Archive for the ‘blackberry’ Tag

07-07-205 Journal–Moving on to Summer!   Leave a comment

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‘Don’t look at this image, it might be against the law here in Maine.’

With the holiday weekend coming to an end summer has officially been declared here in Maine.  Even with that being said we still sat on the deck over the weekend in hoodies and sweatpants because it was a wee bit nippy. So it’s onward and upward to the many summer activities soon to come.

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‘Hot Bread & Butter Pickles’

We had a stay-at-home Fourth of July this year which we both found rather enjoyable. We relaxed on the deck until dark and then decided to be outlaws and lawbreakers.  For decades it was against the law in Maine to own or use fireworks. Two years ago the ban was lifted and fireworks stores sprung up overnight and everyone happily thought their future holidays could be celebrated with a little noise. Oh how wrong we were.

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‘Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Rhubarb, and Triple Berry Jams’

It’s impossible for politicians, local or otherwise,  to keep their collective noses out of everyone’s business for more than a heartbeat.  The town politicos then began to play their silly little games by passing local ordnance to ban the use of fireworks once again. It’s just like a bunch of political morons on a power trip to pass another law that can’t be enforced.

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‘Smoking Hot Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa’

As dark ascended on the neighborhood the law breaking began in earnest.  It sounded like the first night of D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy.  Every neighbor was trying to out do the others and being the weak minded idiots that we are, we joined right in. Sparklers, Zippers, Rockets, Roman Candles . . . you name it and we had it.  All of that noise and law breaking going on and not one police car was ever seen.  They were probably sitting at home in their driveway while their kids set off their own fireworks.  It was a lot of fun, no injuries or deaths reported, and the cleanup the next day was only about twenty minutes.

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‘Honey & Maple Mead’

The remainder of the weekend we were kept very busy.  B & B pickles were made and canned, an assortment of jams were made and canned, and I finished my first batch of salsa for 2015. It yielded thirteen and a half quarts of a salsa that’ll make your head sweat.

We are definitely on a roll for 2015.

07-03-2015 Journal – Wine and Jam Day!   Leave a comment

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‘While we were working the cat was meditating.’

My last posting concerned our short but successful foray with strawberry picking.  Even though we only managed to pick three quarts before the rains came, we still considered it a moderate success.  It also succeeded in motivating my better-half into a jam making frenzy yesterday.  It required another trip to the food store for additional strawberries, blue berries, and black berries with rhubarb harvested from our garden as well. As you can see in this photo the rhubarb plants are out of control and trying desperately to take over the garden. 

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She worked diligently for five hours and the results were impressive.  She made one batch each of strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and blueberry jam. She also completed two additional batches of tripleberry which has become a favorite of everyone (blackberry-blueberry-strawberry) who has tasted it.

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Of course I did my best to taste them all as they were being made, bobbing and weaving to avoid those painful hand slaps. They were all over-the-top delicious and I can’t wait to add the strawberry/rhubarb jam to my breakfast menu.

While she was completing the jam I was in another area of the house preparing to bottle my first experimental batch of wine for 2015. My goal was to make a wine unique to Maine and one never made by anyone else.  I thoroughly searched the net but could find no references to this type of mead. It was made from raw maple syrup and fresh honey. 

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The final product was a clear and sweet mead with a faint bouquet of maple. It was a good first effort and with some fine tuning of the recipe I may make it again soon.  I bottled three and a half gallons into various size bottles and kept one for myself. I always volunteer to be first to sample anything containing alcohol before giving it to others. 

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After two glasses I felt that special glow I’m always looking for.  Testing with my vinometer indicates an alcohol content between 7-8%, more than I anticipated.  All in all a really successful experiment.

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The batch was corked and capped and will go into storage for a few months and then be tasted again.  Most wine improves with age and I look forward to an older version of this mead to enjoy through the winter months.

05-15-2014 Journal Entry–Back to Work!   Leave a comment

After thoroughly enjoying my day-off and cruising around the area with my better-half it was once again back to work.  It seems that we’re finally free of the frost for this year so we I began planting the next group of plants which included black beans, green beans, wax beans and snap peas.  Any or all of these are delicious to eat fresh from the garden but they also can be canned without losing their flavor.  Normally we use them as part of the vegetable mixes we make for use through the Winter in stir-fry’s.

