Archive for the ‘winemaking’ Tag

02-09-2015 Journal–Honey & Maple Mead!   1 comment

The cat and I are still in bed as I write this. My better-half is out in the snow storm on her way to work and I’m waiting by the telephone in case of any emergencies. The snow is relatively light but has been coming down steadily since last night and it’s anticipated to continue for the next twenty-four hours. The roads quite simply are a bitch.

To say I’m a little sick of the snow is a major understatement. I’ve decided that going out to clear the driveway will just have to wait until much later in the day. I’m thoroughly enjoying my coffee and cookies and I intend to stay warm and toasty for as long as possible.

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Having this cold weather keeps the house temperatures in the med to low sixties. That temperature issue gave me fits earlier in the week when I decided to make a new experimental batch of home made wine.  I’ve made Mead in years past which is basically nothing more than wine made from honey.  In keeping with my goals for 2015 I wanted to make something new and different.  After a lot of research I created a recipe that would make a Honey & Maple Syrup Mead. I had to make a few educated guesses with the ingredients but I pushed fearlessly forward.

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The basic ingredients consist of distilled water, Orange Blossom honey, Clover honey, and an all natural maple syrup made with the sap from local trees. My difficulty was going to be able to keep the primary fermenter warm enough to properly activate the yeast.  Our house is usually sixty three degrees but I need temps between 68-74 for the best results.

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I was forced to use a small heater that I purchased many years ago that was once a tropical fish tank heater. It’ been sitting in a box in the garage for a couple of decades. It’s a long glass tube that you insert into the fermenter and it’s thermostat maintains the level of heat you select.  After all these years the little devil worked perfectly.  I then added just a pinch of roasted fennel seeds and rosemary for a faint hint of licorice and pine which I hope will give the wine a little character. 

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Once the wine was siphoned from the fermenter into the glass jugs I moved them all upstairs to store them in the warmest area of the house.  The heat must be sufficiently high because they’re bubbling away as they should be. In a few months I’ll have something new and interesting to sample and it’ll  either be 25 bottles of tasty wine or something God awful.  We’ll just have to wait and see. Making wine teaches a person patience if nothing else.

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I’d like to keep writing but I’m wanting more coffee to help me find the motivation I need to get out of this warm bed and to go play in the snow.

06-21-2014 Journal Entry – Little Old Winemaker!   Leave a comment

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“I really believe that the feet give the wine that little “special something”. LOL

I’ve been in heaven for the last few days.  We’ve been having San Diego style weather and that’s damn unusual for sure.  I’m pretty good at adapting to change so I’ll be just fine, really!  I’ve been tending the garden, completing a host of BS projects from my better-half’s To-Do List and generally feeling relaxed and at peace with things.

I took a ride without her today (she’s working) and decided to hit a few of the dozens of yard sales in the area.  You just never know what you might find and I do love surprises.  Unfortunately yard sales have been losing their charm for me of late and today was no different. Too many people watching too many TV shows that have convinced everyone that every piece of crap that would have been thrown away in the past is now a precious antique worth big bucks.  I visited three yard  sales in a short period of time and it was all I could do not to say something totally inappropriate like “Are you f…ing kidding me!”.  No purchases today for me and much less interest in visiting any more this summer.  It’s just ridiculous and really getting out of control.

I returned home and decided to take a few minutes to check the wine I’ve been making. I racked the red wine.  For those of you not familiar with home brewing terminology racking means siphoning off the clear wine after the yeast had settled to the bottom of the fermentation container.  This is done two or three times during the winemaking process until the batch is crystal clear.

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I think this may turn into a rather nice medium sweet red wine.  I haven’t used Concord grapes in the past and now I’m thinking I probably should have. The wine has a beautiful almost black color and it cleared itself of yeast very quickly.  I started out with four and a half gallons and lost a half in the siphoning process. I should be bottling approximately 18-20 bottles in a month or so.

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The Dandelion wine will continue to ferment for a while longer. I think it may end up being rather dry with a fairly high alcohol content.  I can’t wait to taste the final product because dandelion is one of my favorites.

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I need to get these two batches completed and in the bottle as soon as possible.  I suspect I’ll be doing two more batches of fruit and berry wine this fall and need to make a little room for them.  All in all it should be an excellent year for winemaking.

06-17-2014 The Japanese, Turtles, and Muslims!   Leave a comment

I’ll start off to day talking about consumerism.  I didn’t realize just how much of a consumer I actually was until I began tracking my purchases and saving every receipt.  I’ve been doing that for years now and every so often as I’m entering that end-of-month information into a spreadsheet I’m forced to admit my somewhat excessive consumer issues. Once each month I find myself standing next to a trash can filled with receipts and that has to tell me something.

That being said as I was reading yesterday I discovered that in comparison I might not be as bad as I first thought.  I noticed that as bad as we American seem to be when it comes to crass consumerism the Japanese make us look like a bunch of amateurs.  Here’s a collection of tidbits on the Japanese and their quirky approach to retailing and consumption.

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“In Tokyo, Japan there are vending machines that dispense frozen meat, jewelry, and even dating information.”

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“A company in Kyoto, Japan, makes waterproof books for students who like to study in the bath.”

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“Kanebo, a cosmetic company in Japan, has developed a line of panty-hose that are embedded with vitamins and special scents that are released when worn.”

