More Bottling Adventures…

The cherry wine is finally ready to bottle! We used our slightly over-ripe Rainier cherries to make 10 gallons of wine, or roughly 45 bottles. Now that I’ve bottled wine a few times, I’m reducing the spillage that occurs, which is great. The wine will be ready in about a year; hopefully over the next 12 months, it’ll clear up a bit and mellow in taste.

cherry-wine

Cider Time!

20160905_174117One of the best things about having property with fruit trees is the option to make wine and cider. Sure, I can also make jam and fruit butters, which make for lovely holiday gifts. I do use a portion of the haul to make yummy jams.

However, the majority of the harvest this year went to making wine and cider. Now, I’ve never made fruit wine before so I can’t account for how well the wine will turn out. It’s tasted fine, albeit yeasty, when I bottled it, but I’m hoping a year of ‘resting’ will help the taste improve. When we made plum wine last year, we didn’t give it enough time to rest so it was a bit…lively.

Last year we made plum cider, which was pretty good. This year we made an apple cider, sweetened with honey, a holiday-themed cider, sweetened with maple syrup and spiced up with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg; and a blackberry cider, sweetened with honey.

How will they taste? Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a few months to find out (a whole year for the wine). And that is the downside of making booze with your fruit—you have to wait and wait and wait to sample the goods.

If you want more garden tips, be sure to sign up for my gardening class on Skillshare.

It’s Cherry Season!

One of my favorite times of years is when the cherries are ripe on the tree and ready for picking. We have two trees, but we can only get to one of them due to overgrown ivy (can I just say that seeing ripe cherries on a tree is torture when you can’t actually reach them?)

cherry blossoms4_smaller

Flowers on the cherry tree in February

Our first year in the house, friends who were visiting pointed them out and we spent an hour shaking them from the tree and collecting them in buckets. We repeated the drill again last year and a couple weeks ago. While my 3 year old was excited to help, the baby wasn’t as excited and cried the entire time.

cherries and blackberriesedited

Blackberries and cherries

What can you do with 60 pounds of cherries?

The first year, I made cherry jam and marmalade. It was my first time using pectin and I was not prepared for how quickly it gelled. Usually I use green apples, which seem to be more forgiving. While I still have to stand at the stove and stir, if I have to step away for a minute or two, I can without ruining a whole pot of jam. Needless to say, my first venture into pectin didn’t work out at all. I can’t even get it out of the jar. If someone tries to attack me, the cherry jam could be a useful weapon.

Last year, we dried all of the cherries. My husband soaked them in brandy first. We still have some, even after a year.

This year, we’re venturing into cherry wine. I love wine; after all, I drink enough of it. We fermented a good share of our plums into wine and we’ll do the same with the cherries. Currently we have 10 gallons of cherry wine fermenting, along with a blend of cherries, plums and the first round of blackberries we’ve picked. After I pull out the nylon bags with fruit bit and transfer the solution into a secondary fermentor, I’ll add oak chips and maybe cinnamon sticks to give it a bit of a kick.

Cherry wine fermentingedited

Cherries fermenting in the primary fermentor

Since I haven’t made wine at this scale before, I’m nervous as to how it’ll turn out. Hopefully fine, but we’ll see. It could be awesome or absolutely terrible.

Next year we plan to plant a couple more cherry trees, maybe a different variety. Variety is the spice of life right?

 

 

If you want more garden tips, be sure to sign up for my gardening class on Skillshare.

Wine: Because What Else Would You Do With Fruit Trees?

I saw a t-shirt once that said, “Wine is proof that God loves us,” and while I’m not a believer, I did get quite a chuckle. When we moved to our property, we were excited to have fruit trees, specifically apple trees to make cider. Unfortunately, since the trees hadn’t been pruned in a decade, we didn’t get much fruit from the trees.

plums in buckets

Not deterred, we pruned our apple and plum trees at the end of the season and waited for the next year. As a result, our harvest increased last year and we made delicious plum wine, plum cider and apple cider.

So far this year, we’ve had a bumper crop of plums, so we’ve started the process of making plum wine. We’ve pressed 60 pound of plums and have keep some of the pulp. We plan to put it in mesh bags and let it steep with the plum juice, water, sugar, tannins, yeasts and other ingredients to create plum wine.

But, why stop there? We have blackberries that are ripening in bushes around our property. I looked up a great recipe for blackberry wine last night. Even our Rainier cherries are ripening and will be ready to pick in the next month—they might make a delicious wine as well.

This year, I added black currants, a pomegranate tree and goji berries to my garden. They would all make excellent wine on their own or mixed with other fruit. At this rate, we’ll have to build a wine cellar.

And the garlic was snuggled tight in its bed…

Second year zinfandel grapes.

Second year zinfandel grapes.

Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean that it’s time to put away the garden tools, retire your gloves and sit back and dream of seed catalogs (like the Baker Creek Seed catalog with its beautiful photos that make you want to order one of everything, regardless of whether you have the space for it or not). No siree! It’s time to get your ass outside and plant garlic, onions, spring flower bulbs and even some spring seeds, sweet cheeks.What you plant now, you’ll be able to enjoy next spring and summer.

Onions and hay-covered garlic.

Onions and hay-covered garlic.

A rose is a rose is a rose?
I’ve always wanted an impressive rose garden. When I visited Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, last year, I was inspired by the whole garden, particularly the rose garden. Roses tend to be pretty hardy and look nice in any yard. However the major selling point is their intoxicating smell. A quick Google search led me to HeirloomRoses.com, which features every variety of rose you could ever want, it seems. I’ve already planted a Rugosa rose, a drought-tolerant native of Japan that develops huge hips. Next up, the William Morris rose–how can you go wrong with a rose named for England’s celebrated textile designer, socialist and native of East London?

Rugs cover parts of the garden to kill leftover weeds, improve the soil and prevent weeds from growing.

Rugs cover parts of the garden to kill leftover weeds, improve the soil and prevent weeds from growing.