Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Peach Wine with my sister

My sister has been visiting for the past week, and we've kept the schedule quite full between kayaking, Candace's softball scrimmages and all the fruit harvests needing our attention.

The one little bit of sewing that's been accomplished;  fixing up a split seam on Candace's sweatshirt.  Some darker thread was needed, and after digging around in my spare spool container, I found this gem. 

I wonder how old it is... I'm certain to have gotten it from Grandma Lee many many many years ago.

As planned, Sunday was the day we spent preparing the Peach wine, and taught my sister the steps along the way.   For anyone looking for recipes, the only book I keep on-hand:  The Winemaker's Recipe Handbook.  Just about anything under the sun is included in this book, and it's my goto for all of my wines now-a-days. 

It started with taking the frozen peaches out of the freezer the night before.  I purchased a steam-juicer last summer, so I elected to go that route with the Peach wine rather than ferment with the fruit pulp;  we'll see if there's a noticeable difference in the body of the final product (next summer).

I think dear sis was surprised at how much sugar is needed, specially when preparing a 6-gallon batch of wine.  Enough was added (about 12 lbs) to bring the hydrometer OG (original gravity) reading to 1.096 (resulting in about 13.5% once finished).  I also added the tannin this time around, but only at half the amount.  I've made wines without the tannin and most of them have resulted in nice, light wines.  I figured I'd give the tannin a try to see if there's a noticeable difference.  So far this spring, I've started 6-gallons of Strawberry and 6-gallons of Rhubarb, both with the full-recipe tannin included.  Four gallons of Lilac wine were also started;  THAT's a new experiment for me this year!  I'll dig up the photos from that day and post about it soon.


The Premier Blanc yeast was pitched just this morning, so now... it'll sit and ferment until about Saturday before getting transferred to the carboy.


The left-behind mash from the steam-juicer was then sent through our food mill, giving us about 10 cups of Peachsauce for freezing. 


Another fruit harvest that we are in the midst of -- Strawberries.  And the new patch is treating us WELL this year!!!  Since I already have a 6-gallon batch of wine started (from frozen berries we harvested last year), AND we've already made 2 batches of jam, AND have eaten (almost) our fill of strawberry shortcake, any remaining berries we pick this year will either be mashed with a little bit of sugar and frozen in 2-3 cup packages for winter-eating OR will be frozen in 3 lb packages for wine batches.

Although it's not much to look at right now, yesterday's GORGEOUS day of low 70s allowed me and my sis to weed the ENTIRE garden; tomatoes, corn, potatoes, sunflowers, peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, pole bean, dill, more tomatoes, radish, cucumbers, watermelon, green onions ... The WHOLE garden has never been weeded in a single day before!  I was thankful for my sister's help.

And did you know..... 
It's Brussels sprout -- not Brussel sprout.  😲  Ya learn something new everyday.

And you know what else?.....


I apparently have a child with a sense of humor who felt it was important to request a new sense of humor for ME!  Does anyone else use an Amazon Dot (ie: Alexa) to create a shopping list?  It's a feature my sister introduced to us this week.  Slick!

Happy Tuesday



Friday, June 19, 2020

Peach Processing Day - in pictures

Living in Wisconsin, we don't see (m)any peach harvests since peach trees aren't necessarily grafted for our growing zone, so when the truck came on Wednesday, I thought I'd give my first try at processing peaches.

First, let me say....... all those YouTube videos are wonderful and great, but.... THEY LIE!  Soooo many of them were saying, "oh, if you're new to canning....peaches are the easiest way to start."

Ummm...

No.

NOT that the canning process was necessarily all that difficult, but... PUTZY!  AND, if you're really trying to keep the peaches looking "nice" in the jars.... goodness.  What a putzy putzy process.   If one is new to the canning process, I would suggest PICKLES!  Now, THOSE are easy-peasy!

 



I'm just glad I started the day processing enough for the 7 quarts to fill a canner, because once I had enough to fire up the canner (which took about 2 hours), then I shifted to preparing 18 lbs for a 6-gallon wine batch.  Now THAT was easy peasy!

The recipe calls for 2.5 lbs of prepped peaches per gallon, but I don't mind having a little extra fruit.  Roughly 3+ lbs of whole fruit were weighed out; 3 batches were peeled and 3 were left with peels on (recipe doesn't call for peeling).  Pitting these were fast because I didn't really care if the fruit ended up getting 'smushed' or broken;  it's all gonna be mush once juiced anyway.

Each vac bag was filled with around 3 lbs of fruit (I kept adding a bit more each batch), sealed, and tossed in the freezer.  Six bags, 3 lbs each... all ready for wine prep (most likely on Sunday).


The corner table still held some fruit, but I wasn't about to process them into a few more quart jars for canning.  Nope.  Done with that for now.  Instead, we searched out a few recipes...



 All that's left after supper.... stuffffffed

and Peach Jelly Recipe from the peelings...


YUM!

Talkin' Turkey centers and Strawberry patch chatter

It's not much to look at, but once the morning jobs were complete, a couple of hours this afternoon were spent in the sewing area tidying up some scraps and cutting the centers for the final 15 Talkin' Turkey blocks.  It was certainly a putzy job between taming the scraps and cutting because the size of the squares isn't the typical Bonnie "nice."  2 5/8"... yuck.

