1. When we got the blackberries home, I added some bay leaves from our tree, and cooked them with a gallon of water for about an hour.
2. I added a lot of sugar, and let it dissolve. (Again, just look up a recipe for better proportions!)
3. I sterilized a demijohn, strained the berries, and pressed as much liquid as I could out of them, and poured the syrup into the demijohn. I topped up with water, and just made sure that it tasted really, really sweet. The yeast feeds off of the sugar, and so there needs to be plenty in the mix. I let the liquid cool to about body temperature before adding my starter culture.
I didn’t have a whole lot, and was worried that I had waited too long to use it without feeding it, and that it might be inert. But I went for it anyway. I put the stopper and airlock on, wrapped the jar in a tea towel to protect it from the light, and let it sit.I think that I had really pushed the limit with keeping my culture alive, because nothing happened to my jug of juice for the first week or so. I really thought I had just wasted all of those berries. But I still left it, and didn’t check again for another week or two. And when I did, I was really surprised! The above pictures were from when I realized, “It’s alive!!!” It smelled good and beery, but was still way too sweet, and not fizzy enough. I gave it another week wrapped up next to a heater, and it was looking good.4. So at about week three, I was ready to siphon it into bottles. I bought grolsch-style bottles, which tend to handle carbonation better and don’t need to be capped or corked. You can see in the glass above that there wasn’t a lot of carbonation at this stage. Putting them in bottles and letting them sit out for a few more days let the yeast eat some more sugar and catch the co2 produced by that.I made sure to save plenty of the yeast for my next brewing project. There was such a thick layer this time! And this time around, I also fed it some extra sugar after a week, to keep it happy until I used it for a ginger brew yesterday.Here’s a little sample of the Blackberry Cider today– look at all that fizz! I’m not sure what the alcohol level is, but I’d guess somewhere around 5%, just on taste. It’s still a bit sweeter than I prefer, so I’ll let it sit a while longer and eat some more of that sugar up. It is really delicious!! And the best part was surprising and impressing my husband with the results of my very nonchalant approach to home brewing.Cheers!
Right now I am also in the middle of my first attempt at making elderberry wine with fruit we picked in our neighbor-woods— I’ll let you know how that goes, but it will require more time. A really nice part of making this kind of cider is the time factor– we can enjoy the brew less than a month after the fruit-picking.
I hope you’ll look into making your own beverages– it’s a lot of fun!Here are some resources you might want to check out, if you want to read more about home brewing: Booze for Free and True Brews.
Do you play mad-scientist at home sometimes? What was your most surprising creation?
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