It is well worthwhile harvesting your produce daily to ensure you eat the freshest possible produce whilst at its tenderest and nutritionally most beneficial. Don't wait until vegetables are fully mature to start enjoying them, young legumes, salad plants, peppers, courgettes, spinach and many others can be used young and will encourage further growth.
Vegetables harvested for storage should be thoroughly cleaned. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes are best left in the soil until required. Onions and garlic can be tied in bunches and hung in a dry airy position. Many legumes can be left to dry on the plant and the beans podded for storage when completely dry. Marrows, pumpkins and melons should be stored on shelving under cover in a dry and airy position.
You will without fail have gluts of particular crops and these can be preserved in a number of ways: by drying, freezing, bottling or by turning them into chutneys, pickles, jams or by using some of the ideas below.
Index of Preservation and Storage Recipes and Techniques
Apple Pectin recipe
Bottling fruit in syrup
Jam and Jelly Making
Olives - Green and black olive preparation and olive oil
Rose Water - Recipe
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds - Preparation and storage
Some of your apple crop can be used to make your own pectin which is needed when making some fruit jams or jellies.
Take about 1.5kg of slightly under-ripe green apples, any variety will do - we use a native Cypriot apple, and wash. Slice apples, with the core and pips, and place in a litre of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and boil until it reduces by half. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, re-boil for about 20 minutes and then pour into a sterilised jar. Once cooled store in a cool and dark place and your pectin will keep for about three months or freeze for later use. The amount of home made pectin to use when jam or jelly making will depend on the fruit or fruits used, if you mixture is not setting add more.
Bottling Fruit in Syrup
Bottling is a useful way of preserving fruit gluts for use in the winter. Fruit selected for bottling must be fresh, firm and free from signs of disease. Hard fruits should be washed thoroughly and left to dry before preparation. Soft fruits should be soaked in a salt solution for five minutes to remove any insects or grubs and then left to dry before preparation. Bottling is best done using glass jars, such as the Kilner jars in the picture, which have airtight tops..
Prepare hard fruits for bottling in syrup as follows:-
Apples and pears should be peeled, cored and quartered.
Apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches should have stalks removed and bottled whole or halved and the stones removed.
Figs should be top and tailed and washed
Prepare soft fruits for bottling in syrup as follows:-
Strawberries should be hulled and carefully washed
Blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries, raspberries and redcurrants should be de-stalked, washed carefully and any fruit showing maggot damage discarded.
Prepare a syrup for packing fruit by using 250g of sugar for every 600ml of water. Dissolve the sugar, over a low heat, in 300ml of water and once dissolved add the other 300ml of water.
Pack the fruit tightly into pre-sterilised preserving jars and pour over the syrup. Tap the bottles to remove any air bubbles before sealing. Store in a cool, dry and dark area.
Chutneys are a great method for dealing with surplus fruits or vegetables. Chutneys are made from chopped and cooked fruits and vegetables with the addition of dried fruits and are mixed with sugar, whole spices, vinegar and other ingredients into a smooth pulp by cooking slowly until thickened. There are endless combinations for ingredients and many recipes which can result in a hot, mild, sweet or sour chutney.
To make chutney it's worth investing in a stainless steel preserving pan which unlike iron, brass or copper will not react with vinegar. The investment is well worth it as the pan can also be used for jam and pickle making. The basic method for all chutney recipes is to wash, peel and dice your fruit and vegetables and place them into the pan with the vinegar, sugar, dried fruit and spices. Stir until the sugar dissolves and simmer gently, without boiling, whilst continuing to stir occasionally until the ingredients are soft which takes about 2-3 hours. Pour into clean jars which have been warmed in a low oven and put on the lids immediately. Once cooled, label and store in a cool and dark place. Chutneys should be allowed to mature for three months before use but will improve with age and can be stored for at least two years. Try making your own Tomato and Apple chutney - go to Preserve Recipes.
Making cider is an easy way of preserving your apple harvest. Any type of apple can be used to make cider but combining sweet and sour apples produces a better flavour. As a rough guide about 5-7Kg of apples will produce 4.5 litres of cider.
