I have been away from this site for a long time. I homeschool 2 boys and really have wanted to use the great info here to build our schooling around next year maybe, so came to do some reading. Since I was here, I thought, "why not ask these guys about the wine and mead?" So, I will!
I have wanted to try to make wine and mead for a long time, and finally concocted a few musts and have them fermenting as we speak. I searched online and found about a zillion different recipes. None of them are the same, and none of them give a clear thought as to when to rack the must off the lees for the first time. Does anyone know?
I have a Dandelion must going in a one gallon jug that I began on 4-12-12.( 1 gallon water, 6 cups sugar,3 quarts dandelion flowers, 1c. orange juice, lemon and lime juice, 1 pack bread yeast.) Yeah, I know , not supposed to use anything but wine yeast. It is still bubbling away, only slowly now. Heavy sediment is at the bottom already.
I also have a honey mead going. I have the raisins sitting right in the gallon jug with the must and started that on 4-15-12. ( 1 gallon water, 1 1/2 - 2 pints of local honey, 25 raisins, 1 pinch nutmeg, a few cloves, and bread yeast. ) It is also still bubbling. It's quite active yet.
Then, my most recent attempt is a Ginger beer.( 1 gallon water 3 ginger heads sliced thinly, 6 cups sugar, 25 raisins, big dash of peppercorns, pinch of cayenne, a few cardamom pods and cloves.) I used Lalvin EC-118 wine yeast for this. I cannot wait to see how it turns out. It smells fantastic, already. It is bubbling fiercely and was started on 4-27-12.
I am unsure from everything I have read when to siphon it into another fresh jar? Does it have to "fall clear" first? Or, will it do that over a few months? When can I actually drink the stuff? Can I keep the lees and use it to make more wine, yeast, or bread? Does anyone have any wisdom for me?
Here's my set up: