Introduction: Plum Wine

Picture of Plum Wine

How to homebrew wine, using plums.

Step 1: To Start:

Picture of To Start:

I used:

The Boots Book of Home Wine Making & Brewing (New and revised edition 1978) Recipe 119 PLUM (dry)

42 red/black plums (4.5lb in the book, but I have no scales)
245g red grape juice concentrate (1/2 pint in the book)
1 Kg white sugar (2lb in the book)
1 tsp citric acid (juice of a lemon would be fine instead)
1 cup of strong tea (1/2 tsp of tannin in the book)
1 tsp pectolase
Campden tablets
1 tsp yeast nutrient (ammonium phosphate & sulphate)
1 tsp Super Wine Yeast Compound (i.e. yeast and nutrient as above, which in retrospect I didn't need...)

A 5 gallon / 25 litre bucket, with snap-on lid.
Electric blender (optional)
A long spoon
Two 1 gallon / 5 litre demis
1 fermentation lock
Siphon tubing

Step 2: Plums: Preparation

Picture of Plums: Preparation

Examine your plums, remove stalks, leaves and any which you would not eat (i.e. under ripe or mouldy)

Add plums to a food-grade bucket, and cover with boiling water (~ 5 pints or ~3 litres). This cleans, sterilises and softens the fruit. When cooled pour off the water.

Wash your hands and squeeze out the stones, this will leave you with plum-mush and sticky-fingers.

Step 3: Before Fermentation:

Picture of Before Fermentation:

Add ~3 litres / 5 pints of cold water, and blend until 'soupy'. If you're not going to use the blender, just ensure the plums are well mushed.
Add 1 cup of strong tea (of the "English Breakfast" type, no milk, no Earl Gray) otherwise tannin if you have some.
Add 1 tsp of citric acid, or the juice of a lemon (as opposed to bottled lemon juice)
Add 1 tsp pectolase. This should 'digest' pectin within the fruit, which will otherwise give a hazy finish to the wine.
And finally, the book recomments 1 Campden tablet.
In water, these produce sulphur dioxide to sterilise.
Put the lid on the bucket and leave overnight.

Step 4: Fermentation

Picture of Fermentation

Add a tsp each of yeast nutrient and wine yeast (beer / lager yeast is not advised). Or, if like me you've got the wine yeast compound (with nutrient) a large teaspoon of that.
Also add the grape juice concentrate at this stage. Note that this is a concentrate.
Stir this mush twice a day for 5 days.

The brew will tell you it's OK by releasing gas (esp when stirred), and you'll find that the yeast clumps the fruit pulp together. If this doesn't happen you're in trouble...

Step 5: Fermentation Stage 2

Picture of Fermentation Stage 2

Filter off the fruit pulp and yeast, I used a sieve & a funnel.
Dissolve half the sugar (~1lb ~500g) in a small amount of boiling water (probably only ~100ml).
When your sugar syrup is cooled to 'warm' add to your brew.
There will be enough yeast left in the brew to continue.
Fit a fermentation lock and let it go for a few weeks (see next step)

Step 6: "Ferment Until Dry"

Picture of "Ferment Until Dry"

You should notice a couple of things:

Bubbles rise in the brew.
Gas escapes through the fermentation lock, making a 'glop' noise.
When this slows down after a few weeks add the rest of the sugar, as in step 5, and let it go again.

When fermentation is complete:
No bubbles rise in the brew.
No gas escapes through the fermentation lock.
Yeast starts to settle to the bottom.

The pictures used here are of a batch which was made with white grape juice concentrate, the previous images are of a batch made with red

Step 7: Clearing

Picture of Clearing

Decant or siphon the wine from the yeast at the bottom, into another demi.
Alternatively transfer into another container, clean the demi & return the wine

At this stage the verdict was:
"Fruity but a bit yeasty, very promising"

I added 1 Campden tablet, to 'deactivate' any remaining yeast, and as a preservative.

If you wait long enough all the suspended material will settle to the bottom & you can decant off delicious clear wine. The lasts picture show the wine after 1 week intervals, it did clear after a couple of months.

It turned out rather good, but lacked tannin. And independant opinion was "would go well with fish". Nice and fruity, but lacked the balance of wines we're used to drinking.


