Thursday, February 16, 2012

Making Honey Wine


Every time I mention honey wine, someone thoughtfully corrects me. "Isn't it called mead?" Apparently, wines come from grapes, mead comes from honey, and beer comes from grains. But what about Dandelion Wine? I think these definitions are too strict, and a little leeway is needed for the home brewer. Honey wine just sounds so luscious. And it is! This recipe is for Ethiopian Honey Wine, or Tej, which is the first recipe in Sander Katz's Wild Fermentation. His book is an absolute inspiration and I really recommend it. Now for the wine:

For almost all my fermentation projects, I add a little starter (click here to find out how to easily make your own fermentation starter, also called a "ginger bug") to help get things going in the right direction. It's not strictly required in this recipe, but when I did it by the book I didn't get any noticeable fermentation until I added some of my ginger bug. The traditional ingredients are only water and honey, but raw honey has natural anti-microbial properties that inhibit growth of even beneficial bacteria. To ensure you get a live ferment, add 1 cup of soda starter from your ginger bug. It takes just 3 days to make and you can use it forever with some light feeding and proper storage.

I use dechlorinated water (read about how to easily dechlorinate your own water here) for all my ferments, since the intention of chlorine in our tapwater is to inhibit the kind of growth we require for fermentation. Also, I avoid fermenting in metal or plastic, since the acidity of fermentation leeches junk out of those materials. Glass & ceramic are safer for fermentation. I bottle my wine in repurposed soda bottles that have a spring-loaded, rubber sealed lid. We bought the soda just for the bottles, which cost more when you buy them empty than we paid for them with soda. You can buy bottles like these by the case at brewery supply stores, or use mason jars. An easy way to remove labels from bottles & jars you want to use for something else is to lay them in the sink with a soaking wet washcloth over the label. Most labels will slide right off after a brief soaking, though some glues hold up irritatingly well to this method.


Supplies you need:
3 cups honey
3 quarts water, preferably dechlorinated (click here to see how I easily dechlorinate my water)
1 cup natural soda starter (Learn to make your own here!)
1 gallon jar or ceramic crock
1 gallon repurposed glass jug or carboy
balloon or airlock
bottles or jars that can be sealed
a funnel for bottling

To begin, place honey and water in the gallon jar and stir to dissolve. I will save you the hassle we experienced our first time making this by suggesting you use WARM water to dissolve the honey. Honey just has the hardest time softening in cold water, and honestly getting it to dissolve in cold water was the most time consuming part of making our first batch of wine. Sometimes we just like to do things the hard way ;)

Once dissolved, add your soda starter to kick start fermentation, or trust to the wild yeasts that exist everywhere if you prefer not to use a starter. Cover the jar with a dish cloth, secured with a rubber band, and give it a good stir twice a day. Each time you stir it, you help introduce wild yeasts from the air, and from the surface of the spoon, into your wine. This is why the starter isn't technically needed, but I still like to use it because I know it works and I don't have to cross my fingers that something will happen.

After 3-4 days, depending on the temperature in your house and the yeasts available to your wine, you should have a delicious, bubbling wine base (surely there's a technical name for the wine at this stage?) Using a funnel, pour your liquid into a clean carboy or gallon size apple cider jug. Cover with an airlock or a balloon. Let this sit for 3 weeks or so, until it stops bubbling. I've never used an airlock, but presumably you can tell when air is escaping. With the balloon, I simply wait until it starts to shrink slightly. Of course I mark on my calendar to start checking it after 3 weeks. The longer it goes, the less sweet your wine will be, and the higher its alcohol content.


The wine is ready! At this point, we bottle it, stick it in the fridge or a cold, dark pantry, and enjoy. It's light and sweet and a little bubbly, though I'm sure as with all fermentations, each batch is unique. Nik, who is not a wine drinker, really enjoys the honey wine, and it's also gotten great reviews from our friends who are more serious wine drinkers. It doesn't have the tannins or bitterness of a red wine, but is also not heavy or cloying like some dessert wines.

