fermentation

Manncave Distillery Continuing the Moonshine Tradition in West Virginia.

The tradition of making Moonshine in West Virginia goes back generations and is still a part of who we are today. Making something out of nothing has always been a way of life in our hills and hallows and Manncave Distillery inc. is making wonderful corn-based spirits in the small town of Weston, West Virginia. Manncave Distilleries goal is to prove that West Virginia can be the source of superior products like Moonshine (129 proof), Vodka (80 proof) and its own brand of whiskey just like the big distilleries in other Appalachian states.

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Bottles of Moonshine and Vodka at the Manncave Distillery.

The setting for the Distillery is as beautiful and secluded as all the lore you hear about moonshiners. Several miles from the nearest town, back in the woods, on a dirt road you will find Manncave Distillery. The bright blue building announces that you have arrived at a more legal and popular liquor sales location then in days past.  This property, a source of family pride, is the location of the Mann family farm and was the same property where Stephen Mann grew up. Coming from Lewis County, it seemed natural to start the business on the family owned farm, where 3 artesian springs produce more than enough water to supply the distillery and the farm.

I visited the family while they had a small break between guests at the distillery on Millstone Road on the outskirts of town. The tour of their location was personal and the story of the businesses beginnings is about timing, being in the right place at the right time.The samples that Wendy Mann Shared with me, Vodka (80 proof) and Moonshine (129 proof), prove that this family has captured the flavor of  West Virginia.  I was pleasantly surprised by everything I found out about Mann family and their distillery, hard work and love, flows through everything that they do.

It has been a labor of love to start this project for Stephen and Wendy Mann, taking about 3 years to get to the point of retail sales and 2.5 million dollar investment to get the business up and running. The couple travel every weekend to West Virginia from thier current home in Virginia, where they work during the week. They come back to see and help with the construction of the buildings, stabilize the springs, and running the still. It is truly a family owned and operated business from the very ground it stands on, to every bottle produced and sold.

This same commitment to tradition and family, flows into the products they make.  It is obvious from the very beginning that these products are different. With a clean, crisp aroma to a slightly vanilla after taste, this is not backyard moonshine. It is very pleasing and will appeal to anyone who wants a moonshine without the harsh bite and wants a smooth drink that will mix well with anything. Stephen and Wendy have also barreled their first few batches of whiskey, aged in charred white oak barrels in the traditional manner, taking time to age and gain that soft amber color. The whiskey will be smooth with a bit of West Virginia honey for a light sweetness. They hope to release the whiskey at the end of summer when the product reaches their expectations of taste and color.

lazer burned barrel at Manncave distillery .jpg

Manncave Distillery aging barrels for sale and for use.

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Whiskey barrels on high racks at Manncave Distillery, Weston WV.

The free tour is a wonderful part of getting your own bottle of Manncave Moonshine or Vodka. The whole process is in-house and is explained step for step by Stephen while Wendy and their girls great you. The whole feeling is much like stopping over at a neighbor’s house and staying for a warm drink on a cold night.

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Stephen and Wendy Mann serve a sample of their MannCave Moonshine to a local visitor.

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Stephen Mann walks a couple through at tour at Manncave distillery 2019.

 

I wish I could have spent a few more hours enjoying the flow of customers coming in to try out the Manncave products while seated at the wooden bar.  Instead, I will be returning for another visit to the distillery when they have their summer launch party for the Manncave Whiskey that is now in the quality control and testing stage. It’s sure to be a great time, with a beautiful location,  a fresh stream, wonderful whiskey and friends to share with. I am so glad to add them to the list of people I know who are working to save the very things that make West Virginia unique and wonderful.  For more information about upcoming events fallow them on Facebook, or head over to the website. Don’t forget to get your copy of the Apple Pie Moonshine recipe on Facebook at Manncave Distillery.….I will be making it this fall for those family gatherings. No one without proper ID will be served samples or allowed to purchase alcohol at this location. 

So from Mountain MaMa, I wish the very best for your new business! I plan to enjoy your hard work with family and friends right here in the Mountain State.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Country life, Distillery, fermentation, home brewing, Honey, Lewis County, Moonshine, nostalgic, Weston, whiskey | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Scraps of Home Made Apple Sauce.

Apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and apple cider vinegar are things I try to make for my family every fall. I try very hard to forage my apples to use in these recipes. I hate to see one of my friends let a tree full of healthy organic apples go to waste. So every summer I start looking around at who has apples that they do not use and try to remember to ask them if I can have them. This summer I was a little unsure of where I was going to get my apples. We moved and I did know to many people who had apple trees in our new area. I remembered a huge apple tree at my favorite public library. Why not ask the librarian of the Lewis Bennett Library  what they were going to do with some of the apples…. it couldn’t hurt to ask right?

So after asking the  head Librarian Karen about the apples, she said no one had asked for the apples and most of the time the apples just fell and made a huge mess on the library side-walk. She let me have as many of the apples as I wanted. The tree is well over 100 years old and they do nothing to maintain the tree so they are again chemical free, of unknown species and cost me nothing, a perfect fit for my foraging personality.

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library the tree is in the right of this photo three stories tall and full of apples

So after a couple of hours with my apple picker in the yard of this historical mansion I had filled my buckets with about 70 pounds of a soft yellow-green apples.

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

Most people call these deer apples and never plan to use them at home but let the deer enjoy them.Today I was able to make 6 quarts of apple sauce from 8 pounds of these little apples.( I have a DIY post about how to make  Home Made Apple Sauce here) They made a very nice sweet apple sauce so I am guessing they are a golden delicious type of apple developed in Clay County West Virginia around the time the house was built.

Quarts of home made cinnamon apple sauce

Quarts of home-made cinnamon apple sauce

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

To make Apple Cider Vinegar I took the peals and cores from these apples and split them between two gallon containers. I left enough room at the top to let water stand over the top of the cores and peals. The apples will begin to ferment under the water’s surface but Some mold may grow if a peal is sticking up to high.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Next I added 2 and 1/2 quarts of warm water that I had added 2 1/2 heaping tables spoons of white sugar to each jar. Making a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water. The sugar helps feed the Bactria to get a good start to the fermentation. It also adds a sweetness to the vinegar. I use most of my vinegar for cooking so I want a strong apple flavor without much sweetness. If I was drinking this everyday I would add more sugar to make to flavor more drinkable. One recipe I read had 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon. It is not necessary to use this much sugar, apples ferment quickly! Apples have a lot of  natural sugars and yeasts that ferment so well it is hard to stop raw apple juice from turning to wine and vinegar in a matter of days with out a chemical to stop the fermentation. Believe me no sugar is really needed to ferment apples, we have had a few drunk cows on the farm from eating rotten apples in the pasture,what a funny sight !

