Category Archives: Brewing

Drying sage to make tea

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It’s a good time of year to cut back sage stopping it getting woody and lanky, it’s also a great excuse for drying sage. We just cut the plant back to a few inches from the ground, remove the most woody stems then blitz in a mixer and leave out to dry. Chopping it up first allows it to dry quicker which is useful if you are air drying it. You can also do this in summer meaning you’ll get a fresh flush of leaves for autumn.

This year it is going to form part of my wild and garden teas experiment. We drink loads of tea, black and fruit but we make very little of it ourselves which seems strange as we have a go at making most other things. I’m going to be trying out different herbal teas and also experiment in making my own black tea. I can see the sower faces I will be pulling in the near future but hopefully I can find some alternatives to shop bought teas that will become new favorites.

Sage Tea (Salvia Officinalis).  As a herbal infusion it has many medicinal properties. Sage acts as a relaxant for nervous disorders and depression, also as a disinfectant / antiseptic in the treatment of mouth ailments and stomach pains, it’s also good for brain function.

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-sage.html

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The taste is not as strong as I’d first thought but I can’t seem to get the taste of a roast dinner out of my head, not entirely a bad thing. I shall wait for the brain function to begin.

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cider update

Right first I’ll stop saying update. I just wanted to mention that last years cider has finally been bottled! After 6 months of very slow brewing. I think this was mainly for two reasons, one- our last house was so cold it rarely got above 15c (how do you do degrees C on the computer?) in the kitchen. Two- This years scrumpy- yet to be named- had no added ingredients, so just relied on natural yeasts present in the peel of the apples.

I can truly say that this year it’s completely organic and best of all never cost a penny. It was so pleasing to make use of a natural unused resource which would have otherwise just rotted away.

I’m going to leave it as long as possible this time as the taste I’ve noticed improves with age, however this will depend upon when the next part is as I’m sure it’ll be sniffed out.

drinking the hedgerow – Nettle beer

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This is the perfect time of year to get hedgerow brews on the go. The young fresh tips of the nettles are at there prime round here at the moment and with may celebrations on the way it was time to get the brew bucket out. It’s also a great way to get the first free food of our new home.

The recipe is dead simple

4 carrier bags full of nettles
9 liters of water
bag of brown sugar
3 lemons
bit of ginger
yeast

Collect the youngest tips of the nettles, be careful at the edges of crop fields, if the nettles have a yellow tinge leave well alone. Boil the nettles, lemons and ginger for twenty mins. Strain the liquid, remembering to add the nettles to the compost. Stir in the sugar and leave to cool. Once the liquid is cooled add the yeast. I use a brew bucket with a lid for this.

Leave for a few days in a warm place then transfer to a cooler one for a further few days. I’m not being exact because I always leave it normally in the same place for about four days but John Seymor says otherwise. If it looks like it’s going crazy move to a cooler place.

Then it needs to be bottled up in screw tight bottles this is really important as it can have a real fizz, I store mine as cool as possible. It’s ready in a week and won’t keep long so needs drinking, like most booze.

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turning an old demijohn into a cloche



I discovered this method by accident a few years ago while trying to clean an old bottle. I found an old demijohn outside and well past being able to clean it and more wanting to try this out!!

It’s dead simple, get a washing up bowl and add really cold water enough to cover the bottom of the demijohn, about a couple of inches. Leave it in there for a while to make sure the base is nice and cold. Then just boil the kettle and pour in the boiling water. If your lucky it should crack instantly and the bottom just drop out. If not give it a twist.

There you have it instant mini green house, the best part is you recycle something thats otherwise useless and it won’t blow away like plastic bottles.

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lemon and ginger wine

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Well the lemon and ginger wine finally stopeed bubbling and cleared so yesterday I bottled it. This has been on the go since around january. I finally tatsted it and it’s like a cross between paint stripper and acid. On the upside it’s strong. I mixed it with lemonade which took the edge off, well for a while. I’ll just list it under experiments!!! I’m going to call it ‘you won’t like it’.