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I used to make gooseberry wine and g. champagne.  Definitely my favourite fruit for home made wine.  Once you have made 'ordinary' gooseberry wine, you simply add a little extra sugar and yeast to the wine and bottle it.  I used to keep old sparkling wine bottles for that as they have the extra strength required and you need to add wire ties to stop the corks popping.  The bottle are then stored cork-down during the secondary fermentation so that the sediment collects next to the cork and is blown out when you open it.  I've been teetotal for many years now but it is tempting to make some of that again for special occasions!


I didn't add extra sugar Bob, the secondary ferm was natural and surprised me. Very nice

Busy Bee2

Nut didn't you use champagne bottles with thick glass?  That was what my book said, and then the big corks to match, otherwise there would be a likelihood of the pressure of the carbon dioxide being greater than ordinary glass could hold, so your bottles could go off bang.  TBH that was what put me off trying it, but maybe if you didn't do that, you were lucky and they didn't.  Come to think of it, some of the wine I made was slightly sparkling by accident - the blackberry in particular, but I thought that was quite nice, especially by the third glass and that was just kept in ordinary bottles, so maybe thick bottles are just a precaution.  Perhaps I should stick some gooseberry bushes in - rest of the family don't really like them though, so they would think me a bit weird.  Not sure OH would be too pleased to see my winemaking career reinstated!!  Easier to find gooseberry champagne online and have some delivered I reckon!


I just made gooseberry wine Bee. I wasn't expecting extras


Artjak, your neighbour sounds just the type I saw on the forums I looked at! Please can I have your garlic pickle recipe? I have two beds full that will need dealing with in July, and it won't all store in ropes.

I'll pm you for that link, Dove, but where on earth do you find the time to be on other forums?

Nut, oakleaf sounds horrible, but years ago I had a mobile hairdressing client who made her own wine from ANYTHING, it seemed. I used to drop my car at home, and do her hair last on a friday afternoon. Many an hour was whiled away tasting wines like broccoli, heather, parsnip, cabbage, nettle, toenail (just joking!) and many things that sounded disgusting but tasted lovely. Needless to say, I had a good head start on girl's nights out. And Mum always knew where I had been! And got paid, too! Many a visitor wobbled out of that house!

Incidentally, she had a lovely collection of Pieris of different varieties, and I always think of her when mine flower or change colour.

Ivy, let us know how the Marmalade goes?


Busy Bee2

Ah Bob - you've sorted that one out for us then!  Nut it sounds like your wine was like my sparkling blackberry then - fizz a bonus!  You know I've just googled it, and nobody seems to supply gooseberry champagne any more.  All the links are to do with making it.  And yet years ago a company made it and supplied it to the restaurant.  I wonder if it's due to some form of regulation somewhere? - I can't imagine that there would be no market for such delicious stuff.  Especially in this day and age.  Ah - maybe it's cos you can't use the word 'champagne' - will try 'gooseberry sparkling wine'. 


Oak leaf was lovely, light and fizzy. Very young oak leaves,  not old leathery ones.

Gooseberry sparkling wine sounds lovely.... Maybe need to consider purchasing a gooseberry bush next 

Busy Bee2

Allium I think you will have to, because even googling that I only got ordinary sparkling wines with 'gooseberry notes'.  It is the one flavour that would tempt me towards my old wine-making box at the back of the shed.


Bee, I think no-one can call anything 'champagne' any more unless it's from that area of France.  "Sparkling gooseberry wine" finds a supplier via google - now sold out but making more soon!  


Nut, once I've got the hang of fruit ones, I might try like Mrs Meekins, my old client. Who'd have thought there was enough sugar in oakleaves? Don't remember trying that one with her.Mind you, I probably wasn't in a fit state to remember what she plied me with  So I suppose other treeleaves can work, as long as not poisonous?

Bob, your post must have crossed with mine! been thinking of gooseberry bushes for a while now. Now I have an extra reason to shoehorn them in! Which do you recommend? have to be good to eat from the bush without cooking (although one cooking one would be good, for me) as the kids will eat them as soon as they think they are ready.

Busybee, blackberry sounds wonderful, but only expect my first crop this yr from garden. Another excuse for hedgerow picking! And the alcohol should pickle the little wanderers that won't just drown on washing!

