Sunday, November 23, 2008

Apple blossom and raspberry leaf alcopop!

I'm pretty sure it's Sandor Ellix Katz who is responsible for popularising (among us westerners!) home-made t'ej - Ethiopian style honey wine. It's the first, and simplest recipe in his book 'Wild Fermentation'.

Basically - 1 part raw honey to 4 parts water. Stir to dissolve honey. Cover. Leave in a warm room for several days. Stir at least twice a day, and wait for the wild wine-making yeasts to take up residence. Once the liquid is bubbly and smells and tastes like wine - well, it is.

You can use the basic principle to experiment with any sweeteners and additional ingredients you like.

Recently I tried using sugar instead of honey, and using water infused with blackberry leaves (tannins for some dryness) plus the last blossoms on our apple tree. The idea was that the sugar would be less strong-tasting than the honey, and allow the subtle apple blossom taste to come through more.

I'm not sure if sugar water is as good a breeding ground for wild yeasts as raw honey though! The result (above) was a nice tasting drink that tasted somewhat fermented, but was only very slightly alcoholic. More a home-made alcopop really!

Oh well. Further apple blossom experiments will have to wait till next year (and this time, I'll get started before they've almost all fallen off!) Meanwhile I'll find some other things to try and make wild wine from ...


Nikki said...

Sounds yum! Where do you get raw honey from?

Johanna Knox said...

Hi Nikki - Commonsense has a few. There's a brand that I can't remember the name of - but you would have seen it probably. They have a label that sort of looks hand-drawn. They have wild bush honey and a few other kinds, and they come in at least three different sizes. (Sometimes in a sort of hexagonal jar). I'm pretty sure all their honeys are raw.

If they're raw they should say either raw or unfiltered and unheated on the label.

Johanna Knox said...

Actually I just checked - Mountain Valley was the brand of honey I was thinking of - and when I looked on the jar, I saw that it actually just says it is 'unheated' - not raw. If I understand correctly, it has to be unfiltered as well as unheated to be raw ...?

Still, just being unheated would still be helpful for promoting yeasts I would think.

As you say then though, I wonder where you can get totally raw unfiltered honey from in NZ.

Maybe asking small home honey growers would be best. We know some local home-schoolers who produce raw honey, but their hives have been hit by varroa over the past couple of years and they are not even getting enough honey to supply themselves at the moment.

Lynda Eichler said...

Gotta try this Johanna ! How would you incorporate raw ginger into this, do you think. Just fancy it:-) Would you add the ginger at the beginning of the process?

Johanna Knox said...

Yeah, I'd just grate some ginger and squeeze the juice from the gratings in at the beginning. (Although I'm sure there are many other ways!) :o)

Johanna Knox said...

Love to hear how it it goes, btw Lynda. It sounds lovely.