How To Make Basic Worty Wine

herbal wineBefore the concept of wine being made from grapes was in existence, our ancestors were creating an alcoholic beverage from what was in the environment.  Evidence for this can be found in several archaeological sites throughout the world and even our language shows the evolution of winemaking through the word worty.  The word worty had its humble beginnings in Old English where it was spelled wyrt.  This word then evolved to worty, which translates into liquor created from mashed and fermented leaves.

The first step to this process to make worty is to harvest your plant material.  This can be any plant material that is safe for human consumption.  When harvesting this material only choose plant material that is organically grown.  For this process, you will need 3 to 4 quarts of fresh plant material.

Once the plant material has been picked, thoroughly wash the plant material and let it drain.  While it is draining, wash and/or sterilize all the materials that will be involved in the process.  These materials include 1 large container that is glass, ceramic, enameled metal, or stainless steel, 1 plate or lid, 1 sieve or cheese cloth, 1 large stainless steel or enameled pot, 1 drinking glass, 1 crock made from food-grade plastic or ceramic, several bottles with screw-on caps or new corks or jars with screw-on lids, and a siphon.  Once these materials have been gathered prepare to sterilize the equipment.  This can be done by soaking the items in 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water, rinsing and letting air dry.  Another approach that can only be used for non-plastic items is to boil the items for 10 minutes and let air-dry.

After the plant material has drained and the equipment has dried, it is time to make the infusion.  An infusion in this process consists of plant material that is steeped in water for 1 to 3 days.  To do this, fill a large, nonporous, non-reactive, heat resistant container with 2 gallons of water.  Bring water to a boil and place plant material inside.  Turn the heat off and place a lid or plate on top of the container.  Let the container sit undisturbed for 1 to 3 days.

Once the steeping period has passed, strain the mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth.  After the liquid has been run through the sieve, squeeze or push down on the draining mechanism to remove all the liquid.

Place this infused water into a large enameled or stainless steel pot that has been placed on the stove.  Heat the infused water until it begins to boil and then remove from the heat.  Add 4 pounds of sugar to the infusion and stir.  Allow the liquid to cool until lukewarm.

After the infused water has cooled remove a small amount and place in a glass.  Pour the remaining infused water into a crock.  Stir in 1 packet of wine yeast into the glass and let it sit for 10 minutes or until it begins to foam. Return the liquid from the glass to the crock and cover with several layers of plastic wrap.  Secure the wrap to the crock with a rubber band or string.

Allow the mixture to sit in the crock for at least 1 month or until bubbling stops and a thick layer of yeast covers the bottom of the crock.

Using a siphon, separate the liquid from the dreg and place liquid into sterilized jugs or jars.  Cover the containers with plastic wrap and secure with rubber bands.  Place containers in a cool, dark place and let sit for 1 to 2 months.

After the resting period has passed, check the liquid by tapping on the side of each container.  If bubbles are released due to the tapping, the liquid will need to sit longer.  If the liquid does not bubble, it is ready for the next step.

Once the bubbling has stopped, it is time to pour into sterilized bottles and cap or cork off.  Place bottles in a cool, dark place for 5 to 9 months before drinking.

So this year give making a little worty wine a try.  It will be well worth the effort.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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