Quart jar and sugar bowel

Quart jar and sugar bowel

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

Here I am trying to keep the apples under the water surface with a small bowel to prevent mold or scum from growing around the top of the jar. I then cover the jars with cloth to prevent bugs or dust from getting into the jars. I store my jars in our laundry room. Where the temp in the summer is more constant much like a cellar. It never freezes but is never as hot as the house on a hot summer day. The best fermentation happens between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Now I wait two weeks to strain out the apple cores and peels. The fermentation will actually take several weeks and the smell of vinegar will increase as the amount of sugar decreases. At about 4 weeks the sugar should be eaten up by the bacteria that converts the sugar to alcohol than into vinegar. At this time you can filter the vinegar to make it look clear or rack it just like wine. I will filter mine with cheese cloth just to remove the large pieces of apple and return the vinegar back to the shelf for two more weeks to make sure that all the fermentation is finished at 6 weeks. If by chance you notice that the apple cider vinegar has a slimy pad floating in it (smile really big)… you have grown a “Mother” or “Scoby” that should be removed and  stored to make the next batch of ACV ( apple cider vinegar) and reduce the time for fermentation to about 4 weeks on another batch.

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

The raw ACV can at this point be bottled and kept in the refrigerator and it will be good up to 1 year. My family goes through about 1 gallon in a year so this is the amount I try to make. If you want to keep it on the shelf for easy storage then the you need to cook and bottle the ACV. The cooking process does two things. It will kill the good Bactria growing in the ACV ( pasteurizing the ACV)  but will also stabilizes it so that you can store it almost indefinitely. ACV is processed like any other canned food with sterile bottles or jars and correct processing times.

So if you are a fan of raw apple cider vinegar you can make this for pennies. I think the most expensive part would be to get containers. Most families do not use as much vinegar as we do so with just an old spaghetti sauce jar ( 1 quart size) and 3 apples you could make enough ACV for at least 6 months. It is just another way to make some thing from free healthy foraged food.

So when I finally get the 18 quarts of apple sauce finished, the 8 pints of apple butter, the 10 jelly pints of apple jelly, and the gallon of apple cider vinegar finished in 6 weeks, I will feel like I stocked my pantry well from these free ugly old deer apples that no one wanted! Here at links to my post on Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Jelly they are also made with free apples and made much like this with a two for one process.

Categories: apple butter, apple cider vinger, apple sauce, Apples, fermentation, Foraging, Lewis Bennett Library, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pickle Relish the way to rid your kitchen of extra cucumbers

This summer has been bountiful. The cucumbers, the honey-dew melon, the pumpkins, sweet potatoes  and tomatoes are doing wonderfully due to our unusually warm and wet summer weather. So I am a little over whelmed with the amount of cucumbers that I am getting from the garden this last two weeks. I guess anyone who foolishly plants 9 pickling cucumber plants should plan to make pickles off and on all summer. Making pickles, brined and unbrined was one of my goals for the year.  I am lucky to have help and advice from Grandma Powers as she stays with us for a couple of months while recovering from some of her cancer treatments. So today we talked about the best relishes that she had made over the years and I attempted to reproduce this one today and I think the results will prove that just about any one can make sweet pickle relish.

draining pickle relish in strainer

draining pickle relish in strainer

You have two choices to make before really getting to this stage of the relishing making process. Do you want a fine relish like the commercial store-bought kind or do you like your relish on the chunky side. We like to taste our relish in potato salads and on our hot dogs and I love to have chunky relish on my burgers. The other question is how much relish can you and your family really eat over the course of a couple of months. Home made relish does not have the preservatives that you find in the store. To avoid any chance that the relish would mold,  I canned my mixture in 1/2 pint jars. This makes just enough for party food like one or two large batches of potato salad or 6 or 7 hot dogs.

So with 10 1/2 pint jars and about 10 cucumbers 5 inches long, I was ready to think about making the sweet hot dog style relish. In my mother in-laws” Ball Blue Book” ( 29th edition  published in 1974) I found this recipe on page 66.

          Cucumber Relish

3 quarts chopped cucumbers

1 large red pepper chopped

1 large green pepper chopped

1 med onion chopped….. I actually used 1 and 1/2 med onion

1 quart vinegar ….. I used 3 cups apple cider vinegar and 1 cup white vinegar

1 Tablespoon turmeric

1/2 cup table salt

1 Tablespoon pickle spice

2 teaspoon whole cloves

2 teaspoon whole allspice

2 cinnamon sticks or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons powered cinnamon

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar.

Combine chopped cucumbers, peppers and onions in large bowl. I chopped my cucumbers by hand with the help of a mandolin slicer but many people chop up the vegetables in the food processor for a finer texture. Sprinkle turmeric over chopped vegetables. Dissolve salt in two quarts hot water and pour over mixed veg; let stand 3 or 4 hours. Drain relish and cover with 2 quarts of cold water let stand while preparing jars. Drain a second time when ready to add pickle syrup to veg. Place spices in a cheese cloth bag or a knee-high ladies hose, simmer in a pot of the vinegar and sugar mixture.

pickle syrup with spices

pickle syrup with spices

relish with pickle syrup before boiling

relish with pickle syrup before boiling

 

After the syrup is boiling hot strain or take out spice bag and pour over veg mixture. Pack boiling hot relish into hot ball jars, leaving 1/8 head space. Add lids and seals to cleaned tops of jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 5 quarts of relish. Let mixture rest 24 hours before eating so flavors have time to settle.

finishe jars of pickle relish

finished jars of pickle relish

I could not help tasting the bit that would not fit in the jars after packing. The result is sweet and tangy with a wonderful crunch and a zip of spice. I can’t wait to taste this in my next batch of Potato salad. I think it has a wonderful burst of flavor. Hope that this gives you ideas for how to use up some of those extra cucumbers from the summer garden. Next time I will be making my mother-in-laws bread and butter pickles and Onion slices. They are my favorite pickle of all time and I love eating them with a fork right out to the jar so keep reading for that one in two weeks or so. Happy eating JoLynn!

Categories: canning, cooking, cucumbers, fermentation, organic foods, pickle relish, pickles | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wine Making part 3: Racking and Bottling the Dandelion Wine

The final and best step of my wine making project is the racking and bottling ( and of course tasting)  of the final project. This has really been the most fun thing I have learned in years and I hope that you try it too. If you missed the previous posts her are the links to see the entire process. Dandelion wine, and Wine Making part 2.

At the end of my last wine post we finished mixing the ingredients for making the wine and starting the fermentation process. The wine looked and smell sweet and we were waiting the ten days to taste test and check the alcohol levels.

