My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles with Chocolate Christmas Cake

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles with Chocolate Christmas Cake

Folks, it’s September 2014 or as I like to call it 6 Score Days before we say Happy New Year 2015! Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) aka Sorrel is already on everyone’s mind!



Despite how it might look, Christmas is only a few weeks away. To that end, Sorrel Farmers are ramping up production, as there is anticipation of a huge demand for the drink, being as the price on everything alcoholic has gone up with the implementation of the Rum Tax as stated in the article “Staggering Rum Tax”, Published Friday April 18, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The humble Farmers of Bethel Town are no exception.

Their Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society in collaboration with the JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund) have opened a new Sorrel Drink Processing Plant in Bethel Town, Westmoreland as stated in “Sorrel-processing Plant opens in Bethel Town”, Published: Saturday August 30, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Sorrel Drink Processing Plant opening after some 18 months of construction coincides rather ironically with the passing of one of Agriculture's Son's of the Soil, Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke, who died today Thursday August 28th 2014 as stated in the article “UPDATE: Roger Clarke Dies Of Suspected Heart Attack”, Published Thursday August 28, 2014 11:44 am, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Roger Clarke is dead”, published Thursday, August 28, 2014 11:47 AM, The Jamaica Observer.

The JA$27.8 million cost of the Sorrel Drink Processing Plant was borne by both Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society and the JSIF:

1.      JA$23.2 million was contributed through the JSIF
2.      JA$4.6 million was a community contribution via the Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society

The benefits of this Sorrel Drink Processing Plant to the community of Bethel Town are tremendous:

1.      88 persons in total will benefit directly from the Sorrel Drink Processing Plant
2.      77 farmers who will provide the Sorrel, Ginger, and pimento raw materials
3.      11 workers hired directly by the Sorrel Drink Processing Plant

Sorrel and Slavery – The Christmas Drink that travelled with Slaves during the Middle Passage

Sorrel is a part of Jamaica and our Christmas celebrations, with the Plant being a possible import from Africa via the Middle Passage according to Acting Minister of Agriculture, Derrick Kellier, quote: “The National Library of Jamaica indicates that Sorrel has been around since the 1700s, and although said to be native to the Far East, Sorrel is popular in several areas of Africa as well.

Acting Minister of Agriculture, Derrick Kellier even alluded to the idea to the fact that Sorrel may even be the next Sugar Cane Crop, quote: “Some people believe that it made the treacherous Middle Passage journey across the Atlantic with the millions of Africans who were brought here as slaves. So this Plant has grown and flourished alongside the rich and eventful history of Jamaica in much the same way that sugar cane has”.

That got me thinking; what about making Wine this year from Sorrel

Instead of spending my money on imported Wine that’s usually either Old World Wines from Europe or New world Wines from Vineyards in the West as I’ve pointed out in my blog article entitled “Australian analyst Morgan Stanley Stats say World Faces Global Wine Shortage - The Glass is either Half Empty of Half full as Chinese and Americans become more like the French”,
I’d like to make my own Wine this Christmas

Granted, it's just 6 Score days away, not 2 years, the typical time taken to make great Wine. But it's more than enough time to ferment Sorrel into Wine and save JA$5000 on a fairly low-end bottle of the imported stuff.

How to make Sorrel Wine – Why Jamaicans should make their own Wine and Christmas Cake

The reason or making your own Sorrel Wine is that it’s a uniquely Jamaican experience and is a way of supporting our local Sorrel Farmers! Not to mention cheaper than buying imported Wine, as you can make it yourself for the same cost as an Old World Bottle of Wine. Best of all, you can make a business out of it if you can make a unique enough flavor of Sorrel Wine that possess a distinct enough body and flavor.

First you’ll need the following utensils for this DIY (Do It Yourself):

1.      3 Cups Brown Sugar
2.      Blender
3.      Candle Wax
4.      Ceramic Bowl
5.      Corks
6.      Dark Cupboard
7.      Distilled Water
8.      Ginger
9.      Gloves
10.  Grater
11.  Large Red Label Wine Jug
12.  Measuring Cups
13.  Measuring Spoons
14.  Pimento
15.  Rubber Mallet
16.  Salt
17.  Sorrel
18.  Stainless Steel Pot
19.  Stainless Steel Sieve
20.  Stove
21.  Strainer
22.  Wisk or Hand Mixer
23.  Yeast of Fermentation
24.  Cooking Thermometer

The instructions are very simple but you MUST follow them to a “T”:

