Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Rose from Rhubarb?

... wine that is!

Two years I began make a rose (don't know how to do the accent here -- it's pronounced "rose-ay") wine from rhubarb with the addition of black raspberries to colour it that delicate pink and give it a flavour lift as well.  I didn't get to drink any of it the first year because local teenagers explored my basement when we left the back door unlocked and made of with it!  After upping our house security and putting potables under lock and key as a backup, I've got 20 bottles of rose wine to enjoy in coolers, cooking, and straight sipping.

This year I had leftover canned elderberry juice and white grape juice (from my own shrubs and vines), so I've begun using those instead.  The elderberry juice adds the needed colour and both deepen the flavour dimension of the wine.

Equipment you'll need:
  • kitchen scale -- you do have to weigh the rhubarb and sugar
  • 6 qt stainless steel pot with cover
  • a second bowl or pot for the straining step
  • 2 quart measure
  • fine-mesh strainer
  • glass gallon jug  (clean and sterile)
  • fermentation lock to fit the jug's mouth
  • 2 1/2 - 3 lbs rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 lbs white sugar  (this produces a dry wine )
  • 1 cup elderberry juice
  • 2 cups white grape juice
  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient (provides elements for the yeast not in the rhubarb)
  • 1/2 packet of wine yeast (champagne type is good because it sinks to bottom of your jug)
  1. Gather rhubarb, wash, slice 1/2" thick.  Put 2 and half pounds of it (or up to three pounds) in the steel pot.
  2. Add 2 and half pounds of sugar to the pot.  More sugar will make a sweeter wine, but no more than three pounds is advisable. 
  3. Stir the sugar through the rhubarb and cover.
  4. Leave for 24 hours,  stirring it every few hours.  The sugar will draw the juice from the rhubarb. 
  5. Strain the juice from the rhubarb.
  6. Put the rhubarb back into the empty pot,  add two cups of  filteredwater,  stir throroughly and strain again.  Do this twice. You're trying to get all the sugar and juice out.
  7. Measure the amount of liquid you now have.  Add the juices.  Top up with more filtered water to make a gallon.  Rhubarb liquid + elderberry juice + white grape juice + filtered water = 1 gallon.
  8. Heat to lukewarm.  Add yeast nutrient and yeast.
  9. Pour into the gallon jug.  Set up your fermentation lock with some filtered water with a little bit of bleach or sulphite in it -- be careful not to overfill!  Insert the fermentation lock into the jug's mouth.
  10. Let ferment 6 weeks in a coolish (less than 72 degrees F. but more than 60) dark place.  If fermentation takes place at more than 75 degrees,  you'll get a "lighter fluid" taste to your wine.
  11. Check that fermentation is done:  jiggle the jug and no bubbles should come up through the fermentation lock.
  12. Sterlize 5 750 ml bottles  (I use Perrier bottles I collect from household recycle bins in the neighborhood -- the caps are fine for this wine).  Use a tube siphon to tranfer the wine from the jug to the bottles.  You want to leave behind the yeast sediment at the  bottom of the jug. 
  13. Cap and label.  Store in a cool, dark place for at least four months.  
  14. When using, carefully decant into another bottle to leave behind any yeast that may have settled during the storage period.
Tomorrow:  what to do with the shrunken rhubarb after the juice is extracted

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