Sunday, August 11, 2013

Plum Wine And Other Natural Goodies

The Universe has a funny way of setting our priorities for us.  In spite of the fact that we plan and scheme, sometimes it just doesn't work out the way we expect.  I guess that is just another lesson for me on this MooseBoots trail.

Last weekend, for instance, I had planned to skin a groundhog.  Now, I had found this gal dead on the side of the road.  She was fresh, but I did not have time to skin her when I found her.  So, I left her over overnight.  In the morning on Saturday, I got out of bed anxious to get to work.  I took the time to get some photos of her feet, her teeth, and such.  I had planned to scrape her hide and begin tanning it, too.  Oh yeah, I wanted to keep her skull, which was intact after her run in with the car.

The sad reality is that she was badly damaged from the encounter.  I cut into her belly to start removing the hide only to find that she was a mess.  In spite of all of the care I could muster, I found myself poking through into her pulverized internal organs.  It was a lost cause ....

But not a completely lost cause ... I removed her head, skinned it, and cut as much meat and fat off of it to allow the insects, and nature, take its course.  Thinking I was clever, I put her skull into a mesh sided box that our bees had come in.  I thought that this would allow insect in to do their work and yet keep the skull safe from anything that might like to sample it.  I placed the box in the gully behind our house, away from any houses to keep anyone from getting offended by any malodorous wafts.  And, I was done way ahead of my planned schedule.

I moved on with my other plans for the weekend.  I decided that I needed to make plum wine.  A friend had brought me a number of plums from his tree, which was bursting with fertility.  This is my first attempt at plum wine, but I made some strawberry wine last year the same way.  That wine met with some rave reviews at our son's wedding this summer.

I was asked how I made it and so, without further ado, here is my recipe.

Plum Wine (8-3-13)
  1. Place 3 quarts of well-ripened plums in a grain bag.
  2. Boil plums with 2 gallons of water, for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and let it cool.
  4. Squeeze the plums to get as much juice from them as possible.
  5. Add cold water to make 3 gallons.
  6. Add sugar to get potential alcohol level to desired value (12 cups of sugar brought the level from 1% to 11%).
  7. Stir dry yeast (Red Star – Premier Cuvee) into a bowl with warm water and a teaspoon of sugar.
  8. Allow the yeast to proof.
  9. Pour yeast into a clean 3-gallon carboy.
  10. Add plum liquid.
  11. Seal with an airlock.
The wine is now bubbling happily, even a week later.  I will rack it off in a month and decide if I  will leave it for another to clear.  After that, it will go into bottles and sit for a few months.  We are not really good about that part ... typically we last about 2-3 months instead of the recommended minimum 6 months.

We also managed to get in a walk.  We found some staghorn sumac flower, for sumac lemonade, and some blackberries, which were just now coming ripe.  The blackberries will be starting to ripen with great abandon within the next week or so.

Oh yeah!  I went to check on the skull yesterday.  I was gone.  Apparently, I was not clever enough.  It is gone and the raccoon skull that I had placed in the box with it was damaged ... the lower jaw was broken in half.  Alas, Mother Nature did not mean to bless my MooseBoots travels with a woodchuck skull at this time.

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