Harvest your fully ripe, undamaged apples which are not too bruised. Store the apples, in a cool place, for two weeks to allow the skins to soften and after two weeks wash thoroughly before crushing. Crushing can be done using a purchased fruit crusher or, if you are only making a small amount of cider, by smashing the apples with a wooden mallet after wrapping them in a cheesecloth.
The next step is to press the pulped apples to extract the juice. For large amounts you may wish to purchase a press, build one (plans are available if you google home made cider press) or for smaller quantities use a kitchen juicer or food processor attachment.
The extracted apple juice should then be poured into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar. Initial fermentation can be very vigorous, so cover loosely until fermentation calms down. Then top up the jar with additional juice or water and insert an airlock.
Natural yeasts will convert the fruit sugar into alcohol but the resulting cider will be very sharp. For a more palatable cider you need to control the fermentation process. This is achieved by using a general purpose wine yeast and adding campden tablets (sodium metabisulphite) to kill off most of the natural yeasts.
Once fermentation is completed, which can take from 2-8 weeks, siphon the cider into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar whilst ensuring the sediment is not transferred. Top the liquid to near the top with boiled water and re-fit an airlock. Store in a cool and dark place to allow the cider to clear. If more sediment forms the process will need to be repeated until the cider is cleared.
If you prefer a sweeter cider, add approximately 500g of sugar to each fermentation jar when siphoning off the cider for clearing. Add an airlock and allow the cider to ferment for another 1-2 weeks and re-rack into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar.
Once the cider is ready, siphon into plastic fizzy drink bottles and store in a cool and dark place. Cider improves with age and, if possible, store for 4-6 months before drinking.
One of the oldest means of preserving food is by drying. This is easy in the warm and dry conditions of the Mediterranean where it is easy to use the sun to take the moisture out of the food. Micro-organisms which cause food to decay cannot survive without moisture and by removing 90% of the water content your fruit, vegetables and herbs can be stored for later use. Drying food will preserve many of the nutrients and your produce can easily be used after re-hydration, added to soups, casseroles, stews or enjoyed dry. There are a number of methods for drying your produce: by using a food dehydrator, solar drying, air drying or oven drying.
Try to select produce, for drying, which is at its best and when cutting try to cut to an equal size to ensure your produce dry's at a even rate. Most vegetables should be blanched prior to drying to destroy enzymes - you can find information on blanching under freezing. Fruit can be dipped in a water mixture with added fruit or lemon juice, pectin, honey or salty water. By dipping the fruit you will prevent oxidisation which darkens the fruit.
Your fruit is generally dry enough when it is soft and leathery and vegetables are dry enough when they become crisp. Once thoroughly dried, it is important to properly store your produce. Store in tightly closed jars and whenever possible fill these completely to keep the air out. Jars should be kept in a cool, dry and dark place and the produced used within six months. Dried fruits can be eaten dry and beans can be re-hydrated over night in water. To rehydrate other produce, simply pour over boiling water and allow to stand for a few minutes to a few hours depending on the produce or simply add dry to soups, casseroles or stews.
Methods of Drying
1. Food Dehydrator - is an appliance which uses heat and airflow to remove the moisture from the food. The price of an appliance can range from about 60EUR to 300EUR and is generally higher for larger capacity appliances. Before buying an appliance consider how much usage it will get, its electricity consumption and what size meets your needs.
2. Solar Drying - given the Mediterranean climate this is the most efficient and cost effective way of drying produce. Simply place your produce in single layers on non-stick racks, which allow full air flow, cover with netting to keep out insects and place in the sun daily until thoroughly dried. Drying can take from between two to four days depending on the daily temperature. Bring your racks in at night to stop dew forming on your drying produce. When nearly dry, move to the shade to complete drying and to avoid scorching. After sun drying, and to ensure all insects are destroyed, it is recommended that you freeze your produce for three days.
Alternatively, you can shorten the drying time by making a solar drier. I would recommend you research a design which suits your needs, there are numerous designs available and many use recycled materials or can be made using cardboard boxes.