So this short post starts at the ten-day mark and goes through getting the sediment out of the wine and bottling and ageing the wine. Working with about 3 gallons is the perfect amount of wine if you want to make just one case of wine. A case of 12 bottles is the most cost-effective  way to buy your bottles either mail order or from a local retailer. You get enough wine to drink and share and can keep the box to store the wine in. I like to keep information on the box such as the kind of wine the date made and anything new that you try out on that batch.

case of wine box with information written on it

case of wine box with information written on it

 

As you will see I bought screw cap bottles and there are pros and cons to this.. They do not store as well as bottles that are “corked” and need  stored in a way that the tops do not become damaged. In my case storing them in the box takes care of this problem. I also bought these because I am a beginner and wanted to reuse the bottles and caps if I make a huge batch of dandelion vinegar. If that happens I could just open the tops and pour the vinegar down the drain and start a new batch. I also did not want to by an expensive bottle corking device and a hundred corks at a time. I spent about$ 1.50 more on the case to get the screw tops and can order more of the tops if they get broken or do not seal well.  I got most of my supplies from Northernbrewer.com .

The first step before bottling is to rack the wine to help remove sediment that collects at the bottom of the Primary carboy while the fermentation is going on. Most wines need racking at lest three times, we did our two times and I am sure that in the future I will do all  three racking processes. In our case we placed the carboy on the counter the night before we wanted to bottle so that anything we stirred up with moving the bottle would have time to resettle over the nine hours we slept.

The next morning bright and early I got up and washed all the bottles, lids, siphon hose, two buckets and hydrometer with hot soapy water and rinsed them all in a sanitize water mixture.

washing wine bottles with a large bottle brush

washing wine bottles with a large bottle brush

While letting everything dry, Tom and I got our siphon hose ready to use. The trick to racking the wine is that you do not want the hose to sit on the bottom of the carboy and suck up all the must that is left on the bottom of the bottle. We rigged up a way to keep the hose from moving loosely around the bottle. We attached the hose with zip ties to a piece of washed wood and placed the hose about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the wood molding.The bottom of our bottle has ridges and traps a large amount of the sediment makes racking quite easy.

Wood molding with hose zip tied to side

Wood molding with hose zip tied to side

 

The next step is to siphon the wine from the carboy into a bucket to check the taste, alcohol content and remove the sediment. It does not take long to fill the bucket and do a taste and alcohol test with the hydrometer. The wine was running at about 10.5% alcohol at this point and was still fermenting and smelled yeasty. So Tom and I returned the remainder of the wine with out the sediment back into the carboy for about 4 more days.

carboy with wine, First stage of racking and checking alcohol

carboy with wine, First stage of racking and checking alcohol

At 4 days  we  retested everything. The wine tasted better, smelled less yeasty, and the alcohol content was up to about 11.0% so we were pretty happy. I suggested that we go a head and bottle knowing that the yeast was almost done as the bubbling had all most stopped by day 14. If you plan to bottle at this point I suggest that you add two or three more campdon tablets to the wine to stop the fermentation process and make sure all of your equipment is sterile before bottling. I forgot this step and may regret it in a few months.

Next we took one  bucket and placed it full of wine on the counter and placed one on the floor empty. Inside the empty bucket I placed one of the empty bottles that  we washed and a sanitized. I siphoned a little wine into the hose and began filling the bottles inside the bucket to prevent a huge mess on the floor if I spilled. Pinching off the tube when the bottle was with in an inch of the neck ring. I repeat this process over and over until I had all twelve bottles full. Then I added twist tops and washed the bottles before storage.

finished Dandelion wine

finished Dandelion wine

I put a date on the top of each bottle and at some point will make labels for the wine that I plan to give away as gifts. The bottles will need to rest about 6 months to get the full flavor of all the ingredients blended. So these bottles return to their box case and head down stairs for the summer. I will also know how much more sediment will appear at that point and see what I can do better with the racking process. The wine should retain the cloudy yellow appearance even after aging. So this is one of the few non clear wines I will be making.

For memorial day we did open one of the bottles and share it with my son and his wife. I enjoyed the wine but found it almost to sweet even after using the Hydrometer to help control the dry/sweet mixture. I noticed that when opening the bottle that their was some pressure in the bottle that indicates that my wine was still fermenting in the bottles. This is the mistake I made not adding the campdon tablets. Hopefully in six months,it will taste  less sweet as the yeast finishes up its job in the bottles and finish off with a nice 11.5 alcohol content.

The worry with bottling still fermenting wine is two fold. First the wine may continue to ferment and not be able to release the CO2 anywhere and may explode the bottles or caps( what a huge mess) and it is possible that this mixture may not stop at wine and may continue to change into Vinegar, wasting my efforts. I will let you all know what happens in about 6 months!

Thanks for following along on my journey to learn more about how fermentation works and what we can do with it. I have learned so much so far and hope to move on to pickled beets and pickles next if my garden allows. Then maybe around the end of summer a batch of water melon wine for New Years. Something is always cooking here at Mountain Mama so join in.

Categories: country cooking, Dandelions, fermentation, home brewing, Uncategorized, wine | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wine Making part 2: Dandelion Wine the Fermentation.

As all of you should know by now my New Years Resolution  was to learn more about and try to make fermented foods and drinks.   So far, I have learned to make  sauerkraut ( Toms family has made it for years so I had a lot of help on that one)  and now wine. There are several others I want to do like brine pickles, pickled beets ( I love these and have made them before) and maybe if time allows yogurt and farmer cheese. The items I am making are in the order of availability. Dandelions are everywhere so this just made sence to use for my first wine project. I  Have already posted about the equipment needed for this project and you can find them at preparations for Dandelion wine making part 1. In this post I will cover the ingredients and steps to get you through fermentation and the next post will cover racking and bottling and ageing.

After gathering your equipment and washing everything  and sanitizing it (I use a store-bought cleaner that has a chlorine base but does not taste like it) your carboy, funnel and buckets are ready to collect the needed flowers of  Dandelions.

just opening dandelion flower

just opening dandelion flower

 

Christopher picking Dandelions with a plastic kife

Christopher picking Dandelions with a plastic knife

We collected about 4 quarts of flowers that day,enough for my recipe that calls for 1 quart of flower petals to every gallon of wine. I was hoping to make about 3 gallons of wine this time.

After picking you need to remove any of the green that is still attached to the petals. Things like the stem and base of the flower. If you do not remove them they will give the wine a bitter after taste. I sat on the back porch cleaned the flowers for about an hour. This is the hardest part of the process and the most time-consuming. When finished I had Three quarts of very nice petals with very few green leaves mixed in.

