Home-made cordials, wines and vinegars are always relished in case of feverish colds, and make most welcome and wholesome beverages on the sultry days of summer.
Home-made liqueurs are very useful for flavoring purposes. The materials must be of the best, especially the sugar, for if this is of inferior quality the liqueur is apt to have a cloudy appearance when finished, unless the sugar has been clarified before being used. To clarify sugar put six pounds of lump sugar into a large preserving kettle with four pints of cold water, and the whites and shells of two eggs. Let it come very gradually to the boil, beating it all the time with an egg beater, till the sugar is entirely dissolved. As soon as it boils up, and a froth forms on the top, stop beating at once, let it rise up in the pan for a moment, then at once remove from the fire. Let it stand for five minutes to settle, then pour it through a hot jelly bag into a basin, when it should run perfectly clear.
When making home-made wines have ready the bottles well washed and dried, the corks either slightly boiled or well soaked in boiling water, a wooden hammer and a squeezer for the corks. Stand the bottles under the cask in a clean tub, to avoid any wasting of the wine which runs over.
When quite ready to bottle make a hole in the lower part of the cask, and allow the wine to run into the bottles through a strainer. Directly the bottle is full enough, drive the cork in with the hammer after it has been squeezed in the squeezer. Do not let the juice stand too long after being expressed from the fruit in boiling water, and be careful when yeast is used for fermentation to remove it in the proper time, or it will fret in the cask, in which case no art can recover its flavor or make it fine. Neither must it be left too long, as this will take off its sweetness.
All vessels must be perfectly clean and dry, it is also advisable to rinse them with a little of the best brandy.
When fermentation ceases bung up the cask very closely.
When the wine is nearing the bottom of the cask it is necessary to place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the strainer to prevent any sediment from passing in. All casks, whether for wine, ale, or spirits, must be absolutely clean and pure.
When wanted, wash out the cask with boiling water, and when cool examine it carefully inside with a light. Should there be any trace of sourness or mustiness, this can be removed as follows: Take some lime, break it into lumps, allowing three pounds for each cask, then pour in a gallon of boiling water for each pound of lime used, and bung up the cask.
Roll the cask occasionally to insure its being thoroughly cleansed, and at the end of a few hours wash it out, and leave till cold.
Sour wine is caused by imperfect fermentation and by exposing it to draughts of air.
To restore sour wine add four ounces of potash to twenty-five gallons of sour wine; close tightly and allow to remain for two weeks, then bottle. This wine will not keep and should be used as soon as possible.