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Day 166 Bottling Muscadine Wine

Muscadine wine...nice and clear.

Muscadine wine…nice and clear.

Finally bottled my muscadine wine! I started with grapes that I foraged from wild vines and now I have my first wine in the bottles! The wine has been bulk aging  in two 1 gallon carboys and one 1/2 gallon carboy.

Bulk aging the wine.

Bulk aging the wine.

I combined them all into a bottling bucket to make sure the wine is all consistently blended and to facilitate the bottling.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

Transferred to a bottling bucket.

I used the Brewer’s Friend online bottling calculator to figure out how many bottles I would need…calculation is twenty-six 12 oz bottles, plus 8 oz left over, which would be good for a hydrometer reading and sample.  So, I sanitized 26 bottles and all the bottling equipment and supplies.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

Sanitized equipment and bottles.

I’m using oxygen absorbing caps for the wine bottling. I have read that a lot of homebrewers think they are useless for beer, but this is wine. Some mead makers think they are absolutely worthwhile. The thing is, the caps are recommended for things that are going to be bottled for 2 years or more. Most beers, other that barleywine, aren’t aged more than a year. There are a few exceptions. Anyway, I’ve decided to use them…several bottles of my wine may very well be around for a couple of years or more.

The clarity on the wine is beautiful and the color is a nice blush. The FG is 0.991 and the OG was 1.113, so we have a 16.01% ABV!

Taking the hydrometer reading.

Taking the hydrometer reading…look at the clarity!

The aroma and flavor are definitely that of a young red wine with a heavy amount of alcohol, but it certainly is not your typical North Carolina sweet muscadine wine.

Pretty!

Pretty!

I can definitely drink the sample, but I probably won’t open a bottle for at least a year and probably longer for most of them. The bottling calculator was spot-on, by the way. I filled exactly 26 bottles.

Filling the bottles.

Filling the bottles.

I’m hoping they will mellow and become something special with time. But this is my first real wine, so it’s pretty special to me already!

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine...ready for storage.

Twenty-six 12 oz bottles of wine…ready for storage.

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Day 153 Racking Caramel Cider and Muscadine Wine

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Keep on racking! Muscadine wine.

Racking day! I decided to rack the caramel cider and muscadine wine again today. I had to spend some time cleaning the kitchen, assembling vessels and utensils, making a new batch of sanitizer, etc.

I started with boiling some water in my starter beaker for 10 minutes, in case I needed to top off anything. Covered it and put it in an ice bath. Then I racked the cider. I completely filled a gallon, but the half gallon went down considerably. I didn’t want to top off that much with water, so I sanitized a 22 oz bottle and filled it. I used what was left to fill a tester bottle  to see what it does for carbing. Just an experiment…I want the rest to clear quite a bit more and maybe just condition awhile. The SG is 1.020 at this point and, overall, it’s looking good.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

Cider in a 1-gallon glass carboy, a 22 oz beer bottle and a little carb tester experiment. Wine on right. Crab apple, pear and apple blend cider in the middle.

For the muscadine wine, the clarity is looking quite good and the color is pretty. I racked to two 1-gallon carboys and about 2/3  filled a half gallon carboy.

Racking to all glass containers.

Racking to all glass containers.

I did go ahead and add some water to this one from the beaker that I boiled. I figure this will work out okay when I combine it back with the two gallons for bottling. In the meantime, I can bulk condition the wine without fear of oxidation…or at least the risk is greatly reduced. I think the wine is done fermenting. It’s got an SG reading at 0.990, which is about where it was when I racked it last time, I believe.

The more recent cider, a blend of crab apples, pears, Ginger Crisp apples and Pink Cripps apples just had yeast pitched last night. Airlock activity is continuing to slowly build this afternoon.

I’ve had a little sample glass of the muscadine wine in the refrigerator for the last few days, following the previous racking and I’m sipping on it as I’m writing this.

Muscadine wine sample.

Muscadine wine sample.

It’s really quite good…obviously young, but not too sweet. A little tannin on the tongue. It’s not as muscadine-y as I thought it would be. I think it actually has a better “real” wine flavor to it. It’s not heavy. We could probably easily drink a bottle of this next Spring or Summer. We’ll see. I’m planning on hanging on to most of it until maybe around Thanksgiving 2016.

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Day 151 Racked the Cider and Wine Again, Washed Crab Apples

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Racked again.

