Plum Wine

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Introduction: Plum Wine

About: 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 what they're like. I love life, show me something I can feel good about. I've got an ...

How to homebrew wine, using plums.

Step 1: 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

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.

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

Step 3: 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

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

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"

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

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.

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    61 Discussions

    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

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

    S5033985.JPG

    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)

    L

    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.

    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.

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

    L

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

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

    L

    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?

    3 replies

    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...

    L

    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 (http://beerandgarden.com), so bookmark it and check back in a year or so for the results!

    Cheers,
    Aidan

    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?

    1 reply

    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.

    L

    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?