Treemendus (author)2017-08-20

Thank you for this :) I've been making wine for 7 years now and its the first time I've made it with plumbs. I was given a load of yellow plumbs so have started plumb and raspberry :) Your tip to de stone helped me loads thank you

fretted (author)2015-09-21

MMM 2015 batch apple wine 5 gallon batch EC1118 wine yeast just bottled and is delicious should be even better by Christmas 2016

VandaB (author)2015-09-06

How about acorn nuts for tannin?

TheWineBrewer (author)2015-03-13

I have a great video on how i made Plum wine here:

ilpug (author)2011-10-05

we get bushels of plums every year. might try this once i turn 21.

lemonie (author)ilpug2011-10-05

I believe that you only have to be 21 to drink it.
If you start now it can mature for a few years. (or be distilled and keep indefinitely)


shomas (author)lemonie2014-01-07

One should be careful about dispensing a recommendation like this. The laws can very substantially based on location. I live in Virginia US where It is illegal for any one under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, or drink alcohol. Virginia law does provide an exception for possessing or drinking in a home where an under-age drinker's parent is present.

If the region where he lives outlaws the possession even in the home without exceptions, then fermenting his plum could get him in trouble. On the other hand, if the law does provide for in the home exception then he might be able to drink, under parents supervision, any time he and his parents would like.

ilpug (author)lemonie2011-10-05

Ah, yes, you are right. I only have two years to go, so i might just do that. That would be a pretty good way to celebrate turning 21.

lemonie (author)ilpug2011-10-06

Yes, it might good idea.
(I'll ask my friend how he made wine with hemp, he thought that was great)


ilpug (author)lemonie2011-10-06

that sounds... interesting.

codyg102 (author)2012-03-14

Just a note on the stones. Plums are one of a number of fruits that have a natural toxin in the stones (presumably designed to protect them from being eaten and not being able to make more trees) that can convert to hydrogen cyanide. It therefore seems wise to eliminate them from the process.

From the Canada Food Inspection Agency website:

"The kernels within the pits of some stone fruits contain a natural toxin called cyanogenic glycoside. These fruits include apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums and prunes. The flesh of the fruit itself is not toxic. Normally, the presence of cyanogenic glycoside alone is not dangerous. However, when kernels are chewed cyanogenic glycoside can transform into hydrogen cyanide - which is poisonous to humans. The lethal dose of cyanide ranges from 0.5 to 3.0 mg per kilogram of body weight. This is why it is not recommended to eat the kernels inside the pits of stone fruits."

The page this is taken from can be found here.

Wadesrd (author)2012-02-07

In all other wine recipes, heaps of sugar is added at this point? Is this what the concentrate is used for? Seems strange not to have any sugar in it here.

lemonie (author)Wadesrd2012-02-07

Grape juice has sugar in it, concentrated-grape juice has a lot more.


aidancurran (author)2012-01-15

Hello, lemonie and all! Thanks for the great instructons! I have 15kg of plums ready to go. I have a few questions you might be able to help me with:

1. Is removing the stones necessary? (as I said I have 15kg of plumbs) I was thinking about just mashing them a bit with the bottom of a pot inside a larger pot and leaving the stones in. Wondering if the stones cause undesirable flavours or bitterness if left in?
2. You mention at the end that it lacked tannin. Do you reckon is it that the cup of strong tea is not a suitable substitute of tannin or just that you didn't add enough tea?
3. When making grape wine degassing is another step. You don't mention degassing, is it not required for plum wine?

lemonie (author)aidancurran2012-01-16

Hi man. I don't know about the stones but I think they would be harmless.
I don't advise on tannin-flavour other than that batch didn't have enough.
Degassing I've never done (as a manual-process over letting the brew stand) and it doesn't seem necessary to me...


aidancurran (author)lemonie2012-01-19

Thanks for the reply.

I ended up removing the stones after searching more online and reading that they could cause bitterness. But if I do it again next year, I think I'll try without removing them as it's a bit of a pain.

I used a cup of strong tea made with 4 teabags so we'll see if that covers the tannins... I've read that the tea tannin is not like the grape tannin. I have some oak chips too which are also a source of tannin so might add those as well at a later stage.

I will update my progress/results on my blog (, so bookmark it and check back in a year or so for the results!


lemonie (author)aidancurran2012-01-19

Oak eh, that could be interesting, thanks.