Dandelion Petals

Dandelion Petals

I rinsed the flowers and tossed them around to make sure I had no full flowers that Christopher had been playing with on the porch or any bugs or leaves in the batch. I then heated about two gallons of water on the stove until a slow boil. Then poured the hot water over the petals in a five gallon bucket. Letting this mixture sit covered  for 2 or 3 days. Making the tea we will need to make the wine.

3 quarts dandelion petals with 2 gallons hot water. to make the "tea"

3 quarts dandelion petals with 2 gallons hot water. to make the “tea”

After three days I strained the tea throw a fine sieve that you saw in the top post getting almost every petal out. This made a nice yellow tea that is the base for the wine.

Strained Dandelion tea

Strained Dandelion tea

To  this tea, I added my fruit, spices, water, Campden tablets and sugar.

The first thing I added was a half a gallon of water…. I will be adding more later and some apple juice.

The fruit I am using are for flavor more than anything. Citrus fruit does not ferment fast or easy but it does add the acidity that you need for good flavor. My recipe calls for 1 lemon and 3 oranges . I add them and 1 box ( 2  1/2 cups) of white raisins to the tea. The raisins provide a nice flavor and a nutrient base for the yeast to grown on. I Also add 2 cups of 100% apple juice for the same reason as the raisins. At this time I also add spices to the tea. I use cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. I love mulled wine so I just thought I would save myself a step an add the spices into the wine, just a personal preference here.

Lemon, Orange and white raisins for a golden wine

Lemon, Orange and white raisins for a golden wine

 

100% apple juice as a nutrient starter for yeast adding more gold color

100% apple juice as a nutrient starter for yeast adding more gold color

Campden tablets get crushed and added to wine mixture

Campden tablets get crushed and added to wine mixture

cinnamon stick for flavore in wine

cinnamon stick for flavor in wine

Now lets talk about the Campden tablets for a second, They stop wild yeast growth and lots of bacteria and sanitize your wine, they help to remove chlorine and other water additives. I used filtered bottled water for my wine but if you use tap water this will help remove the flavor. My easy to fallow rule is one tablet for 1 gallon of wine. I Crushed and added them to the tea and fruit mixture to kill any wild yeast that could be growing on the fruit.Wild yeast loves over ripe fruit so do not use it as it could turn the wine you are working so hard to make into a nice rotten batch of vinegar. Stopping the wild yeast also lets you introduce the type of yeast you want for wine making.  You can certainly use regular old bread yeast to make wine but if you want to make the best tasting wine it is better to use a yeast for your type of wine. Also Campen tablets let you control the length of fermentation better. You know when you add the yeast and how much yeast, rather than letting wild yeast control you.  So adding the tablets now stops any strange bacteria and yeast growth that you may have accidentally added to your brew and you start out with a nice clean fresh product to add the  Montrachet yeast to. You should add the Campden tablets at least 24 hours before adding the yeast.

The next and most messy is adding the sugar that the yeast will have to convert into alcohol. The general rule is 4 cups sugar  per gallon of wine. In my case I added twelve cups of sugar to the tea and then took a measurement with a tool for wine making called a hydrometer.This is a way to measure the sugar content in the wine and  project alcohol level of the wine after fermentation. They are a complex tool and you may want to learn more about how to use all the things they can do. The tool is also used in beer and liquor making.

Hydrometer flouting in the tea mixture

Hydrometer flouting in the tea mixture

Thermometer and Hydrometer

Thermometer and Hydrometer

After taking the reading off the hydrometer I went to the included chart and 1.09 specific gravity = dry wine and we wanted something a little sweeter so I needed a specific gravity around 1.11 to 1.14, sweet wine runs 1.15 to 1.17. I measured in at 1.10 so with 12 cups of sugar I was low for the sweetness I was looking for.My projected alcohol count was to low also  at about 8%. We need more sugar to make a product that was med-sweet and had an alcohol content of 12%. So I added 4 more cups of sugar, mixing them in two at a time and taking a measurement each time.My final product was 1.130 specific gravity and projected alcohol content a little high at 14%. I will adjust the alcohol content later at bottling by adding water to the mixture to reach the exact amount of alcohol in the batch if that is a concern. Since this is a home-made batch it will not matter too much as I am not selling this in the retail market.

Organges, Lemons, spices and raisins are added to the tea

Oranges, Lemons, spices and raisins added to the tea

Now that we have added all of our flavorings to the tea, the half gallon of water, the campden tablets, and almost ten pounds of sugar to the tea, we are ready to let this mixture sit for about 48 hours.This steeps the raisins and spices flavor into the tea/sugar mixture. This also gives the campden tablets time to kill any wild yeast  before adding in the my wine yeast.

So two to three days later I open up my bucket and see this.

soaked raisins oranges and lemons floating in tea

soaked raisins oranges and lemons floating in tea

The mixture is ready for yeast and getting the fermentation started.

To get the yeast ready I placed 2 cups warm water in a measuring cup with a thermometer and looked for a temperature between 100 degrees and 105 degrees. I opened the package of yeast and dumped it into the water, mixed and waited for the yeast to get frothy, around ten minutes. I then add it to my bucket of fruit and tea and mixed well. The tea will start to bubble very shortly after adding the yeast.  

warm water with thermometer and yeast

warm water with thermometer and yeast

I got my yeast off the internet from northernbrewer.com a nice med to dry wine yeast that can handle higher amounts of alcohol. Yeast will eventually die from too much alcohol.This one is good up to 13 % alcohol per volume, table wine is usually 12% and home-brew is usually about 14% if you like a sweeter wine higher if you like a dryer wine. We are hoping for an alcohol percent about 12%. I also bought my campen tablets, air lock, bottles and other supplies at this website.

This bubbly frothy mixture we now need to strain out of the “primary” ferment container into the “Secondary” or Carboy bottle. I just took a slotted spoon and pulled out the larger pieces of fruit and spices then strained the remaining tea mixture through a muslin fruit straining bag over my funnel. Get a large one if you hope to make other fruit wines or jelly this one is a med size and would have worked better if it was just a little bigger.

straining the fruit must from the new wine

straining the fruit must from the new wine

Now remove the funnel and add a universal bunghole with an hole and the air lock itself.

bunghole and airlock in place

bunghole and airlock in place

Fill the airlock half way with water to allow for the Co2 to escape and to prevent air from entering the bottle.  Again you do not want any wild yeast or germs or bugs into the wine.With in just minutes of moving this bottle to its hiding place it began to move the water in the air lock into one side of the tubes and was bubbling out Co2 out the top.Within hours our home was about 72 degrees and the bubbling was constant.