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I know you thought I was kidding, right!   Those crazy fun loving Japanese will merchandise and sell just about anything.

Next I’ll address a subject that has always fascinated me. Synchronicity!  I’ve firmly believed for most of my life that there are no such things as coincidences.  As a former extensively trained investigator it’s been proven time and time again to my satisfaction. Unfortunately there have been a few random times that "synchronicity" has reared it’s ugly head and I had no logical explanation.

Two days ago my better-half and I were taking a walk near our home when a passing motorist stopped to tell us about a large turtle she saw crossing the road. She was concerned it might be hit by a car and had turned around to check on it. I walked a short distance and found the turtle scrambling from the highway and helped him along in his travels to get off the road.

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We returned to our house and I sat down at the computer to check on a few things on-line.  On Facebook I found an entry from my step-daughters husband who was traveling for work and happened upon what else, a freaking turtle on the road. He posted a photograph of himself parked along a highway and assisting the rather large turtle to cross the road to avoid the dangers of oncoming traffic. 

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A synchronistic moment to be sure.  I’ve had a few other startling incidents like this during my life for which I have no reasonable answers or explanations.  Just saying.

Lastly, I finally finished the renovation of my wine-making area.  I’d been wanting to complete this job for years and finally was able to get it done.  It should make bottling and handling of my wine a much easier process than in the past.

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That’s all I have for today but I thought I’d pass along a few tidbits of wisdom from Jeff Foxworthy. In the Army we called this process “Knowing Your Enemy”. If this offends anyone out there just remember I’m just doing my part in adding a little humor to a humorless situation. So get over it.

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Have you ever wondered why it’s OK to make jokes about Catholics, the Pope, Jews, Christians, the Irish, the Italians, the Polish, the Chinese, the French (including French Canadians) etc., but its insensitive to make jokes about Muslims? We need to level the playing field for the sake of political correctness . . .

Jeff Foxworthy on Muslims

1.   If you refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to liquor, you may be a Muslim.

2. If you own a $3,000 machine gun and a $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes, you may be a Muslim.

3. If you have more wives than teeth, you may be a Muslim.

4. If you wipe your butt with your bare hand but consider bacon to be unclean, you may be a Muslim.

5. If you think vests come in two styles: Bullet-proof and suicide,you may be a Muslim

6. If you can’t think of anyone you haven’t declared jihad against,you may be a Muslim.

7. If you consider television dangerous but routinely carry explosives in your clothing, you may be a Muslim.

8. If you were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs, you may be a Muslim.

9. If you have nothing against women and think every man should own at least four, you may be a Muslim.

10. If you find this offensive and don’t forward it, you may be a Muslim.

THERE YOU HAVE IT!

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.

11-09-2012   Leave a comment

Well the first winter storm has come and gone with no appreciable damage to our home  or  property.  It’s been sleeting and raining off and on for most of the night but the plus side to that is the snow will be gone in a short time.  It’s a reasonably good start to the 2012/2013 winter when we’ve had 4 inches of snow which required no shoveling.

I spent most of my evening yesterday lounging with my better-half watching a little TV.  I’m not sure who’s responsible for giving television the nickname  “boob tube” but they certainly hit that nail right on the head. I was reading and TV watching and finally finished the first Harry Potter book.  A short time after my better-half went off to bed I  turned off the “tube” and opened up book number two. It was an enjoyable read but it didn’t last very long. I become so relaxed when I read that if I’m not careful I can easily doze off. My solution is to sit in an uncomfortable chair in an uncomfortable position and just read. I stay awake longer and in the long run read much more.

Today’s a new day and I’ve got a lot of errands to run and a list of tasks that need to be taken care of. I was happy to finally receive yesterday afternoon a really nice set of wood carving tools that I ordered from Amazon a week or so ago. I like carving but without the proper tools it’s just a waste of time and energy. I spent an hour or two on an old piece of wood learning what each tool will do and what they won’t do.  It may take me a little time to get the feel for these tools but I think any carvings that I do in the future will be much cleaner and crisper than in the past. I may actually try to do something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time and that is to attempt wood block printing. It’s been a number of years since the last time but it’s a little like sex and bicycle riding, you never forget the basics. That will be another one of my winter projects for this year and should keep me busy in January and February.

Well, I’m finally dressed with my camera in hand and I’m out the door in five minutes.  I need to make a quick stop at a local business that supplies me with winemaking equipment.  We have three batches of wine underway and it won’t be long before the bottling will begin.  I’m in need of corks and a few other odds and ends.  I’ve been experimenting this year with my wines and I’ll find out soon enough if it worked.  I’m a huge fan of Gin but drinking too much of it is not a good idea.  I decided to gather the ingredients used to make Gin and attempt to create a Gin Wine.  I had juniper berries shipped in from California  and in combination with other herbs and spices made a three gallon batch.  Making wine is always an adventure because you never really have any idea how it will turn out even if your following a good recipe.  This experiment has Gin’s aroma but it’s the taste that has me concerned.  Our other batches of Blueberry and Triple Berry (Blueberry, Blackberry, and Strawberry) are in their final stages and I’ve given them my first taste test.  So far so good.

I’m out the door, let the day begin.

Posted November 11, 2012 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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