AnnKenny (author)2012-01-19

Okay, here I am confused. We used no sugar for the first fermentation process (in the barrel) half the sugar for the second fermentation (transferring from barrel to demijohns - when do we get to use the rest of it? And, do you put the campden tablet in each bottle when you bottle the wine, or when straining the wine for a 3rd? time into demijohns?

lemonie (author)AnnKenny2012-01-19

Step 4: the sugar naturally present in the plums and the grape-juice concentrate.
Step 5: granulated sugar
(missing step): add the rest later after most of the first has fermented - I'll update later this month.

Well done for spotting that after so many years.


AnnKenny (author)2012-01-14

Thanks - I'll know for the next batch. I poured the water off for this one. Actually as the plums had been frozen and I didn't check that they had completely defrosted the water unfortunately wasn't all that hot on the plums for all that long. I had cleaned and washed the plums before I froze them though. I am up to the stage where I have added the yeast and nutrients and stirring 2x a day - which I started about 24 hours ago. It didn't bubble and froth yesterday, but this morning there was a red frothy layer on top which I stirred back in. Should I keep the snap-on lid slightly off, if I have an air lock set up in the top?

lemonie (author)AnnKenny2012-01-14

The air-lock will do, or just don't snap the lid completely.


AnnKenny (author)2012-01-12

As a complete newbie to winemaking, with a surfeit of plums I don't have room for in the freezer, I am a little confused with the water thing. Can you tell me why you need to pour off the boiled water and pour away all the lovely juice that has come out of the plums by pouring boiled water on them and steeping them until it is cool?

lemonie (author)AnnKenny2012-01-13

You don't need to pour the water off, but I treat this as a "hot-wash" in with the cooking / sterilisation.


psims1 (author)2011-08-25

OK how many gallons do this make please

lemonie (author)psims12011-08-25

What you see, 1 gal demis.


chuckr44 (author)2007-09-20

Is the purpose of a fermentation lock to let air out but not let air in? Could I use a balloon if I don't have a real ferm. lock?

rbowlin7 (author)chuckr442011-08-22

hate to burst your bubble but I've tried several different types of balloons instead of the vapor lock, TASTED HORRIBLE, and smelled just as bad as it tasted, don't know why but I really hated to waste some great pear wine, 2 batches down the drain
you'll have better luck with the vapor lock

lemonie (author)chuckr442007-09-20

The lock is there to stop crap getting the brew. This includes dust, insects, air-borne bacteria etc. It ovviously has to let gas out while the brew is fermenting. Balloons also work, as past a certain pressure they will vent, but they close up at low internal pressure. L

mol1961 (author)2010-09-22

Great post! Thanks!!!

MUKKI (author)2010-09-09

Hi Lemonie,
I have just got my first batch of plum wine into the demijohn for the Stage 6 fermentation. The demijohn is half filled and was wondering if it is possible to making another batch of plum mash and then add it to the existing batch and let them both complete stage 6 for 5-6 week?

Also, during the stage 4 fermentation of my first batch the yeast clumped the fruit pulp together for the first 4 days, but on the 5th day the clumps of fruit and yeast sank to the bottom of the tub. Is this ok or do I have a bad batch?


lemonie (author)MUKKI2010-09-11


you could add more, I've done things like this, but I'd advise you brew them separately and blend the finished wines (if they taste right for it, you leave yourself options like that).

Step 4 image note says "clumpy", reminding me that mine did the same yeast/fruit thing as yours.


wenpherd (author)2010-05-14

You might have been asked this before but, what is the alcohol content?

lemonie (author)wenpherd2010-05-14

It was a long time ago, but ~12% v/v. It's proportional to the sugar concentration, a good wine-yeast and 3.5Lb within a gallon (imperial) done right and you're getting towards 20%


stephenniall (author)2010-01-24

Ahh A dual airlock ! i got given some wine making stuff a few weeks ago and have only just Got round to researching what some of it is . Its a good idea just add water and go !

AldousHuxley (author)2009-09-12

Please help a newbie (that's me) out: I am unclear from the instructions how much water to add (and when) in order to fill the 2 gallon jugs at the end (or am I misunderstanding that part?). If I follow correctly you end up with ~3L of water, but somehow you're filling 2 1-gallon containers, correct? Please advise... Otherwise love the instructions and am looking forward to utilizing all of these wild plums I have! :)

lemonie (author)AldousHuxley2009-09-12

Step 3 - ~3L of cold water, but consider that there's also the juice in the plums which adds more volume, this is what ends up in one glass container. There's a bit more liquid added in step 5 with the sugar. I had two of these because I did it twice (separately, about a week apart). Note the comment below: grape tannin would improve the balance of flavour. L

