Don’t WINE about the outcome

I just posted about my very wet growing season in 2014, now I am in 2015 and going to be harvesting very soon this years yield. But I wanted to share the outcome of my first attempt to making wine.IMG_4411

So because the season was so wet in 2014 my grapes where ripening early. I had picked about 3 gallons and put them in the freezer until I was ready for the rest of the harvest to be ready. When all were picked and we, my brother-in-law and I, were ready to start the wine making process I should have pulled out the frozen grapes days before. I pulled them out that morning and we had to run them under water to get them to thaw. This is where the “whining” part of my title comes in.

Mashing up part frozen grapes HURTS your hands. I had this crazy tingling feeling and rash starting to break out on my hands. We finally got a 5 gallon bucket filled with grapes, water, and yeast to start the fermenting processes. After a few days of releasing stinky air we were ready for the transfer process to the large glass jugs.

This is where I started whining again. This took forever it seemed. Each week on Sunday night I would transfer the wine to a clean jug. This took about 6 times until I gave up trying to clear up the wine. There was always a layer of yeast on the top, which is suppose to be gone by the 2nd or 3rd time and the wine should be clear. So I am told.


We went ahead and bottled and hoped for the best. We tasted as we were bottling and the flavor was very good.

Now posting this 9 months later and going through a couple of bottles it just gets better and better as it sits. There is a small amount of yeast still left at the bottom of the bottles, but I just through that away.IMG_6602

Overall I am very satisfied by the results and the lessons learned. I know this year will be completely different and I will learn new lessons, but isn’t that the best part of learning?

I do have a couple books this time, and if you are further into your education on wine bottling please share your learning experiences.

Loving some Scuppernongs

This year has been a very wet summer.

I have a pond in the back and with all the rain it became one LARGE pond.
It seemed like every weekend was rained out and we would see 3 -5 days of no sun. My muscadines ripened early and I was worried they wouldn’t come out right for the wine. I am still in the fermenting process (that will be another post of trial and error), but the color looks greats. 
My scuppernong on the other hand did great and had amazing sweet flavor. I made a jelly out of the ones that I didn’t eat by popping the insides in my mouth. My daughter of 2 had a great time picking and eating them, which gave her the runs each time we were out there picking she ate some many. It is a priceless memory of having your own grape vines to share in the process of harvesting and putting up with your family.
I read a great article in Our State magazine about the history of the Mother Vine located in Manto on the Outer Banks of NC, which is about 3 hours from me. 

Carolina Classic

grapesThe Muscadine
By Katie Saintsing
Photography by Lissa Gotwals
We might well speak of the great state of North Carolina, because it is surely that. But we’re making a motion to swap that “great’ for “grape,” because isn’t it about time the muscadine got its due? The Outer Banks’ Mother Vine has been around for more than 400 years, after all, and elsewhere in the state, artists and booksellers have turned to grapevines and their fruit for inspiration. The South’s famed scuppernong grape was named for a river here in North Carolina. We already knew these sweet, substantial fruits make good wine. And as it turns out, they make a great pie, too – skins (surprise!) and all. Or so we’ve heard through the – well, you know.
Homemade Wine!
This was my first time making homemade wine. What a great experience, watching over the weeks the wine fermenting and draining each week. I had my brother-in-law walking me through the process, he had been doing this for some time. It took longer then normal for there not to be any yeast left at the top of the jug. We are contributing it to adding frozen grapes with fresh picked. I had picked about 3 gals over time was freezing them. I did not allow them to dethaw completely before mashing and adding the yeast.

Fall ala Apple

Apple Butter

Fall and spring are my two favorite times of the year. I love how you see life changing before your eyes. Now that fall is here you can’t get more into the season than decorating and making apple butter. My family has been going to Millstone Creek Orchards for a couple of years now picking wonderful apples. 


    Millstone Creek Orchards

This is my second time making apple butter. It was a huge hit with friends the first time.  I used Fuji apples. I took the original recipe from I love that site! Thousands of people put in their recipes and others try them and give their input and tweaks. 

                                                         How it’s done!