The crab apples have been outside in a bucket for several days and it looks like some squirrels or raccoon nibbled a few.  I decided I better move them inside and go through them. I washed them and picked out a couple of handfuls of ones that were beginning to rot. While I was at it, I went ahead and weighed what I have and it’s a little under 21-1/2 lbs. That’s after a batch of jelly and a 2 gallon batch of  cider (half of which was Pink Cripps Apples).

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs.

Washed and sorted crab apples. Over 20 lbs.

After that, I went ahead and racked my muscadine wine and cider batches to continue on their quest for finishing fermentation and achieving clarity. The processes went smoothly and all seems to be on track. Colors are nice!

Pretty color of red for the wine!

Pretty color of red for the wine!

The Montrachet yeast appears to flocculate well.

Wine trub. Fairly stable.

Wine trub. Fairly stable.

Careful racking leaves the trub almost undisturbed. The Edinburgh Ale yeast I used in the cider is a little less settled and required a little more finesse, but I managed pretty well, I think.

Racked cider and empties.

Racked cider and empties.

Amazingly, shortly after racking, a new sediment layer was obvious, especially on the cider. I haven’t done cider in awhile and I’ve forgotten that they require racking so many times before their final clearing.  But they do eventually become beautifully clear and golden! Eventually, I’ll bottle carb and condition the cider. The muscadine wine should wind up beautiful as well. It will be bottled in 22 oz beer bombers, unless someone convinces me otherwise, and aged for a minimum of two years. Geez, the wait for wine is agonizing, isn’t it?

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Day 150 Woo hoo!!! Racking Cider and Muscadine Wine to Secondary

2-1/2 gallons Muscadine Wine

2-1/2 gallons Muscadine Wine

1-1/2 gallons Crab Apple & Pink Cripps Cider.

1-1/2 gallons Crab Apple & Pink Cripps Cider.

 

Moved my Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider and Muscadine Wine to secondary today. I got good hydrometer samples from both. The cider is down to 1-1/2 gallons and the wine is down to 2-1/2 gallons.

The cider is quite tasty! The molasses, cinnamon and cloves did a good job adding flavor, without being overpowering.

Ready to rack the cider to secondary.

Ready to rack the cider to secondary.

The color is as expected. The current SG is down to 1.055, down from OG 1.102, leaving a current 6.17% ABV.The wine is a little lighter in color than I expected. I guess it will wind up more of a blush than a red.

Blush color of the muscadine wine.

Blush color of the muscadine wine.

Anyway, the unique muscadine aroma is still evident. The flavor is definitely young wine, lots of alcohol, a little fresh grape, a bit less sweet than anticipated…which is okay. the current SG looks like 0.993 for a 15.23% ABV…yeehaw! I would not want to drink this right away; however, I think I sense the future potential for this wine…2 or 3 years from now. *sigh*

Spent grapes...ready for compost. I hope fermented seeds don't germinate.

Spent grapes…ready for compost. I hope fermented seeds don’t germinate.

 

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Day 149 Spent Grain Muffin Loaves, Muscadine Wine & Cider Still Going

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

I had a small bag of spent grain left from my most recent batch of dog treats, so I found a recipe for banana & peanut butter muffins and gave it a try. I have some mini loaf pans and I decided to use them, instead of muffin tins.  Here’s the recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spent Grain Muffins
Adapted by Chef Lisa at http://cheflisa.lisahartjes.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-spent-grain-muffins/

from: Eat Me, Delicious (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-oatmeal-muffins.html)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spent grains
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup light buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar, eggs, mashed banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until very smooth, making sure all egg has been well-incorporated. Pour into flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain.

Wet ingredients

Wet ingredients

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling each just about up to the top.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove muffins from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12.

So, I got 5 mini loaf pans, filled about 2/3, using a #12 disher (most commonly referred to as an ice cream scoop). Two scoops puts about 5-1/2 to 6 oz per pan.

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DSC05399

 

 

 

 

 

Banging the pans flat on the counter a few times levels out the top. I placed the pans on a sheet pan and baked in the middle of the oven for about 28 minutes and they tested done. I let them cool awhile and then removed the loaves from the pans and finished cooling on a wire rack.

Cooling on a wire rack

Cooling on a wire rack

Well…one didn’t make it to room temperature! I get the peanut butter and banana…and I like it. The wife probably won’t get past the fact that the grains were used to make beer and dog treats…more for me!

Mmm...warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Mmm…warm quick bread with spent grains, peanut butter and bananas.

Quick update on the crab apple & pink cripps cider and the muscadine wine: they are both slowing down in activity, but still going. I opened the wine bucket and stirred down the bag. Again, a small sample from the spoon is sweet, but less so than it was…definitely young muscadine wine! They both probably have another couple of days until their first racking and the bag of crushed grapes will be squeezed out and removed.

