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My mother was going through some of my great grandfather's stuff she's had in her basement for many years. She found a recipe neatly tucked away in his 1888-1892 expense ledger:

1 lb raisins
1/4 lb prunes
2 1/2 lb sugar
1/4 lb caraway seed
1/2 cake yeast

1 gallon boiling water, make tea out of caraway seed and put in water and mix well. Add yeast and when not to hot and let it stand two or three weeks and mix every day.

It doesn't have a name, and I haven't tried making it yet, but I thought I'd share it. I plan on making this sometime next week, so I'll also share my thoughts on it.
 

rossi46

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Doesn't sound good, but who knows. Keep us posted.

Sent from my iPhone using HB Talk
 

Dogphish

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i guess this qualifies as a fruit wine since it has no barley or hops in it. plus, all that sugar in only a gallon of water will make it quite strong.

i'm also guessing that if he just used bakers yeast, the yeast would quit before all the sugar was converted to alcohol. the finished product might be really sweet/sugary.
 

gr8shandini

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. . .

i'm also guessing that if he just used bakers yeast, the yeast would quit before all the sugar was converted to alcohol. the finished product might be really sweet/sugary.
That's probably what all the caraway seed is for. 1/4 lb in one gallon is quite a bit. Should add a little bite to counteract the sweetness.

I hope this doesn't get blackholed for being a "hooch" thread. Seems like a pretty fascinating bit of history to me. OP, please add some pics and tasting notes when you're done giving it a try.
 

Zamial

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Neat, an old herbal wine recipe! The raisins were more than likely for nutrient much like a JOAM. Prunes...more nutrient and some flavors other than raisin. While this may not be for everyone, I bet it will be like a herbal cidery brandy or similar to it.

My grandfather used to make some sort of carrot/raisin wine that was rumored to either explode in the cupbords or be drier than a bad turkey...
 
OP
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Finding caraway seed in bulk is almost impossible. The best I've found so far are the little 1.75 oz jars, but they're about $6 each. Seems pricey for an experiment. Maybe I'll just have to bite the bullet, and spend the money. Hopefully this will be drinkable.
 

SPR-GRN

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Amazon.com - did a quick search, many inexpensive options - the third down was a pound for $5.00+$4.99 shipping; I'm sure there are less expensive options too.
 

Dogphish

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find the closest Indian / Asian grocery store in your area. the always sell a LARGE array of whole spices by the pound for one tenth the price you would pay in a regular grocery store.
 
OP
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Thanks for the ideas. I'm going to try to find it locally, but Amazon may be my only alternative. There is a Penzeys north of Boston, but I'm south of Boston. The cost of gas, and the stress of driving through Boston, is way more than the cost of the $6 jars in the grocery stores. I'll order from Amazon before making that trip.

Dogphish, there's a ton of Asian stores near me, but I never thought about them. I'll check them tomorrow. Thanks.
 

Howie

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There is a Penzeys north of Boston, but I'm south of Boston. The cost of gas, and the stress of driving through Boston, is way more than the cost of the $6 jars in the grocery stores.
For future reference, you can mail order from Penzeys. I've been ordering from them for nearly 12 years. Also, you can check out Savory Spice online. Both of these stores have spices of exceptional quality. I'm fortunate that I now live in a city with a physical store for each.

Glad to see you made this. Extremely interesting brewing history, particularly since it's your family.
 
OP
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I'm drinking my first glass of this, and the flavor hasn't changed since my last post. It's interesting, but not something I'd drink a lot of. I still have 3/4 of a pound of caraway seed, so I think I'll play around with the recipe. Maybe try honey instead of sugar. Or better yet, molasses. I also removed the raisins and prunes prior to fermenting, but I think I'll leave them in for the next batch.

Either way, it was a fun experiment.
 
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