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Monday, August 12, 2013

Mandarin Wine, The Project

All quiet on the calving scene but not so quiet on the irrigation scene. The boss rang yesterday to say he had left the irrigator running and it would shut down in two hours and the smaller non-irrigation pump was set to "Auto" and would cut in to maintain supply to the troughs. 19 hours later the following was discovered. The irrigator had not reached the end of its run because one of the propulsion jets was blocked slowing its progress. Because it had not reached the end of the run the automatic water cut off switch had not been triggered before the main pumps timer finished and the small trough pump engaged. The small trough pump is not capable of driving the irrigator but is capable of pumping a large amount of water out of every orifice of the irrigator. One large section of that paddock has now been flood irrigated.

The only reason there has been no attempt to make Mandarin wine is that very few Mandarins are required by any of the recipes found. So a pointless exercise if the objective is to use up a mountain of surplus fruit. On its own the fruit had a Brix of 13.4 which is just under half of the sugar level needed to make a good wine. Hence why all the recipes included all sorts of additives to lift the sugar levels. Until today. While listening to a wine making podcast the solution was delivered. A guy in the USA was explain how he made 3 gallons of Chilli wine by freezing the juice to extract the water and concentrate the sugars.

The downside of Mandarin wine is peeling all the fruit. Fortunately this variety (Imperial) has a loose skin which comes off easily. To make a trial 2 litre batch the target was 4 litres of juice - doable. And so now the freezer is performing the first stage of what will be a trial batch of 100% Mandarin juice wine. 50 ppm of Potassium Metabisulphite was added after pressing to slow oxidation and spoilage. The pH came in at 4.2 which is not acid enough as it will be treated like a white wine. Calculated and added some Tartaric Acid to drop the pH to 3.5. Also kept some juice unadulterated in case a later dilution is required.

Lots of leftovers

Pressing Mandarin with the small screw press

The Project has now reached the point where it can be named even though far from finished. A home made egg incubator. Unless the electrics could be made to work it wouldn't have seen the light of day. The recycled computer fan works perfectly using a charger from a long defunct power tool. Both thermostats retrieved from dumped hot water systems failed to make the grade. One didn't have an adjustable mechanism and the other which did couldn't work below 50 degrees C. Salvation came from the old washing machine which died some years ago. It was dismantled and recycled except some components were kept - in case. One such component was the thermostat and it works perfectly.

The current status is the basic shell is finished and all the electrics have been sourced and tested. Next stage is finishing  the lining and installing the electrics. After that its just the internal mountings which include an access draw to top up the humidifier and a manual egg rolling mechanism accessible from the exterior. If the labour content is calculated at $1 per hour it probably would have been cheaper to buy an incubator off the Web but not as much fun.

Basic Carcase

Lid with Observation Window

The frame is timber from a pallet. The cladding is from recycled Masonite. The insulation is recycled foam and roofing film. As mentioned all the electrics are all recycled. The only purchased items will be the dual low watt light globes for heating and the screws for assembly.

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