So where's the snow?

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


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Death by Elderberry!

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Jenny came to help with this years wine bottling, and while I was squishing the next batch of elderberry this happened!

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I also managed to spill it down myself and we had to stop Swingle slurping the floor! And despite me cleaning thoroughly, Dave came home later and straightaway found all the sticky bits I’d missed!

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So the wine has come out surprisingly dry this year. The Gooseberry is delightfully pink as hoped. The first batch was the driest, and that which I added extra sugar to, only marginally sweeter. The blackcurrant isn’t so sweet either. I can only surmise that its due to the wet summer which means less sugar, but I did pick after a few hot days.

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Maybe I do need to change my method and have the fruit must and sugar and the yeast in a bucket for  few days rather than adding the sugar to the sieved must. Note to self for next year!

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Maybe the elderberry will be the same. My trees are a disappointment again, so one will be chopped down to start again and the other pruned. On my dog walks I spotted several laden trees, so I stole my elderberries from behind the factory, some were hanging like bunches of grapes.

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So after Christmas, when we get back from the UK, Jenny has said I should have a party to take my mind off things ie the missing the kids blues, sounds a cracking idea to me!!!
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Harvest time

P1280311Today, the 24th September, we had our first frost. It’s been such a damp summer that my geraniums are already in the greenhouse drying out ready for the cellar and winter. The Dahlias copped it, but that was expected.

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Today I put the last of the produce in the cellar, sweet pickle, yet another attempt to be Branston for sandwiches, never got it right yet. It all feels like the seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness poem written in my home city of Winchester.

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Despite the cool, very wet summer, the majority of plants have run amok, and we’ve now got a freezer full of peas, broad beans, runner beans, parsnips, sweetcorn and carrots.  In the cellar are, strawberry, peach and blackcurrant jam, the aforesaid pickle, pickled carrots and cucumbers, a couple of marrows, onions on a string.  I have Plums in wine and schnapps,  Mus or compote. In the garden are still leeks , curly kale and some rather pathetic sprouts.

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In the garage I have plum, peach and red currant wine on the go. I’ve made plum, peach, blackcurrant, Elderberry flower  and berry liquor. I’ve still two bottles of the precious Elderberry wine I made last year, and my original Elderberry and apple from last year- still not really drinkable (!).

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The elderberries this year have suffered from the lack of sun and while black, are mostly tasteless. The plums caught up ok at the last minute though, with a huge glut, I think I’ve been given about 20 kilos!   BUT not a single ripe tomato, they’ve gone green into the chutney. Aubergines  were munched by something in the greenhouse. What  a year!

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I even found some Japanese anemones in a garden centre in Karnten, hope they they survive the winter, they will be well wrapped up!   I’ve been searching for them for ages. Such lovely late colour.

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We’ve finally got the pavillion for the garden and removed the old tree stump that was in the way.

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On Sunday, I was at harvest festival with the Trachtenfrauen, and sat in the church, I could give a real thanks to God for his fruitfulness, and it came to me, the stupidity we have in not co-operating together as Christians, under the dodgy label of dogma.

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Harvest party after the service!

The devil is chuckling at our own stupidity. When someone knows Jesus, loves him through whatever church they’re in, who are we to judge? Yup I have issues with Catholics, and I’m looking forward to a talk the local Priest is doing on that there are no differences between Catholic and Anglican could be really interesting!  But most of all, I’m so thankful for the harvest, his richness in our lives, I could feel the love around me as were in the service.  Thanks!

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1 Comment

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!