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Brewing and Wine-making - The Best Ingredients for… Brewing and Wine-making

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The Best Ingredients for… Brewing and Wine-making

Hops, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and foraged wild berries all provide a rich and varied harvest from which to make beers, ciders, and wines—a grand finale to the preserving season.


Successful wine can be made from any grapes. Chardonnay and other grape varieties are easy to grow and are long-lived, so are worth growing to make your own wine.

Damson plums

The damson season is short—from late summer to early autumn. Pick when ripe and freeze overnight first to release their rich flavor.

Crab apples

These apples can be used instead of other apple varieties to make lovely country wines. Freezing them first helps to break down their pectin content, which would otherwise hinder fermentation.


‘Fuggles’ and ‘Golden’ are popular varieties of hops to grow for making beer. They are prolific scramblers and can reach 16ft (5m).

Victoria plums

Victoria plums are good to use for wine, as are wild plums (mix with elderberries if you like). Pick when ripe and their sugar content is highest.


These root vegetables produce earthy wines (traditionally ginger, cloves, and cinnamon were added when cooking the beets before fermentation). Dark-colored varieties will ensure a deep red claret color.


Cider can be made with any apples, but a good cider apple (which is much sharper, and higher in tannins) is worth finding. Use windfalls.


Use firm, freshly picked stalks and crush them before chopping. Ferment with an organic lemon and raisins (to supply sugar) and leave the wine for six months to mature.


Use cider pears for perry and other varieties for country wines (you can blend them with apples). Chop but do not peel or core, and then leave the wine for 12 months to mature fully.


An excellent root vegetable for making winter wine once the frosts have converted some of its starch to sugars. All varieties of parsnip are suitable.


These clusters of pretty, star-shaped flowers make gorgeous, light, refreshing summer wines, with a heady muscat flavor. Use to flavor gooseberry and other summer wines, too.


Gather the ripe bunches of berries in autumn and strip them from their stems using a fork before fermenting into wine.

Other ingredients









Pea pods


Dandelion flowers





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