Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Production Mode: Wine, Hard Cider, Roasted Nuts, and Pickled Eggs

Welcome to 2013! We are home from a week away visiting family in Calistoga, Sebastopol, and San Jose over the holidays. Eat, drink, and be merry we did and were. 

We returned to a house and yard encased in a foot of icy, solid snow and low temps. My husband lit the fire and I placed the flowers in the vahhse that I bought to-day ay ay. Gotta love CSN&Y. So, yeah, there were no flowers. After he lit the fire what I really did was set to work making soup. Good soup and a warm fire are not optional this time of year. I have two favorite soup recipes to share in my next post. The soups both feature winter squash but other than that are very different from one another. I've been making them both for many years.

The tail end of 2012 found me in production mode in my kitchen and happy as could be. I had four fermentation projects finishing up and was able to get them all in bottles before our trip. There was apple mead, 2 apple ciders, and the 2012 Stephan Way Chardonnay. Below you can see the new 2012 label and the finished bottles.
"From an obscure boutique winery and vineyard in downtown Quincy, Ca"

If you followed my wine making adventures in 2011 you know that I made a couple of mistakes that resulted in the loss of two-thirds of the batch. I, of course, made sure not to make those same mistakes this year. I added potassium sorbate to the wine before doing a minimal back-sweetening. All looked and tasted good and I've had high hopes for this batch. Upon return from our trip I now see that there is a crystally sediment beginning to form in the bottles. My first thought was that a refermentation is underway and that all the bottles will be lost. This still may be the case but I was comforted by my computer which told me that:

Tartrate Crystals are also called "wine diamonds". They are a natural product of the wine, and form when the wine gets too cold. It is in essence cream of tartar, forming because of the temperature change. Think of sugar turning into rock candy and you'll have a good mental image. 

Tartaric acid is a normal grape acid. Potassium also exists in grapes, and when these two things bind together under chilly conditions, they form little potassium bitartrate crystals, which then settle to the bottom of the bottle. They're completely harmless, and quite natural. 

While in Europe these crystals are accepted as a sign that the wine is a natural one, and even appreciated, Americans are used to wine being clear, pure, filtered, processed and de-sedimented. Consumers often panic when they see little crystals in their Chardonnay, thinking they are impurities or even bits of broken glass. They often refuse to drink the wine and return it to the winemaker (who promptly serves it to his own family). 

The house was quite cold while were away so I am hoping they're "wine diamonds"! We will see......
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Also in December, I enjoyed making pickled eggs for my father-in-law for a Christmas gift. I don't know that I had ever had a pickled egg before but now that I have I like them! Even better than the eggs are the pickled beets and onions that accompany the eggs in their jars. They ended up looking very festive. I will share the method I used below. Speaking of pickled things, my sis-in-law served some home-pickled carrots the other night that I can't stop thinking about. I'll be sure to share here after she forwards me the recipe.

Pickled Eggs with Beets
To make 3 quart-sized jars of pickled eggs you will need:

2 15 oz. cans of beets
Juice from the cans
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 onion, sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cloves of garlic cut into chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
approximately 20 hard cooked eggs


1.  Peel the eggs and place in quart-sized glass jars alternating with the cooked beets.
2.  In a medium saucepan combine the vinegar, beet juice, onion, sugar, garlic, and salt. Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, until the sugar has dissolved and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.
3.  Pour the vinegar onion mixture over the eggs in the jars, covering the eggs completely. Tighten lids. Refrigerate up to a month.

The pickled eggs will be ready to eat after a few days. The longer the eggs sit in the pickling juice, the more the pickling juice will penetrate the eggs.

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My mother ordered nuts from me to be shipped to friends and family across the U.S.  I also made them for my own gifts to friends, family, neighbors, teachers, etc. The smells of roasting spicy fennel almonds and candied pecans filled the house for days. To me, nutmeat is a treasure, so fatty and nutrient-dense. Raw is best for your health but this time of year roasting them is a treat that warms the house and our bellies.

Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy the year ahead!


  1. Great post, being read in this household on 2 computers simultaneously.

    1. Wow, did you comment from your computer?!?

    2. Yes I did. Everything's working now.

  2. O.K.This time it worked.

    1. That's a funny comment....
      While I like the look of my new blog format it has some glitches. If you log into my website and the title "Farm Girl Blog" in the upper left is not ORANGE in color, you need to click on the title. Then it should reload properly allowing you to leave comments and access the right hand sidebar information. Again, if the title is ORANGE all should be well.

    2. Good to see you Farm Girl and Happy New Year to you and to your family.

  3. The Spicy Fennel Almonds are/were delicious, we are hooked. YUMMMY! Are there more available? Happy New Year. :-)

    1. Happy New Year! We are keeping warm by the woodstove and keeping entertained by reading all Leo's lovely new books! Thank you! The almonds are not hard to make if you want to do it yourself but I am more than happy to make more for you! Again, it helps warm the house! ;-)

    2. Don says if you are making them to sell that we would love to purchase some from just let us know. Glad you are enjoying all the books. HUGS! We are staying warm and snug ourselves.