How to make Himalayan Balsam Wine
Did you know that Himalayan balsam is edible?
Whilst the whole plant is non-toxic, the seeds and the petals can actually be quite useful in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw, and the seeds are good if added to a curry (apparently they have been eaten in India for hundreds of years). The seeds can also be toasted and ground up to form a peanut butter substitute (handy if you are allergic to peanuts). And the best use we have found for the petals is making home made wine!
If you are spending the day on a Himalayan Balsam work party this summer – why not take along a plastic bag and fill it full of petals to take home.
Himalayan Balsam Wine
Ingredients - makes 1 gallon
- 2 pints (1 litre) of Himalayan balsam petals (no green bits)
- Juice and zest of 2 large lemons
- 1 kg sugar
- 250g chopped raisins or a small bottle (220g) concentrated grape juice (available from home brew stores)
- 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
- 1 teaspoon general purpose wine yeast
Fermentation - 6-12 months
- Pour boiling water (enough to cover) over the petals (and chopped raisins, if using) in a fermenting bin and add 1kg sugar, plus the lemon juice and zest.
- Add the yeast and yeast nutrient when cool and leave to ferment for approximately 2 days.
- Strain into a 1 gallon demijohn and add the grape juice (if using). Top up with cold boiled water. Add an airlock and wait for fermentation to take place. This could take 3 months or so.
- When the fermentation has finished and the wine is clear, rack into a clean demijohn (using a syphon tube with a sediment trap to avoid disturbing the sediment at the bottom).
- After another three months or so the wine will be ready to be bottled. It is likely to improve if left for a further 6 months before drinking, so you can be enjoying the previous year’s produce as a well earned treat after a day spent pulling up more Himalayan Balsam the following summer!
Cautionary Note: If picking the seeds or the petals after the seeds have developed, please make sure that you don’t spread this invasive plant by dropping seeds in any new locations on your way home (and make sure any that you put in your compost bin have rotted down well before adding, otherwise you may have a new Himalayan balsam colony to tackle!)
Disclaimer: IWA accepts no responsibility for the taste... Please drink responsibly.
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