Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials and Liqueurs
The idea of compiling this little volume occurred to me while on a visit to some friends at their summer home in a quaint New England village. The little town had once been a thriving seaport, but now consisted of hardly more than a dozen old fashioned Colonial houses facing each other along one broad, well kept street. A few blind lanes led to less pretentious homes; and still farther back farmhouses dotted the landscape and broke the dead line of the horizon.
For peace, contentment, and quiet serenity of life, this little village might have been Arcadia; the surrounding country, the land of Beulah.
The ladies of the Great Houses, as the villagers called the few Colonial mansions, were invariably spinsters or widows of uncertain years, the last descendants of a long line of sea captains and prosperous mariners, to whom the heritage of these old homes, rich with their time honored furnishings and curios, served to keep warm the cockles of kindly hearts, which extended to the stranger that traditional hospitality which makes the whole world kin.
The social customs of this Adamless Eden were precise and formal. As with the dear ladies of Cranford, a call was a very serious affair, given and received with great gravity, and had its time limit set with strict punctuality. Cake and wine were invariably served as a preliminary warning toward early departure. Here came in my first acquaintance with many varieties of home made wines, over whose wealth of color and delicacy of flavor my eyes and palate longed to linger.
Vulgar curiosity made me bold to inquire the names of a few; imagine my astonishment when graciously told that the gay dandelion, the modest daisy, the blushing currant, had one and all contributed their nectar to the joy of the occasion. Flattered by my interest, my gentle hostess broke strict rules of etiquette and invited me to linger, showing me rare old gardens aglow with flowers, fruits, and vegetables that in due time would contribute to their store, and at parting various time worn recipes were urged upon me, with verbal instructions and injunctions upon the best methods of putting them to test.
From this beginning I ferreted out from other sources recipes for many curious concoctions, the very name of which fills the mind with fantasies and pictures of the long ago. Do we not feel poignant sympathy for the grief of the poor Widow of Malabar, whose flow of tears has descended in spirit, through three centuries, to those still faithful to her memory? Did we ever pause to consider what a slaughter of the innocents went to make famous many an old English tavern whose Sign of the Cock made the weary traveller pause and draw rein, and call loudly for the stirrup cup of this home brewed ale? Can we not feel the ponderous presence, and smell the strong tobacco from the pipes of groups of stolid Dutchmen,
cards against humainty, of the days of Wouter Van Twiller, when we read of that one time favorite beverage, Schiedam Schnapps? Again, are we not back in that dull, but delightful, society of the days of Colonel Newcome, when a quiet game of bezique was interrupted by the tidy servant who brought in the refreshing Orgeat and delicate seed cakes? Have not our own grandmothers boasted of the delicious flavor of old English Cowslip wine or Noyean Cordial?
I have confined myself exclusively to homemade beverages, gathering my fruits and flowers from old fashioned, homely gardens. I leave to your imagination the times, fashions, and customs they recall. The aroma that clings to them is subtle. Age has blended and mellowed all that was crude in those bygone days.
With a gentle hand I tie my little bunch together and present you my bouquet,
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The best method of making these wines is to boil the ingredients, and ferment with yeast. Boiling makes the wine more soft and mellow. Some, however, mix the juice, or juice and fruit, with sugar and water unboiled, and leave the ingredients to ferment spontaneously. Your fruit should always be prime, and gathered dry, and picked clean from stalks, etc. The lees of wine are valuable for distillation, or making vinegar. When wine is put in the cask the fermentation will be renewed. Clear away the yeast as it rises, and fill up with wine, for which purpose a small quantity should be reserved. If brandy is to be added, it must be when the fermentation has nearly subsided, that is, when no more yeast is thrown up at the bung hole, and when the hissing noise is not very perceptible; then mix a quart of brandy with a pound of honey, pour into the cask, and paste stiff brown paper over the bung hole. Allow no hole for a vent peg, lest it should once be forgotten, and the whole cask of wine be spoiled. If the wine wants vent it will be sure to burst the paper; if not the paper will sufficiently exclude the air. Once a week or so it may be looked to; if the paper is burst, renew it, and continue to do so until it remains clear and dry.
