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May 20, 2014

Home Brewing: Plum Wine Recipe

Barbarian Home, Krieg It Yourself

Home Brewing is a new feature on the blog here. I’ve been enjoying home brew as a hobby for the last three years or so, and I think I’m getting the hang of it enough that it’s time to start detailing some of the recipes I use and the experiments (some good, some not-so-good) I do. I know a lot of readers are also brewers, so I am always keen to hear your ideas on improving recipes or new things to try. Currently, I’m only brewing mead (different types) and fruit wines, but I’m hoping to get a cider press sometime soon and start experimenting with cider, which should be grand.

I was given 2KG of plums from a neighbour, and it seemed like the thing to do to turn them into a plumy-brew. 2KG is a bit less than I would normally use for a 1 Gallon (5L) batch, so I’m hoping it’s not too watery.

I’ve already talked about my first experience making mead. I’ve got plenty more mead posts coming, but today I’m talking about wine.

Plum Wine Recipe:

  • 2 kgs Plums
  • 1 tsp. Pectin enzyme
  • 1 tsp. Wine Nutrient
  • ½ tsp. Tartaric acid
  • 1 kg of Sugar
  • 4.5 litres of Water
  • ½ tsp. Potassium Sorbate.
  • Yeast – I used Vintners Harvest MA33, but I think it’s probably better with Vintners Harvest VR21 Red Wine Yeast. If you’re a yeast newbie, ask for advice at your local brewshop.
  • 3 Campden Tablets.

The first thing you should do is sterilize all your equipment. I use Copper Tun Sterilizing Solution from HomeBrew West (I usually get my brewing supplies delivered because I live in the middle of nowhere). I find that you only need about 1/2 as much sterilizer as the packet suggests. I add the water and steriliser into the bucket and slosh it around so it touches all the sides, then drop all the other equipment (including the chopping board, knife, etc I use for the fruit) into the bucket. Then I let everything sit for 10 minutes.

Ready to rack off.

Ready to rack off.

photo-1 Next, I prepare the fruit. Often you will peel all the fruit, which can take five centuries (especially if you’re doing a 30L bucket) but apparently with plums it’s not necessary. But I do remove the stones and cut them into smaller pieces, discarding any of the bruised bits (which I give to the chicken).

I place all the plummy bits into a muslin bag, which is inside my fermenting bucket. I then cover this with water that I’ve boiled (I use tank water which doesn’t have any chemicals in it – if you’re on town water, use distilled water or spring water instead) so that the bag is just covered. Add the pectin enzyme and one of the campden tablets dissolved in water. Then stick the lid and airlock on, and leave this for a few days. Take a SG (Specific Gavity) reading and note this in your diary.

After 24 hours you can add the yeast, tartaric acid, yeast nutrient and the rest of the water. Some people “activate” their yeast first by putting it in warm water, but I just throw mine in. Leave this to ferment for 4-7 days. I don’t use a heat pad for this.

When that time is up, take another SG reading.

Now you get to add the sugar. Fun times! First, strain your muslin bag and get as much of that happy plum juice into your bucket as possible. Dump the sugar in and stir it with a big, sterilized wooden or plastic spoon to dissolve the sugar. I’ve heard some brewers create a sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar and citric acid into a bit of water first, which I’m going to try next time, as I always get a lot of sugar at the bottom of my bucket. Stick the lid and airlock back on, and leave in the plastic for 1-2 weeks.

You’ll hear bubbles coming out of the airlock maybe 24 hours after you do this, and then things will get a bit crazy. When the bubbles have calmed right down (maybe 1 bubble every couple of minutes), then primary fermentation is done. This should take 1-2 weeks.

After two weeks (cough forgot about it six weeks cough), you can”rack” (basically, siphon) the wine into a glass carboy (5L / 1gallon is what you need for this recipe). Leave the bottom 1/2-1 inch in the bucket – this is called the lees. It’s filled with sediment, which you don’t want in your final wine. You can also top your carboy up with a bit of (cool) water if it’s looking a bit low. Also, add another campden tablet. Bung an airlock on that, and place in a cool, dark place.

Now, you’re meant to rack it into another container and get rid of the dregs every 4-6 weeks. I am lazy and forget, so my wine doesn’t clear as fast as other peoples. I do it probably every 2-3 months. I do, however, keep my wine for 6 moths to a year before I drink it.

When your wine is tasting yummy, take a final SG reading, add the potassium sorbate (this is to stop any fermentation in the bottles, but if you leave it as long as I do it’s probably not necessary, as there’s no sugar left) and a campden tablet, and bottle.

plum wine.

plum wine.

Currently, the plum wine is about 2 months in to its secondary fermentation. I’ve just racked it and tasted it, and it’s got a serious tartness, which I’m hoping will go away after another few months (I’m told this is something that will linger for several months with plum wine). I shall let you know how the final wine turns out in about 3 more months!

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