Jill and I finished a batch of blueberry wine today. Nothing but blueberries, sugar, water, and champagne wine yeast (Lalvin EC-118). My brewing is minimalist due to laziness and the desire to control variables.
Right out of the primary it tastes amazing. Fairly sweet, as all my blueberry wines have been, and a distinctive flavor and beautiful color (it dyes things a bluish purple):
I’ve also had problems in the past with blueberry wine being cloudy. I was very careful this time not to disturb the fermenter, and even gave it a few days in “racking” position to let it settle completely. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t even rack to a secondary. Yes, I’m that lazy, and don’t have a lot of room for another five-gallon container in our small place. I just filter and bottle right from the primary. It seems to work fine!
After years of trial and error, I’m getting pretty good at this. Not because I’m an expert (I know very little), but because I’ve learned what works for me. Like many hobbies, it starts by leaning on the foundation of other helpful experts, and then gradually branching out. Imitation -> Assimilation -> Innovation
My winemaking is simple, like my other crafting hobbies. Just champagne yeast, fruit, and sugar in the correct proportions. No additives, no preparation of fruit, no boiling anything, no backsweetening, no sulfites, no pectin. I don’t even rack into a secondary fermenter, I just filter and bottle right out of the primary.
Because my recipe is so darn simple, I can vary the kind of fruit I use. I can use grape juice right from the grocery store, as in this example, or frozen fruits like blueberries, strawberries, or peaches. As long as the amount of sugars remains the same, the resulting wine has the same amount of sweetness every time!
My latest completed batch came from a frozen fruit mixture of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. It’s delicious! The sugar content of the fruit is right on the label, so I don’t have to guess when I calculate proportions.
After some trial and error, I’ve made three different candles!
Left: Roughly half bacon fat, half soy wax (you can also use beeswax). Alice and I made this together. I tried 100% bacon grease, but it’s just too soft at room temperature and doesn’t hold up the wick as it burns. This and the middle candle both use wooden wicks, they are from a cheap bag of fondue sticks and work great. Does it smell like bacon? Not really, if it does it’s very subtle.
Middle: 100% butter! Just melted and poured. The simplest to make. The wooden wick makes it crackle and pop as it burns, which is nice. Another way to make a wick is a small wooden skewer wrapped in a bit of paper towel, shoved into the butter.
Right: Thick cotton wick + hole cut in mason jar lid + cute jam jar = olive oil lamp! Took a bit of tweaking because it would not wick the oil up all the way from the bottom. In the end I added a bunch of water, which is heavier than the oil and settles on the bottom. This keeps the oil near the top and wicking into the flame. This is my favorite because olive oil burns clean and lasts a long time. You can adjust the height of the wick/flame, and you can refill it just by unscrewing the lid!
All of these use common household fuels you have lying around, are easy to make, and end up being much cheaper than buying candles or lamps + paraffin. You can add scent with essential oils. All of them burn very clean, no black smoke.
Finding it fun to dig up old pictures. 😛
Here is 2013, a bike trip down to our “Catfish Pond”. I guess it was a warm spring day! Today is cold and rainy. But maybe the catfish are thriving again.
And 2003, Ben playing mandolin at UML. Looks like it was a performance requirement. 🙂
Just for fun I wanted to see if I had pictures from 20 years ago and 10 years ago today.
Here’s what we got! 😛
Highlight of last week was probably the “Grand Prix” at AWANA. Like Pinewood Derby. Ben and Alice had worked on this car and it brought home a 3rd place trophy. They were pleased!
And I guess we’ve been pleased with our gluten this week. 😛
Stacked pancakes were a nice start to the day.
Then I’ve been working on my 2 breads, one ‘Beautiful Bread’ and our Sourdough. Anyone have tips on how to make the sour taste even MORE sour? That is what we are aiming for. I’ve just been keeping it in the fridge for an extra long ferment.
And the staple tortilla chips! The guys meet here tonight so we try to keep them stocked. 🙂
Nice job Alice getting the Granny Square down this week!