Please refrigerated the finished wine. This method will not make wine that lasts forever. It keeps for several months, at least, in the fridge, but since the yeasts are still active, pressure could build up and cause an explosion if not kept cool. Don't worry about it exploding if you keep it cold, though. Compared to the fermented sodas I make, this wine is hardly fizzy at all and doesn't create noticeable pressure in the  bottle. It might build up pressure if stored in a warmer area where fermentation could continue unchecked though. It tastes better cold anyway!

After bottling the clear wine, we sampled the dregs. Even the dregs were delicious!

Shared at Real Food, Friday 5, Flash, Meatless Meal, Super Sunday, Pity Party, Pretty & Delicious, Tuesday's Table, Divine, TGIF, Weekly Creative, Country Homemaker, Tuesday Greens, Weekend Retreat, Fabulously Frugal, Tuned In, Terrific, Mostly Homemade, Full Plate, Project Inspired, Try A New Recipe, You're Gonna Love It, LHITS, Fluster, Simple Meals, Small Footprint, Fun Party, What I Am Eating, Wildcrafting, Seasonal Celebration, Pin Me, Pintastic, One Creative Weekend, Kids In The Kitchen, Mix It Up, Thriving, Showcase, Riverton, Waste Not, Natural Living, Clever Chicks, Your Great Idea, Raw Foods, Backyard Farming, Meatless, Allergy Friendly, Weekend Wander, Heart & Home, Gluten Free Monday, Adorned, Extravaganza, Farm Girl Blog Fest, Handmade Gifts, Wonderful Food, Thrifty, Hearth & Soul, Seasonal Inspiration, Gluten Free FridayTime Out, Confessional, Show & Tell, Strut Your Stuff, Anti-procrastination, The Morris Tribe, Sugar Free, Freaky Friday, Rural, Healthy 2Day, Traditional, Living Green, Foodie, Frugal Food, Tasteful, Green Resource, Allergy Free Wednesday, Totally Tasty, Homestead Barn Hop, Fit & Fabulous, Frugal Days, What's Cooking, Tiny Tip, Simple Lives, Slightly Indulgent, Crazy Sweet, Sweets For A Saturday, Pennywise, Melt In Your Mouth, Feed Me, Allergy Friendly Friday, Wellness Weekend, Fat Tuesday, Teach Me, and Tuesday Garden Party.

89 comments:

  1. This post is so helpful--I've never tried making honey wine before, but I really want to try it now!

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  2. This looks tasty and fun! I like mead and I bet this will be even better.

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  3. Interesting. Never heard of that before. Thanks for sharing! New follower from Feed Me Friday. Love for you to follow back when you get a chance!

    http://naptimeshopper.blogspot.com

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  4. This is new to me as well- very informative. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  5. Fabulous! This is definitely on my to-do list now!

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  6. Could you use the dregs of honey wine to start your next batch of honey wine instead of the ginger soda starter? Have you ever tried that? Or will that not work because it's already alcohol?

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    1. I haven't tried it, and I think the concern would be that it would turn to vinegar, since when alcohol ferments further that's what it becomes. I'd rather have the wine!
      It could work out fine... you could do a google search to see if anyone else has experimented with starting wines with wine dregs.
      We found the dregs from the honey wine to be quite delicious, so if you're just looking for a use for them, they are totally drinkable!

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  7. I made the ginger bug and it was bubbly and perfect. Made the honey mixture and combined the two and after 3 days it was bubbly and looking good. I put it in in my bottles and put the balloons on it and two days later - nothing happening. What happened? Have you ever had a failure? Could I add more ginger bug to "revive" it? Help!

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  8. Commercial Airlocks work by using water to prevent movement of air into whatever closed container you have. They use a long tube that sticks up from the the container to a level above where they are filled with water. a larger closed ended tube is inverted over this vent tube so that its open end sits below the water line. as gasses build up they bubble out from the bottom of this tube through the water and escape into the atmosphere. The short answer is yes you can tell when fermentation is done using an airlock by checking the time between the bubbles that float to the surface of the device.

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  9. I've been making my own mead for years. It is delicious. By the way, it's the sugar that is fermented that distinguishes mead from wine. Wine is made from fermented sugar while mead is fermented honey. If using fruit and honey, it's a melomel. However, I still call mine mead. Just sounds better as strawberry or peach mead. Also, if you think it tastes good now, you should try letting it age a year. So lovely! Good luck with your brewing.

