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Monday, August 23, 2004

Weakened Update 

Wine. Wine wine wine.

This was the weekend I did my darndest to be a terrible son-in-law, only to have my in-laws feed me dinner twice.

The impetus was the crab apple wine project. It all seemed so simple: throw crab apples in crusher. Throw resulting pulpy mess into press. Throw resulting pulpy juice into a big tub. Add water, sugar, special wine-making stuff, and yeast. Wait 9-12 months.

Almost every part went wrong. It turns out the crusher, optimized for mutilating grapes, was terrible at mutilating crab apples. Strike one. I ended up crushing (and rather badly) 95 pounds of crab apples by hand with a piece of wood. Not recommended.

On to the wine press, where the real fun began. My father-in-law has a small but wonderful little wine press (it looks much like this one), perfect for home vintery. Not so good with crab apples.

As I started cranking down on the crab apple mash, the press squirted crab apple mush out the sides at irregular intervals. Soon, the walls had a spray of crab apple goo on them and the floor was slick with crab apple mush. I crushed apples for several hours on Saturday night, and only really finished the job on Sunday. By then, the fruit flies had arrived.

Sunday afternoon was a delightful mixture of mopping out the crab apple abbatoir, de-appling the press and the various other containers, and mixing up the mash. After consulting three different online recipes and my in-laws, I dumped in a sugar-water solution, and now I have to add some nice yeast when I go home. At this point, I'll be thrilled to end up with vinegar, much less anything drinkable.

At least the fruit flies seem to be a bit reduced now. Or maybe they're just waiting at my house, now that I have 50 pounds of unwanted crab apple pressings sitting beside my garbage cans.

The good news is we're into the less disastrously labour-intensive part of the game. From here, most of the work is done by yeast, with my intervention limited to a little stirring for a few days, and then a little racking and testing every few weeks for the next year or so. If all goes well, the result will be somewhere around 50 litres of wine.

Riding-wise, a pretty good weekend: I finally got back and did the EV Saturday-morning ride, which started under troubled skies and ended under driving rain. Then, Sunday was the criterium championships, which I completely chickened out of, reasoning that spending $40 for 30 minutes of being pack-fodder was not a good return on my entertainment dollar. Next year, maybe.

Gotta get a track bike,

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