Cured olives (picked last year in Cromwell), dried tomatoes, garden salad, peperoni sott’ olio (capsicum under olive oil), peperoni grigliati (roasted capsicum), calabrese salame, pickled onions, provolone cheese, focaccia and, of course, dry wine (apple and black currant) – ALL HOME MADE. I am very happy with the result of all the hard work. A few more kilograms tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants processed should see us through the winter.
True to African tradition, as soon as the Head of State (Mrs Back Yard Farmer) left the country for a holiday with the grandchildren, the Opposition (Aka Back Yard Farmer), arranged a well organised COUP and took over the kitchen table. Fortunately, no blood was shed as all the remaining living subjects (quails, chickens, rabbits, etc) were on the side of the opposition, seeing they were the sole beneficiaries of the must from 130 liters of wine (only after Grappa has been distilled though). Recipes to follow soon with the next post.
They say Christmas comes but once a year, mine came on the 8 th of May this year and I am all happy about it. Two of my many weaknesses are 1. The love of glass bottles and 2. Enjoyment of a good auction. I think these traits are hereditary as my Grandfather once waved at a friend across the auction floor, which resulted in him buying 500 pairs of shoes. (Needless to say we were the only kids in school that sported a new pair of shoes every day – it was irrelevant whether these were from an era before Granddad was born or that it did not always fit that well). Today on my way back from Bunnings, my eye caught a sign that said “AUCTION” and since I still needed a couple of hinges and latches for the new chicken extension, I though it good to have a look. Registering as purchaser No 342, I was sure with that many buyers, bargains would be few and far between. I wondered through the isles, but did not see any worthwhile building materials I needed. What I did see was some very nice 2 Liter chemical bottles, used in a past life for concentrated sulphuric acid. The quality of the German made bottles and closures was excellent and all complete with bottles and seals made in a way that only Germany could make to keep sulphuric acid. Arguing with myself that the wine store down the road sells inferior quality 4.5 Liter wine jars with doubtful lids for $17, and I need containers for my wine, beer and vinegar productions, I am going to hang around and maybe I would get lucky and purchase the 50 bottles at $4 – $5 per bottle – a great bargain. The auction progressed well and fast with the lot before the bottles being garden equipment and included at least three very good and long power cords, lots of bolts and screws, two secateurs (German made) branch cutters, an esky, an almost new garden blower / vacuum machine and many more garden stuff – it even had a few latches and hinges. As I did not need most of the stuff, I did not place a bid, nor waved at any friends. The auctioneer at this stage was becoming agitated as nobody wanted to place a bid. Frustrated he moved onto the next lot – the bottles – and announced that the previous lot for which he received no bid would be thrown into the bottle lot. I was disappointing as this move complicated matters gravely. He started at $300 with nobody even looking at him, came down in $10 increments until he reached $100, and still every body was more interested in the cup of coffee they were drinking. I was tempted to jump in at $100 (only $2 per bottle plus all the extras) but resisted. The auctioneer came down all the time asking for a bid, and at $20 shouted that if anybody wants it to please speak up or we shall move on. I put my hand up and said $10 for the lot, he sighed, shook his head, waited for a minute in frustration and started the auction – still nobody moved and he then SOLD it to me for $10 the lot. Christmas comes but once a year – Glass bottles on auction at a give away price.
Today I started making a batch of about 23 Liters (32 bottles of wine) of a blackcurrant and apple rose wine. It is the intention to ferment all the sugars and produce a dry Rose. The juice was extracted from the fruit, filtered and purified with potassium metabisulphite and then fermented, not on must, but directly with the juice. The PH was adjusted to 3.1 by adding a combination of citric and tartaric acids, using the titration method to determine PH as it is more accurate. After measuring the specific gravity with a hydrometer, it was adjusted to a level of 1090 by adding sugar, which, if all fermented, should produce a wine of about 12 % alcohol. Starting with 2 to 3 liters more than the main vat can take gives you product to top up with, from time to time, after racking and filtering. This smaller quantity is fermented in a separate smaller jar (5 Liters) until used. Red wine yeast and nutrients were added and fermentation traps fitted and the long process of fermenting, racking, clearing and filtering started, to hopefully bottle in about four months time when the specific gravity has reached a level of less than 1000. I rack and filter more frequent than normal, as I like a clear clean drinking wine. This should be a very palatable dry table wine, light red or rose in colour with very little sweetness, a good nose, clean taste and medium body, which is the way I like my lunch time wine.
My home made still in full flight!
How to make Limoncello
1. Collect 1 Liter alcohol from the still (about 97 % Alcohol)
2. Peel the rind (no pith) from 8 organic, unwaxed smooth lemons and cut it in fine strips. Now put the alcohol and lemon peel in a glass container, shake, close and put in a cool dark place. Turn / shake the bottle once a day for about six weeks
3. Filter through a double muslin cloth and discard solids. Then filter the alcohol through a carbon filter as it results in a cleaner end product, if you do not have a carbon filter, just proceed after the muslin filtering
4. Dilute the alcohol with cool distilled water (made with the still) to a alcohol content of about 40 % (Use Pearson square).
5. Mix 1 Kg of sugar in the alcohol mixture and stir to dissolve well. Start with about 700 g sugar and taste the end product and keep adding small amounts of sugar, until you are happy with the sweetness of the end product
6. Bottle, label and store