Blackberry Port Recipe
It is the beginning of August and the blackberry season is upon us. We leave a small corner of our allotment overgrown for the bees and butterflies, and they have done a wonderful job of pollenating the blackcurrants this year. The bushes are laden! And I will make this blackberry port once again.
What is Port
Technically, this recipe does not make a port. Real port is a fortified wine, produced with distilled grape spirits. And it is only produced in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal, as opposed to our village in East Sussex. But this Blackberry Port does have something of a port mouthfeel because of the bananas and the addition of glycerol. It also has a higher alcohol content than a standard wine, because of the addition of brandy at the end.
This 'port' is more like a liqueur really. We don't drink it by the large glass, we have it in small glasses after a meal or by the fire. And it is perfect for that.
We have cultivated blackberries on our allotment, and we have wild ones growing in our 'wild' corner, and in the fields all around. Wherever you pick your blackberries, be sure to pick the ones that are above a dog's leg height (if you get my drift).
We tend to pick a few blackberries at a time when we're out and about. I find it difficult to judge what they weigh until I get them home. You'll need 2 kilogrammes of blackberries for this recipe. I weigh and freeze them as I go along, until I have enough to make my wine.
Freezing fruit before you make wine or liqueurs with it is a great way to keep the fruit until you're ready to use it, and keep adding to it until you have enough for your chosen recipe. It also breaka down the cells in the fruit, so the juice is more easily released.
More Steps to make this Homemade Wine than usual
Because we are making this Port with Blackberries and Bananas, there are a couple of extra steps. We need to extract the juice from the blackberries, and we need to prepare the banana juice from the bananas. We also need to hydrate the raisins.
None of these things are in any way difficult, it just means that the preparation for making this wine takes a bit more time than some other recipes. Having made this wine I can honestly say the effort is worth it.
Clean and Sterillise all Equipment
This recipe assumes you have all the equipment needed to make wine. The usual rules apply: everything that comes into contact with your wine needs to be scrupulously clean and sterilised. More about the equipment needed and sterilising in our Beginner's Guide to Making Wine from Fruit.
Blackberry Port Recipe
2 kilos of blackberries
Half a kilo of raisins
Half a kilo of bananas
1.5 kilos of granulated sugar (you will use this in stages: 1 kilo, then .25 kilo, then the last .25 kilo)
1litre of bottled water (unless you plan to boil your water to dissolve the sugar in which case tap water is fine - see below).
Pectic enzyme (amount according to the packet instructions)
2 teaspoons of yeast (I use Mangrove Jack's SN9 yeast designed for country and fortified wines)
Then at the bottling stage:
6 tablespoons of glycerol
6 tablespoons of brandy
1. Extract the Juice from the Blackberries
You need to extract the juice from your blackberries before making this wine, as the seeds can make your wine woody and bitter. You can't bash the berries to extract the juice, you need to extract it gently so the seeds don't break. This sounds like a palavar when you explain it; it's much easier than it sounds when you do it.
Sterilise all your equipment, including the straining bag.
Put your berries into the straining bag and tie it with string.
Put the tied bag in a sterilised bucket with the tie hanging over the edge. Pour 1.5 litres of boiling water over the berries. Cover the bucket with a lid (tea towel if you don't have a lid), allow the contents to cool until they're cool enough to handle. Lift the muslin bag so the juice strains out of it.
When it has almost finished dripping, pop the bag of berries into bucket number 2. Cover the juice in bucket 1 with a tea towel and leave it to cool. Pour another 1.5 litres of boiling water over the bag in the second bucket, pop lid/tea towel on and leave to cool.
Squeeze the bag gently to remove any remaining juice and remove it. Discard the berries (great for the compost).
Combine the 2 buckets of juice into one. Clean the empty bucket and use it to prepare your raisins.
2. Prepare the Raisins
Chop the raisins, put them in the cleaned bucket. Add a small amount of boiling water, just enough to cover them. Leave them to hydrate and cool to room temperature whilst you prepare the Banana Juice.
Prepare the Banana Juice
Peel the bananas and simmer them in 1 litre of water for 20 minutes. Strain, discard the banana flesh (great on the compost). Allow the banana juice to cool.
Now that you have your blackberry and banana juice and the raisins are hydrated, you're ready to make your wine.
3. Dissolve the first 1 kilo of the sugar in half a litre of water. You can either stir until the water has dissolved, or bring the water to the boil to dissolve the sugar. If you heat the water, you need to let the sugar syrup cool to room temperature before continuing. If you're using cold water, make sure it is bottled.
4. Add the cool sugar water to the bucket with raisins and water in it. Add the blackberry and banana juices. Add the pectin enzyme and yeast, mix everything well with a sterilised spoon.
5. Cover the bucket with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 days, stirring each day with a sterile spoon.
6. After 10 days, strain the contents of the bucket through a sterile straining bag, into a sterile demijohn. It will not be full.
7. Dissolve one half of the remaining half kilo (ie .25 kg) of sugar in as small an amount of water as you can manage which allows it to dissolve. Alternatively, bring a small amount of tap water to the boil and allow the sugar to dissolve, and then let it cool.
8. Add the sugar water to the demijohn, and add a little more bottled water if needed to take the liquid level up to the shoulders of the demijohn.
9. Fit a sterilised bung and airlock.
10. Leave to ferment for a few weeks. When the fermentation stops and you see sediment at the bottom of the demijohn, rack off your wine into a fresh, sterilised demijohn, leaving the sediment behind. Dissolve the remaining .25 kg of sugar in the smallest amount of water you can manage, add that to the demijohn. The removal of the sediment should make enough room for it to fit.
11. Refit airlock and bung and leave until no further sign of fermentation can be seen.
12. Bottle your wine, adding one tablespoon of glycerol and one tablespoon of brandy per bottle.
Leave for at least 2 months in a cool, dark place to mature in the bottle. The longer you leave it, the better it gets!
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