Wild Fruit Wine

I’m so excited!  I can now start to make wine, I’ve been collecting bits for ages, a couple of demin johns from a friend and one from a car boot sale, lots of bottles (its amazing how easily the acumulate!), a box full of powders and potions from various sources, and now I know what to do with some, all or most of it!!

I also have a freezer full of various fruit – some from the allotment, red and black currants and a few raspberries, gooseberries and a bit of rhubarb, lots of apples but they are destined for pies and crumbles, but lots and lots of blackberries and elderberries.

Transition Chesterfield’s Country Wine Skill Share Workshop took place in my kitchen this afternoon and Ian very kindly left me the demonstration batch which is currently sitting in a demi john (wrapped in a towel to keep it warm and dark) on my sideboard, I am waiting for it to ‘gloop’.  As soon as I get back from holiday it will be joined by as many more as I can get hold of.  I can’t wait to start!

The books all make it sound quite difficult and technical, but after the demonstration this afternoon, I am sure I will be able to manage to attempt it.  It seems to be pretty basic – sterilise everything, put equal amounts of fruit and sugar with some boiling water and some yeast and eventually it will turn into wine.  Hey Presto!  Like magic, only slower!

Sweet Chestnuts

I know I’m lucky.  There are not many people who get the opportunity of to spend a whole week working in a Chestnut wood.  The woodland is divided into 20 blocks, each block takes a  year to process, so a continual cycle of felling and renewal is taking place.  Among the chesnut are oak, as a long term timber crop (as opposed to short term coppice) and to encourage the chestnut to grown tall – reaching for the light.  I was part of a team making chestnut shingles (wooden roof tiles) for a round wood house being built by the National Trust in Surrey.  Justin, the woodsman makes all manner of things – laths (for repair of listed buildings with lath and plaster walls), posts and rails for fencing, fencing stakes, hurdles, nothing is wasted, the scraps are picked up as kindling.

However, my best thing was the chance to pick big, fat, juicy sweet chestnuts and roast them on the camp fire that was our constant companion for tea making and general good harmony.  I have never come across them big enough to eat (I’m not so sure the trees are that happy this far north), so I was very chuffed to be eating them warm and sweet and straight out of the pan with almost no burnt fingers1