Prickle-farming for fun and profit
This picture was taken on day one. The painting is a first attempt rgbDesigner painting (for our
Arcadian Workshop show at Westerway) that didn't work out. We nailed it up to set the tone for the neighbours. The prickles are having it all their own way here.
To be a really successful pricklefarmer you have to accept all your fellow travellers, even the ones that don't much like you. In Winter this is easy. The farm is quiet with just the odd Bronzewing Pigeon rustling around in the bush and a few Pademelons.
As the weather warms up the farm comes to life. Big mounds of earth erupt and teem with massive bull ants. The forest flowers and roars with bees, beetles and wasps. Little olive green White Lipped snakes appear on the edge of the hedgerows and huge black Tiger snakes with heads the size of shovels cruise around the Pademelon lawns.
Fortunately for the pricklefarmer there is little to do at this time of the year so we go fishing and let the echidnas get on with eating the ants and the snakes get on with eating each other. By the time the Blackberries are ripe most of the frenzy is over and not long after this we pick the Rosehips and Hawthorn berries and our farm work is done.
Rosehip Sherry Recipe
This recipe is adapted from one we found here: https://kokblog.johannak.com/1113/
2 litres of rosehips
1 1/2 kg of sugar
1 cup of blackberries or elderberries or a strong cup of black tea ( for tannins)
3 litres of water
Top and tail the rosehips but leave them whole. Peel the zest from the lemons and juice them.
place the lemon zest and juice, rosehips and berries into a clean 10 litre plastic bucket and cover them with the sugar.
(we make 50 litres of this at a time and use a large fermenter that has a lid but to make a small amount just cover the bucket with a clean tea towel).
After 24 hours stir the sugar through the rosehips. Leave them to macerate in the sugar for at least seven days stirring thoroughly once a day. The sugar will melt and become fragrant as the juice is drawn out of the rosehips.
After a week add the water. We use water from the spring for this. You can use tap water but let it sit for a while for the chlorine to evaporate.
Stir well and leave to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Now its time to add the yeast. We leave all the wild yeasts intact but also add some wine yeast to kick things along. Just follow the instructions on the packet.
Stir well to aerate every day for a week and the transfer all the mixture to a fermenter with a lid and airlock. The rosehips will form a cap on top of the wine. Place the fermenter in a quiet spot and leave it for three months. After three months siphon the wine into a five litre glass fermenter, top up with water as needed and fit an airlock. Discard the rosehips but don't put them in your compost unless you want to go into Dog Rose growing in a big way.
Put in a cool dark place for 9 months, checking occasionally to make sure the airlock is ok. After nine months there should be no more bubbles forming and you can bottle your sherry.
We add half the sugar at the beginning and then add it in increments during the ferment. This is a bit fussy but allows the yeast to become more tolerant of the alcohol and we can ferment to higher percentage. Up to 17% with the right yeast.
If you are a pricklefarmer yourself you may have some elderflower syrup in the cupboard. Use this instead of lemons for a nice variation.