I’ve gotten really into craigslist deals again recently. These fascinations with it are always ebbing and flowing, but since I’m learning to drive my boyfriend’s manual car, there’s been a serious flowing as of late. Turns out there’s a real freedom to emailing a stranger and knowing you can arrange to meet them around your schedule. And with a car, no less!
This weekend, however, both boyfriend and car were away, so when I found an ad for mature rhubarb plants for $12, I had to call ahead and confirm that the planter would fit into my bike’s milk crate. It did.
Along with eight enormous stalks of rhubarb.
I did the deal with a lovely older lady. I told her I was planning on making rhubarb wine, and she regaled me with stories of tomato wine made with the guy she was going with at the time, as she called him. They opened one bottle and loved it, so they took it to the local wine festival, where it quickly became apparent that every other bottle was swill. At the end of the day they sold out, though, because theirs was the only table that still had wine and all the festival goers were too sloshed by then to care what it tasted like. She was great. I want to be her when I grow up.
The plant has found a place among all the other driveway plants. My dealer suggested that I bottom water it, presumably because it was in desperate need of watering but it was so sunny out. I didn’t ask her rationale. I just went along with it and set the pot in a big dish of water, which it promptly sucked up. I gave it another dish, then watered it from the top as well in the evening. It seems happy enough, though I’m not positive I’ll be able to harvest from it this summer.
The day I brought it home, I hacked up my stalks and mixed them with sugar, then covered it all and left it in the closet for three days. It started as a solid mass, but during that time a whole lot of liquid was drawn out. From everything I’ve read, you want especially red stalks to make for a nice blush to the wine. As you can see, any blush to this stuff is going to be a seasick green. Oh well. The price was right.
I added water to the rhubarb, then strained it into my primary fermenting vessel with some yeast, yeast nutrient, and some grape juice concentrate. My snazzy new craigslist bucket is is full of blueberries, so the job has fallen to Mr. Beer. My mom got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. It made a huge amount of an alright light beer that I still drink every now and again. It also gave me this pretty handy food grade plastic keg with an airlock-esque lid. Perfect! Who needs a bucket?
…Oh wait. What’s that? All over the paper towel that’s been conveniently laid down…
That’s some very sticky rhubarb juice.
That’s a pretty fast-flowing leak.
Luckily, my canner is just the right size to balance this thing more or less securely in such a way that the liquid can’t reach the lid or that damn spigot. Also luckily, it only has to stay in this precarious postion for a week before it moves to a real glass demijohn.
Mr. Beer will not ride again, I think.