3. Air Drying - This is a very easy method and suitable for herbs. And it is very useful to have dried herbs available in the kitchen for herbs used regularly like mint, parsley and oregano. Pick your herbs and remove any withered, damaged or dead leaves. Gather together your herbs in bunches, tie at the stem and blanch in boiling water for a few seconds to remove any dirt or insects. Shake and leave to dry before hanging in a dry breezy place such as by a kitchen window. Drying normally takes two to three days. When dry crush the herbs, remove the stalks and store in an airtight jar in a dark and cool place.
4. Oven Drying - if you encounter a period without sufficiently high temperatures to sun dry this is a simple drying method. Place your produce, in single layers, on non-stick trays, or straight on the oven racks if large enough, and dry at 50c to 60c for between 4 to 10 hours. Regularly check for dryness and turn your produce to ensure even drying.
Vegetable Drying Guide - With the exception of onions and peppers, which should just be washed, wash and blanch all vegetables before drying. Guidance on how to blanch and vegetable blanching times can be found under the freezing produce section. The following drying times are a guide and will vary depending on the drying temperatures and drying method used.
Beans - Stem and cut into 2.5cm pieces, blanch and dry for 6-8 hours
Beetroot - Cook, peel, cut into 8mm chunks and dry for 3-6 hours
Broccoli - Cut and dry for 3-6 hours
Carrots - Peel, slice and dry for 6-8 hours
Cauliflower - Cut and dry for 6-10 hours
Courgettes - Slice thinly and dry for 4-8 hours
Onions - Peel, slice 8mm thick and dry for 6-8 hours
Peas - Pod and dry for 6-10 hours
Peppers - De-seed, cut into uniform sizes and dry for 4-8 hours
Potatoes - Peel, slice thinly and dry for 6-10 hours
Sweetcorn - Remove from cob, blanch and dry for 6-10 hours
Tomatoes - Dip in boiling water and remove skins, slice and dry for 6-10 hours
Fruit Drying Guide - select fruit which is blemish free and ripe but not over ripe. All fruit should be washed, pitted and sliced. Fruit can be soaked in a watered down solution with added lemon juice, pectin, fruit juice or honey for 5 minutes, prior to drying, which while help preserve its colour. The drying times are provided for guidance but will vary depending on the drying temperature and drying method used.
Apples - Peel, core, cut into thin rings. Blanch for 5 minutes and dry for 6-8 hours
Apricots - Cut in half and turn inside out . Blanch for 5 minutes and dry for 8-12 hours
Grapes - For details on how to make your own sun dried raisins go to Preserve Recipes
Peaches - Peel, halve or quarter and dry for 6 - 15 hours
Pears - Peel, slice thinly and dry for 6-15 hours
Soft Fruits - Dry for 8-15 hours
Strawberries - Cut in half and dry for 6-12 hours
It's best to enjoy your produce straight from the garden but you will always have a surplus and its nice to be able to enjoy your produce out of season which freezing allows you to do. Some crops are unsuitable for freezing such as salads, celery, cucumbers, kale, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Although, other than salads and cucumbers, the rest can be frozen after cooking. Tomatoes are best frozen as juice or as a sauce for use with pasta dishes.
Produce needs to be frozen as quickly as possible, to retain its flavour and nutritional value, and this can be achieved by setting your freezer to a low setting for a few hours. Putting your produce in the freezer will cause the freezer temperature to rise but the lower setting will ensure it freezes quickly.
To store your produce safely it needs to be blanched. Blanching ensures bacteria is destroyed, preserves texture, colour, flavour and helps retain nutritional values. Blanching is simply submerging your produce into boiling water to raise its temperature as quickly as possible which stops enzyme action. If not blanched, or for not long enough, the enzymes continue to be active causing toughening.
Blanching is easier if you use a wire basket and a large pan. The produce should be completely immersed in the boiling water, for the times specified below, and then cooled as quickly as possible by plunging the wire basket into a bowl of very cold water. When completely cooled, allow the produce to drain and dry thoroughly before placing into portion sized freezer bags.
