Saturday, 21 May 2011

Spring Oak Leaf Wine


1 gallon of oak leaves (Spring or Autumn)

4 oranges*

1 lemon*

4lbs sugar

Wine yeast

Wash the leaves in cold water removing all woody stalks, damaged leaves, caterpillars and other hedgerow stow aways (I found several green caterpillars and a black and red caterpillar of the White Ermine Moth). Place the prepared oak leaves into a gallon brewing bucket, cover in boiling water and leave over night.

Strain and separate the leaves from the fluid. The leaves can now be composted.

Add the liquid to a large pan, preferably stainless steel. If like me, you do not have a pan large enough, split the liquid between two pans and ensure that you spread the ingredients equally between the two pots.

Add sugar, juice of lemons and oranges, and thin peel. It is important to make sure that there is no white pith on the peel so I grated the white side of the peel until the pith has been removed and the peel is very thin.

Place some dried wine yeast into a glass with a little water that has been allowed to cool until hand hot from boiling. This activates the yeast.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. When cool pour the liquid through a muslin cloth into a demi John and add the yeast and water. Top up the demi john with cooled boiled water until almost full. Add air lock and bung.

Leave to ferment. When all fermentation has ceased rack off into wine bottles and leave for 6 months. The longer you can leave the wine the better it will taste.

When ready to drink reserve one bottle to enjoy with friends at a solstice celebration. Enjoy!

The same recipe can be found widely over the web and in hedgerow wine books. I used a 1970 copy of the Farmers Weekly Collection.

* When making I did not have any oranges so instead used 3 satsumas and 2 lemons. I'm sure it will still taste great!