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How to Have an Ole Time Christmas: Tradition #1 – Homemade Wines

by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 3, 2018

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Each year the groan about how untraditional Christmas has become grows louder.

Yello wants to help you create a traditional Christmas.  In this series, we will highlight some of the traditions of Christmas.  Each week we will take you down memory lane, or introduce you to an experience that once made Christmas a special time for many.

Each Christmas season, older generations reminisce, remembering a time of goodwill with neighbours.  A time when children weren’t making Christmas lists that totalled in the thousands.  Were there even lists?

Christmas then was a time of preparation.  Much preparation went on before the actual day.  There were ingredients to be ‘prepared’ for the black cake baked on Christmas Eve night.  Of course, baking was an experience in itself.  Grandmothers, mothers and aunts multi-tasked as dough was kneaded to make bread, ingredients set aside for sweetbread and the boiling ham was poked to determine readiness.

And, there were the beverages.

Punch-a-crème and rum punch made the same night.  Also, sorrel boiled to brick-red perfection, and ginger beer bottled and awaiting a throat to burn.  Then, there was the homemade wine that would be drunk on Christmas day and during the holidays. It had spent the past few weeks fermenting.

Winemaking was,  and in some homes still is, a significant Christmas tradition.  Excitement would build as grannies-turn-wine-makers would begin collecting golden apple, cherries, five fingers, cane—basically any fruit.

Months in advance two-litre bottles and buckets would be acquired, scrubbed and set aside because in them would hold the precious liquid.  Ideally, the preparations began earlier in the year, and the wine was left to, in local parlance, “set” until the holiday festivities began.

Want to have a good ole traditional Christmas?  We’ll share recipes or long forgotten practices that will help you create a traditional Christmas.

And to begin here’s a homemade wine recipe.  Now, remember we said this is a traditional recipe so you may notice some measurements are a bit unconventional.

Keron’s Governor Plum Wine


½ five-gallon bucket of ripe plums

Six lbs white sugar

Two tablespoons yeast


Wash plums and crush thoroughly. In the bucket, combine the plums, three to four litres of water, the sugar and the yeast. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Cover the bucket, ensuring the opening is tightly closed and store in a cool, dry place. Let mixture sit for 21- 28 days. Conduct weekly checks to monitor fermentation.  More sugar can be added after the first week if necessary.

Then leave the mixture to “sit out” the duration of the time.  Once the allotted time has elapsed, strain and bottle.

Enjoy your homemade wine.

Homemade wines, this is one in the many ‘ole’ time Christmas traditions we plan to share with you, so be sure to check Yello each week leading up to Christmas as we share these beloved practices.

Get ready to have fun, laughter and good cheer of a good old-fashion Christmas.


Recipe courtesy Keron Richardson