Celery Wine?

Drinks, Soup, Wine No Comments »

Making your own wine seams kinda cheap sometimes. The average bottle price is well below 1 euro per bottle in general when you are using found ingredients. Even if you buy them – it’s still relatively cheap.


Well – many home made wines don’t have grapes in them. They taste different from “normal” wine and can be cloudy or be a little unpredictable with taste. Add to that the idea that they are often made on the kitchen top or the shed and folks get a bit of a bad opinion. They are used to being sold wine as an exclusively grape based product and that the more you pay, the “better” should be the taste.

This is a shame. There is a whole world of taste experience out there to be had. Trying different fruit, vegetable, berry or herb wines expends your taste experience. It gives you more food pairing options. It even gives you more stand alone drink options. Not a beer, not a cocktail, not a spirit; a home made country wine. A chilled light peach wine on a warm summer afternoon or a heavy celery wine on a cold winters evening.


You mean that sort of long green bitter thing that uses more calories to eat than it actually contains? The love or hate vegetable of salads? Like, celery?

Yup, celery. Plain, simple, green, crunchy celery. Without salt because the yeast doesn’t like salt but yes, celery.

As a little side bonus – this is a two for one show – for main course you get the wine, for. starter – you get soup. What could be better?

What could be better? The cost. It’s cheap to grow your own and even if you buy, then it tends to be not the most expensive green in the veg shop.


Celery wine. Slightly bitter, makes a great aperitif. Here’s the recipe…

  • 2 kg celery, finely sliced
  • 1.5 kg regular white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon citric acid
  • 4.5 l of water
  • Regular wine yeast and nutrient.

Wash the celery and finely slice it. Put this in a large, clean pan and add the water. Bring to boil and leave it simmering until the celery is soft and the juice has been extracted. This could be 30 minutes or longer (possibly shorter). It all depends on your celery. This will make your “liquor”.

Strain the liquor into a sterilized 10l fermenting bucket or other suitably large bowl. Add the citric acid and the sugar. Stir using a sterilized stirring thing (ideally RVS or plastic) until all the sugar is dissolved. Loosely cover and leave to cool to around 21 deg C.

When cooled, tip in the yeast starter that you had made, cover and leave for 4 days.

At this point, take a hydrometer reading. This is your starting specific gravity (SG). It tells you how much sugar is dissolved in the liquor that can potentially be converted to alcohol by the yeast. In my case the SG was 1102. This give a potential of around 13.5% alcohol. Always take a starting SG and a finishing SG. Whilst is is possible to estimate the alcohol content from the recipe, during the process, fluid values may vary, sugar content of your veg or fruit can change etc.

After 4 days, give a good stir with a sterilized stirrer and put in a sterilized fermenting vessel (5l glass Demi-John), stopper with an airlock and leave to bubble until complete. Rack once, and bottle or follow your own gut on this one.

The result is an interesting aperitif wine, light and a little bitter.

When the liquor has cooled,


Soup and whats a Yeas Starter?


Yup – when you make this wine – you have a lot of cooked celery left. You could just throw it out or put it in the compost or whatever. You could also make soup out of it…

Put the cooked veg in a pan with 1.5l of water, a couple of veg stock cubes and bring to boil. Stir for a little, remove from het and then blitz with/in a blender.

Makes a fantastic soup base, or even on it’s own, with a little cracked pepper and a blob of Greek yoghurt with crispy brown bread. Can be frozen.


If you don’t normally do this. Or are unsure of the process – this is really something that is worth doing. It gets fermentation off to a healthy start and well just do it…

Get a sterilized jam jar. Add some lukewarm water (maybe 100ml). Add a teaspoons of sugar and dissolve. Add yeast activator or nutrient at the prescribed dose (it will be written on the container) and shake. Then add your dried yeast, loosely cover and leave in a warm place for an hour. The liquid in the jar will bubble and smell a little like wine.

Why do this? Yeast comes dried.It’s in a dormant state and needs to be woken up. You can either give it the short sharp shock of being thrown into it’s work environment with no preparation OR you can be kind, give it a bit of time to wake up and acclimatize, have some breakfast and then get on with work. Which would you prefer?

Allowing the yeast to wake up and start reproducing in an ideal situation really does get it off to a good start. Your fermentation will be stronger and better. Your end product will reflect this.


Well, erm, eat your soup and then wait for 6 months?