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    1. I'd love to let it age a year, but have never tried it. It won't explode in my pantry? Is there anything I need to do to it before it can be stored long term? Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    2. personally I would be worried about some of the various active flora from the ginger bomb for storing long term, though that is mostly from the ability of some of these to convert ethanol into lactic acid and other byproducts in the absence of oxygen. The same process that is responsible for kombucha being mostly alcohol free could happen in the bottles. Keeping them well sealed helps, sterilizing the containers before you use them helps (10 min in boiling water does the trick), but you also have to do the same to everything else that its going to come in contact with. Funnels, ladles, anything you are going to use to handle the bottles etc. Also high quality bottles that can handle some pressure become important (plastic) soda bottles, and mason jars wont cut it. The first because the chemicals will eat the plastic possibly rupturing it, possibly creating chemicals that you don't want, and that do not taste good. The second because they are designed to hold a vacuum, not the other way around. lids can pop, etc. The biggest key to long term storage is to have the microbes essentially spent and mostly dead. This can be done a couple ways. really high concentrations of sugar (any simple form) can cause most to shut down, lack of food (sugar) will kill most of em, Or getting the specific gravity of the alcohol high enough.

      The first and third method mentioned creates a sweeter product, as there are still sugars left in the process. The third method takes a certain amount of skill to produce, and results in strong product. The second is pretty much just letting fermentation finish completely before bottling (before removing it from the ballooned/airlocked container). You also might want to rack the mead one or more times before long term storage. A local home brewing supply store has all the stuff you might need to do this properly, and if they are worth their weight they will also be willing to help explain the process.

      The biggest thing with home brewing is be willing to experiment, and be prepared to dump plenty of product. Everyone screws up in this field sometimes the screwups taste good, and a new style is born, more often they are reminiscent of Limburger cheese... that has gone bad. I would put some up for long term storage in a cool, not cold, place and pop the top on a bottle of it every month. Considering all the variables of using non refined yeasts you may find that it peeks in flavor before a year.

      Tego

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    3. Thanks Tego. That process is intimidating, but I'm sure I'll try it sometime!

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    4. find a local chapter of the http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/ from my experience great people enjoying their passion. They will know everything you need to know about properly getting these things to age well, instead of making Limburger smell good =) I am glad a friend of mine pointed me here the other day, interesting site, interesting ideas, thanks for writing.

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    5. Mellow, I age mine in carboys or jugs, sealed with airlocks. About every four weeks, I siphon the mead off of its sediment into a clean jug. Attach the airlock and put it back in the pantry for another four weeks. I keep track of the siphoning, or racking, by writing right on the jug with a Sharpie. No lost papers that way, lol! When the brew is clear and there is almost no more sediment, the mead should be safe to bottle and store even longer or enjoy. However, I use Montrachet yeast for fermentation, and I test to make sure my specific gravity is at 1.000 or below. I'm not sure how your soda starter will hold up to long term storage. Like Tego mentioned, wild cultures in your starter might cause some serious bacteria issues in the long run. Home brewing is a blast though if you catch the bug! Whenever a fruit is in season, I buy extra for canning, dehydrating AND winemaking! Good luck to you!

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    6. I'll check out the home brewers association, thanks! Sounds like we'll have to get a hydrometer if we want to seriously do this. I'll research if anyone has experience storing wines made with wild yeasts, it does seem like that would be less reliable.

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  10. I'm making some right now. I'm wondering though... I'll be using the balloon method since I don't have an airlock. After 3 weeks can I remove the balloon, taste it and then put it back on if I feel it needs more time?

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    1. You can. Usually wines are rebottled a few times. Each time they are exposed to the air is another opportunity for vinegar cultures to find them, though, and sometimes people accidentally end up with a huge batch of vinegar ;) But yes, I would certainly risk a taste.

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    2. Ethiopian tej is actually made with honey, water, and the dried vines called gesho. It is an ingredient which is difficult to find outside of Ethiopian communities. After much trial and error following friends' recipes, I finally succeeded in producing a batch that won praise from my Ethio friends. Once I succeed in duplicating my results a few more times, I'll post the recipe.

