So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Wine time!

A week later than usual, I’ve just got my wine started. A friend gave me her red Gooseberrys as a certain dog dug a hole by my bush and it had to be cut back.

The hot summer, with long dry spells then loads of rain doesn’t seem to have affected the fruit,although I only had just enough blackcurrants. Only downside was the scars from the hail…

Three days on, the wine is percolating like mad. Its 26c in my garage, which is really too warm. But nobody told my yeast, it’s having a party!

Now I need to wait for the elderberrys to ripen. I havent made that wine for two years due to bad weather. Looks like it could be a good year for wine!


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That time of year again!!!

Gooseberry, Blackcurrant and a mixture of the two!


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A new venture

I had a go at wine making years ago when we had our small farm.  Trouble was that I let the fermenting bubbles get dry and it all went wrong.  We even tried marrow rum, and Dave’s Dad drank that and lived but we didn’t fancy it!  I’m quite surprised no one makes it here – I’m talking fruit as opposed to grape wine.  There are so many fruit bushes in people’s gardens, but they make loads of jams and syrups.

Schnapps distilling is the main occupation here. Usually from the berries of the mountain ash, which I used to think was poisonous or with zirben, a sort of pine cone that drips a thick resin.  This is added to a brandy or schnapps base and with sugar is fermented into a lovely syrupy liquor.  There are variations on this with all sorts of  fruit too.  So I’m going to try to make Elderberry. Two trees have self seeded in our garden so I hope that’ll be enough!

Finding the equipment was a non starter – nothing on the net anywhere in Austria. Then my sister in-law said her shop where she works in the UK did all the stuff, so she brought me over all the bungs and bubbles and yeast.  The only problem was then the fermenting bottle, and blow me down, Linda had two in her attic, her mother in law used to make it in Steiermark!  I went to the local Iron mongers  and they had the bung -for schnapps storing/brewing I suppose. I don’t have means to cork the bottles so I’m going to use the beer bottles with the flip over top with a metal spring that seals – a bit like on a Kilner jar.

The fruit is there and green on the bushes, they’ll be ready in a few weeks, just need to beat the birds to them!


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Garden time – Apples and Plums, Jam and Wine

It was when I was out to photo the apple trees, I noticed that the Plum trees have next to no flowers on them at all. I had to check back at my photos over the past few years and there are definitely less flowers than in earlier years and they look scraggy, not full blooms, just a couple of petals.  Another effect of last year, or just the trees having one of their rest years?  We’ve had so many plums the past two years we’ve got sick of the sight of them!  The cherry trees locally have had a great flowering, missing the Ice man, unlike the apples which did get zapped, but with so many flowers I guess it’ll still be a great crop.  My ornamental cherry has also had a pathetic flowering this year, nature’s cycle?

Especially with the fiasco of Paggy’s plum jam making. I’ve never managed to get it to set properly, as he wont let me add enough sugar as he’s a diabetic, but even with the gel zucker – it has extra gelatine and pectin in it I understand, it wont set. Then it goes moldy!  It seems we need to reduce it at least by half before adding the sugar, which  will do this year, if we get any fruit!

Very few people make home-made wine here, which is a surprise, Schnapps and jam yes. Maybe it’s because wine is so cheap! I can’t think why as there are so many soft fruits in  any garden, and jam making or cordial uses maybe more sugar.  Maybe its due to the beer drinking!   I’ve also got at last my own elderberries going, so now its do I make juice and then maybe jam from th flowers, or wait to make jam from the fruit??? Such dilemmas!  We’ve also just planted our first Blackberry, they seem not to be Lungau hard, which is a shame as they are like weeds in the UK.