Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 WIne Making UPDATED Day 1 - 9

Day One:

We got THE phone call at 8:30 in the morning. “Get down to A.T. Siravo the grapes are in and they are going fast!!” That was not an understatement; we called and asked them to hold some Zinfandel grapes. We were told that two tractor-trailer loads were sold out but they had another suggestion for us. We were at the grape wholesaler by 9am the place was a zoo, Eddie the person who seemed to be running the operation took a shine to us, brought us for a mini tour, and let us taste all the grapes to allow us to make an informed decision as to what we wanted. We decided to up our original plan of just three cases of white wine grape to five cases. The Marvasi grape was so sweet and full of flavor – the sweetness will subside as the alcohol in the wine increases!! We also took 20 cases of Nebello grapes and 3 cases of Allegante grapes for a red wine blend.

We loaded up the pickup with the grape and additional 60-gallon primary fermenting tub. We thought we had everything secured until we rounded a corner and one of the cases of grape ends up in the middle of the street. Phil pulled over and salvaged what he could and put it back on the truck.

Now for the prep work to get ready for the next day. We swept the garage floor and put a tarp over it. Unloaded the grape from the truck washed and installed the spigots on the primary formation tubs. Bleached the wine press and left it out in the sun to dry. Tomorrow we will sterilize all the equipment prior to use.

Day Two

The carboys, fermenting tubs, wine press and anything that touches the grape was sterilized with C-Brite. It comes in a powered form that you mix with water; it has a slight bleach smell but will not alter the color of your clothes.

The crew started to arrive around 9am. We started with the white grape first. We destemmed the white grape and ran it through the crusher. The crushed grape is then placed in the wine press and squeezed several times to ensure all the juice has been expressed. We take the stems and skins and put them in our compost pile. The juice is run through a fine mesh metal strainer and through a funnel with a very fine mesh strainer. Therefore, the juice has been strained twice yet will still have sediment in it. The strained juice ends up in a glass carboy with an airlock. This will sit for a week or two so the sediment goes to the bottom and can the clear wine can be siphoned off the top.

The red wine is a bit of a different process. We crushed the grapes and put them directly in to large fermenting tubs. We will stir the crushed grape twice per day for 7 – 10 days. During this process the fermentation begins and the wine “boils”, you will hear a bubbling sound as the natural wild yeast on the grapes eats the sugar to produce alcohol and releases the carbon dioxide.

Both wines at this point are all natural and have no additives and no yeast. We may need to add some chemicals to the white wine to stop fermentation and to clarify but that remains to be seen in the coming weeks.

Now we sit back relax and enjoy a glass of last years vintage until next week when the work begins again!!

Day 7

We have been caring for the wine every day by turning the grape in the tub twice per day. As the grape is fermenting in the tub, it rises to the top and we push it down, this process keeps out bacteria and mold that could grow on the top but also helps in the fermentation process. On day 7, it was time to press the skins, stems and seeds. We once again sterilized everything that will come in contact with the grapes with the C-Brite solution. Once everything is sterilized we begin to drain the first tub, we use a fine mesh strainer to catch seed, small pieces of skins and other small particulates. The juice goes into a plastic bucket and is set aside. Once all the juice is drained, we remove all the skins, seeds and stems from the tub and place them into a plastic bin to be pressed. We now will clean the 90-gallon fermentation tub that the juice has been in for the past 7 days, once rinsed out the tub is moved to our basement and filled with the juice we just drained from the tub. Now the pressing begins. We press in small batches so it does not gum up the press and we get the most yield from the grape. The juice that comes from this pressing is then added to the tub in the basement. We repeat the process with the smaller tub, and add the contents to the 90-gallon tub in the basement. This will blend the two batches and ensure a consistent product.

Day 9

The wine has now been sitting in the basement for 2 days this allows some of the fine particulates to settle to the bottom and ensures all the flavors from the 2 tubs have married. We once again sterilize everything that will come in contact with the wine. We attach a hose to the spigot and begin to fill one of the two demis we have. A demi holds 16 gallons of wine. Once the 2 demis are filled we move onto the carboys; we have several different sizes of carboys ranging from 3 – 7 gallons. We then add oak chips to add that wonderful oak flavor you get from a fine wine that has been aged in oak barrels. The wine will now sit until sometime in December when we will bottle.


2009 Wine Making

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cabbage Kale and Bread Soup!

