Elderberry and Blackberry wine…

Having spectacularly failed in my first elderberry wine-making attempt a few years ago (mouldy corks, exploded bottles, carnage everywhere), i’ve recovered enough to try again. This time i’m planning things a bit better and making sure everything is properly sterilised each time.

So, i’ve been inspired by the River Cottage Handbook No.12 Booze, by John Wright! Lots of interesting booze-related information in there and he recommends elderberry wine as the most popular grape alternative wine and the easiest to make.

Elderberry wine 26.09.14 - 03 Elderberry wine 26.09.14 - 04

So, after a trip to Wilkos to stock up on essential items and the previous trips up Robinswood Hill to collect the elderberries and blackberries, i’m ready to start!

1.5kg of elderberries

200g of blackberries

1.2kg sugar

4.5L of boiling water

1 tsp yeast nutrient

5g red wine yeast

So, i’m using Campden tablets (Sodium metabisulphite) to sterilise all of the equipment. I used two of these with boiling water to sterilise the various items. We had frozen the elderberries and blackberries and these were thawed out over a day and tipped into the barrel, then boiling water poured in, to add the liquid and kill most of the unwanted bacteria etc. The sugar was added at this point and mixed in well with the long handled spoon.

This was left to cool for maybe 6 hours, then the yeast and nutrient powder added. This starts the fermentation process and the bubbles! At this point, i’m 1 day in and lots of bubbles so far. I should get 6 full bottles from the recipe and a bit left over to check in maybe 2 months – maybe around Christmas ; )

More to follow…


Reusing wine bottles…

I’ll be trying this out as soon as I can get my hands on a glass cutting thingy…

Here’s the best video i’ve seen, which simply involves scoring the bottle, and using hot water and cold water + some sand paper.



2 types of glass…



Vitamin B12, Iron & ulcers…!

Ok, bit of a random title, but i’ve been doing some very quick research into nutrition, prompted by the appearance of a couple of mouth ulcers.

Not the nicest of subjects but apparently (according to the NHS website), 20% of people in this country suffer from recurring mouth ulcers. Although annoying for a week or so, they are hardly that serious, but are a good indication of the general health of a person.


Anyway, the ’causes’ link lists anxiety, stress, and several vitamin deficiencies. I’ve suffered from this ulcer problem for many years and am getting a bit annoyed by getting them. Right now, the stress thing is certainly a likely cause, but the Vitamin B12 and Iron deficiency needs looking at, as an underlying issue.

B12 is found mainly in meat, dairy products (such as cheese and milk), eggs and soya products + in foods which have been supplemented with vitamins, such as cereals. Since i’m now veggy, i’ve got to focus more on the eggs and milk/cheese. Aparently half a pint of milk or 80g of cheese is a good daily guide, with a single egg giving roughly half the daily required amount.

B12 is essential to fight infections and is essential in the formation of red blood cells. So, recently i’ve been getting more colds than normal and feeling sluggish – maybe its the lack of good sleep and stress but worth considering.

So, that should be ok. The Iron is associated with energy and red blood cells (if deficient, the blood cannot carry as much oxygen) and Claire has been anaemic on and off for ages. This is the most common deficiency in the UK and world, according to the Vegan Society website.

Sources of Iron include red meat, chick peas, bran flakes, beans, spinach, museli, dried fruit, eggs etc. Anyway, i’m going to focus on this as well.

Also found out that Vitamin C is needed to absorb Iron, so citrus fruits etc a good idea. Also Tannins, found in TEA (on crap!!) and wine actually inhibit the absorbtion of  iron, as the tannins combine with iron to form an innsoluble compound. A 2 hour gap around taking in Iron in foods should be enough.

Anyway, lots of useful info!