Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Elderberry Port

The Elder tree has long been associated with pagan traditions, witchcraft and folklore; the most auspicious time to encounter faeries is said to be under an elder bush on Midsummer's Eve
A Bucketful of Elderberries
Elder Flowers traditionally herald the onset of spring; we celebrated their emergence by using them to make elderflower cordial and champagne.
Fork Off!
Elder berries ripen in late summer/autumn and they can be used for making all kinds of produce. As it happened, I had a spare demijohn in the kitchen so we decided to make Elderberry Port.
Hubble Bubble Boil and Trouble 
This rich and strong wine is reputed to have curative powers; taken hot at night it is said to help prevent the early stages of a cold or sore throat. This is apparently caused by viburnic acid contained in the berries, which can induce perspiration. However, I won’t be able to testify to any of these effects until it’s finished fermenting; something that it is currently doing very enthusiastically.

Steamy Stuff...
These berries were picked from the same bushes that we obtained the flowers from in spring and this is one good reason not to over-pick the flower heads; we gathered a bucket full. On our return to base, I combed the berries from the stalks using a fork and then poured a gallon of boiling water over them.
An Intoxicating Brew
At this point all the unripe/green berries seemed to float magically to the surface, which was handy, so I skimmed these off as a precaution before proceeding with the recipe and creating a mess that looked like a scene from Dante’s hell.
Murder She Wrote!
Although the kitchen soon began to resemble the insides of a witch’s cauldron  the smell was deep, dark and quite enchanting and once the mixture had cooled to a more earthly temperature, I added sugar and the activated yeast. It was soon bubbling away furiously and looking suitably demonic once more.
The Urbane Forager's "Wine Cellar"
The following week, I added blackberry wine to my cannon of Urbane Forager Country Wines and now I must get the butler to put them in the cellar and then wait, and wait, and wait… In the meantime though, I will be converting some of my apples into Urbane Forager’s Cider, which should hopefully be ready to be mulled in time for Halloween!

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