Summer and early autumn are good times to make a supply of Christmas drinks for absolute pence!wine

I’ve started making a supply over the past few days.

There are many variations of each recipe. You can look them up online, or keep an eye in your charity shops for books.

It’s a good idea to start the yeast working by mixing it in a cup with a tsp sugar and adding a drop of warm water.



This is non-alcoholic.

When I was a kid, all our parents made a gallon of Ginger Beer almost every week.

The sound of explosions used to be heard in everyone’s house from pantries, under the stairs, in garages and in spare bedrooms as corks popped out of bottles.

Now that so many fizzy drinks have unhealthy additives, including wheat to which I’m intolerant, and CO2 which gives Hubby John a sneezing attack, I’ve started making it again.

Nobody really knows why it’s called a Plant. I’ve always thought it was because you fed it and it grew. But apparently it’s because a little ‘plant’ floats to the top of the bottle when it’s opened and then sinks down again.

You need a clean jar, yeast, ground ginger and sugar, plus about eight clean bottles with screw tops.

Place 2ozs of dried yeast in the jar and add ½ pint water, 2 level teasps sugar and 2 level tsps ground ginger.

Feed it every day for 7 days with 1 teasp sugar and 1 teasp ginger.ging

After the 7th day, strain the liquid through a teatowel or muslin, squeezing out all the liquid into a saucepan.

Add the juice of 2 lemons, 1lb granulated sugar and 1 pint boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Make up to 1 gallon with cold water.

Fill the bottles to about 3 inches from the top, leave for 2 hours, and then then tighten the tops.

Keep for at least a week before drinking.

Now split the sediment in half and place into two jars. Give one jar to a neighbour or friend, plus a copy of the recipe of course!

Begin again. Add half a pint of cold water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp ginger……



We have an allotment and every time we dig up some potatoes there are lots of tiddlers that I have to think up recipes for.

When you make Potato wine, you still have the cooked potatoes to use.

Freeze them, make soups, etc.

5lbs potatoes

3lbs sugar

2 oranges & 2 lemons.


1 gallon water.

Scrub the potatoes clean, cut in half and boil until cooked but not mushy.

Strain into a bucket, add the fruit rinds and juice and sugar and stir.

Top up to a gallon with cold water, then add the yeast.

Cover and leave for about a week, then siphon off into a gallon jar with an airlock.

Siphon off again when sediment forms and leave until clear.

Bottle and leave as long as you can!



Based on the Japanese rice wine, this was one of my first home-made wines.

When my Aunt made it, she threw the dregs onto the compost heap and the birds who pecked at it were actually drunk! They were very happy though, flying round and singing their heads off!

This really is a delicious, simple, but very strong wine, and ready within a few weeks.

Of course, it improves even more if you can bear to keep it!

It’s a very sociable wine.

WARNING We had to have barbed wire round our house and machine guns on the battlements because so many ‘friends’ were ‘just passing’!.

2 1/2 lbs rice

2 1/2lbs sugar

1lb raisins.

Juice 1 lemon


Gallon water.

Place the rice and sugar into a bucket. Cover with a gallon of warm water. Add the raisins (I didn’t have any raisins so I used sultanas) and lemon juice.Stir to melt the sugar and then add the yeast.

Cover and stir several times a day for 3 days.

Leave for 9 days then strain the liquid into a gallon jar and fit the airlock.

Leave until clear and bottle.



As I was in Winemaking Mode I looked around for something else to transform into wine. I settled on a litre carton of orange juice.

Here’s a basic recipe.

1 carton fruit juice.

2lbs sugar.

1 pot strong tea. This provides the tannin.

1tsp dried yeast.

And that’s it!

You know the rules now, Dear Readers. Leave for about a week with a lid on of course, siphon into gallon jar with airlock (or cotton wool), leave to clear, bottle, leave a bit longer & drink.


Winemaking is a very rewarding hobby. It’s relaxing to watch the gallon jars bloop-blooping. And it’s amazing that you can make a batch of apple wine, for instance, and every jar will end up a different colour!

I make my beer out of beer kits from specialist shops, although the Wilkins chain now stocks a reasonable selection of home-makers’ equipment.

The latest up and coming drink is Chilli Beer. I haven’t tried making it yet, but I’m going to try adding 4 whole chillis to the saucepan, then leave them for about 3 days in the bucket. After that, they lose their flavour but will have flavoured the beer.

Your home-made drinks will cost as low as 10p a pint. But you MUST warn guests that it might slide down easily but it is a lot stronger than the usual commercial stuff!