Blanching times and preparation after thoroughly washing all produce:
Aubergines - Peel and cut into 2.5cm slices, blanch for 4 minutes
Globe artichokes - Trim to leave the hearts and blanch for 8 minutes
Beans - Select tender beans and blanch for 3 minutes
Beetroot - Cook until tender and freeze
Broad beans - Shell and blanch for 3 minutes
Broccoli - Trim off any tough stems and blanch for 4 minutes
Brussels - Remove outer leaves and blanch for 4 minutes
Cabbage - Shred and blanch for 90 seconds
Carrots - Slice or cut and blanch for 4 minutes
Cauliflower - Break into sprigs and blanch for 3 minutes
Courgettes - Slice or cut and blanch for 1 minute
Marrow - Peel and then slice or cut and blanch for 3 minutes
Onion - Chop and freeze
Parsnips - Peel, trim, cut and blanch for 2 minutes
Peas - Shell and blanch for 90 seconds
Spinach - Blanch for 2 minutes
Sweetcorn - Remove husks and blanch for between 4 and 8 minutes depending on size
Turnip - Trim, peel, cube and blanch for 2 minutes
Jam making includes jellies, marmalades, and other fruit conserves and is a popular way of preserving fruit crops. Not only delicious on toast, they can also be used when baking and preparing desserts.
Most of the equipment needed to make jams, such as scales, funnels and jugs, are available in your kitchen but if you are going to make jams, pickles, chutneys and sauces regularly it would be well worth investing in a stainless steel preserving pan. You can never have enough jars, so ask friends to keep their glass jars for you and you will have plenty and you can reward them with a jar of jam.
Fruit to be used for making jam, should be ripe but not over-ripe or damaged or your jam may not store well or not set. Fruit should be washed and stalks and stones removed before weighing. Place in the pan with a little water and simmer until soft. Cooking the fruit allows pectin to be released which allows jams to set. For low pectin fruits there are a number of ways of increasing the pectin level; by adding a high pectin fruit to your jam such as one finely chopped apple, by adding your own home made pectin (included in this section is an apple pectin recipe) or by adding sufficient lemon juice to aid setting. Before making jam check your selected recipe which should inform you whether your selected fruit has a high or low pectin level. Only when the fruit has softened should the correct sugar to the weight of fruit be added. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly whilst stirring to ensure your fruit does not stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch. After boiling for the time recommended by your recipe, check for setting by placing a small amount of jam on a cold plate and after a minute check for surface wrinkling which occurs when setting point has been reached. Pour whilst hot into sterilised jars and place the lids on immediately. Once cooled, clean the jars, label and store in a cool and dark place. For recipes for fig, lemon curd, pomegranate and marmalade go to Preserve Recipes.
Juicing for immediate use or freezing is an excellent method of using or preserving your fruit and vegetables gluts. Freshly pressed juices are not only delicious but provide the body with a boost of essential vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. There are various types of machines for juicing. Electrical juicers, which can vary greatly in price, use either centrifugal or masticating force to extract juice. Alternatively you could purchase a hand-operated fruit press or juicer. Your choice depends on what fruit and vegetables you want to juice and the amount of juicing you intend to do. A juicer suitable for some juicing may not be as effective for other produce. Fruits, such as citruses (which are best peeled), watermelon, grapes, pomegranate and pears, generally have soft cell walls and hand pressing is a suitable method. However, vegetables generally have much tougher cell walls and juice extraction is usually only possible by use of a mechanical juicer.
Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced and the combinations are endless. Good juicers include carrots, apples, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes, cabbage, lemons, celery and ginger. However, almost all fruit are vegetables can be juiced but the amount of juice which can be extracted varies greatly. Experiment with your own combinations.
Dry your harvested nuts in the sun and separate the nuts from any casings before storage. Always store your produce in their shells and in a dry and cool place, preferably in breathable cloth sacks, and they will store until your next harvest but they probably won't last that long.
