Homemade Runner Bean Wine
Bumper Garden Harvest of Green Beans
I'm an amateur gardener. Sometimes my efforts produce very little in the way of garden produce. But occasionally I get more vegetables than I can keep up with. I try not to waste any of the harvest in these bumper years, so one year I decided to make wine from runner beans. That way my excess crops were converted into something useful rather than being wasted.
I had turned a barren garden plot into something more fertile by planting green beans. I had followed the advice of an expert friend who said that beginner gardeners should plant runner beans as they were easy to grow and increased the fertility of poor soils. What he hadn't said was that once the soil regained its nutritional value, the plants would produce an abundant crop. And there's a limit to the number of runner beans I want to eat each season.
The weather was perfect for growing runner beans that year. At first I enjoyed having fresh runner beans with every meal. However, after a week or so, the novelty began to pall. I toyed with the idea of making chutney, but decided I didn’t want to spend hours over a hot stove in the fine summer weather. My freezer was too small to take the overflow, so I was left with a glut for which I had no use.
Too Many Runner Beans
The answer to my problem was to make green bean wine. I had been making homemade wines from wild berries and fruits for years. Creating drinks like blackberry or elderflower wine was easy as they were quick to mature. However, I'd never made any vegetable wines.
One of my friends suggested that if you can make wine from parsnips, there was no reason why green beans would not be just as palatable. There was nothing to lose, as if I chose not to make green bean wine, only my compost heap would benefit.
I couldn't find a recipe for runner bean wine so I decided to adapt one I had for parsnip wine. Then I set my demi-john flasks (glass carboys) bubbling with a green bean wine mash. When fermentation was complete I bottled the batch and put them into my usual wine storage closet.
Wine From Fermented Green Beans
Somewhat impatiently, I resisted opening any of the bottles for a year. Which was just as well, because when I did so the taste was similar to how I imagine a strong drain cleaner would be. Ugh! Awful!
Another couple of years passed by and I and some friends gingerly tasted some more. Good enough to use in cooking, but not a palatable drink that could be dignified with the name of “wine”.
At last, more than seven years after it had been made, just one bottle remained unopened and untasted. I was about to put it straight in the cooking pot to be used as part of a chicken casserole, but I tasted it, just in case… And yes, it was not only drinkable, but rather delicious.
All the other bottles had lacked was time to mature properly. I felt a bit of a fool for being so keen to open all the other bottles too early.
Bumper Crop of Green Beans
What would you do with a heavy crop of runner beans?
How To Make Green Bean Wine
Use a recipe for parsnip wine and use beans in place of parsnips
Use only freshly picked beans. Don't be tempted to use ones that the insects or birds have got to before you!
Make sure all your bottles and corks have been sterilised otherwise the wine will sour.
You will need a lot of patience before you can enjoy the matured wine. Six years wait minimum!
Making Homemade Wine
The video below shows how easy it is to make your own homemade wine. You can use any fruit, herbs or vegetables as a base for your wine. As a beginner winemaker, it's a good idea to follow a recipe or reference book at first. As you gain confidence and experience you'll be able to be more experimental with your wine flavors.
The basic equipment needed to make wine is a large bucket and a glass demi-john or carboy. When I started making wine, I bought a . It contains all the equipment you need to start fermentation including yeast. It's an economical way of buying what's needed and includes a bonus recipe book of over 100 fruit wine recipes. gallon wine from fruit kit
The gallon bucket acts as your primary fermentation tank. In this you place the mashed or chopped fruit or vegetables. Water, sugar and yeast are then added and the mixture is left for about a week for fermentation to take place.
To clarify the liquor, you siphon the liquid into the glass carboy or demi-john. This is left for secondary fermentation to occur. In order to prevent contamination and oxidation of the wine during this process, the glass demi-john is sealed using an airlock. Once fermentation is complete (i.e. when there are no more bubbles produced), the wine is siphoned into a sterilized wine bottle and sealed tightly with a cork.
A Crash Course in Home Wine Making
Using Wild Plants or Weeds to Make Wine
Once you start making your own wine you may find it difficult to stop. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and in the library to help you make use of all kinds of fruit, vegetables and herbs. You can make wines for virtually no cost if you use weeds and plants growing wild. Good plants to use in this way are dandelions. They seem to grow almost anywhere and are brightly colored making them easy to find. Most important of all they are easy to correctly identify so you are unlikely to harvest a poisonous plant by mistake.
The video below shows you how to make dandelion (or other weeds) into a tasty homemade wine.
How to Make Dandelion Wine
Waste Not, Want Not
Make use of immature homemade wine. If you're impatient like me, then there are going to be times when you open a bottle before the wine has had sufficient time to mature. It may be too “raw” to drink from a glass, but it need not be wasted.
Immature wine can be used for cooking. A traditional French dish “coq au vin” is chicken casseroled in a wine sauce. Wine can enhance any meat or vegetable stew and makes it extra warming dish on a cold winter’s day. An "undrinkable" wine can also be transformed into a hot mulled wine by heating it with fruit and spices like apples and cinnamon to mask the taste.