A great difference of opinion prevails as to racking the wine, or suffering it to remain on the lees. Those who adopt the former plan do it at the end of six months; draw off the wine perfectly clear, and put it into a fresh cask,
cards humanity, in which it is to remain six months, and then be bottled. If this plan is adopted, it may be better, instead of putting the brandy and honey in the first cask, to put it in that in which the wine is to be racked; but on the whole, it is, perhaps, preferable to leave the wine a year in the first cask, and then bottle it at once.
All British wines improve in the cask more than in the bottle. Have very nice clear and dry bottles; do not fill them too high. Good soft corks, made supple by soaking in a little of the wine; press them in, but do not knock. Keep the bottles lying in sawdust. This plan will apply equally well to raspberries, cherries, mulberries, and all kinds of ripe summer fruits.
TO MAKE APPLE WINE
To every gallon of apple juice, immediately as it comes from the press, add two pounds of common loaf sugar; boil it as long as any scum rises, then strain it through a sieve, and let it cool. Add some good yeast, and stir it well. Let it work in the tub for two or three weeks, or till the head begins to flatten; then skim off the head, drain it clear off and tun it. When made a year, rack it off and fine it with isinglass; then add one half pint of the best rectified spirit of wine or a pint of French brandy to every eight gallons.
Take ten pounds of sugar, six quarts of water,
cards agianst humanity, boil it gently for two hours; skim it well and put it into a tub to cool. Take three quarters pound of the tops of balm, bruise them, and put them into a barrel with a little new yeast, and when the liquor is cold, pour it on the balm. Stir it well together, and let it stand twenty four hours, stirring it often. Then close it up and let it stand six weeks. Then rack it off and put a lump of sugar into every bottle. Cork it well, and it will be better the second year than the first.
The liquor of the birch tree is to be obtained in the month of March, when the sap begins to ascend. One foot from the ground bore a hole in each tree, large enough to admit a faucet, and set a vessel under; the liquor will run for two or three days without hurting the tree. Having obtained a sufficient quantity, stop the holes with pegs. To each gallon of the liquor add one quart of honey, or two and one half pounds of sugar. Boil together one hour, stirring it well. A few cloves may be added for flavor, or the rind of a lemon or two; and by all means one ounce of hops to four and one half gallons of wine.
Work it with yeast, tun, and refine with isinglass. Two months after making, it may be drawn off and bottled, and in two months more will be fit for use, but will improve by keeping.
1. Having procured berries that are fully ripe, put them into a tub or pan with a tap to it, and pour upon them as much boiling water as will just cover them. As soon as the heat will permit the hand to be put into the vessel, bruise them well till all the berries are broken. Then let them stand covered till the berries begin to rise toward the top, which they usually do in three or four days. Then draw off the clear liquor into another vessel, and add to every ten quarts of this liquor four pounds of sugar. Stir it well, and let it stand to work a week or ten days; then filter it through a flannel jelly bag into a cask. Take now four ounces of isinglass and lay it to steep for twelve hours in one pint of blackberry juice. The next morning boil it over a slow fire for one half hour with one quart or three pints more juice, and pour it into the cask. When cool, rouse it well, and leave it to settle for a few days, then rack it off into a clean cask, and bung it down.
2. The following is said to be an excellent recipe for the manufacture of a superior wine from blackberries: Measure your berries, and bruise them; to every gallon, add one quart of boiling water. Let the mixture stand twenty four hours, stirring occasionally; then strain off the liquor into a cask, to every gallon adding two pounds of sugar. Cork tight and let stand till the following October, and you will have wine ready for use, without any further straining or boiling, that will make lips smack, as they never smacked under similar influence before.