Countrywines (author)lemonie2009-11-03

Hi, I've made plum wine for several years now and have figured out a great recipe. Basically it is similar to what you have posted but i used white grape juice concentrate instead of red, and reduced the amount of plums per gallon by 1/2 lb. Then added 1/2 lb of white raisens per gallon as a substitute. I ran all my fruit either through a blender or a grinder. The result was terrific fruity flavors! I think the white raisens filled in the blank as far as the tannins and added more body to the wine overall. It's something to try if you want. i also used Distilled water not tap water. I also used Lalvin ICV-D47 (Côtes-du-Rhône) yeast which allowed ripe spicy aromas with tropical notes develop.

lemonie (author)Countrywines2009-11-03

I'd agree with the raisins, sound recipe. This was experimental, and I like my tap water.


seraphus (author)2009-09-03

Great how-to. I was thinking about writing one for my own plum wine that I just made. My recipe: 3.5 lbs yellow plums (cal native, found in the hills, more acidic than normal) 1.5 lbs sugar 1tbsp grape tannin Used sodium metabisulfite instead of campden tablet, and Lavin K1-V-1116 Montpellier yeast to gun for a more fruity flavor. In the past I've used drier yeasts that wiped out the fruit flavor. (Champaign yeast is the worst for that) It also dominates the heck out of any wild yeast that might sneak through. Woot. I'm hoping for good results, as I just had to pour out 5 gallons of fig wine that got tainted somehow. (sadness)

lemonie (author)seraphus2009-09-03

Sounds good (campden tablets are sodium metabisulfite) - grape tannin is something I didn't have. Hope it gets to the stage of being drunk! L

xerxesx20 (author)2009-05-06

Good to see that the art of home-brewing is still alive! I too am a brewer. Ah, very nice looking I bet it tastes a treat too -- what's more I don't even like plums! I have been drinking my way through my second batch of cherry wine recently, it's delicious -- fairly strong too! Also been drinking my apple wine -- first batch. This instructable is well-written, not at all misleading, easy-reading informative and just generally a piece of p*ss! This makes the fermentation of solid fruit easy to understand -- rather than the slightly easier, but less tasty and slightly wasteful method of just using store-purchased nectar -- such as my cherry brew MK Iⅈ (hangs head in shame -- I just don't have the space for a fermenting bucket really.) Another great addition to the instructables archives on the whole. :-)

bthistle (author)2009-04-09

did you cover the mix during the 5 day fermentation process? or leave uncovered?

lemonie (author)bthistle2009-04-09

It had a lid fitted, but not completely gas-tight. The thing has a 'snap-on' rim and I just didn't snap it tight all the way around


xxburton182 (author)2008-10-25

What kind of plums are you using? It only took me 20 plums to reach 4.5 pounds. Not if I did as many as you recommend it'd be twice as many pounds. Just curious.

pappaushi (author)2008-10-09

Umesha......... Here in Kyushu Umesha is actually a liquor not a wine. You can buy kits also. Plums,sugar and SHO-Chu (a 35% distilled liquor made from sweet potatoes similar to vodka.) Very tasty and potent !! Let it set 30-90 days or even 1 year. I recommend 30/90 days, no real reason for longer periods except a small gain in smoothness.

kerrybear (author)2008-09-21

I am in the process of making this right now. Needed a use for my huge crop of plums. I bought a low priced wine kit as a substitute for the grape juice concentrate. I'm going to make a second batch this week to use more plums and the rest of the grape juice.

jodean (author)2008-08-25

I am in the process of making this right know I had a ton of wild plums and the are better than any you'll find in a store. I also use tea I did it last year when I made a batch of apple wine from the tree in my front yard. I used peach, chammomile and chi spiced tea it adds so much more flavor. So I used the same in the plum we will see how it turns out.

Matt D655 (author)2008-07-17

Does it taste good?

THEM0LE (author)2008-06-01

How much wine does this make?

bootsieboots (author)2008-04-23

Oh, wow. Can I buy some from you? I understand that plums can be pretty volatile, but they're delicious enough to be worth it, aren't they? Obviously, I'm a bit of a plum nut (one of my online favorites is, but even if I'm not, I'd still say you're absolutely brilliant.

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Bio: I'm an experimentalist, a scientist and I have a tendency to do things just for the sake of doing them, or to find out ... More »
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