Preserving Wine Ingredients

When I was a child (pity that’s such a long time ago) my parents made thirty to forty gallons of wine at a time in what we called the outhouse, a built-on wooden affair stretching right along the back of the house with a window running the length of it. I can recall the vast tubs of fermenting wines and cider and the accompanying smells, wasps and flies — and of course the tales told later about such a such a batch being an absolute knock-out. Thirty, forty or fifty gallons at a time were common in my young days but they are not common today.

Preserving Wine IngredientsJust a few bottles when the fruits are ripe or when the vegetables are ready. And it is sad to think that today so few people have that blessing, the scullery, outhouse, semi-basement or basement for that matter where vast amounts of wines could be started off (put down, we used to say) and kept out of the way until they were ready. It is sad too, to think that so much more wine could be made each season if people gathered more from hedgerow and garden and preserved them by one of the many means available: turning them into jam (yes, and making wines with them later on if you want to), bottling them either by the heat treatment method or with a rather strong sulphite solution using Campden tablets (this incidentally is what Campden tablets were originally intended for, and I like to think that I was the first to use them in wine-making to destroy wild yeasts and bacteria on the fruits), drying them or deep-freezing them.

It may seem odd that many people make wines from jams that they have made themselves. They take into account how much sugar and fruit they used to make say 4.5 kg (10 lb) of jam and them make 10 ltr (2 gall) of wine with it, allowing for the sugar, of course, and then diluting with water accordingly.

So if you have an abundance of fruit or some spare vegetables that could be kept for wine-making at a later day, do consider preserving them in one way or another.

Fruits: most can be preserved in the wide-neck bottles known as preserving jars. They may be bottled in water or syrup. Certain fruits may be dried quite easily — apples, pears, bananas, apricots, blackberries, bilberries (whortleberries or herts), elderberries, blackcurrants, and many others.

Vegetables: beetroots, carrots, etc can be dried as well as beans such as broad and runner beans. Root vegetables being readily available at shops should not be preserved or stored unless you.grow them yourself and have a surplus.

Herbs: parsley, mint, borage, thyme and many other herbs and flowers including rose petals are quite easy to dry. Not all of these are’ used in wine-making, but it does show what can be done.

I often used to make wines with my preserved products, but this is not the place for a detailed description of the methods involved. So if you have a surplus or can gather from the garden or hedgerow more than you can use at once, do think of preserving for wine-making at a later stage. I am sure you will be glad that you did.

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