The Brewing Shed

Wine wars: parsnip vs parsnip

Parsnips for making home made wine

If you want to sound like a cranky old wurzel to your posh city chums then few phrases will do a better job than “ere, fancy a swig of me parsnip wine”. Loved by those in the know and treated with suspicious contempt by those that don’t, parsnip wine is one of the very best in the home fermenter’s canon. But choosing which one of the hundreds of recipes to follow can be a bit tricky.

Many recipes have extravagant claims of taste approximation ranging from ‘a sweet Marsala’ to ‘a fine whisky’. These claims are, of course, ridiculous – so we suggest you pick the easiest recipe you can find or, like us, experiment and make up your own.

In fact, we’ve grown so many parsnips that we’re both experimenting by making separate batches of parsnip wine in an exciting battle to see who can produce the most sip-able ‘snips.

Rich’s pure and simple parsnip wine recipe
1.8kg / 4lb parsnips
1.4 kg / 3lb sugar
8 pints / 1 gallon water
2 lemons and 1 orange (juice and peel, no pith)
A sachet of wine yeast

Nick’s exotic spiced parsnip wine recipe
1.5kg / 3.25lb parsnips
1.3kg / 2.8lb demerara sugar
8 pints / 1 gallon water
50g thinly sliced ginger
1 stick of cinnamon
Large handful of chopped sultanas or raisins
2 oranges (juice and peel)
A sachet of wine yeast

Method
If you want to follow centuries of wisdom, pick your parsnips after they’ve been hit by frost and thoroughly scrub them (rather than peel) – frost signals the creation of natural sugars which, along with the flavour, are more concentrated just beneath the surface. Although we’re probably talking small percentages so don’t treat this instruction as an absolute necessity.

Chop into chunks and put in a pan with as much of the water as it can hold and gently boil (Rich also added his orange peel at this stage).

They’re done when soft but before they start to break up as tiny parsnip particles will give you a permanently cloudy wine (although that’s merely an aesthetic problem). Strain into a bucket (don’t press the parsnips otherwise more of those particles will escape) with the sugar and top up with the remaining boiled water. Nick chucked in his fruit and spices at this stage, Rich only had orange and lemon juice left to add. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and, if using, add a crushed campden tablet and pectolase. Cover the bucket and leave overnight before adding yeast and, if you wish, yeast nutrient. Nick gave it five days before straining into a demijohn, Rich only waited 24 hours.

Note: don’t discard the parsnips. You can use them for cooking. They will, for example, make enough parsnip soup for a week…

 

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Parsnip wine

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34 Comments

  • Right. I am going to do this. I only have one demi-john though. I might actually go and buy another demi john just so I can do both at the same time. Thicko question: when do you bottle it then?

    And I flippin love the fact that you can eat the parsnips as well. Talk about parsnipmonious! Ha! Hahahahaah!

    • Top comedic wordplay there.
      Very sensible question too… you bottle it when it stops fermenting. How long this takes is unpredictable, but I’m going to predict around three months, assuming your demijohns are in a fairly warm (but not too hot) place. These recipes have got quite a bit of sugar in them, so that’s quite a bit of work for the yeast to do. Which also means you’ll end up with a strong wine, or perhaps a slightly sweet wine if the yeast dies early. There are things you can do to make this bit of the science more predictable but it means buying more bits of kit and doing more complicated things with them. I prefer to just sit back and see what happens – it’ll be mighty tasty whatever.
      Get fermenting and send over any more queries you have as you go along.

      • Quick clarification… three months is estimated time for bottling. You should ‘rack off’ the wine at least once before then when, usually after around a month when fermentation grinds to a halt. Racking off might induce a bit more fermentation besides separating the good stuff (wine) from the muck at the bottom (lees). Hope that makes sense…

  • I have just done the same, set two lots off as I couldn’t decide which one to try. Much excited! I am quite new to wine making. I did 8 gallons of Bramley apple wine in 2011, using a couple of different methods with varying results then when I had perfected it had no apples last year! The blossom appeared yesterday and now its gale force winds and rain :0(. I also have two gallons of strawberry, but it’s not clearing so I may just have to go speak to the local brew shop unless you have some advice? Anyway, I will keep you informed, and I am about to make quite a lot of parsnip soup much to my husbands disgust!!!!

    • Sounds like you’ve been well and truly bitten by the wine making bug. Congratulations!
      The most common cause of wine not clearing is ‘pectin haze’. Crushed egg shells can sometimes improve things (we tried it on some elderflower wine here) or if you’re in a home brew shop then ask for ‘pectolase’ which often works. Although I tend to not worry too much if wine is slightly cloudy – it’s the taste that matters most.
      Please keep us posted with parsnip progress – I had a glass of the spiced version during bottling last week and it tastes amazing already!