We picked a half bushel, I was able to make two batches from that half. 
I peel, core, and slice the apples. 
Then put them in my six quart crock pot with 1/2 cup of vinegar. 
Turn it on high and let it cook away for eight hours.  
After the eight hours you turn it to low and let it cook for another 10 hours. I usually start this around noon and before I go to bed I turn it to low, that way in the morning I can finish it off by adding 
                  1 1/2 cup of sugar 
                  1/2 cup brown sugar 
                  1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
                  1/4 tsp ground cloves 
                  1 tsp ground allspice 

The sugar is half of what the original recipes calls for. After   adding the spices you let it cook for another four hours. The last two hours I take the lid off to let it thicken up.

Next is getting the water boiling. I use the boiling water method of canning.  You bring it to a rolling boil and fill the jars that have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Place them in the water and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tada! You have the best apple butter to enjoy yourself or to share. I have a girlfriend who ate it as a dip with cinnamon chips.

2nd try…and FELLOWSHIP

So after a hardening 1st try in making grape jelly I gave it another shot yesterday. But this time I took instructions from a new book I picked up called The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living.  I followed the instructions for not adding pectin. 

Well needless to say, it is quite watery. So I am not sure what the purpose of not adding pectin was suppose to be in making a jelly. Luckily I only did enough for one jar, so it will be a good flavor to put in baking. 

I have one more chance to making a jelly work before I run out of grapes this season. I will give it another go next week. Each trial and error is what makes us good at what we do. Not giving up and giving it another go makes us wiser each time. 

I did though finally accomplish something wonderful yesterday. My girlfriend and her girls finally made it over after two week of interruptions with colds. It was a well overdue time of fellowship. She ended up hanging around for over 3 hours. I love not having a schedule of spending time with those you love. I had plenty I could have been doing, but Shalom was present and fulfilled the purpose it was named for. 

We got to allow the girls to play and let out all that energy they have at such a young age. We got to make up for a lot of lost conversations. After she left later that night I was overwhelmed of emotions, because I realized how much I had missed her. How much I had missed the fellowship of a real good friend. How much I had needed to let things off my chest and so did she. How we become judgmental of ones life when we don’t know what they are really experiencing at home. I was reminded how important fellowship is.

So if you have a friend or family member you haven’t “really” spoken to in a while, take a seat outside your BUSY life and have a face to face conversation with them. You will be reminded of how special they are and grateful you are to have them in your life. 

Shalom, Peace be with You!

Muscadine Time

This is our first September here in our new home at Shalom Wooded Acres as we call it. An established 5 acre growing hobby farm in Eastern NC. We purchased it in November of 2012 with the direction of God and the intent to “live” off our land. “Shalom” is Peace in Hebrew and there are many many wonderful  spirit filled qualities about this land that I can’t wait to share as we adventure into each of them.

First off is enjoying picking from our two grape vines, a muscadine and a scuppernong. Not sure how long they have been established but they sure do yield. Eating off the vines has brought me back to some wonderful memories of living on the farm in NY where I grew up. I am so excited to jump in and see what is to come of this beautiful fruit God has given us to enjoy.

My brother-in-law has a hobby of making wine and beer. So with the grapes we picked we will be making wine to be ready by Christmas. What a wonderful gift that will make! I am also going to make some scuppernong jelly as well.

I have a girlfriend coming over  next week with her daughters and I am going to make an activity out of them helping me make the jelly while we enjoy some homemade cookies and tea.

1st try…not so well.

Well I didn’t get to experience making jelly with my girlfriend yet. My daughter ended up getting a cold. But I did experiment with a few jars. Which I am very glad I did. Cause it didn’t come out right.

I looked up a few different recipes to get an idea of where people were going with there jelly.  I ended up using a recipes off Great informational site. She mentioned to add a slight more sure jell to make it a bit thicker.  Well between doing that and letting it cook a minute or two too long, it came out like a rock when it set up.  She said to test, but how do you test when you need to let it cool on the spoon and you only have a minute to cook it in.  That is letting it boil with the sure jell.

So I am going to give it another try this week, hoping for the best. The few jars I did give to friends to try said it tasted great, after they put in microwave to loosen up. LOL.