 

carboy with airlock hidden away under my kitchen counter

carboy with airlock hidden away under my kitchen counter

I placed the “secondary”  carboy under my kitchen counter. It is out of the families way and in the shade from the sun. Ten days from now I can taste a nip and do another check with my hydrometer to see if all the sugar is gone and to see what % of alcohol we have. If I hit 14% we know that we are at the end of fermentation.

The next post at the end of the ten days will be about racking the wine and bottling it. This is the final steps in the process and then ageing the wine about 6 months to a year in recommended.

 

 

Here is my recipe for Dandelion wine

 

16 cups of sugar ( about ten pounds)

2 1/2 gallons filtered water, two cups warm water for yeast

3 quarts dandelion petals. We picked about 4 to get this

3 oranges

1 lemon

2 1/2 cup golden raisins… or one box

2 cups apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks

20 whole cloves

1 packet powered wine yeast

3 campden tablets

and fallow the above directions…

Thank you for stopping by this  is my most exciting project of the year.Hope you enjoy it as much as I have making it!

 

Categories: Dandelions, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, wild food, wine | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Sauerkraut, Home Made the Traditional Way

Our family loves Sauerkraut and they have made it home-made for generations. I was fortunate to receive a used kraut cutter from my father in law over ten years ago. This ones made by Masketeers in Belington,West Virginia with Appalachian Hard wood.The antique crock is a more resent purchase but is around 50 years old  so the following post will be a traditional view of the Sauerkraut making process, they way that my in laws family has made it here in Appalachia over a hundred years. There are other vessels that people make their fermented vegetables in but for me I find the use of a lager crock useful because you are able to adjust the amount of ingredients to fit your family size. This batch is relatively small  using only four heads of cabbage. Making about 4 to 5 quarts of  kraut to cold store, with larger batches we can process them in my canner. I also use the traditional 8″ inch dinner plate and a clean rock to hold everything under the brine.

crock and sauerkraut cutter made in West Virginia

crock and sauerkraut cutter made in West Virginia

There are lots of wonderful information about the health benefits of sauerkraut and other fermented foods on the internet. This is just one of many sites that explains what  sauerkraut  can do to help improve your health. WellnessMama does a great job of explaining the basic health benefits of adding fermented foods back into our diets. One of my favorite pieces of information about sauerkraut is that is was the first line of defense against Scurvy  and the effects of limited intake of vitamin C. Who would have guessed that is very simple process would save lives of sailors around the world. That just one serving of sauerkraut may have three times the levels of vitamin c than raw cabbage.

So to begin with the basic ingredients for sauerkraut are cabbage, salt and time, nothing radical or hard to find, but the alterations on the basic recipe are endless. This time I used  my 5 gallon crock so that I could make enough kraut for a couple of dinners and share some with my son and a friend.  So while cabbage was on sale I picked up 4 heads of cabbage weighing about 6 pounds. I also bought  canning salt. This salt is for making pickles, sauerkraut, and other items that require salt that is Iodine FREE, it is also low in metal minerals so  there is less discoloration of the cabbage.We will talk more about this in a minute. Table salt is not recommended and Sea Salt my cause discoloration but will not effect the fermentation of the food. Try what you have and see if you are happy with the results.

Morton canning and pickling salt

Morton canning and pickling salt

 

cabbage sitting on top of kraut cutter and crock

cabbage sitting on top of kraut cutter and crock

The first step is know about the weight of the cabbage you plan to use so that you can start out with a low amount of salt. Many people complain that home-made sauerkraut is to salty.Fallowing this basic step will prevent a person from over salting. I use 1 table-spoon salt per pound of cabbage. In this case I have a little over six pounds of cabbage so I used 6 and 1/2 table spoons salt. Also important is what kind of salt you are using as sea salt is the mildest of store-bought salts and then canning salt and then table salt. This affects the outcome of the kraut, we want to ferment the cabbage not kill the flavor with salt.

The next  part is to shred the cabbage. Use any method that is easy for you, but I suggest that if you are making more than two heads of cabbage into kraut you will want a mandolin slicer  or a sauerkraut cutter both are widely available over the internet. Then shred the heads of cabbage in to you crock or bowel, making sure to not shred the core into your container.

Tom and Christopher Powers shredding cabbage in to 5 gallon crock

Tom and Christopher Powers shredding cabbage in to 5 gallon crock

shredded cabbage in 5 gallon crock

shredded cabbage in 5 gallon crock

After  each head of cabbage I add one table-spoon salt and add any remaining salt at the end. So in this process I added  4 tables spoons while shredding and a couple at the end. The next step is the work of the job,  is to wash you hands and mix the cabbage and salt throughout. Then begin to squeeze and crush the two together this helps speed up the break down of the cabbage and begins the weeping process. Mash, squeeze, muddle, or smash the cabbage about 20 minutes until enough juice forms to cover the cabbage when pressed into your container. I just used my hands and a potato masher. If enough juice is not formed to cover the cabbage add a small amount of water and salt. 1/2 cup water to 1/4 teaspoon salt.

weeping cabbage after mashing in salt for 20 minutes

weeping cabbage after mashing in salt for 20 minutes

The cabbage brine is a little foamy from all the action but there is enough brine to cover this mixture with a dinner plate and rock at this point. I happen to have a large heavy dinner plate that covers almost the entire surface of the brine and cabbage. So I add this and squish the cabbage down again making sure the brine rises to cover most of the plate.

dinner plate over cabbage covered in brine

dinner plate over cabbage covered in brine

In this photo you can see just the very edges of the cabbage are peeking out from under the plate. As long as this small section of cabbage is under the brine we have an air tight seal with enough room for the Co2 to escape around the plate and fermentation to begin. For extra protection that the brine level was high enough for at least 7 days, I used a second plate to displace more of the brine back over the edges of the crock and then topped it with a clean rock in a freezer bag.

two dinner plates , clean rock in baggy over fermenting cabbage

two dinner plates , clean rock in baggy over fermenting cabbage

This was now ready to cover with a cloth, piece of wood, any thing that will keep bugs out and set for the next week to ten days. At about 5 days I look to make sure there is still enough liquid  over the edges of the plate to make sure I am keeping that air tight seal. What I found was a very nice bubbly foam that the bacteria had cause by releasing Co2, the brine was still deep enough for a good seal and I recovered the crock for two more days. Then at 7 days I looked again and noticed the there was still plenty of foam being formed but that brine level was getting a little low so I added about 1/2 cup water to the top of the crock. I replaced the cover and waited 2 more days.