The morning was beautiful!  72 degrees and breezy, low humidity -- PERFECT for any outside work.  The strawberry patch was tilled under at the end of the last year's growing season, but not before transplanting the young 'daughter' plants shooting every which way. 
And we DOWN-SIZED!  I finally understand why most gardeners only keep their patches for two years (or 3 years max) before replanting.  Our strawberry saga began in 2012 (The planting post) with 18 plants.  18!  It IS kinda cool to think that our patches over the years started with one simple 'whim' purchase of so few plants!  We've moved the patch only twice before, leaving it stay at its new location 4 and 3 years, respectively.  Too long!  Our last patch (it was on year 3 last summer) was soooooo overgrown with all the new plants; our berries were so small.  But year two produced AMAZING fruit, in abundance! So, my new process now will be one of two things.  Either a) keep the patch ONLY two years; meaning set up a new patch after next year's growing season, OR b) keep the patch for about 3 years BUT thin out (cut away) some of the spreading daughters.

Regardless, the patch this year is smaller (by design) and producing ample fruit for the needs of my family.  Two batches of jam were already made with Sunday's picking, and now each harvest will consist of processing some into 2-3 cup packages of smashed and slightly sugared mash for freezing after vac-sealing, OR simply placing the berries in 3-lb bags for wine batches (my recipe used for strawberry wine suggests 3 lbs/gal.) 

And all those strawberry tops end up being treats for the ladies.  We lost all of our chickens after last year's (2019) winter, and with the crazy-busy schedule we had with a graduating senior and two other girls VERY active in Spring and Summer sports, we never raised any new gals for the year.  However, shortly after the beginning of the Stay-at-Home orders this March, a local neighbor and I struck up a conversation while picking up eggs from her one day, and... a week later, 6 new ladies joined our property.  Since, we've also hatched out a incubator full of eggs, and we have eleven 2-month old chicks in the adjoining pen.  Sadly, we had more chicks, but a hungry owl obliterated half of our coop before we were finally able to SECURELY "owl-proof" the roof;  those are some smart birds!!!

The rest of the day consisted of the normal household chores;  cleaning up the kitchen and laundry.  The threatening dark skies finally rolled in at early evening; thankful that the storms lost energy and only provided the much needed rain rather than severe weather.  Kayaking posts are certain to come this summer as well seeing as we've already been on the lake and rivers a good half-dozen times already.

Ahh... summer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

When people in Wisconsin want peaches... wine-making updates

As some of you may know, wine-making has become an upfront hobby of mine since the summer of 2017 when a family acquaintance 'scolded' me for mowing over our yard full of dandelions.  She shared her brother's Dandelion wine recipe with me, and truly......as the saying goes, the rest was history.  Some of my favorites since then... the 2018 Cherry is ranked #1 followed closely by the 2018 Currant, but this 2017 Banana was just bottled last month after aging for 3 years.  Yummmmmmmo.


The root-cellar wine racks are just about filled right now after bottling the 3-gallons of banana ('17), 6-gallons of Cherry ('19) and 3-gallons of Blueberry ('19) recently.
2019 Cherry


The emptied carboys from the recent bottling were supposed to be set aside for the Cherry and Currant harvests this summer, but a friend has a BEAUTIFUL rhubarb patch that she rarely makes a dent in, so she invited me over to save her the guilty feelings of watching it all go to waste this year.  Besides, it's her MOM that is the family acquaintance mentioned earlier 👍

A morning of rhubarb picking lead to a freezer full of fruit. A few days later, the fruit was thawed, placed in my steam-juicer (one of my best purchase decisions last summer!) resulting in enough juice for a 6-gallon batch of Rhubarb wine.



a few of the wines underway

So, back to the title of this post...
It's not common to see Peach trees growing in Wisconsin; there are some, specially in the southern parts, but we cold folk up here in the north don't have much luck due to the higher chances of late spring frosts.  Enter: the Pearson Farm of Georgia.  Working together with the Tree-Ripe Fruit Co.,  truckloads of peaches are shipped up to us poor peach-deprived people of the northern states a few times over the summer, so when the truck arrives....
... you wait in line.  But SOOOOOO worth it!

A few days of these ripening on the table should get them all good -n- ready for the 2020 batch of Peach wine in addition to some canned peaches 💛

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Blowing off the dust

When Cassie came home early in March due to Covid closure restrictions at UWS, we elected to have her take over the quilting room seeing as her little sister claimed her bedroom in August when Cass left for school.  After all, I haven't really been quilting much in recent years due to life's hustle-n-bustle being the mom of three very active athletes. 
But, as the month of May progressed, and more and more time was opening up in my schedule from the stay-at-home orders, the itch started coming on to get back in front of my sewing machine.  So... an evening of cleaning and tidying commenced in the open-space of our basement.

Open Space - before
Open Space - after
With almost two (?) years having gone by since truuuuuly spending time sewing, organizing all of my WIPs and leaders-enders was amazingly relaxing. 

Firing up the iron to repress some of the OMIGOSH blocks...

 ... sewing on a few last strips for the yellow string blocks for Bonnie's Talkin' Turkey...

... hanging the simple tablecloth design wall in order to check the status of how many Talkin' Turkey blocks have already been sewn...

... and simply getting organized in my new makeshift sewing area was time well spent and enjoyed. 

Now, to keep tackling a little bit at a time WITHOUT starting anything new!  😂