No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


[The full recipe is further down this post]

9th April 2013
I'm just about to start another batch of this wine - I've still got loads of cherries in the freezer I need to use up to make room for this year's crop. Hard to believe that'll be in about 3 months!

2nd October 2011
I started the wine on Saturday - 6 months since I made my last batch,  this should last me until Christmas at least! - and I put together 25ltrs of stout last night. The wine is pretty much to the recipe, except that I've included 1kg of Morello cherries. I picked 4kg back in July, so I've got plenty left back in the freezer.

4th April 2011 - my latest batch.

The recipe is as below, with 500g mixed frozen morello cherries and blackberries plus a jar of morello cherries. The must had an SG of about 83.

Here's the fermentation after only 12 hours. I used to tie a knot in the bag, but now I just drape it over loosely.
On the 8th of April, 4 days later, I made it up to 5 gallons. I took the bag out, squeezed as much juice out of it as I could, then poured the must into a large bowl. I washed out the fermentation bucket then added a couple of kettles of boiling water to 4kg of sugar and added cold water up to 4 gallons. At this point I washed the nylon bag of fruit in the sugar water, to get as much colour as possible in the wine, squeezed the bag out again and topped it up to 5 gallons. Halfway through adding the water I also added 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient.

I left it in the bucket for 24 hours, in case the wine fobbed up. Before racking into a cubitainer - sealed with cling film - I took this pic of the fermentation, which I found quite unusual. Half of the surface was covered with bubbles, whilst the other half was a churning - well, maelstrom's perhaps too strong a word, but it was certainly seething with activity.

Now the wine is safe in its cubitainer - I'll check it in about two weeks.

Checked the SG today - and it was 988! Result! The best I have done in several years. It has cleared nicely and tastes great - hard to believe it's only 23 days old!

If I didn't have about 6 litres of my last batch left, I'd happily drink this with a meal.

Large (25L) fermentation bucket
Nylon straining bag
2 metres siphon tube
4 or 5 demijohns
5 solid bungs
25 Litre Fermenter with Large Cap, Bung & Airlock

Basic red table wine
I've been using this recipe for over 30 years. All I ever set out to do was make a drinkable red table wine of about 12%, and this is it.

250g of dried elderberries
1 kilo tin of red grape concentrate – you can get various types. The one I’m using now is a Rich Red Italian concentrate
500g of one other red(dish) fruit. Morello cherries, blackcurrants, blackberries or whatever you like. If I’ve no fresh fruit I’ll use a large jar of morellos or bilberries.
4kg granulated sugar
Wine yeast

Place cherries or blackberries in a nylon straining bag and add elderberries. Put the bag in a 5gal fermentation bucket (with lid) and pour a kettle of boiling water over the fruit. Add grape concentrate and sufficient cold or hot water to make a lukewarm liquid up to the one gallon mark. (Rinsing out the concentrate tin as you do so.) This should bring the specific gravity (SG) to around 1080 (80 for short), which is the optimum SG for starting a wine off.

Add the yeast as per instructions on the tub. Mine says to sprinkle 2 teaspoons onto the liquid and stir. Put the lid (tight-fitting) on the bucket and leave it for around 4-5 days in a warm place. (I use a corner in my kitchen year-round.)

When you’re ready to make up to 5 gals, take out the bag of fruit, squeezing some juice out as you do so. Place on a dinner plate or similar. Pour the liquid (must) into another container (I use a 4litre mixing bowl). Rinse out the 5gal bucket and place 2 kg sugar in the bottom. Pour over a jug of boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add two more kg of sugar and another kettle of boiling water. Stir to dissolve then add cold water up to the 4 gallon mark.

If you want to get a bit more colour in your wine, dip the bag of fruit in the sugar water and squeeze it a few times. Take out the fruit and pour the must into the bucket then make up to 5 gallons. Add 5 tsps of yeast nutrient and stir. Replace the lid and leave for 24 hours. (I do this because I’ve found if I put it into straight into the fermentation vessel it sometimes fobs up and makes a right mess!)

Now you need to transfer it (rack it) into the fermentation vessel (which must be airtight). I use an old sherry container which I’ve had for thirty years. I don’t use a ‘bubbler’, instead I cover the hole with cling film held by a rubber band.
It stays in this container for 30 days – in somewhere warm if you’ve got a place – I just leave it in my kitchen under the breakfast bar. After 30 days it should have bottomed out at somewhere between SG990 and 994 and be clearing nicely. At this stage I rack the wine into demijohns – once again sealed with cling film – and 2ltr lemonade bottles. It’s drinkable after about 28 days from the start, with a meal, and it just gets better and better. Just when it reaches its peak, unfortunately, you run out!smiley - biggrin

I haven’t talked about sterilisation yet:
All equipment used must be sterilised. You need to make a solution of MetaBiSulphite (MBS) and use this to clean everything that comes into contact with your wine. I keep a bottle made up in a cupboard and I make sure that all my empty demijohns, bucket, bottles, etc, are stored with a little of this in the bottom. I also suck a bit through my siphon tube before I use it.

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