Guest post by Jan Sutton

Fancy a brew?

Producing all that home-grown veg can be thirsty work so with bumper strawberry and rhubarb crops this summer I was tempted to expand our home-brewing range to include some more girly tipples, starting with strawberry vodka. This simply involves steeping the strawberries in vodka until a beautifully syrupy drink develops and then straining it to give a gorgeous clear pink drink. The taste is delicious – summer, strawberries, Wimbledon! A good one for Christmas presents – if there’s any left by then.

Rhubarb behaving badly…
Flushed with success – or the effects of the vodka – I found a recipe for rhubarb wine which is one of the easiest – allegedly. I spent an evening chopping and stirring, followed by crushing, straining and the addition of some rather ancient wine yeast, then waited for it to ferment. Despite a slow start the magic fermentation eventually began and the sludgy looking mixture started to bubble convincingly. Once the hubble bubble had slowed down I decanted it into a demi-john as instructed and let it continue to ferment. Three weeks later I racked it off again and waited for it to stop fermenting and clear, ready for bottling. This was a bit difficult to judge and to be honest I was perhaps too hasty, as the wine in the bottles still looked a bit cloudy, but I bunged plastic corks in anyway and put them in the back room to store – then promptly forgot about them. That was back in June. Last Sunday I spotted the bottles lurking in the corner, noticing that 2 had lost their corks. I picked one up and realised the cork must have blown off a while back – the wine had a thick ring of dead flies on top where they had drowned in a drunken stupor presumably – yuk! The second corkless bottle had suffered the same fate so those were added to the compost heap. The other corks were just starting to lift so I rammed them all down firmly and put the wine in a more visible place so I could monitor it – have to say I was pleased to see that the wine now appeared much clearer (apart from a thin layer of sediment at the bottom) and was a pretty shade of pink. Next day I spotted a cork on the floor. The bottle of wine was fizzing gently away on the shelf. Well, we had to have a taste at this point – no point wasting time trying to save it if it didn’t even taste good. I poured an inch and sipped it – wow, rhubarb champagne!! Amazing stuff – it’s gone sparkly and tastes great, with quite a kick to it. We’ve re-corked all the bottles but the corks still keep popping off, it’s potent stuff! So I think we’ll just have to drink it all up quickly before it spoils. Lesson learned though – next time I’ll be more patient before bottling. This rumbustious rhubarb wine has spurred me on though – I’m eyeing up the blackberries next. Cheers!!


Jan makes delicious cakes, marvellous whiskey marmalade and can cook up a fab lunch for many hungry smallholders! She runs the Normandy Smallholders Group with her husband Martin. Thanks for this post Jan,

Mandy & Hal


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