Sunday, 12 August 2012

Côtes du Meath - Part 1

This year will be remembered in my garden as the year of the blackcurrant. I planted blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries about 3 years ago and it has taken until now to get any sort of a crop.

I had masses of blackcurrants and I am not a huge fan of them sadly, so jam was out.  I had picked a kilo last year and froze them and only got around recently to making Creme de Cassis.  So what to do with this year's crop?

Googling recipes I found all the predictables - jam, ice cream, sorbet, tarts etc.  Then I discovered a recipe for wine (Blackcurrant wine recipe).  Sadly they all seem to advise adding copious amounts of sugar and sweet wine is not what I want to make. 

I have had great success in the last couple of years making cider from my cooking apples and also apple beer.  I made elderflower champagne last year.  These all worked without the addition of yeast (using the natural yeasts present on the fruit and flowers).  Then last year I got completely carried away and tried to make dandelion wine.  Unfortunately, without any yeast it just went mouldy. I ordered some wine yeast on line intending on making more this year but never got around to it.

I ordered both yeast and bottles from The Home Brew Company and have been very happy with the service.

For both my cider and the wine I have used plastic buckets with lids that I sterilised first.

 So my version of the above recipe is:

3kg of blackcurrants (remove any leaves or twigs and general debris but do not wash the fruit)
5 litres of boiled and cooled water (30 deg C)
One fifth of a sachet of red wine yeast (a sachet is 5g)
2 tablespoons sugar
I clean bucket with lid

Crush the fruit with a potato masher. Initially the fruit will sink to the bottom.  However as the yeast starts to act it will begin to rise and will float on the top of the bucket.  You need to stir twice a day. This is to prevent the fruit drying out so it is essential for the first 6 days at least.

When you stir it you will hear a fizzing noise.  This is normal and is the action of the yeast working away to convert the natural sugars in the fruit and in the added sugar to alcohol.

I am following this process loosely (wine from grapes). 

When the fizzing has ceased at approximately day 6-8 I will strain the liquid off through muslin and filter into flip top bottles.  

Part two of this post will demonstrate and explain the rest of the process as I complete it and hopefully this time next year part three will yield a few bottles of Côtes du Meath 2012.

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