Once again, the garden provides inspiration! We grew several Savoy cabbages in the garden this year. This cabbage is just spectacular! I have made this soup several times, however, never with homegrown Savoy cabbage. I picked it from the garden moments before it went into the chicken stock…can’t get much fresher than that.
This recipe is so with the trouble and time. You will need to multi task to keep the prep time to a minimum. Please do not let the anchovies scare you they melt in the bacon fat or you can just skip them and add salt!
So here is what you will need

• 3 quarts good-quality chicken (I like College Inn BOLD in the brown box)
• 1 Savoy cabbage, stalks removed, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped
• 2 big handfuls of kale, stalks removed, leaves washed roughly chopped
• About 16 slices stale Italian bread
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• Olive oil
• 1 pound of bacon cut into lardons
• 1 (4-ounce) can anchovy fillets, in oil
• 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
• 7 ounces fontina cheese, grated
• 5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little for serving
• Sea salt (if you are not using anchovies)
• Couple large knobs butter
• Small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage and kale. Cook for a few minutes until softened (I did this in 2 batches). Remove the cabbage and kale to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.

Toast all but 5 of the bread slices or in a toaster or on a cookie sheet in your oven, then rub them on 1 side with the garlic as they come out of the oven or toaster, and set aside.

Next, heat a large deep fry pan on the stovetop, start to fry your lardons of bacon (lardon is bacon cut into rectangular pieces) now add your anchovies. When the bacon is golden brown and sizzling add the anchovies. Once the anchovies are melted, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all the lovely flavors. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.

Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type dish, in 1 layer. Spread over 1/3 of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a 1/4 of the grated fontina and Parmesan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat this twice, but don't stress if your pan's only big enough to take layers - that's fine. Just pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.

Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining fontina and Parmesan. Add a good pinch of salt if you did not add the anchovies and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.

When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they're just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burned!). Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan. Such a great combo!
This is a great hearty dish for those crisp cool nights!


Cabbage Soup

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blueberry Wine

We have been making wine directly from crushing grapes or with a kit. Phil decided to try something different and make a blueberry grape wine. We started with 4 pounds of green grape and 6 ½ pounds of blueberries. We first crushed the green grape then the blueberries in the hand-cranked crusher. We put them in a stockpot added water to cover the fruit and added 7 pounds of sugar. We let this boil for about 10 minutes.

We then placed a mesh bag over the primary plastic fermenting bucket. This was to catch the skins of the grape and blueberries. We poured the mixture into the bucket and tied off the mesh bag. At this point, we added cool water to bring the volume up to the 3-gallon point and allow mixture to become room temperature. At this point we than could add 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrients, ¾ teaspoon of pectin enzyme and 1 package of champagne yeast. We chose champagne yeast to dry the wine out so it would not be too sweet. We stirred the mixture twice a day for 3 days. On the third day, we pressed the juice from the skins that were in the mesh bag. We let the juice stay in the bucket for another 3 days.

The juice was then transferred to a glass carboy where it was allowed to ferment for 1 week. We racked the wine to get rid of the sediment. Racking just means transferring from one container to another. The wine was again allowed to sit and ferment for 2 more weeks.

When the wine in the carboy stops producing gas its time to bottle. We transferred the wine from the glass carboy to a plastic bottling bucket. The bottles and corks were sterilized and we began to transfer the wine into the bottles and corked the wine. It will now sit and age for about 3 -4 months before we will be able to drink it

Blueberry Wine

Smoked Salsa

We have an abundance of tomatoes and peppers from our garden. It has been a banner year for tomatoes since we had so much rain early in the season! Therefore, we decided to make salsa with our harvest.

7 pounds of chopped tomatoes
1 pound of finely diced peppers
1 large red and yellow onion chopped
1 head of garlic chopped
1 bunch of cilantro (just the leaves)
1 bunch of thyme (just the leaves)
6 red hot peppers chopped
3 tablespoons of kosher salt
2 ounces of lime juice
6 shakes of Tabasco Smoked Chipotle sauce
1 capful of liquid smoke

First, we boiled the jars, rings and lids to sterilize. Chopped all the ingredients. In a pan with hot oil we added the onions let them cook for about one minute then add the garlic. We then added the peppers and tomatoes salt, hot peppers, lime juice, Tabasco and the liquid smoke. This cooked for about 8-9 minutes we then added the cilantro and thyme.

The mixture was removed from the stove and we began to fill the jars with the salsa. We wiped the edge of each jar with a clean paper towel then lifted the lid with a magnet and placed the lid on the top of the jar. You need to be careful not to touch the sterilized lids and jars so your salsa does not become contaminated, Once the lid is in place we twisted the rings in place to hold the lids. Back into the boiling water bath. The jars boiled for 15 minutes and were removed from the water and allowed to cool. As the jars are cooling, you will hear the lids popping and sealing themselves. If they do not pop, you can push them down and as long as they do not pop back up it is a good seal! Once completed cooled we removed the rings and labeled the salsa. Good eats!!!


Smoked Salsa