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  11. Wow, that is really interesting! I've never tried making anything like that before.

    Thanks for linking up with Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies!

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  12. This is so interesting. It almost makes me wish I still drank alcohol just so I could try making my own honey wine/mead.

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  13. I tried making my own wine from our grapes, but I kinda cheated on the ingredients and it was apparent in the end result. This looks to be a similar recipe -- I think I might try this! Thanks for sharing at RT this week. :)

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  14. wow that sounds great! I am always in search of a new "experiment" and this looks like it might be the one.

    See what I'm up to at: http://kshippee.blogspot.com/

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    1. It is definitely a fun & delicious experiment!

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  15. I'm making my 2 nd batch right now. The first one turned out delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Thanks for letting me know- and reminding me! It's been a while since I've made some honey wine...

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  16. YUM! This sounds so refreshing!! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party last week! have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :) I hope that you'll join us this week! Domata will be sponsoring our party! They will be giving away a box of each of their gluten free products: Recipe Ready Flour, Seasoned Flour, and Pizza Crust Mix. Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

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  17. Have you tried using oil to remove the labels on your bottles?

    Just coat the portion of the label that is adhered with glue with oil, rub the oil lightly with the smooth, flat part of your nail (don't try to scratch it, just rub it in) to be sure that the oil penetrates through the paper to the adhesive, and let sit for a few minutes. The glue should break down, releasing the label without sticky residue.

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    1. I have never tried that! I definitely will give it a try the next time I can't get a label off with just soaking. Thanks!

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  18. Your recipe sounded delicious and I decided to give it a try. I was successful with the ginger bug and have moved to the second step of having the honey, water, and ginger bug mixed together in a gallon jar. I was wondering how bubbly the wine base needs to be before the wine is transferred to the jug to ferment for three weeks. The wine base has been developing for five days (my house is chilly) and now there is a fine layer of bubbles on the top of the liquid. Also, when I stirred it, I noticed there are some debris in the liquid. Would this be culture? Is this okay? It smells good to me, kind of sweet. My boyfriend likes the smell too, and says it reminds him of beer.

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    1. I bet it's ready for the three week ferment. The debris is just a biproduct of fermentation, the "dregs" I think. It's completely fine. Real wine makers will rebottle wine several times, leaving the dregs at the bottom each time, so they have a nice clear wine. Nik & I, however, simply drank ours up, and they were delicious ;) Good luck!

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  19. Thanks for sharing this (hopefully) easy recipe! I made my ginger-bug per your instructions, and have mixed the water, honey, and cup of bug, and covered with a cloth to get my wine starter. My question is, can a juice be added at some point to create, say, a spiced-apple honey wine? At what point would I want to add the juice/cider, and would I need to add more honey to balance out the additional liquid? I'm a total beginner at DIY fermentation, but am excited to start experimenting!

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    1. I would add juice right at the beginning with the honey/water/starter mix. However, I don't see why you couldn't add it at any point, really. You wouldn't need to add more honey, since the juice should already have a good amount of sugar in it. Good luck Melissa! I've never made a hard cider, but with the honey wine it sounds very yummy!

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  20. Like one of the anonymous posters I am at stage 3 where I have the balloon on the jug. I have been trying to keep it in a warm place and I am not seeing much development of C02 after a few days although I did have a thin layer of bubbles upon the initial transfer. On stage 2 hen you say after 3 to 4 days regarding the bubbles seen can you literally see it bubbling? or do you mean it has a layer of bubbles that have formed at the top cause that is what happened with me. My ginger bug was ready to explode so I know the starter was legitimate. I just want to make sure I am on the right path, because the first time the ginger bug smelled putrid which then no c02 was shown after 2 weeks and it reaked. This time the ginger bug smelled good and the batch after a few days.

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    1. Were you tasting the ferment each time you stirred it, before it was in the balloon stage? As long as it was tasting good at that stage, I'm sure it will be fine. I do keep stirring it daily until it is actively bubbling. Is your balloon not expanding? Things can definitely go slower at this time of year, when it's so much colder. With such a strong starter, I bet you're on the right track.Good luck!