Actually, that. The soup is a bonus but don’t look gift horse in the mouth. Try and (re)use your bi-products where you can. The wine it’s self. That needs time to go to completion and then rack out before bottling. It’s worth the wait (as it is with all homemade wines)…

It’s worth the effort and time and waiting to be able to taste the fruit of your labors. Amaze friends and family with your skills.

Orange wine – pitched

Drinks, Wine No Comments »

5 days ago, I spent the night with a bunch of oranges and lemons. Zesting, peeling, pithing, crushing etc. Today, i spent some more time with them. this is what it looked line:

The must after 5 days. This also included pectinase which helped break down the cells walls and release more juice.

As a reminder – I’m making the wine from this recipe:

I heated them up to just below 100 deg C (don’t want any bugs in there that shouldn’t be. I strained them to get all the bits out. I fed them 4 kg of sugar solution (found out the 1 kg of sugar in 1l of water increases the volume by just over 0.5l) and nearly drowned them with another 5l of liquid.

Straining the original must. It needed a bit of help to make it through the straining bag. This may cause it to go cloudy later on although the pectinase added at the start “should” prevent this.

And then we get to the magic part.

Giving them yeast and letting those little animals eat them and the sugar, pooping out CO2 and alcohol.

This part of the process is called “pitching”, where you pitch in your yeast…

In this case I made a “yeast starter”. So – got a bit of juice from the bucket, added some yeast starter nutrient, a bit of sugar and left it to cool a little (to lukewarm) . Shook it. Then added the yeast. Leave it for a little while till it starts to bubble (around 3 to 6 hours) and then thrown that directly into the orange and sugar mix.

Yeast starter. Sterilized jar used.

Put the lid on tightly. Insert the airlock and leave it. I did take a sample and measured the SG – it was pretty high (possibly too high) – >1120! Assuming the yeast holds out – it’s going to be pretty potent stuff at the end of it.

Shortly after, the air lock starts to bubble and you know them yeasts are doing what they should be.

They will carry on for a week or maybe more. At that point I’ll rack it from the bucket into glass demijohns and leave it to finish. This is what sometimes is called “the secondary”. You get an initial or “first” fermentation – so sort of fast and furious. Then it dies down and proceeds really slowly. This is where it’s a good idea to rack it off the lees and just leave it to do what it does – finish turning all the sugar into alcohol and then clear.

How long will that take? I honestly have no idea. I’m guessing 2 weeks for first and then maybe 2 to 3 months for secondary. After secondary – I may bottle if it’s clear or rack again and leave to clear before bottling.

In any event – we are under way.

Orange Wine

Drinks, Wine No Comments »

We’ve done the Pear wine – now lets try something a little more Christmasy (maybe)?

Orange Wine.

Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and Lemons

From this link:

Look there for instructions – there is a bit of preamble before you get to the nuts and bolts about half way down. Anyways – here’s my version. They main difference for what I’ve done (so far) is I added a bit of Pectolaze. This is an enzyme that breaks down pectin.

Why do this?

It turns out the oranges contain some of the highest pectin concentrations in the fruit world. It’s concentrated in the peel and pith. You don’t want those in the wine anyways as they leave a bitter taste so you remove those where you can.

Why don’t we want pectin?

Pectin is really useful if you want to make jam. It helps the jam set. But, if you want to make wine, then it can leave a cloudy presence in the finished product that makes clearing harder. Also, pectin is contained in the cell walls of the fruit and we want the juice out. So we can use pectinaze (it’s an enzyme) to help break down those walls and get the juice out.

What was a problem for me was that I don’t have any fine measuring scales (I’ve fixed this problem and ordered a set). So – adding a fine powder at 3g to 10l is not the easiest thing to do when you can weigh blocks of 10g. Long story short…

I added half a teaspoon. See how it goes.

The process?

Zest the fruit (remember to scrub the fruit first with warm water to remove any wax coating). Peel and remove what pith is possible (taking the pith?). Then cut up and mash the fruit together with the zest in a fermenting bucket. Add 6l of boiling water and mix. Important to have it boiling as this will kill and bugs that may have wandered in.

zest and fruit
zest and fruit
6l water added
6l water added

Once the lot had cooled – I added the pectinaze and now have to leave it for 5 days.

Be back then.

Pear wine – for beginners…

Drinks, Wine No Comments »

So – you’ve got loads of pears or someone wants to dump a load on you (or other fruit for that matter)…

You can only make so much jam and cakes. Freezing, dehydration and canning isn’t an option. Ice cream is great but…

What to do? Maybe…

Make some wine.

