WET YOUR WHIS­TLE Home­made hooch

From de­lec­ta­ble herbal wines to honey and fruit liquors, mak­ing your own boozy tip­ples is fun.

NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Preserves -

For the most part, mak­ing your own hooch is a mat­ter of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion – one herb, berry or fruit may pro­vide rich flavour and smooth sip­pa­bil­ity, while an­other may be oddly flavour­less. But vir­tu­ally any­thing can be used, ei­ther as a sin­gle in­gre­di­ent or as a com­bi­na­tion of in­gre­di­ents.

Bushcraft in­struc­tor and wilder­ness guide Mark Lane (wilder­ness­guide.wordpress.com) of­ten col­lects wild ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate his own al­co­holic drinks, and he has per­fected the art of mak­ing prim­rose and dan­de­lion wine. Prim­rose (Prim­ula vul­garis) and dan­de­lion (Tarax­acum of­fic­i­nale) both make fine for­aged wines in their own right. But if you are strug­gling to make up the amounts, or fancy a blend, then com­bine the two.

Pick the heads – at least a cou­ple of litres each. Boil 4½ litres of wa­ter and dis­solve 1kg of sugar, the juice of a le­mon, the juice of an or­ange and two tea­spoons of cream of tar­tar.

Place flower heads in a large con­tainer and pour over the wa­ter. Cover con­tainer with a clean tea-towel and leave for 3 days.

Strain juice from the heads into a ster­ile demi-john. Add yeast and an air­lock. Leave un­til fer­men­ta­tion has fin­ished.

You can bot­tle it as is, but Mark prefers a bit of a sparkle in his coun­try wines and adds a small tea­spoon of sugar to each bot­tle to prime it and then seals the bot­tle.

The prim­ing sugar will start a sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion and put a fizz into the bot­tle. Make sure you use bot­tles, like old sparkling wine bot­tles or plas­tic fizzy-pop bot­tles, that can stand the pres­sure. Leave for at least a fur­ther two weeks, longer if pos­si­ble. Serve chilled!

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