoy come the winter.

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I did have a few “berry” set backs and had to throw away my first batch as they had started to ferment before I had the chance to do anything with them.  This meant I  had to go back out seeking berries, and things got pretty desperate when Chris ended up cutting down a tree at my Mums, (with her permission of course)!  It turned out to be quite a pointless task cutting down the tree as all I managed to get were a few big handfuls of berries.

Off I went back down to the tow path at Loxwood in the hope of finding a tree I had yet to strip of it’s berries.  Once I found a tree, this is where Shiva and I stayed for the next 30 minutes pulling berries, Shiva is so patient with me.  I did pick her a few blackberries to say thanks.

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I believe elderberry wine is a great wine to make as a first attempt as it’s so simple.  The equipment needed is minimal and can all be purchased for as little as £20.00.

Top Tips

  1. After spending a lot of time pulling the berries from the stalk by hand, I thought there must be a quicker way.  There is! Freeze the berries and then remove from the stalk using a fork!
  2. Use gloves when pulling the berries. I had an important work meeting the day after I began making the wine and my hands had been died a lovely purple colour!
  3. Don’t pick the berries until you actually have time to make the wine.
  4. Pick the berries that are on purple stalks and get a fair few that have already gone to raisin.

Equipment I used:

  • Brew bin (I picked mine up online at Home Brew)
  • Latex gloves (optional)
  • Muslin
  • Nutribullet (alternatives potato masher or a blender)
  • Demijohn

Ingredients:

  • 3.5lbs of elderberries
  • 3.5lbs granulated sugar (add more for a sweeter wine)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid (ordered from Home Brew)
  • Red wine yeast
  • A few large handfuls of blackberries
  • 8 pints of filtered water

Method:

  1. Strip the berries from the stalks and wash them in warm water (see top tips above).
  2. Mash up the berries (I used a Nutribullet) otherwise a potato masher will do or even your hands.
  3. Once crushed, transfer the berries into a large saucepan and add five pints of filtered water slowly bringing to the boil.
  4. Once boiled, turn the heat down and add in the sugar and citric acid,  stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Add in the three remaining pints of water and stir in.
  6. Allow to cool, then transfer into the fermenting bin and add in the wine yeast.
  7. Allow to ferment for seven days, stirring daily.
  8. Strain the berries using a muslin square and then pour the liquid into a Demijohn with an airlock, keeping it at room temperature.  Allow to stand for six weeks and then taste test adding more sugar if required (I like a sweet wine).
  9. After six weeks, transfer to another sterilised Demijohn and let it sit in a cooler place for a few weeks before bottling.

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Despite the issues and hours Chris and I spent (getting stung by stinging nettles, falling in ditches, climbing tree’s and getting frustrated when we had to bin the berries we first picked), I really did enjoyed making this wine and it will become an annual tradition in our home much to Chris’s displeasure.   I am looking forward to opening the first bottle and enjoying it with friends and family over Christmas.  If you have made this wine before please do share with me your own tips, I would love to hear them.

Love for now Emma xx

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