But thats like complicated and needs loads of equipment and lots of other things and if you even look at it wrong – it will turn to vinegar and and and…

…loads of excuses follow. Well – just maybe bugger that and give it a go.

There are lots of great resources on the net for making wine and many wonderful sites exactly for the beginner. Here’s one I found which does a way better job than I can on making things easy and straight forwards:


Anyways – here’s my take on pear wine (for those that can’t wait for the end – sorry – you just gonna have to – making wine requires patience and a willingness to take a little time).

What do you need to make 1 gallon of wine?

  • 2.25 kg or pears
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 tsp citric acid (from chemist)
  • yeast and a bit of yeast nutrient (probably need to get these from home brew supplier.


  • Large Pan
  • Large food grade bucket (get a fermenting bin)
  • Fermenting vessel (1 gallon demijohn)
  • airlock for fermenting vessel
  • Big spoon (plastic?)
  • Straining cloth (and holder/frame – maybe from jamming)
  • Optional – hydrometer (measures specific gravity – lets you know how much alcohol your wine will be)
  • sterilizing chemicals (again from home brew supplier)

No need for anything specialist and the few things that are – well – you can always buy a “begin wine making” kit from t’internet.

What do you do then?

Well – you need to extract the juice from the fruit. This can be done many different ways – but in our case – we start by getting the pears, chopping them and then squeezing. I did take out the seeds. I don’t know if you need to or not – but. No need to peel the fruit. As the pears are kinda soft when ripe – you can use your hand to squish them. If you don’t like that – then use a potato stamper – works just as well.

pears in pan
pears in pan

So – the pears are put in the pan and squished. I made the volume up to 9l with just tap water and then boiled the stuff whilst stirring. Here we are both sterilizing the “must” (the fruit we are going to ferment) and extracting the juice (and sugar). For pears – it’s a good idea to not boil hard or longer than 20 minutes. If you do – it won’t affect the taste but it may make the wine difficult to clear (in wine making there are a lot of words like “may” and “could” – it’s a natural process;).

Once you’ve got the stuff boiling and stirred and waited (in my case) 15 minutes simmering – then you need to strain the liquor over the sugar. I put the sugar in a fermenting bin (you can use a bucket but make sure it’s “food grade” – this is important as there are some chemicals in none-food grade that you really don’t want messing with your wine. I also have a strainer that is used for making jam. You could also use a simple sieve or cheese cloth etc – I just find this thing a lot easier to use.

straining pear liquor
straining pear liquor

This all looks pretty gross – but – it smells not too bad.

When all the juice is strained – use the big spoon to make sure all the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. This part is important – you need that sugar – it’s whats going to feed your yeast.Add the Citric acid and nutrient to the liquor and stir again. Add tap water to bring it up to the 9l mark. There is a reason for this (you don’t want to fill the fermenting vessels too much) but that is only apparent AFTER you’ve done this once and made a real mess;) Make sure it’s all dissolved and then leave to cool (with the cover on).

When cool (around 25 deg C) – take the SG of the fluid (if you have a hydrometer) and put the liquid into the demijohn.

SG 1105
SG 1105

Add the yeast (pitch) to the must and fix the airlock to the demijohn. Then leave for a few days until the vigorous initial fermentation has stopped. Once it’s stopped – then you can either fill up to the bottom of the neck with water OR make up a sugar solution of around 200g sugar to 1l water. Why the choice? You can have either a really dry wine or a less dry one.

ready to pitch
ready to pitch

And thats about it really…

There are a few things to remember – and that’s really about hygiene.

Use the sterilizer to make sure anything that comes into contact with the liquid AFTER it’s boiled is sterile. This doesn’t mean operating room sterile and don’t get absolutely paranoid with it – but – it’s important.

Yeast eats sugar. When it does this – it poops carbon dioxide and alcohol. Other bacteria also eat sugar and poop other things. It’s these other bacteria that can spoil your fermentation. Same as for making jam or pickles – things need to be clean. It’s difficult to boil out a demijohn which is why we use chemical cleaners. This is why it’s a good idea to start with a wine making kit. This will give you some exposure to the basics in a guided manner.

But – if you want to go on your own – by all means – do so. Just remember hygiene 😉

So – thats about it – the yeast is pitched and is doing it’s best to eat all that sugar and poop magic.


Loading ...

Sorry :(

Can't connect ... Please try again later.

%d bloggers like this: