Wine recipe

Wine stick for mixing wine

Wine stick for mixing wine

Our recipe for making wine was jotted down on a small piece of paper by the man in the shop selling the wine equipment.

wine-recipe

Wine recipe and instructions

The wine is started in four plastic vats, each holding about 150 litres. Because of the possibility of the wine overflowing when it starts to ferment, we decided to use a fourth one. The grapes are first destemmed and crushed by machine and then transferred over into the vats.For each 100ml,1 tablet of Potassium metasulphate is crushed and added to the liquid.

MACERATING THE GRAPES – MACERANDO LAS UVAS
The vats are then left for 7-10 days and  and are mixed three times a day using a wooden pole nailed to a square piece of wood with holes drilled in it so as to thoroughly submerge the grapes that float to the top. This process is know as “punching down the cap”.

MACERATION is the process by which the tannins, colouring agents (or anthocyanins) and flavours of the grape are broken down from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the grape juice or must. Maceration occurs during the first stage of wine-making but also continues throughout the second stage of fermentation.

FERMENTING THE GRAPES – FERMENTANDO LAS UVAS
FIRST FERMENTATION
During the first fermentation, the grape juice is then pressed in a grape press and returned to clean, plastic vats. The vats are left for 30 days.

During FERMENTATION, carbon dioxide is released when the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol. The process of maceration continues during this stage.

SECONDARY FERMENTATION
After 30 days, the liquid is transferred to a stainless steel “always full” vat and left for a further 60 days. The idea of the “always full” vat is that has a lid surrounded by an inflatable tube which adjusts to the diameter of the vat. Whenever liquid is removed from the vat, the lid is then lowered and the tube prevents any air from entering.

The secondary fermentation or ageing process is slower and can take any time from three to six months.

 

 

First viticulture experience: making wine with bought grapes

making wine

Making wine

This year we planted 125 petit verdot vines on the area of land that is to be our vineyard. It will be a good couple of years yet until they are ready for wine-making so we decided to buy some grapes from a local vineyard so that we could get our hand in at wine-making in preparation for when ours are ready.

Vineyard

Vineyard

To all intents and purposes, Petit Verdot is a red grape and good to grow at the cortijo because it is resistant and will put up with extremes of temperatures as well as drought. Although it can be used by itself, it is normally combined with other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Time will tell whether it lives up to its reputation. Originally from Spain, for many years it was grown in the Bordeaux region but it became increasingly unpopular because it ripened later than other grapes.

On Saturday 5th October 2013, we went to a local vineyard to buy some grapes. Generally speaking, you will get a 75% yield of the grapes purchased.Thinking that we would be producing about 400 litres of wine, we therefore bought 600 kilograms of a mixture of Tempranillo and Syrac.

For the records, the grapes weighed in at 670 kilos in 30 crates. So allowing for 2 kilo per crate the net weight was 610kg.

Weighing the grapes

Weighing the grapes

Once the grapes have been cut and loaded into crates on the tractor, they are weighed 5 crates at a time on a traditional balance scales.

We took the grapes home and after lunch we began the second stage of the process:

Mechanical grape crusher/destemmer

Mechanical grape crusher-destemmer

The grapes are passed through the destemmer-crusher twice: first to remove the stems, twigs, leaves and branches and the second, to crush the grapes.

Removed stems

Removed stems

For this amount of grapes, we used 4 large vats (each of 220l), transferring the contents of 7 crates of grapes into each one.

Wine in the vats

Wine in the vats

 

 

Autumn 2012

Still life in those fresh vegetables

This is my favourite time of year. The weather is still good but not too hot and we get to eat all the vegetables that we’ve planted throughout the year. I’ve been meaning to write a list of things that we are/have been self-sufficient in and no longer have/had to buy so here goes:

lettuce, onions, leeks, garlic, potatoes, aubergines, courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, popcorn, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red peppers, green cabbage, white cabbage, broccoli, kale, Chinese leaves, radishes, fennel, beetroot, strawberries, figs, apples, quinces, walnuts, almonds, olives (and olive oil), watercress and herbs such as mint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme

Projects for next year include bees so that we can get our own honey.

Stringing up red peppers

“Ristras” of red peppers hanging on a neighbour’s house

Around this time, houses in the village are decorated with strings of red peppers which are left to dry and then used throughout the year to add flavour and colour to stews.

There’s a bit of a knack to tying them up but the idea is to have a loop at both ends so that can be turned upside down every week so that every side of the string gets its turn in the sun.

To make a string, cut a length of 120cm of strong thin string and thread a large needle. Tie a knot at one end and then make a slip knot so the loop doesn’t come undone.

It’s easiest to sit on a step with the knot at your feet, arranging the peppers on the ground as you thread them onto the string. Stab the needle through the stalks of the red peppers, arranging the first to the left, the second to the right and the third to the centre. From time to time, press the peppers to the bottom of the string. Continue until the end of the string and tie a slipknot and knot the end of the string as you did at the other end. Hang up to dry.

Feeding Purslane to Chickens to increase the Omega-3 in the eggs.

Two chickens eating dried pursulane.

A prolific weed on our  vegetable garden is Purslane. I was told by the neighbour that chickens love eating it. After looking it up on the internet I discovered that it has a very high omega 3 content. After further research I found out that if you feed Purslane to chickens it increases the omega 3 content of the eggs. There seems to be scientific proof.
Here is a link to the abstract and we quote the conclusion.

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20564433

“CONCLUSION: This study showed that adding dried purslane to the diet of laying hens significantly increased egg production and egg weights although there was no reduction in the egg cholesterol concentration. This study also showed that inclusion of purslane into diet enriched eggs with omega-3 fatty acids and decreased the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 in the yolk.”

I tried two ways of feeding the Purslane to the chickens. The first one is to pick the Purslane and then leave it in the sun to dry. It takes a long time to dry because it is a succulent and is designed to resist dessication. However after 3 or 4 days it does eventually go dry. The thick stems take a little longer. I put the dried pursulane through a garden riddle (sieve with 1cm holes)  and with a bit of scrunching up it forms a nice  mixture of particles most of which are about 3 or 4 millimetres long. This is ideal for adding  to the normal chickenfeed.  Below you can see the  initial test with the chickens eating from a plastic cup of dried purslane. They seem to like it. In the scientific study mentioned above  purslane is added at 10 or 20g per kilo. If that is a good guide for the proportion needed then only a modest amount of dried purslane would be enough to last the winter.

The plastic cup contains dried purslane.

The second method is to give the chickens fresh purslane.They love it if you hold it up to them and they attack it ferociously.

Chicken eating fresh pursulane

They seem much more interested in the purslane if you hand it to them but also it is a good idea to hang it up.

Chicken eating purslane

Don’t forget that you can add purslane directly to salads for human consumption. It has a pleasant lemony taste. I now look upon purslane as a welcome plant rather than a weed.
The omega 3 enriched eggs you get from the supermarket have a fishy taste. Maybe the use of purslane to make omega-3 enriched eggs will become more popular.

There is more info about the plant here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea