Get ready… Get set… Ahhhh.

And so vacation begins. I’m not much of a person to sleep in, though I’m no early riser, either. So, with the kids awake and readying themselves for school, I arose, started a pot of coffee and got my shower. I should preface this, I suppose, with many thanks to and for my wife who allowed me such a leisurely rise this morning! Finding myself clean, I moved on to a couple of honey-do tasks…putting in a new kitchen trash bag (Monday is trash day) and taking out the recyclables. That didn’t take too long, so here I am, mug of coffee in hand and ready to get something done today.

Two things are essentially on the plate for today. One, I will begin a weird cherry braggot. And two, one of my daughters sings in a school concert this evening, which I shall be attending. That’s it. I know, full plate. But it’s vacation! Ah, but wait, first I must tell of the cranberry wine I began yesterday…

It all began with leftover pomegranate arils and cranberries, from making a delectable cranberry sauce (compote?!) for a Christmas party. Not one to let extra fruit go to waste, I needed something that would use the remaining berries. I did have to pick up some more, but we’ll ignore that…

I started with Terry Garey’s recipe for “Cheerful Cranberry Wine”, from The Joy of Home Winemaking. The recipe calls for:

3 lbs. fresh or frozen cranberries or lingonberries
3 3/4 quarts water
3 lbs. sugar or 3 1/2 lbs. mild honey
1 lb. golden raisins (optional)
1/4 tsp. tannin
1/2 tsp. acid blend
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 Campden tablet, crushed (optional)
1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
1 packet Montrachet yeast

Loading The Cran/Pom Mix Into The Bag

Loading The Cran/Pom Mix Into The Bag

I say started, as I made a number of modifications; for starters, I added the pomegranate arils – nearly a pound of them. To that I added 30 ounces (almost two pounds) of cranberries (rinsed and picked over). Those went into a pan, with some of the water and were brought to a boil, then promptly removed from the heat and tossed into a fermentation bag sitting in my fermentation bucket. I then put the sugar (not honey, since I have other plans for the honey in my pantry) in about half of the remaining water, and began to bring it to a boil. Three pounds? Cheerful, indeed.

The recipe called for soaking the raisins overnight and then chopping and throwing them in the bag. Um, no, that didn’t happen. First, I used “normal” raisins, not golden ones. The raisins are needed for adding body, says the author, which is why they are optional. That’s all well and good. But I’ve made raisin wine, and it’s pretty good in its own right. So, anyway, I used the non-golden raisins. Rather than soak overnight ands then chop, something I have attempted before and rather hate, I simply tossed them in the blender with some of the heating sugar-water. Bzzzzz. And then I tossed the slurry into the fermentation bag.

I just now realize that I forgot to mash up the fruit blend at this point, as instructed. Hmmm.

The Point At Which I Forgot To Mash The Fruit

The Point At Which I Forgot To Mash The Fruit

Once the rest of the sugar-water had been boiled, that got poured overtop the now tied-off bag. And then I added the rest of the water. I checked the temp, still too high to put in the pectic enzyme (I was skipping the Campden tablet/potassium metabisulfite). I put the lid on the bucket and put it in the freezer. An hour later, I checked the temp again.

A Beautiful Cascade

A Beautiful Cascade

Well, it still wasn’t quite as cool as I wanted, and I had a hike to go on with my son. I did go ahead and toss in the remaining chemicals (the yeast nutrient, acid blend and wine tannin, as instructed). To that I added a 1/4 tsp. of yeast energizer, as well. I put the lid back on and left it on the counter while we hiked. Returning, a couple of hours later, I was satisfied, and added the pectic enzyme.

And then there was the Christmas party. Fun with friends, great food, and the guys won the game of Bible Outburst. I would say it was due to our massive intellects (ahem), but I believe it was more due to our skilled use of “passing” (per the rules, of course). The girls didn’t know what hit ’em. Places Where The Israelites Camped During The Exodus? Oh, yes, please, let’s pass.

[And around 4:30 this afternoon, I will add the yeast.]

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