My Adventure with a Piesporter Wine Kit

My winemaking adventure

I was really excited to try one of our new wine kits. The problem was deciding which one to start with when there are so many great options! Initially I thought I’d try more than one kind, but I checked myself. There is only so much space in a house, right?  To make the decision easier, I thought of some questions to help.

  • How do I want to enjoy the wine?
  • Is there a particular type of meal I want to serve it with?
  • Do I want something different or tried and true?
  • Do I want to share it as gifts, or keep it all to myself?
  • Where will I be brewing?  What is the environment like in my brewing space?

I finally chose the Piesporter because it’s a light wine and fairly easy to make. Piesporter comes from the Piesport region of Germany. According to QbA (a certification that declares a food made in accordance to local governing boards) this isn’t a true Piesporter, since it’s fermenting happily in Oregon. However, it meets my criteria for a mild, white wine. It pairs very easily with almost any food. Seafood for dinner? Check! Takeout Thai food? Check! Leftover kids Halloween candy? Sure, why not!

A mild wine also means that it’s easy to gift. Bold red wines are very famous and preferred in my area, but not everyone likes the strong flavors. This is a fun, easy-to-drink accompaniment to your kids’ candy evening snack.

The Piesporter does not need extra, special ingredients or temperature acrobatics. I did use bottled spring water to avoid any off flavors from my city tap water, and I have found it necessary to insulate the wine with a box to make up a couple of degrees. Other than that, it looks like a winner!

I started my wine in early October, so it won’t be ready to taste for some time yet. Naturally, I have had samples though. Each time I take a hydrometer reading, I check the flavor too. There’s no sense in throwing out perfectly good fermented grape juice.  I have greatly enjoyed the process of watching the bubbles, seeing the sediment clarify, and then stirring it all up again. I’m looking forward to looking after my bottles like a mother hen.

This kit makes a full 6 gallon carboy of wine, so it’s easy to share with friends. While I love eating and drinking all the things I make, sharing with others is my favorite part. It definitely looks like a lot of wine, and even more so when I bought 30 wine bottles! I am glad that I decided to start with just one flavor. I don’t think my equipment will sit empty for long, though. With the Piesporter brewing and almost ready for bottling, I have to admit, I am eyeing the other ingredient kits. Maybe I will try a nice Pinot next. Or a Moscato. So many choices!

Wine making at home is far easier than I imagined. I think I’ll be giving wine for holiday gifts, housewarming gifts, birthday gifts, thanks for giving my kids lots of candy gifts… you get the idea! And in typical Sarah fashion, I’m already considering all the fun ways to make wine from local fruits. Stay tuned! But grab a wine kit while you wait.

Sarah

Sarah

I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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Lazy Girl Lotion Formula

diy lotion

I first learned to make lotion about 15 years ago. I messed up so many batches and made so many messes. I measured, and adjusted; melted and cooled. Finally I figured out a few simple ratios and a basic technique. With all of our fun new body care products, I decided it’s time to share my simple method of lotion making…. 

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Sarah

Sarah

I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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I grew up in an area with a strong Japanese influence. This may explain my love of Asian foods such as natto, tempeh, miso and others. But my very favorite food as a girl was chicken mafa. I asked for it for every birthday or celebration day, and begged for it as often as I felt I could get away with it. I’ve been experimenting with some methods for making the special ingredient for this dish at home: funyu or sufu…. 

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Sarah

Sarah

I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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Culturing with Honey

Culturing with Honey

Honey is wonderful, golden nectar. It can be stored indefinitely. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and local pollen. The flavor complements a wide range of foods and has been used for everything from beverages to skin care.

One common belief about honey is that it is antimicrobial. While plain honey does not spoil, that may largely be due to the balance of sugar and humidity. When combined with other ingredients, honey ferments beautifully and can be a wonderful addition to your fermented foods.

Since honey is a natural sugar that requires no refining to enjoy, it is the base of perhaps the very first wines. Mead is made simply from honey, water and yeast. For those of you who have been enjoying fermenting at home for long, you probably know that yeasts are everywhere! I promise to write more about mead later. For now, let’s talk about some of the ways you can use honey in ferments already brewing in your kitchen.

Yogurt: Honey is our family go-to sweetener for yogurt. There is something soothing about the flavor and meditative about stirring it in. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for the perfect, simple snack.

Sourdough: I nearly always add honey to my baking. A tablespoon or so of honey in a loaf of bread improves the flavor, speeds up the rise time (but only a little) and creates a golden-brown crust. My favorite part about adding honey to my bread? It’s a natural humectant. That means it pulls water to the bread. Instead of my bread drying out, it stays moist for days. This is even more helpful in gluten free breads.

Water kefir: Making up a batch of water kefir with honey is quite a treat. The honey doesn’t kill the grains due to antimicrobial action, though it will eventually kill the grains. The real reason is two-fold: Honey is fructose and water kefir grains must have glucose. It’s also high in minerals. While water kefir does need minerals, too many will turn the grains to a slimey, sad mush. Make sure to use very active grains, and ones that can be spared. They don’t always recover after fermenting honey.

Sour cream or soft cheese: For an elegant, simple dessert that will amaze your lucky guests whip sour cream or a soft cheese (ricotta or marscapone work well) with just enough honey to sweeten. Fold in fresh berries and serve in small dishes. Yes, of course I licked my dish when no one was looking!

Kombucha: Jun has become quite popular and we are often asked if we carry it. Sadly, it’s a tough culture to grow, but you can replicate it at home. Use an extra scoby (remember the warning about the water kefir?) and follow the directions for making kombucha with the following adjustments: Use green tea and ¼ less honey than sugar called for. So if you are making 1 gallon, use ¾ cups honey in place of the sugar. The green tea and honey mixture will ferment much faster than kombucha, so watch it closely, especially in warm weather. You can reuse the scoby as long as it looks healthy, stays firm, and there are no signs of mold or decay.

I’m sure there are as many ways to use honey in ferments as there are ferments. How do you use honey?

Sarah

Sarah

I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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