1.      Strip the Sorrel from the stalks and pick them off if not picked
2.      Place the Stainless Steel Pot unto the stove
3.      Place 2 Liters of Distilled Water in the Stainless Steel Pot
4.      Set the Distilled Water in the Stainless Steel Pot to boil
5.      Once boiling add 4 cups Brown Sugar
6.      Add to the Boiling Water 5 pimento seeds and a tablespoon of salt
7.      While that’s boiling, place a cup of Distilled Water into the Blender
8.      Wash and Strip off a whole clutch of Ginger
9.      Grater the Ginger with the finest setting and collect it in a Ceramic Bowl
10.  Place the Ginger along with the Sorrel into the blender
11.  Blend at high speed until it’s pureed to the point it can pass through a Stainless Steel Sieve
12.  Pour the mixture into the Distilled Water in the Stainless Steel Pot
13.  Use the Wisk or Hand Mixer and continuously mix for an additional 45 minutes
14.  Set the stove to a low flame and continue mixing with the Wisk or Hand Mixer
15.  Add Distilled Water periodically making sure you don’t lose volume
16.  Turn off the stove and allow the mixture, called Mother Liquor, to cool
17.  Wash out the Large Red Label Wine Jug
18.  Take the Corks and throw them into the Stainless Steel pot with Mother Liquor and leave them to soak
19.  While wearing gloves, Pour out the sachet of Yeast of Fermentation into the empty Large Red Label Wine Jug
20.  Once cool, pour the Mother Liquor through a Stainless Steel Sieve straight into the Large Red Label Wine Jugs
21.  Take the Corks out and using your Rubber Mallet, gently tap the Corks until they’re ¾ of the way in
22.  When Large Red Label Wine Jugs are filled and Corked, Label them so you know which is which
23.  Place them into Dark Cupboard, tilted so that the Mother Liquor is touching the Cork and kept wet at all times
24.  Seal the Cork with Candle Wax melted until it completely coats the Cork for a perfect seal
25.  When Christmas Eve is nigh, pop the Corks and pour out the wine through a Stainless Steel Sieve. This is to remove any suspended solids and Yeast of Fermentation
26.  Pour out the Sorrel wine into a pot with a Cooking Thermometer
27.  Pasteurize the Sorrel Wine under a slow flame for 15 minutes, taking care to watch the temperature and make sure it doesn’t start boiling.
28.  Pour out the Wine through a Stainless Steel Sieve, this time into serving Bottles for Christmas Dinner.
29.  Let it stand and cool before Corking with fresh Corks
30.  Place into the refridgerator, making sure that the temperature doesn’t fall below -20ºC (-4ºF) to avoid ice crystals forming in the Wine
31.  Server the Wine Chilled and in Chilled Wine Glasses for better flavor
32.  When done Cork with the original Corks that were used with the serving bottles. Keep chilled to avoid the wine losing its savour and body

Warning: This Dark Cupboard MUST NOT BE OPENED UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY, otherwise the sunlight or any ambient light will cause chemical reactions between the Mother Liquor and the Silica Glass that may result in increased production of Vinegar.

How to make Sorrel Wine – Tips and Tricks to improve the Body and Flavour of your Brew

The aim of the continuous boiling and mixing with the Wisk or the Hand Blender is to not only pasteurize the Mixture, killing all bacteria but also force as much of the dissolved Oxygen in the Mother Liquor out to prevent aerobic respiration by bacteria that may have survived pasteurization. It is for this reason that Distilled Water is used and not Tap Water, as the Chlorine will kill the Yeast Reaction.

You also want to make sure that you use chlorine bleach to wash out the bottles and that all your cooking utensils have been sterilized with bleach to reduce the risk of any bacteria ending up inside of the Mother Liquor.

For that reason, it’s good to soak the Cork in the Mother Liquor using the inverted glass cup technique i.e. a small glass tumbler is filled with some of the Mother Liquor and is covered to as to force it into the Liquor and thus absorb the Mother Liquor into its porous structure.

The only thing that should be in the Large Red Label Wine Jug with the Mother Liquor is the Yeast, which works mainly via anaerobic Respiration to produce alcohol. Spices are often blended while the Sorrel is being blended such as Paprika, Cinnamon, Banana, Cherry, Guava, Soursoup or any other fruit and even Mint to add body and flavor to the Sorrel Wine.

Finally, makes sure that when you place the Large Red Label Wine Jug inside of the Dark cupboard that you tilt it so that the Cork is always WET and never allowed to go Dry. If it starts to leak, use the Rubber Mallet to hammer the Cork in until it stops dripping, as you need an airtight seal. If it’s still leaking, you may need to either change the Cork for a bigger one or you can plug the exiting Cork by lighting a candle and melting all the Candle Wax unto the Cork.

That’s it folks! By Thursday December 25th 2014, you’ll have several bottles of VERY strong Sorrel Wine that’s guaranteed to make your festive season very lively and bright. As its Sorrel Wine, it’ll go great with Red Meat and vegetables, albeit it’ll be a bit too strong for children!

Best of all, to make five 1 liter bottles of wine, it only costs you about JA$2500 to get all the above ingredients from Downtown Coronation Market or Hi-Lo Supermarket. This is what I currently do now that I’m back in Swallowfield near to the National Stadium as stated in my blog article entitled “How Singles Cook on a Budget - Vegetable Ring Fried Eggs, Bacon in a Pancake Blanket and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich”.

Not to mention the sacrifice of a space in a Dark Cupboard you’ll have to leave closed permanently!



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