"Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble"
Yep. I'm making wine. All sorts of weird stuff is bubbling away on my kitchen counter.
At least one of those will be delicious (dandelion wine, on the left). The other two are very strong garlic scape wine. And now my house reeks of garlic....
Vegetable wine isn't for drinking (trust me). But it is an excellent cooking wine, and I can never get enough of it. It is especially perfect for sauteeing greens like swiss chard or spinach, browning onions, and marinating stuff for the grill.
There is an expansive section in Drunk Vegans on how to make vegetable wine (dandelion wine, too). Your public library has books on how to make wine the correct way. I usually just wing it....
The whole wine-making fiasco usually starts when I realize that I have too much of something:
As in, "OMG I can't possibly eat all these garlic scapes."
A garlic scape is the flower that a garlic plant puts up right before the bulb forms. You have to cut it off, before it blooms, or the bulbs will be tiny (nobody likes tiny bulbs). The scapes are delicious cooked and eaten like (very strong and garlicky) green onions, in stir fry or quiche or whatnot. But I have oodles of them that I can't use up..... I'm growing a TON of garlic this year.
So. Like any good traditional American, I'm making booze out of the excess. To make wine you need essentially three things: The fruit or plant matter you are flavoring it with, sugar or an equivelant sweetener such as honey or fructose, and yeast. To make really good wine you also need to make sure it has tannins and acidity, but we'll get to that.
I threw all the vegetable stuff into a large (2 gallon) crock: the chopped garlic scapes, some pea pods (Pea pod wine is delicious, btw. It is one of the few vegetable wines that you CAN drink.), ginger root, and the peel and juice of two lemons (there's the acidity). I also dumped in about 4 lbs of sugar. Umm. I might have added a few cloves and some black peppercorns, too. My brain is fuzzy on exactly what got thrown in there.
For the tannins, I boiled two gallons of water with a couple of bags of black tea. While the water is still boiling hot it is carefully poured into the crock. After the crock is completely cool to the touch a packet of yeast gets sprinkled on top. I used wine yeast this time, but I've used regular old bread yeast in the past and it worked just fine. Remember, this is a cooking wine. It doesn't have to be fancy.
Cover the crock loosely with a clean towel (to keep out fruit flies) and let it sit for 48 hours or so. You do NOT want to seal the wine at this point or it will explode. Ha.
After 48 hours I added another 2 lbs of sugar, strained out everything solid, and funneled it into glass jugs. The jugs get sealed with bubbling air locks to let gasses escape, but keep air from getting in.
Now I have to wait about 6 weeks before I bottle it. As long as those bubblers are talking to me I'm not going to touch it. And, I have a couple of little bubbly wine robots to talk to while I'm cooking. Fun stuff.
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