“When your wine turns to vinegar, make switchel or shrub.”
• 3 to 4 quarts fresh lemon balm, mint, hyssop, sage or other culinary herb
• 2 gallons water
• 4 pounds white or raw sugar
• 1 packet wine yeast
1. Place herbs in a nonporous, nonreactive container. Pour in boiling water and cover with lid or plate. Let steep for 1 to 3 days.
2. Strain mixture through a sieve or cloth, squeezing out excess liquid.
3. Bring strained infusion to a boil in an enameled or stainless steel pot, remove from heat and stir in the sugar.
4. Cool to lukewarm. Remove a bit of infusion into a glass, stir in the yeast and let sit 10 minutes or so, until yeast is dissolved and begins to work.
5. Pour this into a crock or carboy with the rest of the infusion. Cover with several layers of plastic wrap, secured with rubber bands, or a tight-fitting lid with an airlock. Let sit for 1 month or more, until vigorous bubbling stops and a thick layer of yeast covers the bottom of the vessel.
6. Siphon or funnel wine into sterilized jugs or jars; compost the vitamin-rich dregs or save for soup. Cork jugs loosely or cover with secured plastic wrap and store in a cool, dark place. These methods of capping allow gasses that continue to form to escape. If you cap too tightly, gas pressure could build inside the bottle and eventually cause it to explode — a dangerous mess.
7. Occasionally, a cork might pop off. If so, replace the cork with a clean one and mark the bottle for drinking sooner rather than later, or bring the wine to the kitchen for cooking use.
8. As the jugs sit, sediment continues to form. After 1 to 2 months, tap the side of the container to see if any bubbles rise to the top. If so, try again in a few more weeks. If not, you’re ready to
pour off the clear wine into sterilized bottles and cap or cork tightly. Store in a cool, dark place for 5 to 9 months before serving. You can sneak a taste before that if you like, but it will probably taste like hooch.
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How to Make Herbal Wine.