Is your driveway purple? The bottoms of your feet? Are there purple bird-splotches on your car?
It's mulberry season!
Really, I hate mulberry trees. They sprout up all over my damn yard like stainless-steel weeds and choke out my vegetable garden. I can't get rid of them. But, this little tree by the back fence finally got so big that it has enough berries to make WINE. Free booze! I'm pretty happy about that.
You will need one gallon of ripe berries (a ziplock freezer bag is great for measuring this). If you can't pick a full gallon of berries in one day, it is ok to freeze what you have until you can harvest enough. In addition to mulberries, you could add some strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. Any berry that is in season.
You also need:
a few slices of fresh ginger
2 1/2 lbs sugar
one packet of yeast
optional: 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
Place the berries in a large crock or bowl. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon, and peel just the yellow part of the rind to add as well. Also add the ginger (you don't have to peel it) and 2 lbs of the sugar.
If you have access to a local homebrew store, pectic enzyme is a nice thing to have. It will make the berries exude more juice and help to clarify the wine. You can still make a good wine without it. If you are using it, add about 1/2 tsp of pectic enzyme per gallon batch.
Boil some water and pour in just enough to cover the berries. Squish everything around with a wooden spoon to help squeeze out the juice. Let it cool.
When the berries are cool enough to stick in your finger, sprinkle in the yeast. You can use wine yeast if you have access to some, but bread yeast works ok too. Give it a good stir. Cover the crock with a clean towel to keep out bugs and let it sit for 48 hours.
After two days you need to strain out the berries. A grain bag makes this really easy. You can just slide the bag over the top of the crock, and then dump the whole thing over a large bowl. Alternatively, you could use a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Squeeze the bag to get out as much juice from the berries as you can. The leftover berry pulp makes really good compost. It's not much good for cooking, as it ends up being mostly seeds, but I know some people that use it in muffins anyway.
Stir the remaining 1/2 lb of sugar into the wine. This helps jumpstart the fermentation process again.
Pour the wine into a one-gallon jug and stick an airlock on top. Or a balloon. Or a condom. Voilà. It is almost wine.
Let the wine ferment for at least 6 months before you bottle it. And, let it age at least another 6 months after that. Be patient. It will only get better as it ages.
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