This is in the ‘Dyeshed’ – which is also used for preparing garden produce for the kitchen or preserving it for the pantry (where we keep our winter stores). Preserving includes a variety of methods : dehydrating/dessicating and salting ; jams and jellies ; chutneys and pickles ; and – as you can see here – wines.
I started one of these demijohns in autumn – whilst Denise was away in Navarra ; the other we started together before Christmas ; and now we’ve just got a third batch of Gooseberry wine started.
Until last year, we started the gooseberry wines more or less as they were being harvested from the bushes ; that’s in late June and in July. Last year, however, we found we didn’t have the time, so we decided to put them all in the freezer (we’ve lots of space spare, now that we don’t produce or sell Hebridean Hogget Lamb) – to deal with later. What we’ve discovered, albeit inadvertently, is that the freezing breaks down the cellular structure of the berries, making them much easier to pulp : all that’s required is a potato masher and a bit of elbow-power! [ J > A bit more of the power than is needed for potatoes! ] The natural sugars in the flesh seem to be released more readily, this way ; and in fact it may be that starch is converted into sugars. We’ve found that we can start a preliminary fermentation of the pulp (that is, including the skins) with no added to sugar at all. This seems to extract the flavour from the berries more fully than we achieved when we did this with the fresh berries.
In the white bucket we have a gallon of gooseberry juice, filtered off from the skin and the seeds, with just one kilo of sugar added dissolved into the juice, a teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and a sachet of Gervin GV9 yeast – perfect for the job, and here you can see it already beginning to froth up. (Carbon dioxide is a by-product of fermenting sugars.)
The first batch should be ready for filtering in another few weeks, and then for drinking as long after that as we’re prepared to wait!