Archive for the ‘bottling’ Tag

05-30-2016 Journal – Sake & Memorial Day!   2 comments

I found myself awake much too early this morning for some unknown reason. I usually like to get moving around 7am but this morning I was awake at 4:45am and wondering why.  Yesterday was a nothing-special day and I had no pressing personal issues  preying on my mind . . . so why? I’ll probably never know but it sure is irritating.

Yesterday was a rainy and overcast day which kept me indoors most of the day.  I decided to get back to my home brewing tasks and to bottle my batch of Sake that’s been needing my attention for more than a week.

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I checked the bottles to be sure that fermentation had truly stopped. Once many years ago I bottled a batch of wine a little too early and was awakened in the middle of the night by exploding bottles.  I can’t have that happen again . . .  what a mess! Wine making isn’t as complicated as most people think but it does require a reasonable amount of common sense.  The minute you forget that fact you’re in trouble.  I began the  siphoning process which takes no time at all and everything went smoothly. 

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I decided against using the standard wine corks with this batch. These screw caps work just as well and require much less work for me.  It also makes reusing the bottles much easier and I won’t need to exhaust my limited supply of good wine corks.

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I was pleased with the overall look and clarity of the Sake and was able to fill twelve half bottles and seven additional full size bottles. More than enough to last me for quite some time.

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I was also able to save and store a pint and one half of the Sake yeast which will allow me to make numerous batches in the future and save me money at the same time.  It’s all about the yeast!

After the bottling was completed the better-half cooked up a delicious chicken and veggie stir-fry dinner. I cracked open our first bottle of the Sake, warmed it properly, and we toasted the great meal and the Memorial Day holiday. 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY

THANK A VET FOR THEIR SERVICE

SHOW THE FLAG

(And maybe drink some Sake too.)

05-26-2016 Journal–Miscellaneous Updates!   Leave a comment

As summer looms in my future I’ve been attempting to close out some existing projects to make room for what’s to come.  My infusion of hot peppers in tequila has finally ended with the hot peppers almost bleached white as you can see. I took a small sample and gave it a taste test and was very very hot.  I can’t wait to give it a try in a my first attempt at a Hot Pepper Margarita. I think it will be fine for me and my better-half but I doubt if most people will be able to handle the heat. We’ll see very soon.

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‘The Tequila sucks the color and heat from them.’

My second project has been the Sake that’s almost ready for bottling. Within the next few days I’ll begin the bottling process and finally be done with it. It’s taken a little longer than usual due to it’s refusal to clear.  It’s looking good now and it also has passed my first taste test.

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‘Nice and clear.’

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Today I’ll be making my second visit to the Saco Police Department. I’m trying to renew my permit allowing me to carry a concealed weapon for another four years.  I’ve held permits in multiple states in the past but I have to say the state of Maine isn’t quite as difficult as some others.  My reapplication was only ten pages long and in comparison to some states it’s rather short. I’ve finished the forms, obtained a new and handsome picture of myself, and a check to the city, of course, for $20.00. By far the cheapest fee I’ve ever paid for this constitutional privilege.

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CAN’T LET THE BUREAUCRATIC MINUTIA GET ME DOWN

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.

01-08-2015 Journal – Cold Weather & Colder Wine   Leave a comment

I love cold weather but this is getting ridiculous.  My better-half also likes the temperature in the house kept around 65 degrees but even she’s spending more time in the bedroom wrapped in that wonderful electric blanket of ours. We’ve been in the single digits for the last two days and below zero today with wind chills bordering on dangerous and even life threatening.

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I may look a little silly wandering around the house at the end of a fifty foot extension cord but I don’t really care. There are certain male body parts that demand warmth and I’m making sure they get it. So what if I have a heating pad stuffed down my sweat pants and who really cares about that stupid looking orange extension cord.  I have my priorities set and no one will convince me otherwise.

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Trying to stay busy and warm brought me to my next task.  I’ve had three gallons of dandelion wine sitting in the man-cave for almost six months.  After four months it was still a little too cloudy which required me to take emergency measures to clear it.  There’s a product called Sparkloid that is nothing more than very fine clay dust.  It’s mixed with water and brought to a boil for twenty minutes or so. Then each gallon jug receives a portion of that mix and is  left to settle for a few weeks. It worked like a charm because I now have three gallons of a crystal clear golden liquid the exact color of dandelion blossoms.

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After doing a little repair work to my wine racks I began the siphoning and bottling process.  My final tally was thirteen bottles of a beautiful wine that actually tastes a little like a Chardonnay but a bit sweeter.

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I boiled the corks in clean water and corked each bottle. I put a nice golden cap on each and they’re now reading for storage in the wine rack.  As you can see from the photos there are thirteen bottles and a small jar of wine.  That small jar I’ll be drinking with my dinner tonight.  I want it chilled until it’s close to freezing and then I’ll sip it slowly and savor the flavor.  I’ve made dandelion wine a number of times over the years but I think this might be my best batch ever.  It’s always a pain in the butt to make dandelion wine because it takes forever to pick and prepare the blossoms. They must be cleaned of all pieces of leaves and debris and then frozen for a week or so.  The freezing helps to breakdown the blossoms and convinces them to give up their beautiful color when they’re finally put in with the yeast.

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This coming summer will be an interesting time for me because I fully intend to go outside the box with my winemaking projects.  I want to make a few batches from ingredients that are not normally used for wine making but trying to do something never done before can be difficult.  I look forward to the challenge and hopefully the results will be a few bottles of a really unique wine.

