Monday, October 20, 2014

Basic Wine Making ~ So fine Homeade Wine by MM


A couple years ago Kim and I attended a basic wine making class at the Common Ground Fair.  A large, bearded gentleman in a jean jacket stood before the crowd with a five gallon bucket in hand and said, “I’m going to keep this real simple!”  Since then we have had a great deal of fun with the skills learned that day.  We give wine for gifts, bring it to holiday gatherings, bbqs, and parties.

We’ve also utilized wine for bartering as well.  Exchanging for goods as well as pay back for good deeds done.  Plus it’s just plain old satisfying to sit down and enjoy an ice cold glass of relaxation that you created yourself.

To get started you’ll need an air tight container with an air lock.   We use a multitude of different containers including 5 gallon buckets, jugs, jars, and carbouy’s.  The air lock is just a water chamber that keeps air from entering the wine and lets the gasses out.  Clean all containers including bottles with bleach and water.  Rinse well!!


We have made a great deal of apple, strawberry, and blueberry wine as well as a multitude of other fruity flavors, too many to mention.  I start by soaking roughly 1.5 gals of fruit in roughly 3 to 4 gals of water, mash it a bit and let it set in a cool place a couple of days to absorb the flavor. A refrigerator is the best bet or set it outside if it’s cool enough.  Basically your making a fruit infused water.   Next I strain off the fruit and add 10lbs of sugar and 1  tablespoon of yeast to the juice or fruit water.  Sometimes I use bread yeast and sometimes I use  a packet of wine yeast.  Both work fine however the wine yeast is a bit more user friendly.  It forms a hard layer when it drops out of suspension.   If you start with a fruit juice make sure it does not contain preservatives, which could stop the yeast from working.  This recipe will not work with grapes so don’t try it, just trust me on that!!


We’ve also fermented tea and lemonade adding a bit of ginger which was a big hit with the ladies.  I’ll do a post on that at another time.

70 degrees is the preferred temperature for fermentation to occur so find an area in your home that is closest to that if possible.  It is not an exact science so don’t overthink it, we don’t and we are able to pull it off.  We live in an old farmhouse and the temperatures can vary room to room by 20 degrees in the winter.  The beauty and curse of wood heat.

The magic begins in 2 days.  The yeast grow and consume the sugar creating a byproduct of alcohol and CO2.  Place the container out of direct sunlight and it will make a wonderful bubbling noise until the sugar is gone or the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to survive.  They die and fall to the bottom in roughly 8 weeks give or take a few weeks.
Lastly, siphon it into sterilized wine bottles or mason jars.  Pour over ice & enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

No Can Pickles, Margaritas, Guns...heck ya!



Like most people I love pickles! I have canned them many times before. However, last year my pickles were an epic failure! I overcooked them or something because they came out way too soggy…..beyond edible.  Anyone that cans knows how bad that sucks.  Lots of work was put into growing those babies from seed, tending the endless amounts of weeds and insects trying to steal your precious goods, picking, cleaning, canning.  Damn!  Well this year my cucumbers did not do well and regardless I was stuck in Florida in the prime of Maine’s canning season.  Thankfully I was home in time to put up my favorite crop, tomatoes.  I was fortunate enough to make up lots of spaghetti sauce, canning some and freezing the last of it as that is the  lazy easy way out.

I like canning but honestly I’m all about making life easier!  Making this type of pickles is a tangible goal for anyone especially if someone gifts you the cucumbers. 10 minutes top to delicious pickles the whole family will enjoy…I promise!
This will make a half gallon
  • 4 1/2 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of vinegar
  • 1/8 cup & 1 tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3-4 dill sprigs (or whatever you want I tend to use more)
  • couple cloves of garlic
  • several pickling cucumbers washed and sliced lengthwise
Mix first 4 ingredients, bring to boil, cool til warm and place in jar with remaining ingredients.  Cover with something breathable like cheese cloth or a tea towel for 3 days then refrigerate.

The first 2 batches I made NEVER made it to the fridge, we devoured them starting the day after I made them.  Batch 3 that Maine Man made has been in the fridge a couple weeks and are still very tasty.  Not sure what the shelf life is on these but I will definitely figure that out next garden season!

My kids are fortunate to have a good Papa that takes time out to teach them real life skills.

Practicing up so she can beat the boys!
 This is her third year she is able to go out hunting with her Dad.IMG_9832
On a final note I want to share with you a tried and true margarita recipe
This only makes a small amount but if you need, there are lots of conversion charts.
  • salt for rimming the glass
  • 1 1/2ounces tequila (blanco, 100% agave)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau (not Triple Sec)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Catching Up....



In the past I used to like to blog late in the evening when all was quite on the homestead.  Now it seems I can barely stay awake much past 9 pm.  Even though I have not put a lot of time in this space I do give it a lot of thought on a fairly regular basis.  I find I especially think about what I could write about or what I would love to share when I am in the midst of doing mindless jobs around the farm…. mowing, weeding, stacking wood. Then nightfall comes and the only thing I care to do after cleaning up is spending time with my family or curling up to good book. Days….well they are jammed packed between the kids and the other family commitments I currently have.  Any hoo…here I am.

The most recent book that I completed and thoroughly enjoyed is A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist.  It was a quick, easy, inspiring read.  It can be purchased on the website I have attached to the title.  I was fortunate enough to buy the book directly from the author at the Common Ground fair where I listened to her speak.  I admire what she and her husband do yet it the same breath I do not envy their lifestyle as I have a pretty good idea of the work and sacrifices it entails. I am pretty content just doing the semi-homesteading thing we do right here.  Never the less she has made me realize I too could write a book (has been a long-time goal of mine) and she has perked my interest in learning more about fermenting food.  I initially had planned to share a no-canning pickle recipe I recently concocted not once but twice but due to internet glitches that will have to wait to a later date.

Annabelle is the first calf to be born to our farm.  Being the novice farmers we are we estimated her birth date way before she actually made an appearance into the world.  Did you know a Momma cow is pregnant for 9 months just like humans?  Poor ole girl!  Annabelle was delivered by Maine Man, Country Boy, and a neighbor.  She was a biggin’ weighing an estimated 100+ lbs requiring a little assistant to make her debut.  It meant a lot to us that we had a female as she was born to Lily May our big Hereford that was gifted to us by our farmer friend.  Now we know his legacy will live on!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Finding Inspiration....

For the last several years we have attended the Common Ground Fair.  This year being the second year the kids sold their homemade goods in the youth tent. It is an awesome event that we enjoy on many levels.  In addition to marveling at all of the creations local artisans display Maine Man and I always try and take the time to listen to some of the speakers.  We always leave feeling inspired to do and be more!
Above is the boys display.  They are too cool for pictures.
This year we were inspired by folks who spoke of raw foods, homesteading in the 21st century, egg production, and wine making.  MM has been successfully making wine for a couple years now using a fairly basic recipe he learned from the Common Ground Fair.  He actually has a half written post started to share his method but he has yet to finish it so it can be published.  I suspect as the weather cools and he spends more time inside he will do just that.