Despite starting this on 5th June, this is my November wine. I have decided to dedicate November's article in Home Farmer Magazine to Spiced Beetroot, but as its colour is the most dramatic thing about it I needed to begin this in June so that suitable photos can appear (and I will post some on this blog once they are taken and uploaded!). This will be my first 'cheat' of an article.
The place where I bought the beetroot, Noshis in Harehills, has an interesting approach to pricing. If in doubt, they charge a pound. So on Saturday I bought three oranges that were priced six for a pound, and was charged one quid. I also bought the beetroot, which was unpriced, and again paid a pound. I like this method: "Some fruit? That will be a pound please. Some veg? Call it a pound." Our fruit and veg bills have dropped since Paul's greengrocers closed. I definitely miss him, but also like the ethnic atmosphere of Noshis.
I began the wine on late Sunday afternoon, 6th June, after making my elderflower and racking my dandelion. Keeping the beetroot till last seemed sensible - I did not want its purpleness leaching into my other brews. I chopped 3 lbs of beetroot into chunks after washing, but not peeling, it and I let it come up to the boil in 6 pints of tap water. Whilst it boiled for half an hour I put 3 lbs sugar, 2 pints cold tap water, juice of one lemon, 5 cloves (down one from last time I made this), not quite 2 oz root ginger sliced thinly, half a teaspoon of all-spice and a small amount of grated nutmeg into my bucket. I hope the spice does not impede fermentation. I then poured the boiling liquid over all this and threw out the beetroot, which strikes me as a waste, and stirred until the sugar was dissolved.
I added the yeast and 1 teaspoon of nutrient on Monday late afternoon. The man in the wine shop suggested that a Madeira yeast would be best, but didn't have any, so I used a 'High Alcohol' yeast instead (the label of which is pleasingly purple). I put this into its demijohn on 10th June, after playing quintets in Harrogate. It was a rapid job, and I could have used half a pint less water in my ingredients. The demijohn is now in the bath, wrapped in silver foil, and bubbling away happily to itself.