It's not just gardening that gets your head spinning on here. You end up slavering, too! Cakes, wine, chocolate, marmalade, jam, pickles. Anyone out there make cheese, crackers or crisps? Then my life will be complete

Gosh, you guys are getting me excited about wine making again.  It was so long ago and my old farmhouse kitchen so cold it was hard to keep the wine fermenting and most got poured down the sink, too horrible for even me to drink.  I had two wonderful successes tho.  One was, yes, gooseberry, and the other was gorse.  Nobody in Dublin seems interested and I can't find any suppliers of equipment.  I recycled the demijohns and I'm sure the procedures, materials are much better now.....those horrible campden tablets that wouldnt crush!

last year I got totally carried away making syrups, cordials.  My best was rhubarb, so pretty to look at, easy and adaptable and not too sweet.  Found a bottle last week, still terrific.  I count it one of the successes of the allotment last season.


Cordials and syrups, too, Hester? Recipes please!

Raspberry wine is wonderful........easy to do but don't do what I did one year and store it in the garage in one of the coldest winters


I'm a wine-making newbie.  I would say if you're thinking about trying it then go for it.  I was given a great (simple) book for Christmas 2011 and found a local shop which sells all the "equipment" (you don't need much), some of it second-hand and none of it as expensive as I expected. Inspired by the book, I've made all sorts over the last year or so, but have only tasted a couple of them so far.   Damson was boring (like pop but maybe it'll improve with age), apple was better, but my rose petal wine has turned out lovely!  One of the batches of pumpkin went fizzy accidentally, so I'm leaving it in the jar to see whether it settles down.... Have also made nettle, peapod, lemon balm, parsley, sage, runner bean, various pumpkin combinations, blackcurrant, rhubarb, raspberry and medlar.

Having got a bit carried away over the last few months (ok, I needed the freezer space), I've now got 6 demijohns still clearing, so might have to give it a break until I can bottle up some more.  Haven't tried gooseberry yet, but will do this year hopefully.  I think it's great fun - I make my own labels and enjoy the bottling process - and it's a good way to use up allotment gluts and anything that's in season.  Just hoping most of it will be drinkable........



Garden Jeannie; Pickled garlic (sorry I didn't get back to you before; you know how it is; so much to do and so few people to do it for me)

It is a recipe from Thailand, where they pickle whole bulbs, but their garlic has apparently a softer outer casing, so we do it differently.

To make 225g (?)

10 garlic BULBS, separated into cloves, but UNPEELED

1 pint white wine vinegar (BUT I use white Balsamic, jolly cheap at Lidl)

1 teaspoon salt

100g sugar

Boil vinegar in pan and add salt and sugar, stir until syrup is smooth and simmering. Drop in the garlic, bring mixture to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pack the garlic into clean sterilised jars and pour the liquid over, making sure the cloves are covered. Put on lids (I use cheap Kilner type jars from IKEA)

They will be ready to eat in 1 week, but improve with age. I keep them in the fridge once opened, but am slowly using a 1 litre jar made 2 years ago. You will want to peel off the skin before eating. I have a friend who just eats them from the jar; I use then in soups and stews.


With the wine making, elder flowers will be out soon; had some stunning elder flower wine at a friends last week; the scent and the flavour were wonderful.

If you get a glut of radishes, I have a recipe for pickled minted radishes from a recent Waitrose mag; haven't tried it yet, but always end up with more radishes than I can use. Radish wine anyone

Gardenjeannie, sorry for not getting back but couldn't remember the thread. This is from The Allotment Cookbook published by Dorling Kindersley.  I says.... One lb rhubarb cut into short lengths,  350 g granulated sugar, 8 scented pink rose petals, 2 tbsp rosewater, 1 tsp citric acid.   Put enough water in pan to just cover base. Add rhubarb, sugar, petals.  Bring to boil, cover cook for about 20 mins til pulpy.  Strain through muslin or fine sieve, pressing to get max juice.  Return to pan, bring to boil.  Remove from heat and stirr in rose water and citric acid.  Pour immediately into sterilized bottles.  Store in fridge and keeps re a month.

observations.  Nice idea about rose petal but doubt they add anything specially after 20 mins boiling.  It does not make as much as it suggests, but I vary all amounts and times wildly and all works.  As I said still have some nearly a year later, and it's still good, but maybe a fluke as I prob didn't even sterilize.  Don't dilute too much. 


Hester, sounds fab but what is it? A cordial?

Busy Bee2

Pickled radishes!!  Cool.  I just wish I could find my enormous packet of French Breakfast cos I could be planting now.  Last year I 'pickled' the olives from our standard olive trees in an Ikea kilner jar.  But I went too far with the salt for the brine, so put them in ordinary water in the hope they would get less salty, but now the top of the water has gone a bit mouldy.  Don't know if they would be safe to eat, but the mould is a good two inches from the olives.  I also made quince jelly, which is actually really nice, and when I am no longer on a diet, I plan to eat it on granary toast with danish butter for breakfast. 

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