Silas Silage’s October gardening notes

With Autumn setting in, our resident expert SILAS SILAGE offers advice on what to do with your surplus fruit.

Silas Silage
"There’s a loud bang and the roof of the shed has gone"

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is with us, and it’s the latter I’m going to deal with today. Thanks to the warm spring and the late summer showers, the apple trees are laden with fruit, the hedgerows are groaning with blackberries and sloes, while rose hips dance a scarlet fandango in the golden sunset. (Oh please! –Ed).

Most years, there’s so much stuff, it’s always a problem knowing what to do with it. This year, the problem is epic.

Although I’m a countryman , I’ve always been a bit of a scientist at heart. Looking at an old copy of “Whisky News” the other day I had an idea. A quick call to my mates at Porton Down and Aldermaston, and a surplus titanium pressure vessel and plenty of copper and stainless steel piping is on its way to me. A day later, with some help from my neighbour, who knows a bit about welding, we have constructed an “essential oil distillation unit”. Wink wink.

Productivity is vital if you’re going to shift any volume, so I’ve incorporated some ideas of my own. I got an old bath from the scrapyard in which to cut up  the fruit and let it ferment. This is fed directly into the pressure vessel, allowing continuous production.

There’s a super cooler adapted from an old watering can, and the Primus burner is fuelled directly with the unwanted poisonous alcohols which are produced as a by product. No one can accuse me of not being environmental!

Now it’s time to fire it up, and off we go. All that lovely fruit and veg, distilled down to a pure essence, easy and economic to store, nutritious, wholesome, non-perishable,  I could go on. (Spare us, please –Ed)

She fires up well, and has soon reached the operating temperature. Load the fermented fruit and off we go. As soon as steam comes out, we bring on the supercooler to condense the vapour. The first stuff to come out is the unwanted impure alcohol, and this goes straight back into the primus tank. Just turn the nozzle. It’s very flammable, and you have to be careful.

There’s a loud bang and the roof of the shed has gone. Never mind, I’ll fix it later. For behold, out of the nozzle, a few sacred drops are spouting. Collect in a glass, add ice, lemon and dry ginger, and you have the perfect antidote to the coming winter.

Owing to a design fault, (I think he forgot a collecting jar- Ed) the only way I can collect the distillate as it comsh out is in individ… indi… shingle glasses, and owing to lack of a storage vessel, the only way I can keep up with the flow ish to drink it,  and I musht shay it’s very good stuff, have another and, woops, I can see the open shky, coming out fashter now, woops, no way of turning it off, have another, quickly, woops! oh dear, oh dear me, dear me, woops! …..
(To be continued – Ed)


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