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If you’ve ever had a fruit tree in your yard, you know the feeling of absolute overwhelm that comes with having too much fruit. There are a million ways to preserve this fruit, like canning apple butter or making jam. But if you find yourself with at least four pounds of non-citrus fruit, there’s another way to preserve your harvest: make wine!

Yes, you can turn your apples, plums, peaches, figs, cherries, blueberries, and persimmons into delicious homemade wine. I’m going to let you in on my not-so-secret recipe for winemaking. The best part? This recipe doesn’t use any headache-causing preservatives.

Homemade wine recipe

Ingredients

  • Four pounds of fruit (make sure to choose a non-citrus fruit)
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 package of wine yeast

Directions

  • First, prepare your fruit for freezing. This recipe doesn’t use preservatives, so freezing and boiling must be used to kill any ‘bugs’ that might get into the wine. Roughly chop your fruit and freeze it in a Ziploc bag.
  • Allow the fruit to freeze for at least three days.
  • On the fourth day, combine your 1 gallon of water and 2 pounds of sugar in a large pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • While the water is boiling, add your frozen fruit to a sanitized pot or ten gallon bucket.
  • Pour the boiling sugar water over the fruit, taking care not to burn yourself.
  • Let the mixture sit overnight.
  • The next day, stir in your wine yeast.
  • Let the wine must sit at room temperature for two weeks. Mash this mixture every day with a sanitized potato masher.
  • After two weeks, strain the fruit solids from the liquid. Store the liquid in a sanitized glass carboy for at least two months. I like to store mine in a dark closet so it’s out of the light.
  • After the two months are up, bottle your wine. I store mine in sanitized pop-top bottles that can be reused.
  • Store the wine at room temperature for up to one year.

Remember to indulge responsibly!

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Cool Season Comeback: How to Grow Turnips

Do you want to grow a fall crop that produces both root vegetables and flavorful, edible greens? Are you planning ahead for your early spring garden? Turnips are easy growers that are making a comeback as a popular multi purpose veggie.

Planting Tips

Mark your calendar for planting 2-3 weeks before your last Spring frost date, or anytime late summer for a fall or early winter crop.

Turnips thrive best in cooler temperatures, so plan for germination and the main portion of growth to occur when temperatures are around 50F to 60F. Turnip bulbs become woody when temperatures exceed 75F, or if they’re allowed to dry out.

Choose a site in full sun where the soil is loose to about 18″ deep. Turnips don’t transplant well and must be direct-seeded.

Prepare your soil by incorporating compost, especially if your turnips follow heavy-feeding crops like corn. If your soil is clay-heavy, add a bit of sand to improve drainage. Turnip seeds are tiny, so break up soil clumps with a rake or your favorite cultivating tool to prepare a smooth surface. Turnips prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8, so add amendments accordingly.

Plant seeds no more than 1/2″ deep in rows 12″ apart. Drop seeds in a line, about a half-inch apart, and cover with a thin layer of light soil. Another method is to use the tip of a trowel to cut a shallow furrow in the garden bed. Once seeds are sprinkled in, gently backfill the displaced soil.

Containers for turnips should be at least 8″ deep. While turnips do quite well in containers and raised beds, take special care to prevent the soil from drying out.

The best companion plants for turnips are pole beans and peas, and strongly-scented herbs like mint and rosemary planted around your turnips will help keep rabbits and deer at bay.

Care and watering of turnips

Keep soil moist to encourage sprouting, but don’t overwater. Seedlings will germinate and emerge within 10-12 days. Mulch around larger plants to help maintain soil moisture.

Thin seedlings to 4-6 inches apart if you’re focusing on bulb growth, or 2-3 inches apart if you’re simply looking for fresh greens.

Common turnip pests and diseases include mildew, flea beetles, and aphids, though many green thumbs swear that turnips help repel aphids from their gardens. Keep weeds away from turnip plants to increase airflow and proper nutrition to the plant’s roots, and inspect regularly for issues.

These hardy plants, if kept properly watered and weeded, tend to withstand light pest and mildew infestations.

Harvesting your turnips

Mature turnip tops reach 12-15 inches in height in about 55 days. You’ll know when they’re ready to harvest when the smooth, rounded tops emerge from the soil, only partially-shaded from the upright display of leafy greens.

Harvest your turnips by gently loosening the soil around the bulbs and firmly pulling from the ground, or lifting from beneath with a garden fork. If you plan on storing your turnip bulbs, take care not to break the thin skin.

Cut off the tops and store them in the refrigerator for a few days as you would other greens, and keep bulbs in a refrigerator for up to three weeks, or in a cool, moist root cellar for up to three months.

Deliciously nutritious

Both turnip greens and roots have a distinct spicy “bite” to their flavor. Turnip greens taste much like mustard greens, and when sauteed with a bit of chicken broth and bacon, provide a flavor sensation reminiscent of southern cooking. Substitute vegetable broth, a bit of garlic, some lemon and salt, and you’ve got a vegetarian alternative to the old collard-style recipe.

Baby turnip greens add snap to salads, sandwiches, and burgers with their mild flavor akin to radish. Try turnip bulbs as a substitute for home-made mashed potatoes, or added in with your favorite mashing spuds. Cube turnips for stews, or puree them for hearty winter soups with a garnish of shredded greens.

Brush cubed turnips with olive oil and your favorite seasonings, and bake on a cookie sheet for an alternative to country-style potatoes, or add them alongside potatoes and carrots when you’re fixing your next roast.

Turnip greens at all stage of maturity are nutrient-dense vegetables. According to the online nutrition guide, World’s Healthiest Foods, fresh turnip greens are “high vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, folate, copper, manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin E and vitamin B6,” and they are also “a very good source of potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, iron, and phosphorus. Additionally, they are a good source of vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, and protein.”

Turnip bulbs are a carbohydrate-rich source of energy and are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, calcium, potassium and copper. The root vegetable is also a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and manganese.

Turnips have a long history as a staple crop, for good reason. Their flavor and texture have chefs scrambling to add them to their menus, and farmer’s market vendors are thrilled to sell out of these once-neglected cool-season favorites. How will you use turnips in your kitchen?


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