B r r r r !!!

09-27-2014 Journal Entry-Drinking Wine Before It’s Time!   Leave a comment

With most of the gardening chores completed things have slowed down around here a bit.  Who am I kidding?  We’re just killing time until the day the “Fair” opens.  That would be the Fair held every year in Fryeburg, Maine.  It’s by far the largest event in the state and it’s a week long party for the many thousands of attendees from all over the country.  We’ll be attending next week and it will be twelve hours of farm animals, large crowds, crazy good food, and hundreds and hundreds of photographs.  So like I said we’re just killing time until the Fair.

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Today I’ve been completing a number of small projects which required very little effort on my part.  As I was walking through the house I remembered one thing that I absolutely had to do sooner rather than later.  It was time for the Concord grape wine to be bottled.  It’s been almost three months in the making and the fermentation has finally stopped.

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The final product is a beautiful dry ruby red wine with an unbelievable bouquet. So it’s a half hour of washing bottles and making my usual mess.  I tend to be a bit clumsy and if I don’t spill at least one bottle of wine in the process I just don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything.

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There’s nothing like siphoning wine through a little plastic tube, spilling it on the floor, down your leg, and onto nearby books, papers, and house pets. Curiosity may have killed the cat but in this house a good squirt of wine onto a persistently nosy cat is as good as it gets.

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After filling and corking nineteen bottles it was then time to put on the fancy gold PVC covers.  This requires a large pot of boiling water into which the bottle tops are quickly dipped causing the cover to shrink and seal the corks. It’s imperative that the bottle not remain in the hot water for more than a few seconds or there will be trouble. That truth became immediately evident when my first cool glass bottle was held into the boiling water for more than four or five seconds and the top exploded.  Now I’m down to eighteen bottles but with a much better understanding of things I shouldn’t do.

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I finished the remainder of the job but held back another bottle for the better-half and I to have with dinner.  I poured myself a large glassful and waited for her arrival from work.  I found out in the middle of the second glass that there was definitely a sufficient amount of alcohol in the wine.  I had a wonderful glow on which translated to my canceling dinner. There was no way I could safely cook without possibly burning down the house.

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When the better-half arrived home she drank a couple of mouthfuls of the wine, declared it delicious, and then immediately opened a beer (she isn’t much of a wine lover).  She made her own meal and I ended up having an off-the-cuff snack consisting of Wheat Thins, a dab of Smart Balance and peanut butter with a dash of triple berry jam.

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This batch of wine has passed my final acid test.  Any wine that can make me eat this slop for dinner  contains more than enough alcohol.  I tested it with my vinometer and it contain just a hair more than 9 percent.  That makes for an excellent batch of 18 proof red wine, more than enough to make almost any food edible.

4-25-2014. Journal Entry – No Wine Before It’s Time!   Leave a comment

I’ve been boring the hell out of everyone lately with the trials and tribulations with my garden and my DIY projects.  I apologize for that but only just a little.  My main goal for April was to get all of my old projects put to bed before I start creating new ones or “God Forbid” before my better-half does.

We both let a number of things slide last Fall when I broke my leg.  I decided today to do one chore I’ve come to hate and one I’ve always loved to do.  The first task was to empty my huge dehydrator that has contained five pounds of habanero peppers, one pound of cayenne peppers, and a tray or two of red chilies, for more than a month.  I kept procrastinating because after drying them thoroughly they must be ground into a fine powder.  I’ve done it many times before but it’s a nasty job.

The last time I attempted it I paid a horrible price.  As I began grinding up the peppers the dust from the grinder filled my man-cave very quickly.  I was forced to flee when I couldn’t stop sneezing.  Along with the sneezing my face was on fire.  I was smart enough to wear latex gloves but I quickly found out they weren’t thick enough to keep the pepper dust from burning my hands and anything I might accidently touch later in the day.  I won’t get into any intimate details but I had a selection of body parts that felt like they would at any moment burst into flames.  It took the better part of a day for everything to return to normal but I learned a few valuable but painful lessons.

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This time I was wearing yellow dish-washing rubber gloves, ten times thicker than latex, a face mask with an air filter, and a long sleeved shirt.  I was sitting on an upturned bucket on the back porch with an extension cord to run the food grinder.  I thought I had it all covered but once again I was sooooooo wrong.  Within minutes the mask turned into a death trap.  The filter was keeping everything from entering my nostrils including air.  I cracked the mask just enough to get a breath and instead got a nose full of the dreaded pepper dust.  It was all down hill from there and another day of pepper pain awaited me.  I finally finished the job and now I have these three jars of hot pepper dust that I need to use sparingly so I don’t have to do this again any time soon.  I might be forced to rent a SCUBA outfit the next time.

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The second job is a fav.  I need to explain that I’ve been a winemaker since the mid-1980’s. It’s a skill I picked up from my late grandfather whose elderberry wine was to kill for. Late last summer my better-half and I decided to make a batch of blueberry wine made with good old Maine home grown berries.  The wine was almost forgotten with all of our Fall activities, my broken leg,  and the holidays.  It’s been sitting for the last ten months in my man-cave and today I shook off my laziness and bottled it.

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And here’s the finished product.

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Of course a good winemaker always tastes his final product and I tasted the hell out of it.  I was as surprised as anyone when it turned out to be possibly the best wine we’ve made in the last ten years.  I’m going to find a dark corner of my wine cellar and hide it for a few more months. It should be spectacular by then.

And our Spring continues to roll right along.