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Guest Blog: Introduction to Grow Your Own Booze

As the cost of living crisis gets worse how about making your own booze. Especially cider where nearly every commercial cider is made from concentrate, water and added alcohol. NOT real 100% apple juice fermented naturally.

Extract 1 Introduction to Grow Your Own Booze
Lorraine Turnbull wanted to be a farmer since she was five years old. Originally from Glasgow, she uprooted her family and moved to a run-down smallholding in Cornwall, where she began commercial cider making in 2011. In 2014 she won the Cornwall Sustainability Awards Best Individual category. She relocated to a five acre smallholding in South West France a few years ago where she keeps sheep, has an orchard and continues to make and enjoy a variety of drinks.

When I started thinking about producing this book, it began as a simple book on how to grow apple trees and produce cider. Of course, the apple is a really versatile fruit, so I had to add information about juicing, and verjuice and then it seemed churlish not to include perry, and then other orchard fruits. Very soon, the project had taken on a life of its own; and as I really wanted to explain both how to produce these drinks and how to grow the plants themselves, the book has expanded somewhat.

Lorraine and her pup

In my own experience I have to say that I began gardening as a complete novice at the age of nine, and now at the age of 60, can say that although I have loads of experience, I’m still learning something new every day. I’ve grown plants on a windowsill in an apartment, in a porch, in growing-bags, in a garden and then developed a couple of smallholdings. Now in my golden years, I’ve reduced my vegetable gardening to raised beds, but still have a low-maintenance orchard.

I’m acutely aware that we don’t all have access to the same amount of land or space, and that we are restricted by location and climate as to what we can reasonably grow. Finally, there are so many different things out there to grow that you can turn into alcohol that sometimes it’s overwhelming to know just where to start.

I’d start by answering a few simple but important questions –
How much space and how much growing experience do you have?
What can I grow that will save me money?
What will give me the best results and the most pleasure?

There is no point having grandiose plans if you only have space for a few pots on a balcony or trying to grow exotic and difficult species if you’ve never grown anything before or live in a challenging climatic location. Start small and easy and expand as you gain confidence. If you’re hampered by a poor climate then perhaps you can share a greenhouse or even have pots or growing bags in a sunny porch.

Nearly all commercial cider is made from concentrate not pure apple juice

Also, some ingredients can be bought so cheaply and are widely available in shops or supermarkets or can be foraged for free that there is no point in growing them – concentrate on expensive or hard to source items. I’m never ever going to grow my own potatoes when they are ‘cheap as chips’ to buy from a supermarket. Finally, the real fun in making your own booze is the end result – tasty booze. If you drink wine, then make your own wine; if you are a beer fan, try some of the huge varieties of beers. Grow the things that will please you, and your taste buds.

Beer makers might grow their own hops, and try adding some home-grown fruit to their beers; cider makers might experiment with adding some raspberry juice to their cider; and wine makers – oh my goodness, you can grow rhubarb to add body to any floral wines to jazz them up, or grow some ginger in a pot to add to a winter elderberry wine, or even grow some chillies and try a small amount of this in some of the more robust vegetable wines, such as parsnip or carrot. You’re only going to be limited by your imagination and your unwillingness to try something new.

Grow Your Own Booze by Lorraine Turnbull (2022) ISBN 9781739607227

Buy the book here

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