With peanuts, leave in the ground until the plants have turned yellow and dig out. Shake the soil off the roots and hang to dry for seven days in a warm and dry location. After a week, pull the peanuts from the plant, clean off any remaining soil and sun dry for a further two weeks whilst turning occasionally. Peanuts are highly perishable and vulnerable to mould. Shelled peanuts will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for three months and unshelled for up to six months but inspect regularly and remove any peanuts which show signs of moulding. If you are lucky enough to produce a large crop, you can try making your own peanut butter which is a good way of longer term preservation - go to Preserve Recipes.
Green Olives - The great Cypriot way of preparing green olives (cakistes or tsakistes) is to make them edible by cracking. The following recipe is one method of producing your own tasty green olives. Pick about 2kg of plump blemish free green olives, usually from late September till late October, and thoroughly wash removing any stalks or leaves and then dry them in the midday sun.
Once completely dry place each one on a large flat stone and hit gently with another smaller flat stone or wooden mallet to crack the flesh but not the olive stone. This is a messy job and best done outside, away from the house and wearing a plastic apron, as the oil splatters everywhere. Put the olives into a large plastic or glass jar and cover with cold water, you will have to insert a smaller lid before sealing to ensure all the olives stay submerged or use a jar with an inverted lid. Change the water daily for the next seven days which will remove their bitterness and on day eight rinse well and drain. Make up enough salt solution to cover the olives, this will be approximately 100g of rock salt for every litre of water required.
Pack the olives tightly into a clean jar and pour in the salt solution, tapping the jars base to ensure all air is released. Then pour a good layer of olive oil over the surface to seal and replace the jar lid tightly. Before adding the olive oil you may also add seven crushed garlic, slices of one lemon and three tablespoons of crushed coriander seeds to add flavour. Store you jar in a dark cool place for about four weeks, after which the olives are ready to enjoy. Your olives are now ready to be rinsed to remove any excess salt and dressed with lemon and fresh coriander for serving as mezes or undressed and used in a variety of recipes.
Black Olives - These can be prepared for storage, usually in late November until late December, using the same method as green olives but do not crack. Alternatively, black olives can be dry salted. Pick 2Kg of nice plump blemish free olives Wash them well and pack into a large jar and cover with water. Change the water daily for 4 days and after the final draining, sprinkle enough rock salt to cover the base.
The first step in producing your own organic olive oil is harvesting your crop. Black and green olives are usually harvested from November onwards. This is traditionally completed by hand, or by use of a small hand rake, with nets or plastic sheets placed on the ground, from the trunk of the tree to the outermost branches, to catch the falling olives. A ladder will be required to reach the higher olives and sacks or containers needed for transporting your crop to the storage area and later to the olive press. The olives should be stored, spread on old sheets in a thin layer, somewhere where there is a good air flow until all harvesting is completed and should be turned daily. It is also beneficial to clean your olives to remove bits of branch, leaves and dirt. This can be done by pouring the olives in a bucket from shoulder height into a large container, on the ground, and allowing the wind to blow away the debris whilst the olives fall into the container. We completed our first olive harvest on November 17th 2010 which has taken the two of us a combined total of twenty-one hours. We harvested from our four mature trees a total of 214kg.
Once harvesting and cleaning is completed, olives should be taken for processing to your local olive pressing mill. Our 214kg of olives produced 47 litres of olive oil. This worked out at 1 litre of olive oil for every 4.6kg of olives picked. The pressing cost and containers cost us around 43EUR or 1.55EUR per litre of organic olive oil. Because olive oil is high in mono-unsaturated fat, it storage period is longer than most oils. Olive oil should be stored away from heat in a dark but airy area. The best containers for storing your olive oil are dark glass or stainless steel but if its only for a short period food standard plastic will suffice. Containers will need a tight cap to keep out the air. Your olive oil can be stored, if containers remain unopened, for up to 3 years after which it will start to go rancid.
Pickling, also sometimes referred to as brining, is a very old method of preserving surplus produce. Unlike chutneys, pickles take less time to cook and are generally made from a single fruit or vegetable. It is also possible to pickle walnuts and boiled eggs. Like chutneys there are numerous pickle recipes available to try which range from hot and spicy to sweet.