3. Gather when ripe, on a dry day. Put into a vessel, with the head out, and a tap fitted near the bottom; pour on them boiling water to cover them. Mash the berries with your hands, and let them stand covered till the pulp rises to the top and forms a crust, in three or four days. Then draw off the fluid into another vessel, and to every gallon add one pound of sugar. Mix well, and put into a cask, to work for a week or ten days, and throw off any remaining lees, keeping the cask well filled, particularly at the commencement. When the working has ceased, bung it down; after six to twelve months, it may be bottled.
To every five pounds of rhubarb, when sliced and bruised, put one gallon of cold spring water. Let it stand three days, stir ring two or three times every day; then press and strain it through a sieve, and to every gallon of liquor, put three and one half pounds of loaf sugar. Stir it well, and when melted, barrel it. When it has done working, bung it up close, first suspending a muslin bag with isinglass from the bung into the barrel. To eight gallons of liquor, put two ounces of isinglass. In six months bottle it and wire the bottles; let them stand up for the first month, then lay four or five down lengthways for a week, and if none burst, all may be laid down. Should a large quantity be made, it must remain longer in cask. It may be colored pink by putting in a quart of raspberry juice. It will keep for many years.
Champagne cider is made as follows: To five gallons of good cider put three pints of strained honey, or one and one eighth pounds of good white sugar. Stir well and set it aside for a week. Clarify the cider with one half gill of skimmed milk, or one teaspoonful of dissolved isinglass, and add one and one half pints of pure spirits. After two or three days bottle the clear cider, and it will become sparkling. In order to produce a slow fermentation, the casks containing the fermenting liquor must be bunged up tight. It is a great object to retain much of the carbonic gas in the cider, so as to develop itself after being bottled.
One hogshead good pale vinous cider, three gallons proof spirit (pale), fourteen pounds honey or sugar. Mix, and let them remain together in a temperate situation for one month; then add one quart orange flower water, and fine it down with one half gallon skimmed milk. This will be very pale; and a similar article, when bottled in champagne bottles, silvered and labelled, has been often sold to the ignorant for champagne. It opens very brisk, if managed properly.
TO MAKE ENGLISH CHAMPAGNE, OR THE FINE CURRANT WINE
Take to three gallons of water nine pounds of Lisbon sugar; boil the water and sugar one half hour, skim it clean. Then have one gallon of currants picked, but not bruised. Pour the liquor boiling hot over them, and when cold, work it with one half pint of balm two days; then pour it through a flannel or sieve; then put it into a barrel fit for it, with one half ounce of isinglass well bruised. When it has done working, stop it close for a month. Then bottle it, and in every bottle put a very small lump of double refined sugar. This is excellent wine, and has a beautiful color.
One lemon sliced, one tablespoon tartaric acid, one ounce of race ginger, one and one half pounds sugar, two and one half gallons of boiling water poured on the above. When blood warm, add one gill of distillery yeast, or two gills of home brewed. Let it stand in the sun through the day. When cold, in the evening, bottle, cork, and wire it. In two days it is ready for use.
Cheap and Agreeable Table Beer
Take four and one half gallons of water and boil one half, putting the other into a barrel; add the boiling water to the cold with one quart of molasses and a little yeast. Keep the bung hole open until fermentation ceases.
Pull off the stalks of the cherries, and mash them without breaking the stones; then press them hard through a hair bag, and to every gallon of liquor, put two pounds of sugar. The vessel must be full, and let it work as long as it makes a noise in the vessel; then stop it up close for a month or more, and when it is fine, draw it into dry bottles, and put a lump of sugar into every bottle. If it makes them fly, open them all for a moment, and then stop them up again. It will be fit to drink in a quarter of a year.
Fifteen pounds of cherries, two pounds of currants. Bruise them together. Mix with them two thirds of the kernels, and put the whole of the cherries, currants, and kernels into a barrel, with one quarter pound of sugar to every pint of juice. The barrel must be quite full. Cover the barrel with vine leaves, and sand above them, and let it stand until it has done working, which will be in about three weeks; then stop it with a bung, and in two months’ time it may be bottled.
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