color change at day 5 fresh foam

color change at day 5 fresh foam

On day nine, I saw a no foam and started to see a little milky film forming on the top blue plate and a  few areas around the bottom plate that looked dark and oxidized. When using salt with a high metal mineral content the tops of the cabbage turn to a lead-colored gray. This is nothing that will hurt you but it is not a pleasant sight. Gray is not a great color for sauerkraut. Also watch for a mold, at times it will form on the bottom of the rock, bag, or plate as these areas are also exposed to the air. I usually can stop it before the problem really starts but today I did find a spot forming on the edge of the plastic bag. All these signs indicate that it is time to move the crock to a cooler place or time to move the sauerkraut  into jars for storage. I chose to put my mine in jars and place in the back of our refrigerator.

day nine no foam slimy scum forming on top plate

day nine no foam, slimy scum forming on top plate

 

Fresh sauerkraut in jars in cold storage up to six months

Fresh sauerkraut in jars in cold storage up to six months

 

With 4 heads of shredded cabbage I ended up with 4 quarts of sauerkraut with enough brine left in each jar to cover the fermented cabbage. This process of storage will keep things ageing nicely up to 6 months. I did not pressure can or boiling water bath these jars although you could process them and keep them in your pantry for up to one year without any problems. I use the cold storage for small batches that we will use up in a couple of months but when the garden is full of cabbages and I have 6 or 7 heads fermenting I will can all but one jar and eat it fresh.

 

 

5 gallon crock with cabbage slicer

5 gallon crock with cabbage slicer

Their at hundreds of ways to include other vegetables into your kraut and some of the most often used are garlic and onions. I have also heard of carrots, beets, and celery going into batches for added color and texture. I think you will find that even if you only wanted to use a large glass jar for the fermentation vessel you can make a very inexpensive batch of healthy food for pennies on the dollar. In this case the cabbage was at 38 cents a pound and I added 6 tablespoons of salt maybe .25 cents = 2.50  for side dishes for at least 4 meals for a family of 4. That comes to about 20 cents per serving or less. Not a bad way to increase you probiotics and vitamin C in take.

So for dinner tonight, I will add this home made sauerkraut  to a low-fat cut of pork roast and bake long and slow in a slow cooker until it falls apart and serve  with a side of German potato pancakes and enjoy.

Categories: canning, country cooking, fermentation, gardening, health, Preserving, sauerkraut | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Lambert’s Vintage Winery, advice from a wine maker

Stone entry sign at Lambert's vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Stone entry sign at Lambert’s vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Since spring has not really reached my home yet,  I thought this was the best time to do  more investigations into wine making and visit some friends who make wine for a living here in North Central West Virginia. The Lambert family owns and operates one of the loveliest winery’s in our northern Appalachian mountains. Hidden back on a hill the winery has some thing for everyone, even a newbie wine maker. I spent the afternoon with J.B. Lambert ( son of owners Jim and Deb Lambert) and Jimmy Blake as they showed me the wine making process. They let me taste some of their stock and ask questions about the most important parts of the wine making process.

Lambert's stone tasting room,store and porch for events

Lambert’s stone tasting room,store and porch for events

The winery property includes several Gothic style stone buildings, a small vineyard, a banquette hall with a catering area, and a waterfall. By late spring the entire place is green rolling hills , flowers and out door fire places for warmth and lots of smiles.

Lambert's winery front doors to tasting room and  kitchen

Lambert’s winery front doors to tasting room and kitchen photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building  photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

The inside of the stone building is just a warm and inviting as the rest of the property with a tasting bar and kitchen area for a summer pizza night.

Wine tasting bar at Lambert's Vintage Wines

Wine tasting bar at Lambert’s Vintage Wines

Dinning table with fire place at Lambert's Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

Dinning table with fireplace  at Lambert’s Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

J.B Lambert was so helpful for answering all of my fermenting questions. The wine making in the family started with a humble story of a husband brewing in the family kitchen. Father, Jim Lambert started with the same inexpensive equipment as I have. He learned and increased the amount of wine step by step, from kitchen, to basement, to cellar, to garage, to full-out fermentation building under ground. The passion grew with each step and soon the family needed to add  more space to accommodate  the growing equipment and crowds that wanted to see and taste the wine the family made.

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert's winery

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert’s winery

The smell of wine greats you as J.B. opens the heavy wooden door to this room where most of the real work happens. All equipment gets washed and sanitized before the fruit juice pours into the tanks. J.B. made clear that this was one of the most critical parts of the wine making process,wash and sanitize everything. Making sure that you start with clean yeast and bacteria free equipment to save you from having loses later.   Then J.B. showed me their bottling machine. It fills the bottles, corks and labels them in a matter of seconds. Sadly, for me this process will not finished in seconds at home. I hope to spend most of one whole day doing nothing but bottling and corking two cases of bottles.

bottling machine at Lambert's vintage wines

bottling machine at Lambert’s vintage wines

When I asked J.B. who designed the distinctive label for the winery, he said that Deb, his mother and Tracy, his sister, were the one who came up with the labels. Their style is apparent every where you look at the winery. They decorated the store, dinning area, and porch and helped with labels and logos. In this photo of  bottles on the tasting bar you can see some of the lovely labels and colored bottles that they use.

bottles on bar at Lambert's winery

bottles on bar at Lambert’s winery

I am hoping to make my own labels on printer friendly, water-soluble paper, I found on-line. This will give my Dandelion wine a unique look when I give it away as gifts. I can also date the wine to help me keep track of the aging process.

After I walked back to the kitchen area from the fermentation room, Jimmy Blake invited me to see their banquette hall. This is the most resent addition to the property. This way a wedding  preformed outside can include a sit down dinner at one location. This addition makes the winery perfect for weddings, reunions, and birthday parties.

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert's vintage wines

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert’s vintage wines

The banquette room includes  beautiful french doors that open out on to a large porch with outdoor seating. While adventuring outside to taking more pictures of the grounds and buildings, I stumbled into the wineries most lovable mascot… their yellow lab. She is a real beauty.

The Lambert winery Mascot

The Lambert winery Mascot

I then went back to the tasting room to talk more about what other important steps in the fermentation process. J.B. Lambert felt that the next two most important steps in home wine making was to learning to rack your wine carefully and testing for alcohol content  as fermentation slowed. You want to stop the process when you are happy with the end product not when the sugar runs out or when you get a vinegar instead of a wine.

Racking the wine is the process that removes sediment from the wine. At home the process can take up to three siphoning processes. When the wine has finished fermentation, to clear away sediment the wine is siphoned from one container to another. This process if done correctly leaves the sediment in the bottom of the first container. Then you allow the wine to sit for another few weeks to settle again and repeat the processes. Their other methods that maybe faster and more expensive but for the home wine maker it is just a simple game of waiting and siphoning.

