IN 1983 the late Mollie Harris, of Eynsham, whose delightful books about home-made wine and the countryside proved so popular, wrote A Drop o'Wine, which contained recipes I have come to rely on.
My copy is brown with age but I still count it as a kitchen Bible. Those lucky enough to own a copy, too, will know that these simple recipes, which call for basic ingredients, work every time. And, what's more, they offer a splendid way of using up fruits and vegetables from the allotment and garden that are suddenly so abundant you can't even give them away.
This is Mollie's recipe for rhubarb wine. She advises it should be made in late May or early June when the rhubarb is neither too fat or too thin. I am making mine now.
You will need: 4lb rhubarb 3lb sugar 1 gallon boiling water Half oz yeast (fresh or dried) A piece of root ginger as big as a walnut.
Method: Wipe the rhubarb with a cloth and cut it into small pieces - you don't need to peel it.
Place rhubarb in a clean bucket and pour a gallon of boiling water over it.
Add the ginger (chopped), cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for four days, stirring each day.
Strain into a clean bucket, add the sugar, stir until dissolved, then sprinkle on the yeast. Cover again and leave for two or three days. (The rhubarb can go in the compost bin) When the yeast activity has settled down, strain the wine through a muslin cloth into a sterilised demijohn using a funnel, topping it up with a little water if the demijohn is not quite full.
Fix a bung and an airlock which has a little water in it, make sure it's secure and then wait for the wine to begin working. When little bubbles begin escaping though the airlock, making a comforting plopping noise as they go, you know the wine is ready to be placed in a dark place for a few months to allow the yeast to do its work.
NOTE: Most of Mollie's wines are ready to be bottled off in about three to four months, though I prefer to give them longer. Demijohns and all the equipment you need for home made wine making, including labels, corks and funnels, can usually be found at car boot sales or you can search the Internet.
Try also going to Amazon for a copy of A Drop 0'Wine - when I last checked there were several copies available at a very reasonable price.