      • Oh cool. I will try the Pectolase then. I thought I had missed the boat as I didn’t put it in at the start. Thank you x

  • interesting recipe. will give it a go soon.
    question: what would be the quantities of ingredients for a 5 gallon batch, especially the amount of yeast to add.?
    many thanks

    • Wow! 5 gallons – adventurous. We’ve never made bulk booze but I would imagine multiplying ingredients by five would do the trick. However, a sachet of yeast usually covers up to five gallons… check the packet for correct amounts. And good luck!

  • Hi, I made parsnip wine from your recipe including the spicy parsnip and they have turned out great, looking forward to Xmas will use some for a mulled wine. After bottling it this week we blended the remainder of the two and we think it is superb, just like sherry. Thanks for the labels.

    • Hi Barbara. Glad the wines turned out well, and thanks for letting us know – always great to hear feedback from other wine makers. Parsnips are such a versatile veg for wine – have you got any plans for this year’s harvest?

  • Going to make parsnip wine as soon as I have a demijohn free,I made your apple wine(with mostly Discovery apples from me own tree which has given it a nice pink tint,smells great,the husband was well impressed!!!!!.Sloe gin next(whilst picking said sloes I had lots of people asking me what they were,I said not to try eating any unless they wanted to remove the enamel on their teeth-one person tried it,bless-)Love your website,recommended it to lots of folk.

    • Hi Polly
      Thanks for letting us know about your apple wine success and good luck with the parsnip wine. One of our favourites!
      It looks like a great year for sloes – there are thousands lining my local bushes. A good excuse for even more sloe gin and maybe even some sloe wine.
      Keep us posted with your drinks making exploits…

  • Hi all, literary just finishing adding all the ingredients and had a sneak taste. Have to say it already taste great. So hopefully its another success on my books as I have already tried strawberry. Defo making more as it was really refreshing,. Had lovely taste . I have made 15 litres of it but it dissapeared very fast. Elderberry, which turns out more like port (very strong), elderflower – just amazing taste (for clear wine – wash the heads gently and tried to remove as much as green stalkes as poss) rose petal wine – nice taste as well with amazing colour., this one was easy to make because wild roses are everywhere and latest one is blackcurrant. I am trying to get all ingredients from my allotment so I think I can pretty much call it organic….
    Anyway would live to know how other people end up with this one?….

  • hi have made about 30 bottles of Parsnip wine, using various recipes. I have recently made another batch with bought in parsnips, I prepare them the same as you cut them into small pieces, then put them in the freezer overnight which as you mentioned brings the natural sugar out, another thing I do is boil some of the water then dissolve the sugar before adding it to the must ,I will try both your recipes and let you know the results. (if I can only stop my wife from drinking it all)

    • Thanks for commenting. That’s a lot of parsnip wine to get through!
      Let us know how you get on with our recipes, and maybe some more of our readers can come up with some more parsnip wine alternatives?

  • I made a couple off gallons of elderberry & blackberry (mixed) wine in 2013 and managed to resist tasting till now (first attempt) it’s turned out great! just been to buy some snips and am going to your recipe, hope it turns out as successful as my first attempt, for a quick wine I made zebra wine using tinned fruit well worth trying for beginner’s
    Thanks’ for your web-sight
    John

    • Thanks John
      Let us know how the parsnip wine turns out.
      We’ve been experimenting with a few small batches using tinned fruit as well – particularly good for some tropical flavour combinations!

  • Hi Guys… Just trying some Parsnip wine for the first time.(Aldi, had a special offer of 39c for 500 grams of Parsnips.).so had to have a go,,here’s hoping it turns out O.K. I have a grape vine and have just put down 4 gallons of grape wine on Sunday, and still have about another 4 gallons left to pick…. Have no idea what variety as the vine is about 40 years old. When I used the Hydrometer it had a reading of 50…..before I added the sugar. Is this good or bad…. Just a beginner . Just discovered your site and love it…

    • Hello

      Good luck with the parsnip wine – I’m sure it’ll turn out wonderfully well. And a bargain too!

      I’ve only made wine from grapes a couple of times before, and it involves a bit of maths.