The second thing that we discussed is stopping the fermentation process before it makes the wine to dry or becomes a vinegar. He explained the Hydrometer and how to use it and what the Campen tablets can do and how is can help me in both the cleaning step and the testing step. I now know that I can stop the fermentation any time. I can also learn to control the amount of alcohol safely and have better control over the finished product with this simple tool. He explained the a Hydrometer was an inexpensive tool at about 8 dollars and that Campden tablets were available at our local liquor store.

While J.B. and I talked I also sampled a few of the 25 different wines and sherry that they  produce. My two personal favorites are their Blush White  Zinfandel that is crisp, fresh and lite and the a White Niagara  that is fruity without being to sweet. Then we tried the Lambert’s newest addition a deep red Chocolate Kiss.The sent is of a Tootsie roll, but to my surprise the flavor is of cherry’s bathed in chocolate, something like a chocolate covered cherry but with a strong cherry flavor. This is something that I will add to my collection soon mostly for cooking.  What a great way to dress up a black forest cake with a wonderful wine sauce. Then I wanted an idea of what their Elderberry wine tasted like. I want to make mine, as good, if not better than, their wine at home. It was fruity but not to sweet and gave me a high mark to aim for this summer.

With the tour and tasting over, I was able to just sit and visit with my friend Jimmy for a while and take a few more wonderful photos. I  snooped through their wine cellar and collection of pottery that they also sell.

wine cellar at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand made pottery at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand-made pottery at Lambert’s vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand made bowels at Lambert's vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand-made bowels at Lambert’s vintage wines

A day with friends surrounded with the warmth of a fire and a glass of wine really can’t be matched. I left Lambert’s winery a richer person with advice from a local family, and time spent with my friend. I may just be able to make a few bottles of my own elderberry and dandelion wine now and miss some of the pitfalls along the way.

A huge thank you goes out the Lambert family for letting me see and photograph their lovely business and to Jimmy Blake for always being a friend willing to help me write a better blog.

corks on bar counter at Lambert's Vintage Wines

This is the Vineyard/ Winery’s contact information for any one who wants to stop in to see them or call and order wines for your next event.

Lambert’s Winery is in north central West Virginia about an hour south of Morgan town, W.V. or two hours South of Pittsburgh, P.A. off of I-79 to exit 99 Weston. Take rout 33 west 4 miles to Gee Lick Road. Turn right 1.5 miles to Dutch Hollow Road turn left at winery signs.  190 vineyard Drive Weston, West Virginia, 26452.  You can call  the winery at  (304) 269-4903  or visit their website at www. lambertsvintagewine.com and like them on Face Book. Summer time is the best time to see the winery but they are a very busy with weddings and events on the weekends. I recommend visiting during the work week if you can, when the family is able to really spend quality time with each guest.

Categories: fermentation, Lambert's Vintage Wine, West Virginia, Weston, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dandelion Wine Making Preparation Begins part 1

I have several friends who over the years have made their own wine, schnapps , sherry’s and flavored liquors. I just never thought that I would be one of them. About a year ago I realized that I use a lot of wine to cook with. So I decided to make my own for half the cost. I do not regularly drink red wine as I am allergic to something in the tannin’s of the red grapes but love a lighter and sweater white wine with dinner or when out with friends. So why not make home-made wines to drink and cook with. My home-made wines would keep me from getting allergic headache  and would still be pleasant to cook with. West Virginia is also over run with natural wild ingredients  that cost very little to make into a favorable wines.

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

The idea for making home-made wine deepened this Christmas holiday when a friend shared some of her wonderful apple liquor with us.  When I asked where she bought it I was given a typical Hill Billy response… ” At the getten place”. Meaning that she was not telling me who or where the wonderful “hooch” coming from. Years of moon shining  and prohibition in these mountains still make folks around here suspicious of sharing this kind of information.When I asked if their was more for sale I just got a laugh and a ” Maybe”… meaning if I had enough money I might be able to get some but mostly I should just enjoy the evening and forget about getting my hands on this hand-made treasure.  This just sparked the fire and the thoughts began, “I can make this, I am sure I can do this”!

After talking with several people I have compiled at list of what a  beginner wine maker needs and what is just handy to have to make two simple wines over the course of the summer. I will include this list at the bottom of this post. The two wines I hope to make are Dandelion wine with out a grape base and Elderberry wine.  I see no reason to make myself sick so I will not use grapes in these two versions. I also will make about 5 gallons of Apple cider vinegar with the same ingredients and containers. I also find that using fresh and  free ingredients makes this project cost-effective. This project should only cost a dollar or two a bottle when done with an end result of 10 gallons of wine and 5 gallons of vinegar.

I also recommend reading about fermentation and what you can achieved just in your own kitchen. I have found vast amounts of help through reading and on the internet that will help me as I progress through this new adventure.

me with experimental wine bottle

me with experimental wine bottle

This is  a photo of all the basic equipment is all I need to start a small batch of home-made wine.

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

In this photo I have two five gallon buckets, a five gallon carboy with filtered water, 10 feet of 3/8 inside diameter vinyl  hose, One universal stopper for carboy with hole for air lock, air lock, 3 packages of yeast, 12 bottles with screw tops.  The three other items that you may want to add to your list that I still need to pick up sometime in a future shopping trip are.

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

This additive stops fermentation so you can add sweeteners if the wine is to dry.

these tablets are added to preserve the wine and prevent bacteria growth to keep wine from turning to vineger

Campden tablets

The Campden tablets prevent wild yeast and bacteria from growing in the wine. This will stop mold growth and wine from turning to vinegar. A must have if you are making hard apple cider and many grape wines with low acid content.

Hydrometer and tube

Hydrometer and tube

Then lastly a Hydrometer to measure the alcohol/ sugar content of the wine so you have enough sugar for fermentation and to track of the amount of finished alcohol per batch.

With all of this new never used equipment I would say I have about 100 dollars in everything inculding shipping. Some of these things we got local and some we ordered on-line. I am making one more trip to a local store in the next couple of weeks to get the campden tablets and hydrometer for the dandelion wine. The potassium-sorbate I will not need until I make the Elderberry wine later in the summer, it will needed when I add additional sweeteners and I hope to use organic honey for my sweetener.dandelionwine

I am still learning and with friends from a local winery maybe I can skip some of the most common made mistakes and share them here with all of you. So tomorrow I head over to Lambert’s vintage wines to get some first hand tips and recommendations from a family that started their vineyard in their kitchen a decade ago and now have a thriving business. I hope  to share some of the beautiful photos from their winery and interview one of the owners. Maybe by the fall I will have a well stocked shelf of home make wines like these and some custom labels to go one them.

