Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Strawberry Season and Wine

Strawberry season is very short this far north.  In a good year it runs about 2 weeks.  The closest pick your own farm is about an hour south of us.  They do an email info list to announce their picking days as the season progresses.  They're very busy.  I like to go early in the morning on one of the first regular picking days.  I waited once, and completely missed out on berries that year.

This year #1 is home for the summer.  He graduated from Cadets, so no camp for him.  He's been doing odd jobs for friends and family.  He was home the day we went strawberry picking, so he came along.

Strawberries were on sale in the grocery store last week and I went off on a rant about them being picked green and sprayed with chemicals to make them turn red.  And you can't even smell them.

We got to the strawberry field early on a hot sunny day.  I showed the boy what I wanted- red right through from top to bottom.  Ripe berries.  I left him in his row and went about filling my own baskets. 

Later, as we stood in line for our weigh out, he said to me, "You really can smell them."

How sad is that, that my 19 year old has never been around real strawberries before?  Actually, we had a little strawberry patch when he was little, but he doesn't remember it.  I know city kids tend to be disconnected from their food, but it shocked me to realize my farm boy never knew strawberries have their own scent.
We picked 6 baskets, which worked out to a little over 3 pounds each.  2 baskets became jam.  3 small bowls were saved for dessert.  The majority, at #1s request, are fermenting.
Blueberry and Strawberry Wine

I sincerely hope it turns out well.  I might cry if it doesn't.

Most of the wines we've tried so far have turned out tasting very much like the fruit they're made from.  Rosehip tastes like stale beer, and Watermelon is quite bland. 

The Blueberry breaks my heart.  #1 brought one carboy upstairs to rack and hopefully bottle.  We started it 3 years ago in the giant 15 Gallon demi-john.  Buckets and buckets of blueberries went into it.  The yeast went dormant in the basement over the winter, and then started again the following spring.  Last fall we racked and split it into 2 6 Gallon carboys.  Yesterday we racked and taste tested one of them. 

It tastes like wine.  Buckets and buckets of blueberries, hours and hours spent bent over picking those blueberries, fighting the blackflies and mosquitoes, 3 years waiting...  And it just tastes like wine.  Like any cheap grocery store grape would have done the same thing.  I am so incredibly disappointed.  I suppose I can hope that it will improve with age, but I doubt it.

Live and learn.  This year I'll make a 1 gallon batch and fill it completely with blueberries.  That should turn out a strong blueberry flavour!

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