Not officially a holiday, nevertheless we tend to have fun out of the house on the-day-before-Mother’s-Day and the-day-before-Father’s-Day. But, Kim had a meeting this afternoon to prep for her trip to Kenya, so plans were adjusted. still some out and about time, but some closer to home, and more time spent doing home-bound tasks.
I started by getting up somewhat early to rack my peach wine. I sanitized everything needed and then checked the SG, already a low 0.994! But while a hydrometer dries fairly quickly, the carboy took a bit longer, so I had to wait to do the actual racking.
My wife now awake, we moved to the next thing on the “schedule”. Kids forced into car, we drove the distance to The Happy Berry and proceeded to pick copious amounts of the yummy goods. In this case, we picked only 19 pounds of blackberries. Only because blueberries weren’t quite ready yet (mid or late next week). Only because, well, 19 pounds of any fruit is quite a bit.
We got back home just in time for my wife to get ready and head off to her prep meeting. In the meantime, I got back to the peach wine, racking it to the carboy ready and waiting for it. Racking went well enough, though I did break a racking cane prior to the actual racking as I tried to figure out how to connect the cane to the tubing I had available. Actually it was disconnecting after a test that had been the issue. In any case, I figured out the right arrangement with the help of a razor blade and the end of the snapped racking cane. Racking was quick and rather effortless, once all that nonsense was out of the way. And looking over my shoulder, I can now see the line that differentiates the upper cloudy pink from the lower milky orange descending. Slowly, very slowly. And the carboy is bubbling nicely, without threat of overrunning the airlock entrance. That’s always good!
I then set myself to processing the remainder of the peaches. And they needed to be dealt with. The peaches weren’t in near as good shape this time as last, and peeling them this time was quite difficult. I had to resort to both blanching and the back side of a knife to get those peels off. The peaches were destined for jam, and I followed very similar recipes to the batch a couple days ago, this time making a strawberry-peach jam and a pepper-peach jam.
Making the strawberry-peach involved two changes. First, I replaced about a cup-and-a-half, or maybe just a bit more, of peaches with strawberries. Second, based on the set of the peach from before, I decided to blend part of the peach and part of the strawberries with the 1/2 cup of water before combining with the rest of the fruit in the pan. We’ll see if that helps the set; I sure hope so. Based on a small taste, I think that the strawberries come out a little more powerfully than intended. Not that it is a bad flavor, I just wasn’t expecting them to be so center stage. The batch produced 10 full 8 oz. jars of jam, which hopefully means I am starting to get a better feel for measurements in jam making!
Making the pepper-peach was nearly identical to making the first batch of peach, except that I ground (coarsely) two dried chili peppers from last season’s garden and added them during the final minute boil. And, as with the strawberry-peach, I blended half of the fruit (this time just peaches). I guessed at the spice level, but I think I chanced on a perfect balance between sweet and spice. More spice would be acceptable to me, but I think most in the house would not approve, less would be lost in the sweet. So, again, pleased. And once again, this produced the 10 full 8 oz. jars.
While I hoped I might get three or four batches out of the remaining peaches, that just wasn’t in the cards. The remainder have a lot of mold, a lot of “bad” spots, and all around don’t look up to the task. They might have enough fruit on them to combine with something else more substantial – but it would have to be very soon. In any case, it’s only enough peaches for really one more batch, if that. Overall I’m very happy with what we got out of the peaches purchased on our date-day: a five gallon batch of wine and 3 batches of peach jam (of various stripes).
Once my wife got back we ran to Greenville for dinner (Bacon Brothers Public House) and a movie (How to Train Your Dragon 2) with the kids. We didn’t get back until late, so tomorrow (in the late afternoon/evening!?) I am going to get to work on the blackberries. That is just enough berries for two batches of jam, following a process similar to that used for the peach jam, and three gallons of wine. Excited!