Categories: apple cider vinger, Apples, Elderberry, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, organic foods, wine, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

7 long years I waited for this bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon

this is my ambassitor bottle with my name on the bottle

this is my ambassador bottle with my name on the label

The story of this bottle started almost 7 years ago in Lexington, Ky at the Kentucky Horse shoeing school over Fathers Day weekend.  Although I am not much of a drinker I do like to have a little spirits around for cooking and celebrations. Tom on the other hand has been a whiskey and bourbon fan most of his life.So, while  attending Farrier school in Lexington,Tom found out the locations of several of the local distilleries and asked us to join him on a tour while Cody and I visited.

From Lexington we traveled about an hour south to the small town of Loretto, Ky.  Off  in the middle of no where  sits one of the worlds best Bourbon distilleries. It is hard to find but worth every effort to find it. Maker’s Mark is known as “Top Shelf Bourbon” meaning top of the line and its grounds and tours reflect this effort to produce the best of the best. It is one of the most beautiful historic places I have ever visited.  Tom and I became ambassadors to the distillery on the visit and pledged to share our love of Mark’s Mark  with the people we knew and talked to. Included in our ambassador package was the ability to put our names on a barrel ( on a Brass Plate) and fallow that barrel through the whole process of creation and finally 6 to 7 years later come back and pickup a bottle or two of the aged bourbon that was in that barrel. At the time it was just one of the many perks to the ambassador program but was so far off in the future that I never imagined us back at the distillery getting those bottles.

Ticket sent from Marker's Mark announceing our bottles were ready to pick up

Ticket sent from Marker’s Mark announcing our bottles were ready to pick up

Well that all changed when  Maker’s Mark sent  us notification that our barrel had aged and been taste tested and was in the bottling process. They informed us that  we  could pick up our bottles for a few months this year, April-Sept and the remainder of the barrels would be bottled and sold with the regular bourbon.When I looked at the dates that the bottles were available, I was in shock and over joyed,April 1st 2013 was the frist day that the bottles were available and this is my oldest sons birthday.This date was also  just days after Toms 49th birthday and ended with Easter too. Our trip plans incorporated  all of these events and I was ready to head back to Kentucky and get my hands on bottle of bourbon that was waiting in a barrel all those years for me.

The Printing Houe of Maker's Mark and a sampleof the look of all the produceing buildings

The Printing House of Maker’s Mark and a sample of the look of all the buildings

racks of aging barrels of Maker's Mark bourbon

racks of aging barrels of Maker’s Mark bourbon

This time Cody and Jamie (my daughter-in-Law) were both of age so a family trip just seemed in order. We made our reservations and plans and headed to Bardstown,Ky for a long weekend. It turned out that if you like Whiskey, Bourbon or Scotch, Bardstown is the place to be. Bardstown is located in the middle of Bourbon country, near distilleries for Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark and others. It was just 16 miles to our destination and  we were able to see the towering aging sheds of many distilleries along the drive. Those 5 and 6 story sheds just appear out of  fields all around the Bardstown area. At a sharp turn in the small country road you enter the Makers Mark property. Visitors arrive at the   Gate House, Toll Gate and the beautiful Tobacco barn. All that appear to take you back in time to the early 1800’s. The grounds of Maker’s Mark are also on the National Register of Historic Places, including the “Quart House” the oldest liquor store in the US.

oldest liguare store in US ... also has a drive up window for wagons and later cars

oldest liquor store in US … also has a drive up window for wagons and later cars

 

 

The Gate House handled security for the distillery in the 1800’s and now houses a nice little cafe the serves southern pulled pork BB-Q and slaw…. you will never see BB-Q with out slaw in the south. The food was great  and a beautiful place to eat on a sunny afternoon.  The tour then leads you from building to building showing visitors every step in the process from crushing the corn to the fermentation tanks to the beautiful and over sized copper stills… (  sadly that picture did not turn out). To the tasting rooms and finally the gift shop and dipping area.  The grounds are open for photography and you are able to roam the grounds as long as you please.

Fermentation tank with corn wheat and barley

Fermentation tank with corn wheat and barley

Gate house ... with barn and toll gate

Gate house … with barn and toll gate

The Cyprus tanks pictures above are 12 feet deep and several hundred years old and are still in use everyday. Maker’s Mark allows visitors to taste the ageing mash and it is remarkably sweet and reminds me of Sugar Corn Pops. The above photo is of the frist stage of fermentation where the yeast is bubbling away the sugars in the corn, wheat and barley. This part of the tour is my favorite and this time I got to see one of the tanks empty and was really surprised with what 300 gallons in a 12 foot tank really looks like.

Before Tom and I picked up our bottles we enjoyed the tour tasting  and eventually dipped our bottles in the famous red wax that is a company trade mark. This was the highlight of the tour and they did not have the tasting room on our last visit. Here we got samples of the whole process. From 130 proof  “WhiteDog”… or in other words …”Moonshine”  that is not aged at all, just pure grain alcohol to regular Marker’s Mark bourbon  90 proof, then an over aged all most to flavorful whiskey that is not very palatable, to the best of the best Marker’s Mark 46 110 proof, a new and very tasty addition to the Maker’s Mark family.

tasting glasses full from left to right.. Moonshine( whitedog) Maker's mark , over aged bourbon. Maker's Mark 46

tasting glasses full from left to right.. Moonshine( whitedog) Maker’s mark , over aged bourbon. Maker’s Mark 46

The photos that fallow are of the bottling process and photos of us dipping our own bottles of Markers Mark.

4 workers dip the red wax tops on the "46" bottles

4 workers dip the red wax tops on the “46” bottles

bottles of "46" getting filled

bottles of “46” getting filled

 

Me with my two bottles of Makers Mark... waited a long time to these

Me with my two bottles of Makers Mark… waited a long time for these.

 

 

 

This trip to Markers Mark was  better than I had remembered it.  The tasting room addition  is great. When we originally visited  Maker’s Mark the distillery was in  a dry county… NO liquors allowed  at public places. For  over 100 years of their production no one could get a taste until they left the distillery grounds. The law recently changed and  the free tasting added if you are over 21 with a current ID. The tour is a great historical look back and very educational for anyone wondering about this areas traditions of Bourbon, Whiskey and Moonshine making.

Tom and Cody after dipping a few bottles of Makers Mark

Tom and Cody after dipping a few bottles of Makers Mark

I hope that if any of you are in Kentucky, you stop at your favorite distilleries and enjoy some of the history and love!  I found  waiting those seven years to come back and enjoy Maker’s Mark again worth every minute.

Jolynn Jamie and Christopher and Paige at Maker's Mark

Jolynn Jamie and Christopher and Paige at Maker’s Mark

Categories: Easter, family fun, fermentation, Kentucky, Maker's Mark, Travel | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

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Cooking with imagination

Trish the Dish

Keeping Our Family's Bellies and Minds FULL.... One Dish at a Time

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