Muscadine Wine...gettin' there!

Muscadine Wine…gettin’ there!

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Day 148 Pitching the Yeast in Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Opening cider bucket to pitch the yeast.

Edinburgh yeast starter…pulled from the fridge and decanted. Opened the cider bucket and removed the cheesecloth bag of apple/crab apples pulp and squeezed out the juice. I will compost this material.

Apple/Crab Apple "must"...pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

Apple/Crab Apple “must”…pulp, fiber, stems, etc.

I added the yeast slurry to the cider and stirred well. I did pull a hydrometer sample and it is very sweet and reads 1.100 at 78.2F, so that comes out to an OG of 1.102. I tossed in a couple cinnamon sticks and 8 whole cloves that I had sanitized with Star-San.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider bucket and flask with yeast starter.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

Cider with cinnamon, cloves, molasses and yeast added.

I also added about 1/4 cup of molasses…just a touch. The time was about 9:15 a.m., so let’s see if the Edinburgh Ale Yeast  takes off and when.

I also checked on the muscadine wine. The aroma when I opened the bucket was less appealing than it has been.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Muscadine wine fermentation bucket.

Still a lot of effervescence and nice color. I stirred the bag under and mixed the liquid well. I took a small sample in the stirring spoon and resealed the lid. The sample did not have any off-odor, still tasted of muscadines and is sweet; however, the alcohol level is definitely rising!

Stirring things up.

Stirring things up.

By 2 pm, I noticed airlock action in the cider bucket, so I guess my revival technique was successful and the subsequent starter that I made worked. as well. Sweet! As of tonight, it’s a fairly regular slow heart beat type of bubbling.

The muscadine wine continues a fairly vigorous activity.

Update, morning 8/27/14: I opened and stirred down wine again…same as yesterday. No problem. I also opened the cider bucket and saw more krausen than I expected.

Stirred the krausen down.

Stirred the krausen down.

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider...quite a bit a krausen!

Crab Apple/Pink Cripps Cider…quite a bit a krausen!

I stirred it down and resealed the lid. About an hour later, I found that the yeast had kicked in in big time! The airlock was fouled, so I immediately set up a blow off to remedy the situation.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

Blow off set-up on the cider bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 147 Bottling Fermented Ginger Beer, Picking Crab Apples, Wine & Cider Updates

 

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

10 bottles of a fermented pain the the butt ginger beer!

This little project has been a real pain in the butt! From the heating pad to off the heating pad. From adding Champagne yeast to moving it on the heating pad and overheating it and killing the yeast to pitching more yeast…yadda, yadda, yadda. And the SG doesn’t make sense…it’s went from 1.061 to 1.030 to 1.34 to 1.036…and then it reads 1.022 and starts floating up, slowly,  to 1.036. I even tried my back up hydrometer and it did the same. I’m tired of screwing around with it. I decided to bottle it and be done with it. My best guess is that the ABV is around 3.0 to 3.25%, but who knows?! Tomorrow night I’ll check the carb and pasteurize the bottles if they are ready. The gallon yielded 10 bottles and I may have to sacrifice one for the carb check.  Whew!

The wine continues to chug along very regularly. I opened the lid and stirred down the bag of crushed grapes. There was lots of sparkly effervescence and the color is a bright red, but not a deep, dark color and certainly not clear. It appears to be right on track, though.

Stirring the wine...snap, crackle, pop!

Stirring the wine…snap, crackle, pop!

My neighbor that has the remaining crab apple tree called and told me to come pick some more today, because they are having them pruned tomorrow and the ones that are easy to reach now will be gone. So I took a 5 gallon bucket over and almost filled it. Based on yesterday’s 2 gallon bucket weighing almost 13 pounds, I’m guesstimating that I have around 30 pounds…quite possibly more.

Big bucket o'crabs!

Big bucket o’crabs!

Maybe I’ll get around to weighing them tomorrow. I may need to find a more efficient way to extract the juice…my little countertop extractor can only handle so much.

As for the batch of cider already underway…

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

About 3 gallons of wine in the back and two gallons of cider in the front.

…I’m waiting for the Edinburgh Ale Yeast starter to be ready. I stuck it in the refrigerator tonight and should be able to pour off the DME “wort” and pitch it in the morning. I’ll get the OG before adding the yeast, throw in some cinnamon and cloves…maybe a little molasses, if it can stand it. Pink Cripps and Crab Apples. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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