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The vegetable mixes are usually the last thing we do before closing down the garden.  The mix can contain any number of veggies that are left over at summers end. We try to make a number of different assortments as you can see by the photo’s.

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The better-half has been trying unsuccessfully for years to grow gourds.  She gives them a great start in the house under glass as you can see. Then they are moved to the cold frames before final planting. We decided this year to move some of the gourds out of the garden to a spot closer to the house where they can get sun and be better protected from the weather.  We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best one more time.  In my opinion it’ll take a minor miracle to get them to grow large enough to produce anything useful. She’s forever the optimistic and is certain it’ll work this year. Half full is her manta in all things.

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I wanted to plant the jalapeños and cayenne peppers but stopped myself.  As a rule peppers do best when they have warm nights so I decided to wait another week or two. I’ll be able then to put the cucumbers, zucchini, and squash in and finally be done with the garden planting. So for now they remain in the cold frame.

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My winemaking efforts continue and that red wine I mentioned in an earlier post has completed it’s hard fermentation and moved into glass jugs and sealed with air locks.  It’s now just a wait of a few months for the jugs to clear.  Eventually gravity will cause all of the yeast to drop to the bottom of the jugs and I can siphon off the clear and finished wine.  I have to say I love the smell of yeast and wine when it’s fermenting.  I wish some company could bottle that smell because I’d make sure my man-cave was always filled with that fragrance.

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While I was cleaning and organizing my man-cave I was pleasantly surprised to find this bottle of wine.

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This is a bottle of blackberry wine that I made back in 1986.  I’ve recorked it a few times over the years and each time I’ve taken a small taste.  It’s pretty potent after all those years but I think I’ll put it back in storage for a few more years before I try it again.

05-22-2013   Leave a comment

Today I get to play winemaker.  I’ve been making homemade wines for more than twenty years and plan on making it for twenty more.  My better-half became so interested that she began making her own batches about five years ago.  She leans toward berry wines and her specialty has become Tripleberry Wine. It’s made from a mix of blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  I have to admit it’s damn tasty and goes well with almost any dish.

For years I only made your basic wines.  Some were made from fresh fruit while other were made from professionally produced concentrates.  I’ve always tried to be creative with my winemaking and I’ve even made excellent wine from the fruit of the Mountain Ash tree.  My all time favorite over the years has been dandelion wine made from blossoms collected from nearby fields. It’s a killer to make because you sit for hours removing only the yellow petals.  The first time I attempted making it I found out much too late that rubber gloves should be worn.  I had really disgusting yellow fingers and hands for weeks.

I enjoy experimenting a great deal and in recent years have made a number of cooking wines which turned out rather well.  I first made onion and garlic wine which turned out to be an incredible marinade.  Then I made twenty-five bottles of habanero wine to be used for marinades and cooking.  I found as time went by it actually became hotter as it sat in the bottle.  Some people actually like drinking it but that’s not for me.  If your doing a stir-fry adding a cup of it will spark things up nicely.  Again a safety tip, when making anything with habaneros wear a double layer of latex gloves.

Today is bottling day for a fifteen bottle batch of the better-half’s wine and a twenty-five bottle batch of my latest experiment, gin wine.  I’m a big fan of gin but drinking the hard stuff is a little much sometimes.  I decided to make a wine out of the same ingredients that actual gin brewers use.  If recent taste tests are any indicator this batch isn’t all that good.  It has an alcohol content of about ten percent and might just make a great tar remover for our cars.  The smell of gin is there but that’s about it.  It tastes like a cross between battery acid and Lysol.  I’ll bottle up a few bottles for long term storage but the rest will unfortunately be discarded.  The better-half’s Tripleberry tastes great and will be bottled and stored today.

Making wine is always risky and ever so often you’ll get a batch that is just God awful. I’m hoping this summer is hot and sunny making our blackberry crop fat and juicy.  We have a few secret spots in certain areas of the county where we harvest blackberries by the bucket full.  They make the best jams and wines and we’re looking forward to doing it again this summer.

I’ll be sure to have a glass or two today to toast the arrival of Spring and the demise of the gin wine.

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