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  21. This looks and sounds so delicious! I have to give it a try!
    Thank you so much for sharing this at Wednesday Extravaganza - Hope to see you there again this week :)

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  22. Do I blow the balloon up before I put it on the glass jug in stage 2 ( sorry, might be a stupid question, but my wine is ready for stage 2 and I want to do everything right!
    Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Oh, ha, ha, no... the reason for the ballon is to allow the gas to escape while keeping foreign stuff out of the wine. The balloon expands all on its own! Good luck!

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    2. Would cheesecloth suffice in place of a balloon?

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  23. Hi Emily,
    This sounds so good. I had never heard of honey wine. I will have to try this. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop.
    This weeks party is live. Here is the link to the party
    http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2012/12/5-fun-posts-and-wednesdays-adorned-from.html
    Debi @ Adorned From Above
    Joye and Myrna @ The Busy Bee’s
    Linda @ With A Blast

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  24. Ohhhh, yum. We tried banana wine in college. The best!

    Hopping by and following your GFC.

    I am also inviting you to join my store's first giveaway event: Tiddle Diddle Handmade Shoppe Giveaway

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    1. Wow, I've never considered banana wine! That sounds really amazing. Do you remember how it was made?

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  25. i am obsessed with your blog and thank you so much!!!!!!! i just wonder why you don't pour boiling water onto the honey or at least hot and then let cool and then start fermentation process. i am using 'warm' water and honey is not dissolving ha ha it's driving me crazy!

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    1. I know! Dissolving the honey is the hardest part. It just takes a lot of stirring, and maybe you can leave it for a while, let it soften in the water for a bit, and come back to it when it's easier. The reason we don't want to heat the honey is because raw honey has cultures naturally present that we don't want to destroy. These cultures are the reason we can make honey wine without added yeasts or other starters. If you are using a ginger bug starter, then I suppose you could heat the honey and still have a decent fermentation, but I think the benefits of raw honey are worth preserving if possible.
      By the way, thanks Renata!

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  26. Oh this I MUST try! Time to make my list of supplies to gather. Thanks for sharing this recipe at Raw Foods Thursdays.

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  27. Mellow, I knew this had to be yors the moment I saw the icon! I've been eying this recipe for some time now. Thanks for sharing with Natural Living Monday.

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  28. Omg I am totally and officially in love.

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  29. I love this idea! Will want to try it after my Janauary Whole30 challenge (where there's no sugar allowed, including honey). Thanks for posting!

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  30. Thanks for this! I am super excited to try it. Thank you for sharing on natural living monday! Your post was one of our features this week.

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    1. Nice, Amanda! Thanks for the feature!

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  31. I made it to stage two...adding the ginger bug to the honey mix. I let it sit for about three days, stirring twice a day and found that it did bubble up pretty good. HOWEVER, it did not smell sweet or good. Nor did it taste sweet or good. It had a slight rancid smell to it and tasted bad (wife said it reminded her of rubbing alcohol) so i dump it and will try again. Not sure where i went wrong and was wondering if anyone else had this issue?

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    1. Oh, strange! Well, that's good that it got bubbly, but the taste sounds horrible. Were you using a good, raw honey? How is the ginger bug? Did the bad taste come from that? Make sure everything you're using is clean. Is there any chance it OVER-fermented? If you keep your house very warm, or if you didn't add enough honey, it could be that all the sugar was consumed during a quick fermentation and you're left with a foul tasting alcohol. Also, make sure your water is dechlorinated. There's a link abofe to my article on dechlorination. I can't say what happened for sure, but I hope it turns out better next time. This stuff should taste great!

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  32. Yummy, will be trying this, hubby loves Honey wine - It is also called that here :)
    Am Pinning.
    x

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  33. This is a cool process! I appreciate you participating in my Pin Me Linky Party each week!

