Firstly, what are Mangel-Wurzels (mangolds)? Well these are large root vegetables in the same Family group as Sugar-beet, Fodder beet and Beetroot! As a vegetable you can eat the leaves – like Chard or the young roots like beetroot or turnip-but before they get too old! This is where they really come into their place on the Farm or Smallholding, as great stock feed during the winter.
During the growing season, Mangels grow huge and some have weighed in at over 20Kgs! Originating in Central Europe, both Red and Orange varieties grow and seeds were taken to North America with Slavic and Germanic Settlers in the 19th Century. Heritage Seed Suppliers are still able to source these fantastic ”monsters”, even though mechanization has meant less are grown to feed Live-stock..However, Mangels have one other attribute….they make Fantastic
Because of the High Sugar content (just look at the rings as you cut across the roots) and the glorious Orange or Red coloured skins, The Humble Mangel makes the ”King of root Wines”. So here is just a Basic Recipe to get you started on a Country wine that can hold its’ place with Chardonnay or Semillon and even go on to be in with ‘Tokaj’ for the Desserts!
Equipment you will need : 1 Glass Demi-john or Plastic 5/10 Litre container.
1 large sauce-pan, Vision ware or Similar, Aluminium is ok.
Not copper or steel (will taint wine)
1 Measuring jug
1 large mixing bowl (to hold at least 4 pints/ 2 litres)
1 Funnel (makes it easier to pour)
Muslin cloth for straining the Liquid.
Some Bottles and plastic tubing for siphoning later
Ingredients, You will need: Mangels —- 8-10 lbs ( 3.5 -4.5 kgs)
Sugar 2lbs (800g)
Teaspoon of dried yeast.
8 Pints (4.5litres) Water.
Firstly, make sure all the equipment is clean. Scrub the Mangel roots really well; but don’t peel-you want the lovely colour in the end product. Chop as small as you need to pack into saucepan, add water to cover and boil for 30 minutes (Boil up as many pot-fulls so you have 7-8 pints of Liquor ).
Put 2 tsps of the sugar into Jug, pour boiled liquor to half fill jug — leave to cool. Pour remaining liquid into bowl and add bulk of sugar and dissolve. Wait until jug is just tepid, add yeast and leave till it begins to froth. Transfer liquid from bowl and Saucepan into Demi-john; leave until cool and add yeast mixture. Put on airlock and leave to bubble away in a warm place-keep watch; do not let airlock run dry!
When wine is clear, siphon off into 2nd demi-john and when no more small bubbles can be seen rising, add a Campden tablet to stop fermentation (buy at Chemists/Home Brew shops). After 5 days Siphon off into bottles. I know it may be a hard process but this wine keeps well! If you want a dryer wine: cut sugar at start to 1.5lbs/ 600g. For a dessert wine: use 10 – 12 lbs Mangels and 2.5 lbs sugar.
By Peter Runacres (Suffolk Born and Bred Smallholder, used to keep pigs, turkeys, sheep and also now a veg gardener and chicken keeper)