      Your original reading sounds OK to me – different grapes grown in different conditions will always produce varying amounts of sugar. I’m sure you know this already, but the key is to bring it up to a starting gravity that will convert to enough alcohol to make it a worthy wine. This figure is usually quoted as starting at 1.090. To know how much extra sugar you’ll need to add you’ll have to do some calculations.
      There’s a really good article, with a table, on Jack Keller’s site, which you can view here: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/hydrom.asp

      Hope it all makes sense!

      And if you want an extra tip from me, can I recommend you make a second batch of wine with the same grapes after they’ve been pressed once. There will still be plenty of flavour and body in them, so make up a new batch with a gallon of boiling water, some additional flavours (fruits, flowers, spices, whatever) and the same amount of sugar as you would use for a wine made from ingredients without natural sugars. A great opportunity for experimentation!

      Hope this is helpful.

      • Thanks so much for all your advise. I have added the required amount of sugar to the grapes and will keep you up to speed with the developments….and thank you for the tip about making a double batch.. I will also try this.. thanks Dorothy

  • […] Now the reason I’m telling this story is that when I drained the parsnips, maybe because I’d had a few and because it smelt awesome, I decided to taste the water they had boiled in. It was amazingly sweet! This immediately got me planning my next batch of home brew wine. Obviously I carried on with the Christmas dinner preparation (I had my orders! ) but once complete I set about searching for a suitable recipe. There are loads out there.  I have settled on Rich’s Pure and Simple Parsnip Wine Recipe from the Two Thirsty Gardeners Blog http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2013/01/wine-wars-parsnip-vs-parsnip/ […]

  • Hi, found your recipe a few months ago and now have some parsnip wine fermenting away, used up the last of my parsnips from my plot so feeling very pleased with myself too, shall let you know how it turns out.
    Am making the pure and simple recipe at the moment but will definitely have a go at making the exotic recipe next.

  • Some years ago I made a few batches of parsnip wine to a recipe very similar to Rich’s, fermented it out (or so I thought) and siphoned off the crystal clear wine into bottles without any further ado. All the sediment looked to be left in the demijohn so I corked the bottles and left them to mature under the stairs (you can see where this is going can’t you). About two weeks later I put some other bottles down to mature when I noticed the corks were about 2/3rds out of the necks. A quick press home and wire over the top and it produced an excellent dry ‘champagne’, if a bit cloudy.
    Sometimes the best results are accidental.

    Tris

    • Rich occasionally finds his wines sparkle when they should be flat, and none have been any poorer as a result.
      We like to include a small margin for accidental misfortune in just about everything we do – there would be much less fun without…

  • Good Evening from Blighty…many years ago I made ‘packet’ wine in 5 gallon drums and never ventured into the dark art of ‘country’ wines. Last week I bought 8 demi johns and kit off ebay and then found your site. The lady I bought the demi johns off, also gave me a 1973 publication ‘Winemaking at Home’ which contains some interesting fruit partners… I chose to use a bit of hers and yours…so 4lb snips, 3lb sugar, juice of orange and 2 lemon, handfull of diced raisins, pectolase, citric acid, tannin, yeast and nutrient. It’s bubbling away nicely!!!! (I think the citric acid on top of the fuit maybe an issue!!!) I’ll let you know how it tastes. The lady was also keen to point out that Runner Bean and Elderberry wine was her favourite. Freeze the trimmings (2lb) of runner beans when you have them, then later in the season pick 2lb of elderberries….add some raisins and the usual ingrediants…

  • …and the used snips did not go to waste as I roasted them and covered them in honey and sesame seeds, to take to the pub, for the after ping pong snack….

    • Hi Danny
      Many thanks for the comment, always good to hear of another country wine convert.
      We’ve heard of praise elsewhere for runner beans as a partner for dark, tannin rich fruits but it’s not something we’ve ever tried ourselves.
      Maybe this year…
      Keep us posted with parsnip progress. I reckon it’s worth us making some more just so we can cook up your ping pong snack…

  • I followed the simple method quite closely. Left in the demi john for nealy 6months before filtering then clarifying with egg white and finally syphoning into bottles. The wine is pale straw, full bodies and medium dry. Faintly remini scent of and amontillado with enough thought. Tastes fantastic. Not sure of the strength but sure tastes strong. Oh! and also made a lot of curried parsnip soup. Also delicious and complimented with the wine. Thanks for the recipes.

  • I used to make parsnip wine regularly and made the mistake of drinking it whilst still young (a year or two old). I did save a few though and had an 18 year old bottle recently. It was truly wonderful – dry, crisp and crystal clear. I have one bottle left which will have to be kept for a special occasion, such a shame that I will have to wait so long for the next batch to be at its best.

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