For Christmas my wife bought me a welder. No kidding, a real welding machine. Though I don’t use it often it is a great gift. It’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted but could never bring myself to buy. I just wasn’t able to justify the cost. It also drives further costs. You see, in order to have metal to weld together you also need something to cut it with which means an oxy-acetylene kit and those run about $800. So, I saved my pennies and bought a torch kit a couple of months ago justified solely by the fact that I have a welder… see how that works?
Having both a welder and a welding/cutting torch I needed a project to work on. This being North Carolina and having a long tradition of moonshining I decided that what Jinksto Casa Inc. needed was a Still! Of course, I’d only use it for distilling water… because that’s legal.
I found a place on the internet that would ship me a 5 Gallon glass carboy (think water bottle) and 5 one Gallon glass jugs. These being to give me a place to store my… umm… distilled water. The jugs have been sitting in a corner waiting for me to finish the still.
When I went on vacation a few weeks ago I accidentally left the oxygen bottle on my torch open and there is, apparently, a leak somewhere in either the hose or the gauges. Regardless, the result was that my torch doesn’t work until I spend the $25 to have the oxygen refilled. We’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to take care of getting more gas for the torch.
Yesterday I finally came to the realization that the Still will be a while in the making. Even when I had the torch working I only made minimal progress. Metal work is time intensive and though I’m making progress on it I really don’t have the time to invest in a quick turn around. This leaves a perfectly fine fermenting carboy…err.. I mean, water storage jug, empty and I do hate to see new toys sit idle. My Uncle makes wine. I’ve helped him. I have all of the equipment to make a go of it so it was off to the local Harris Teeter to see what was in the fruit section. Right inside the door they had two pound flats of Strawberries for $8. I debated just spending the money but in the end decided that to buy enough fruit to make 5 gallons of wine would be way more expensive than I wanted to spend on my first go at making wine. As I dejectedly set the flat down and started to look for something else to work with I noticed that the Strawberries were actually 2 for 1 with a store loyalty card. I don’t have a loyalty card but that’s not a problem. You see, they’re able to look up your card using your phone number and the last person to have my number DOES have a loyalty card.
When I get to the checkout the girl asks if I have a card and I say, “yes, but I don’t have it with me.”
“No problem, I can look it up for you.” she says sweetly, “What’s your phone number?”.
I tell her.
She punches the number in, checks the screen and says, “Mr. Morgan?”
Somewhere there’s a geek doing statistics on a database and saying, “wow, this Morgan guy was shopping in North Carolina and New York on the SAME day… and he, apparently, LOVES strawberries!. The geek punches a key and someday soon Mr. Morgan is going to get a load of junk mail which contains 24 coupons for discount strawberries. Lucky Mr. Morgan. Loyalty cards for teh win!
Back home, I wash out the 5 gallon jug and fill it half full of warm water. I wash the Strawberries, “hull” them and then cut them in halves and quarters so that they’ll fit in the mouth of the jug. Once that’s done Mrs Jinksto helps me get 5 pounds of sugar in there and we let it “set” overnight. Many people pre-dissolve the sugar in hot water before pouring into the bottle. After a day and a half of shaking a 5 gallon glass jug half full of water, 5 pounds of sugar and 10 pounds of strawberries in order to get the sugar to dissolve I can heartily recommend this “Pre-Dissolve” method.
In a bit, I’ll go add a bit of yeast to the mix and then it’ll be about six weeks of waiting to while the wine “makes”. If it turns out well, I’ll share the story. If you never hear about Strawberry wine again… it didn’t.