Posts Tagged With: Elderberry

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

Elderberries prevent the flu??

   As many of you already know from my other blog posts West Virginia is a place with a huge assortment of wild foods. My family and I try as much as possible to use what is given in our woods for food and better health. One of the most wonderful plants that my family has found and uses not only for food but also as a medicine is Elderberries. It has been a tradition here to use these berries as a tonic or wine for centuries but more modern studies have shown that their medicinal uses are wide-spread. For more information what benefits they have finding fallow the link. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-elderberry. The berries are high in vitamin C and have anti viral properties that anyone can use in these coming cold winter months. Studies suggest that the berries reduce inflammation and swelling also so it can’t hurt to take a bit everyday and maybe more if you are feeling the effects of a cold or flue coming on.

  These little power houses are one of my favorite things about my hunter-gather life style as I make a wonderful jelly out of these berries and who can complain about a daily dose of medicine that you can put on toast, biscuits or even pancakes.

Elderberry flowers in spring and summer fruit

Elderberry flowers in spring and summer fruit

    My passion for the wild bushes started out on our small horse farm  where a small bush took up residence in a fence row. After talking with my husband who knew what the plant was I ask if he liked Elder berry wine and jelly he said he had not had either in years but liked them both.

Me riding in front of fence line full of baby elderberries

Me riding in front of fence line full of baby elderberries

   Well that following year I read up on the tiny berries and how to use them. Waited until they were about 80% ripe and went to work making my frist batch of Jelly that the family loved and later found out how wonderful they were for your health.

   So now every mid July I hunt for enough wild berries to make  at least 20 half pints of jelly and if I am lucky several quarts of juice to later made into syrup. We use it as a cold treatment and a preventative… a daily dose to word off the flu season blues. 

    Last spring I ran out of jelly and needed to renew my stock pile and decided to take photos of the jelly and syrup process and share them with you. A person can buy dried berries and make both jelly or syrup but fresh is always the better option if you can find them.

   The plants are easily found along road banks and ditches here in the east and most farmers mow the plants not wanting their stocky plants in their meadows. The canes grow about 5 to 9 feet tall if left to grow wild and are thornless but grow in the same manner as black berries. The canes are hallow and round and in fall they do become brittle and snapped off for other uses. In spring the plants have a very beautiful white cluster flower all along the top of the canes against a green leave back ground. Summer leading to the  red/black berries. The darker the berries the better they are for you health. These berries would eventually look almost black when totally ripe. I pick mine just before that happens as the birds love them and will clean entire bushes off in a day when totally ripe. These berries sat on my porch for about three days to finish ripening and getting that beautiful red/black color.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

  In the Jelly making process you want a few under ripe berries to help produce natural pectin to help jell the juice.If making you are making syrup only it is better to use the ripest fruits for better flavor. As you can see I used about a 90-10 mixture and still needed to add a little lemon juice to encourage the jelling process.

   After picking the berries I strip them from the stems, wash them through a colander,

berry juice stained fingers

berry juice stained fingers

bowl of fresh Elder berries on counter

bowl of fresh Elder berries on counter

  place them in a large stock pot and add water to begin the juicing process.

  Always wash and sterilise your jars, lids and rings before making the syrup or jelly. Plan to use a boiling water canner to seal jars.

      Next  place berries in stock pot ( mine is an 8 quart) adding about half as much water as you have berries. In my case I had almost 5 quarts of berries and I added 3 quarts water to the pot. Add medium heat to the pot and wait for the berries and water to boil a low boil and begin to smash the berries as they cook with a potato masher. The berries will appeared to pop from the heat and skins will float to the top of the juice.

     After letting the juice cool I then strain it through 3 or 4 pieces or WET cheese cloth. I put mine in a colander and drain into another stock pot. When straining the berry skins away from the juice do not squeeze the cheese cloth. let it drain naturally. If you squeeze the skins to hard they will cloud you juice making it look milky. At this point I had about 7 quarts of juice to make into any thing I wanted. I could process this very healthy juice into quart jars, I can make a more palatable syrup for coughs and colds or make jelly. I make both the syrup and jelly with sugar but honey could be used in the cold syrup instead, Jelly on the other hand needs sugar and acid to set up.

I then fallow the SURE-GEL elderberry jelly receipt that fallows. http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/surejell-elderberry-jelly-60866.aspx The receipt was once a staple of the package instructions but as of this year Kraft removed it. Not a wise idea if you ask me.

   This was the end result of about 30 minutes of picking time, a box of Sure-Gel,a few cups of sugar and a case of jelly jars.GE DIGITAL CAMERA I also made about 6 1/2 pints of cold syrup this year and that should last are family all winter. Most of these jars will eventually be sent to family and friends for a gift of health for the holidays.

  The gifts of the wild woods here in West Virgina always amaze me. I am so glad to live in a place that offers so much to a person who is willing to take the time to learn more about the wilderness. Elderberries of course can also be grown from nursery stock and  planted in you own back yard. At some point when my knees and ankles will not allow me to berry pick on a steep hill-sides I will  then transplant a bush into our yard for easy access. But at this point, I am happy to spend the day along a farm road or creek side, looking for and making a wonderful tasting flu and cold preventive the old fashion way.

Katherines Corner  this post is shared on  Katherine’s corner blog hop.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

                                         shared with the homeacre blog hop.

Categories: Appalachina Mountains, Elderberry, Jelly, organic food, Preserving | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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