The first step in pickling is the removal of excess moisture from the produce, which is necessary to prevent bacterial growth and produce a crispier texture, by either soaking in brine or salting. Salting, for up to 24 hours depending on the produce, is used only for high water content produce like cucumbers or marrows. After salting produce should be rinsed several times to remove excess salt before pickling. You should use coarse or sea salt for salting or brining as table salt, due to the additives included, tends to cloud pickles. The brine solution should be made up from 50g of salt for every litre of water and the produce should be completely immersed by use of a plate over the surface of the container. For salting, layer the produce in a container with a very thin layer of salt between each layer and finish with a thin layer of salt.
Produce used for pickling must be fresh, firm and without blemishes or damage. Large vegetables and fruit such as apples, pears, cucumbers, cauliflowers or marrows are best cut. However, smaller produce, such as peeled onions and cherry tomatoes can be pickled whole.
You can use your homemade wine or cider vinegar for pickling but prepare in advance by adding whole spices in a muslin bag for about 6 weeks. Do not use ground spices which will cause clouding. Your spiced vinegar can be used either cold for vegetables that are best crisp, such as cauliflower and onions, or hot for fruit pickles.
Pack your produce as tightly as possible into pre-sterilised jars and add either hot or cold spiced vinegar - depending on your selected recipe. After placing on the lids, label and date. Leave for a month or two before use to allow the flavours to infuse and use within 12-18 months. Keep your jars in a dark and cool place but once opened keep in the fridge.
Rose water is used extensively in making Cypriot desserts and adds a sweet smell and a lovely fragrance when used. Rose water is relatively easy to make. Pick six cups of rose petals, which is sufficient to make about 250g of rose water, early in the morning, shake to dislodge any insects, remove the petals from the flower and wash carefully. Place the rose petals in in a pan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about forty-five minutes. Allow the rose water to cool completely, strain the liquid and squeeze the liquid out of the petals, before storing in a glass bottle. Keep the bottle in a fridge and the rose water will keep for up to a year.
Making your own tomato, chilli sauce or other sauces from your own fresh produce is an excellent way of preserving your produce. The equipment needed is available in your kitchen and the only addition you may need is a good sieve to obtain the right consistency for your sauce.
Bottled sauces made from low acid ingredients such as ripened tomatoes will need sterilising before long term storage to prevent fermentation. If you are only making a small batch and using it within a month sterilisation is not necessary or you may choose to freeze your sauce. But if you are sterilising, this can be done using any deep pan, such as a pressure cooker, as long it is deep enough to completely cover the bottle and has room for a wire rack to ensure the bottle does not come in direct contact with the heat to avoid cracking. To sterilise your sealed bottles, you will need to bring the water to boil and simmer for at least an hour whilst ensuring the water level does not drop.
The methods for sauce making will vary depending on your selected recipe but in all cases use ingredients that are ripe and undamaged. Wash thoroughly and remove any blemished areas. Always cook your ingredients slowly and stir occasionally. Press the pulped ingredients through a sieve and re-heat in a clean pan, adding any other suggested ingredients, before brining to the boil until thickened. Once ready, pour into pre-sterilised jars or bottles and seal.
If you want try making your own tomato sauce try the recipe on the Preserve Recipes page.
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
Your sunflower crop can be harvested, from around late September until early October, and turned into a delicious snack which is rich in fibre, vitamins E and B, amino acids and essential minerals.
Wait until the back of sunflowers head start to turn yellow, the heads turn brown and the plants start wilting The seeds will, at this stage, should be hard to touch and have a black and white striped outer coating. Cut the heads from the plant leaving a length of stem and hang to continue drying in the sun for a few days. Keep any hungry birds at bay, if necessary, by netting.
(1) Once completely dry, rub the seeds into a bucket and soak overnight in salty water to soften the shells.
(2) Drain the water and dry in the sun for a few hours,once dry clean out any plant debris.
(3) Place on a shallow tray and put into a 180 degree celsius pre-heated oven. If desired you can add salt, garlic powder or paprika to flavour mixing with a little olive oil before roasting.
(4) Roast the seeds for about 25 minutes but carefully watch and remove the seeds once golden brown.