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  34. I just found your website and I'm in love! Thanks for all the great info! I have the ginger bug started (its a champ) and I am getting ready to start the wine base. My concern is that I have no gallon size JUG. I have a big jar for the starter, but no jug to put it in for fermenting. I have balloons to use to measure the off-gassing. What are your thoughts on breaking it into several smaller quart jugs or juice bottles for fermenting? Do you think the batch needs to stay together or could it be separated during the fermentation process? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

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    1. Thank you!
      I often make batches of lacto-fermented soda in a quart jar if I only have a small amount of the base, or if I'm trying something experimental. I've never made such a small amount of wine, but I don't see why it wouldn't work- you would just have to make sure the starter is evenly distributed among each jar of liquid. You might have a hard time capping a quart jar with a balloon, but I've used a nitrile medical glove for the same purpose. It's funny to see as it expands... Oh, and if you're using juice bottles, just make sure they're glass- fermentation will leech junk out of plastics. And remember, you will have a much smaller reaction if you've bottled the wine in several containers, so your balloons or gloves may not expand much. It should still taste good in the end though! Good luck. And if you do want a large glass jug in the future, mine is just a repurposed one gallon apple juice jug. You can turn the juice into sparkling soda and keep using the jug forever!

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    2. Thank you so much for your thoughts!!! I have several glass quart juice jars with a narrow neck, so thinking they may work for fermenting with the ballon method, but great point about the off-gassing being less and the balloons not expanding as much. What are your thoughts on adding a bit more of the ginger bug to each of the quart jars when I split it to ferment? Would that help make sure they all have a chance? If I don't find something larger in the next few days until the base is ready I will probably go ahead and try splitting it. Thanks again for the info, I'm super excited, and I'll report the results back if you're interested.

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    3. I don't think you'd need more starter, just split it proportionally between your jars. I just meant that you shouldn't worry if your balloon only fills a little bit, since each jar is not a whole gallon of wine, it won't off-gas as much as in the photo above.

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  35. Wow! I'm a little intimidated, but I just might try it! (Or rather, tell my husband to try it. I already brew too much stuff! LOL!)

    btw, Stopping by via Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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  36. Sounds good. I am looking for some of those soda bottles for my kombucha and water kefir 2nd ferments. I will have to look for some with soda in already.
    Thanks for posting at wildcrafting Wednesday.
    Jennifer

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  37. This sounds awesome! We have brewed our own beer, but never done mead before! I think we will have to try it this summer...along with that dandelion wine...Thanks for linking up with what i am eating!

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  38. I've been meaning to make our own wine from our grapes, but need to get the proper equipment. Good for you!

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  39. Mellow thanks for sharing this with Simple Meals Friday! I hope you will join us again this week!

    http://nourishingsimplicity.org/2013/04/simple-meals-friday-27-2.html

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  40. very interesting post thanks for sharing on tues. blog hop
    Deanna from cookingtherecipe.com

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  41. This sounds really awesome. I remember my grandfather making his own wine many years ago. Thanks so much for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday!" :-)

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  42. We are almost out of our homemade cantaloupe and watermelon wines and hubby mentioned a couple of days ago that we need to make another batch of wine. This would be a perfect recipe to try. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Yum- cantaloupe & watermelon wines?! Sounds delicious.

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  43. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a very special Mothers Day Weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

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  44. Thanks for sharing this at Fabulously Frugal Thursday! Thanks to you, I searched for and found organic ginger at my local coop. I have the water on the counter dechlorinating. I can't wait to make a ginger bug!

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  45. How fun, I remember my ex husband making something similar years ago. Found this post on Peek Into My Paradise :)

    Would love for you to stop over to our SUPER SUNDAY Link Party & link up:
    http://whoneedsacape.com/2013/06/super-sunday-party-2/

    Lori
    Whoneedsacape.com
    Not Your Average Super Moms!

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  46. Hi there, do you have a dandelion wine recipe? thanks

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    1. No I don't, but yum! I'd love to make it sometime.

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  47. So, the Honey Wine is delicious. Thanks muchly. My question is about the SCOBY-like mass that's growing in my mead. Normal? Everything smells [and tastes] great so I'm not worried about spoilage. I"m more interested about if I should retain the SCOBY (if that is, indeed, what it is) and use it in my next batch of Honey Wine. Will it speed up the conversion?

    Any insight would be fantastic,

    ~Angela

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    1. I don't know if saving it would benefit your next batch- good question!

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  48. Help! Wine tastes a little vingarish. Is it bad!

