Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21 of Kitchen Witchery- Muskadine Wine

Before I get to the wine, it occurs to me I never showed you my finished cookbook cover:
I even finished before Halloween :)

Homemade Muskadine Wine

You need a five gallon container filled with crushed muskadines. We use a five gallon Scott's water cooler like construction sites have for the laborers. You need pure juice. Don't add water unless there is not enough fruit juice to fill the container. To get the juice, mash ripe muskadines. We mash ours in a meat grinder. Strain out the seeds and pulp. We placed the meat grinder over a bucket covered with cheese cloth. Warning- this looks nasty. Second warning- it takes A LOT of muskadines, like 5 or 6 five gallon buckets full to get five gallons of juice. All that mashed fruit puts off fumes and you will begin to feel drunk as you turn and turn and turn the meat grinder handle.

If the fruit isn't sweet, add enough sugar to float a raw (uncooked, still in shell) egg. Put the egg sideways in a spoon. Submerge the egg just under the liquid. Pour in sugar until the egg stands on end. The egg should rise to the surface, but not go above the surface.

Place lid on container. Don't seal the lid of the container, tape it down with duct tape. As the fruit ferments, the gas will rise. You'll know it's done when the tape breaks. This can take one week to 10 days, depending on temperature. It takes longer in cool weather.

After the tape breaks, seal the container. For us, this means screwing the lid tightly on the cooler. Your container should be nearly full with not much air above the wine. Air turns wine to vinegar. Have it as full as you can get it. When I saw the tape had broken, I wouldn't open it, I'd just screw down the lid.

Let sit for about one month, again warm weather makes the process faster. As long as bubbles are rising in the wine, it is still working.

Bottle and seal. Let sit for at least one year. The longer it sits, the better. Longer aging means smoother taste. When the wine is finished, it changes color. It will turn from a grape juice color to a brown that is similar to bourbon.

This is how my father makes wine. Nobody knows us when we are picking fruit. But we know everybody when we start handing out bottles of wine.

Should air ruin your wine, it is still fine red wine vinegar and can be used for cooking.

Do not ever use an old pickle jar as a wine bottle. I don't care how hard you scrubbed it, the wine turns to vinegar every time. It is impossible to remove all traces of vinegar from a pickle jar.

I use glass. I reuse bottles and jars as long as the seal is good. I prefer canning jars. I don't use plastic but my father has had success bottling wine in Gatorade bottles.

Wine is a very long process. It takes a while to pick all the fruit and even longer to mash and strain. Waiting makes you antsy. When bottling you will spill a good bit. It makes a mess and I recommend doing as much outside as possible. We do all our wine making on the picnic table and we store it in the pump house. After all that work, we wait. We wait until we've almost forgotten it, then hooray! Wine!

I don't know what the law is in other states, but Alabama allows five gallons of homemade wine for personal use. If no sugar is added, ten gallons can be made. It cannot be sold. There is some rule about how many gallons of wine can be owned, no matter if you made it or it was given to you, so we never have more than ten gallons at a time. When we get close to the ten gallon mark, we get generous handing out bottles and everyone loves us.

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