Fall 2012 Projects

October 22, 2012

My day job has had me at three conferences in the last three weeks! Meanwhile, I’m still slowly ramping up fermentation for the fall.

This summer, I learned that even someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest sometimes has to water blackberries. For an overgrowing weed out here, my thornless evergreen blackberries did not like it this summer. The hot and dry temperatures made them get hard and dried out, so I had to start watering them. Mind you, I came across both some wild evergreens and some Himalaya blackberries, and they taste so much better. I’m unsure if mine, which came with my house, are inferior due to breed or location of the plant. I like that they don’t have thorns, but they just aren’t as good tasting. Anyway, I was out picking about a quart worth of berries every 2-3 days or so, so I would leave a little out for breakfast and then I froze the rest. When the vines quit producing after a few weeks, I got them all back out of the freezer and started fermenting them.  I had enough for about three gallons without adding water.

I also have eight blueberry bushes, which ripen at various times, so I had six weeks of blueberries. Honestly, I think blueberries are really only good fresh eating or as a topping. Cooking them for pies or jams seem to ruin them, and people always talk about how hard they are to ferment. They are a delicate fruit. However, I didn’t realize that Burtle had frozen four pounds worth of golden raspberries for beer, and then changed his mind. I still have a freezer full of blueberries for flavoring plain yogurt, but I got out another four pounds of blueberries and four pounds of blackberries to make a triple berry wine. I figure the raspberries and blackberries will help the blueberries out. I had to add water to this batch, as I was feeling a little nervous about the amount of fruit I had, and some of the country wine makers tell me they think country wines sometimes need water.

What I think are Thompson seedless grapes in my back yard also did alright this year with it being warmer, and I am still learning how to prune and manage them. I saw on the television an article about how wineries strip the leaves off of the vines to allow more sunlight onto the grapes, so I did that a bit. The grapes that got sun really did ripen up and taste better, were as the ones on the back side never really got ripe. We ate a few, and I decided to be brave and hand crushed them and put them in a cheese cloth to press. It was a lot of work for 2/3 of a gallon. They did have an impressive 1.080, which is weak for grapes, but strong for fruit. I debated freezing the juice for adding to other things, but decided to try making a pyment (mead with grapes) instead. I’ve only made two other meads, and I’ve never worked with grapes, so why not?

Right now, I have 100 lbs of Newtown Pippin apples in my garage waiting to be crushed and pressed. I’m hoping to get another 200 lbs of either golden delicious or Jonagold apples here soon. First, I need my day job to ease up. I even missed the Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show due to all those conferences!

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