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    1. Sorry! A vinegar flavor isn't anything dangerous, though it doesn't sound very drinkable. It just means it got contaminated with some vinegar somewhere, or that it fermented too long. Alcohol turns into vinegar over time. If it is beyond drinkable, you can use it for salad dressings, which I bet would be tasty! My honey wine tasted nothing like vinegar. If you want to try again, make sure your vessel is SUPER cleaned, especially if you use the same one that turned to vinegar. Many would argue that you should never make wine in a container that held vinegar, but I think you can clean it out well enough if you're aware of the risk.

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  49. Hello! I love your blog and am hoping you can help me! I followed this honey wine recipe exactly as you stated. All was going really well and I put the mixture in my gallon glass jug w/ balloon on top on 6/27/14. It is now 7/7/14 (only a week and a half later) and my balloon has deflated quite a bit. I do not see any noticeable bubbles when I agitate the bottle and it appears there are several spots of white mold floating on the surface. Is this wine salvageable? Local honey is so expensive and I'd hate to throw this away, especially after the time I've already invested. Please help! Any insight you can offer is much appreciated!

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    1. Usually when mold spots are on things that are fermenting, it's safe to just scoop away the mold and keep it going. I've never had that happen with honey wine, but I think it would be safe to try.

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  50. An addendum to my previous post: I removed the balloon to smell the wine to see if it had turned rancid. The ballon, where it attached to the bottle, was almost disintegrated. My thought is that it was exposed to air? This is supposed to be an anaerobic fermentation, right? It did smell somewhat alcoholic and not rancid at all so I just put a new balloon on there. The balloon has inflated, slightly, but definitely not to the level it went to originally. Also, I was reading through other comments and one person mentioned a scoby growing on the top of her wine. Is this possible what i am seeing? It looks like fuzzy white spots of mold floating, but I don't see any sort of gelatinous glob, which I usually associate w/ scoby! Either way, I am going to just keep this thing going for the full 3 weeks and see what happens. It's a learning experience!

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    1. If it's fuzzy, it's mold :( If you can scoop it out, I definitely would. But it makes sense that your second balloon wouldn't inflate as much as the first, since things ferment much more rapidly at first, and once the balloon stops inflating at all, you know it's ready to bottle.

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  51. Hæ!

    I've been trying this excellent recipe from Iceland with some difficulties and am hoping you can advise me. I made the ginger bug without a problem, but can't seem to get the honey past the fermentation phase. This is my second batch and I've been waiting for the honey/bug mix to ferment for nearly a week, stirring twice a day to no effect. I don't have a very warm apartment—could that be slowing the process down? At what point do you think I should give up on this batch and try again?

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    1. How does it taste? Sometimes there is very little bubble activity, even though fermentation is happening. As long as it doesn't taste bad, you can keep it going. It will definitely be a slower process at cooler temperatures.

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  52. I'm super-new to natural fermenting. I made a whey starter from active yogurt, mixed with raw sugar and wild plum juice. So far, the starter is bubbling along (hurrah!). We have boat loads of wild plum, apples and peach trees. How can I use this started, or the ginger bug (above), to make wine? Do I modify the honey wine recipe? Totally interested in your response!

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  53. I am super-new to natural fermenting. I made a whey starter, using active yogurt, raw sugar and wild plum juice. It is happily bubbling along, to which I am highly pleased. What I would like to know is, how can I make wine from the billions of little wild plums, apples and pears, that we have falling from our hundreds of trees? Generally, we juice them, make jellies, juices and use the juices in place of milk in baking and to enhance the flavors when cooking a multitude of yummy dishes. Now we want to broaden our horizons. Could I modify the honey wine recipe? Would I modify the ginger ale recipe? (BTW can hardly wait to try the ginger bug).
    Can you help an old gal out?
    Much appreciated.

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    1. I haven't made any fruit wines, besides a plum mead I helped my brother make, but it sounds fun to experiment if you have a lot of fruits to try! I would juice them and then add the starter. After a few days they'll be soda, and then if you want alcohol try following the above instructions. With some fruits, I'm guessing, you might want to add extra sugar for a wine rather than a vinegar. With my brother's plum mead, he added honey to the juiced plums. He might have also added water, but I can't be sure. This is definitely not an area of expertise for me :)

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