(5) Cool and enjoy or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge to prolong your snacks life.
Pumpkin seeds should be washed to thoroughly remove the clinging fibrous tissue. The seeds can be roasted after being sun dried for a few days.
(1). Wash and dry the seeds after sun drying.
(2). To roast, take the dried seeds and toss with olive oil and salt and cook in a pre-heated oven at 150c for about 10-15 minutes whilst stirring occasionally.
(3). Once cooled, store in an air-tight jar and eat within two months.
Vinegar is easily made and useful not only as a condiment but as a preservative and cleaner. Vinegar is an environmentally safe alternative to chemical cleaners which can be used to remove mould, kill germs and bacteria. Vinegar is made by over-fermenting alcohol, as sugar ferments it produces alcohol but as alcohol ferments, when exposed to the air, it turns into vinegar. Although any crop which includes sugar and starch can be turned into a vinegar, the main crops used for vinegar making are grapes for wine vinegar and apples for cider vinegar.
The vinegar process is started by washing the grapes or apples, extracting the juice and, after measuring the volume of juice, straining into a sterilised container. Brewing yeast is added, sufficient for the volume of juice, an airlock is put in place. The juice is left to ferment and turn the fruit sugar into alcohol. Once fermentation is completed, expose the liquid to the air which will permit acid making bacteria to convert the alcohol to vinegar. This process can be speeded by adding half a cup of organic vinegar to the liquid. Whilst the process is taking place a cover, such as cheesecloth, over the container to keep out insects or dirt. The liquid needs to be kept at between 15c and 25c and stirred daily during fermentation which takes between 3-4 weeks. The vinegar is ready when it smells and taste like vinegar. Once fermentation is complete, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth several times to remove any remaining yeast and stop the fermentation process. To permit long term storage your vinegar must be pasteurised by heating to 75c, use a cooking thermometer to determine the temperature, for about 10 minutes. Pour your vinegar whilst still hot into sterilised glass bottles and store out of direct sunlight in a cool area. If your vinegar tastes too strong it can be diluted with water. Flavour can be added to your wine vinegar by adding herbs or spices such as garlic, rosemary. basil, oregano or hot peppers. Let the flavours infuse the vinegar for about six weeks and then re-strain before storing.
Wine has been produced in Cyprus for centuries and it is said to be one of the oldest commercial wine making countries in the world. Wine making is a straight forward process and although wine is predominately made with grapes all manner of fruit and vegetables can be turned into wine. You will need to purchase some a food quality plastic bucket with a lid, some fermentation jars, bottles (or you can re-use wine bottles saved by friends and neighbours), a nylon straining bag, airlocks, a siphon tube, a funnel, corks and a corker. Additionally, you will need campden tablets which are used as a sterilising agent. So, for a small outlay you can produce your own wine at a fraction of the cost of purchasing wine from supermarkets.
Apart from the produce you are going to turn into wine, all you basically need is water, sugar and wine yeast. The sugar and natural sugars in your chosen produce react with the yeast and ferment to produce alcohol. The are numerous wine making recipes for all fruits andvegetables and each will tell you how much of each ingredient is required.
All wine making equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to lessen the chance of bacterial contamination. Your chosen produce will need to be prepared by washing and cutting or crushing to allow the natural sugars to be released. Follow your chosen recipe to mix the prepared produce with the water and sugar and then pour into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar. The yeast is then added, some yeasts require pre-activation whilst some can be added to the fermentation jar without pre-activation.
Some fermentation can initially be aggressive, usually depending on the sugar levels of your recipe, and when to put in place the fermentation airlock is usually specified with your chosen recipe. Allow fermentation to complete before siphoning off your wine, known as racking, into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar ensuring the sediment is left behind. Replace the airlock and store your wine in a cool and dark place to allow clearing. Clearing can take from a month to several months. Only bottle your wine, into pre-sterilised bottles, once it is completely clear and immediately cork and label. Wine is best left for between three months to a year before drinking. Try making you own grape (white or red) or pomegranate wine, for recipes go to Preserve Recipes.