Soft fruit is ripening later than usual this year. It is no surprise - the weather has been diabolical. But as gooseberries are just coming into their own, and elderflowers are still abundant, it made sense to do this wine again. 2011's vintage is extremely good, so have decided to do a double batch.
I met Julia at the allotment on Saturday afternoon, 23rd June, during a rare break from the rain. The day before we had June's monthly average rainfall in just 24 hours. Julia has several gooseberry bushes and we picked fruit from a couple - taking the larger berries in the hope that this would allow the smaller ones to swell in time for a second picking. Between us we picked 8 lbs 4 oz and in return I dug two patches of ground for her. One of these involved taking out several butch thistles. These come out with a pleasing 'pop', their tap root in tact.
Then on Sunday, around noon, I went to pick my elderflowers. Claire and I had gone to Pannal to play chamber music with some WYSO string players, practising for a surreal-sounding concert on 21 July which is to fuse classical music with Hip-Hop. Once my bit was over I wandered to the parish church, where I had seen an elder tree, and picked about half a plastic-bag's worth.
Back at home I stripped the flowers (Radio 4 at hand, as always) which came to seven-eighths of a pint. I measured 6 lbs of gooseberries and put these, the flowers and 1 lb of minced sultanas into the bucket. I then had a frustrating and difficult time trying to crush the berries with a potato masher. Claire made it better by bringing me a gin & tonic and helping cut the berries with our super-sharp knife.
(Quick aside - I have just fettled Claire's hiccups by shouting BOO at her very loudly.)
I added 12 pints of boiling water and 5 lbs 8 oz sugar. The yeast and about a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient went in on Monday morning, 25th June. I sieved out the fruit and flowers on Friday evening, 29th June, and put it into its two demijohns. This was a tedious task as the liquid took an age to drain through the sieve. The wine is possible the brownest that I have made, which does not fill me with hope. I anticipate a large sediment.
|Brown wine (plus Quince ready for bottling to the right)|