A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Raspberry Wine From Frozen Fruit

I have started a new batch of raspberry wine, mainly to free up some space in the freezer but also because I like wine!  This will probably taste different to my first batch of raspberry wine (which can be found at this link) for a couple of reasons; the first reason is I didn't use the same technique to make the wine and secondly (and more importantly) the alcohol content will probably be much higher, I'll explain why later.

The method I used for this batch was as follows....

Firstly I defrosted a large bag of berries; they had frozen into a large block and when defrosted a lot of juice had already been released. I didn't weigh the berries but have an idea in my head of how large the bag was, slightly smaller than a bowling ball!

The next step I did was to pour a kettle of boiling water over the berries, approx 1.7 litres, to encourage more juice to be released. Then I poured the mix through a sieve in an attempt to catch any seeds and reduce the amount of pulp going through. With the pulp that was left over I poured the same amount of boiling water again and repeated the last step. Satisfied that I had got a good amount of juice from the berries I discarded the remaining pulp, it had lost most if it's colour anyway.

The pulp still full of juice.

Below is a video of me shaking the juice out!

When the mix had cooled enough I added a teaspoon of pectolase to further help break the fruit down and covered the bowl to leave it overnight. The next day I added the sugar, this is another area that I differed from the previous raspberry wine; instead of measuring the amount of sugar that went in I just measured the gravity and stopped adding sugar when I was happy. It was roughly 1.75kg of sugar but the main point is that the SG was 1.111 which will give a much higher alcohol level if all this is converted. For example, if the final gravity is .99  then alcohol level would be over 16% which I'm more than happy with!

When all the sugar was dissolved I moved the mix into a clean sterilized demijohn, again passing it through a sieve to collect any pulp. Once it was in the demijohn I added a teaspoon of yeast before putting an airlock on. The demijohn was then put to one side in the kitchen with plenty of kitchen roll underneath, just in case it overflowed like my plum wine did!

While I was waiting for this wine to start working I racked the plum wine. It seemed to have stopped bubbling and has been fermenting for about 3 months. There was a think layer of sediment in the bottom of this demijohn, partly from the fermentation and partly because I left a lot of pulp in the juice. This seems to have formed into small balls and sunk to the bottom. Now it is in a fresh demijohn and its clearing nicely. I had a small taste of the wine and am impressed with the flavour so far. Give it some time to mature and it'll hopefully taste great!

The debris in the bottom of  the plum wine.

Once a couple of days had passed the raspberry wine was bubbling away very happily. It has got an amount of pulp that has formed into balls, similar to the plum wine and due to the strong fermentation these are all floating at the top. Luckily there isn't as much as was with the plum wine so haven't had a eruption like before.

The raspberry wine at the front and plum behind

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers: Annual General Meeting

The last monday in October was the annual general meeting for WPBKA. This meeting was a members only meeting and involved voting in the associations president, chairman, secretary etc. As far as I could tell all posts stayed the same as last year. Who knows, when I've got more experience I may run for a position, not yet though! 

We had a presentation about finances going over expenses and incomes of the association. I'm no accountant but the numbers seemed ok to me. One area that interested me was the talk about the website being updated soon and after the main part of the meeting I got talking to the guy who runs the website; he had asked us to email him with any ideas for the site and I have also offered to send some photos for the gallery, which I will do in this next week. There was also talk about a facebook page and I offered assistance with that if needed.

Towards the end of the meeting there was a award presentation where trophies were presented to members who have won various prizes for their honey, mead, wax and honey cakes. To finish off there were several certificates handed out for those who had completed parts of the BBKA exams for beekeeping. I hope on the future I will be able to show off some awards or certificates!

I will also mention that I have bought a raffle ticket at the meeting with the first prize being a full hive, complete with Bees, and second being a nucleus hive, also with Bees. The raffle is for a excellent cause, which is Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of John Dews; John was a highly respected and talented Beekeeper that unfortunately died earlier in the year. I never met him but have heard that he was one of the most knowledgeable Beekeepers in the area.