Firstly be 100% certain you know your trees. A beech tree produces young
leaves in spring time. This is the best time to collect the leaves as they
haven't got too much tannin when small. Later in the year beech wine will
be too bitter for most people's taste.
So, in early May (in the UK) collect about 3 pints of young leaves from unsprayed
beech trees. Make sure you have permission from the tree owner to do this.
A few months later you will have a rich, aromatic and tasty alcoholic drink
which is similar to grape wines but is very much a unique experience.
Beech Leaf Wine recipe
3 pints beech leaves
1 kg rasins (chopped)
1.5kg caster sugar
1 tsp wine yeast
How to make Beech Leaf Wine
This recipe will make 2 gallons of wine (about 12 bottles) This is the same
recipe to use for oak leaf wine too.
In a large food grade fermentation bucket, steep the beech leaves, orange
and lemon juice and chopped rasins together with 8 pints of water that is
just off the boil. Boiling water will ruin the flavour, so just boiled water
After 4 hours the water should be warm but no longer hot to touch. At this
point add another 8 pints to bring to totalliquid up to 2 gallons.
Now add the yeast directly onto the leafy water. Place the lid on the bucket.
By the next morning lift the lid and you will see the water is now covered
with a thin layer of froth. Replace the lid.
Leave the bucket for a further 24-48 hrs. By this time the loud fizzing should
have slowed to an ocassional bubble. The first fiery stage of fermentation
is now over and a second slower phase will begin. At this point it is best
to transfer the juice into 2 sterile demijohns with airlocks.
Now we only want the juice, not the leaves which have done their work by
now. So, when you siphon the juice out of the bucket, do it in a way to leave
the leaves and rasin bits behind. I made a trap to sit at the bottom of a
siphon tuube from an old tea strainer.
Fermenting beech leaf wine
The second fermentation will take about 8 weeks. After four weeks, transfer
to clean sterile demijohn, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the first
demijohns well alone.
After a further 4 weeks, as long as the fermentation has finished, rack off
into bottles and leave for a further month before drinking as a young wine.
If you leave it for at least a year, the flavours will have improved beyond