Blackberry Wine - is it REALLY this easy??

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cc-rider, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    Just found this recipe. No yeast, no fermenting.... anyone tried it?
    I just picked TONS of wild blackberries and don't want to waste them if this isn't any good...

    Ingredients
    Sugar
    1 Gal. Water
    0.5 Peck Blackberries
    Mixing Instruction
    Combine the crushed berries withe the water in a large crock pot and allow to stand for two days. Strain and add three parts sugar for each part juice; stir, seal and allow to stand for several months.
     
  2. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    Not quite.
    There are various recipes to follow and basically they are all the same.
    There is definately FERMENTATION that takes place - that is how the naturally ocurring yeast on the blackberries convert the sugar - in the fruit and/or added sugar - to alchol resulting in wine. And carbon dioxide(CO2) is a bi product of this process.
    The CO2 is the reason that you do not seal the container before the yeast quits working or the container may explode. (Read glass handgernade here.)
    If you would like more information on wine making you or anyone can pm me to share ideas, recipes,and/or tips.
    You have the option to freeze the fresh blackberries to use at a later date
    to make what ever you want to. I do this at times due to time constraints and for other reasons.
    One reason that we make and try to keep good home made blackberry wine on hand is for digestive upset/flu/ and the like.
    doc623
     

  3. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    I'm sure MANY others would be interested too!!!! Can you share a recipe for blackberry wine? Something simple that doesn't require special equipment (or things I can't find)?

    You're right! I've been freezing my berries as I pick them so that I can save up enough to do something with! They are so tiny.... I can only pick a couple buckets at a time. :)
     
  4. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Nope, I don't think it is that easy.

    I tried that before and it was a spoiled mess. The wild yeast are not suitable for making wine from anything but grapes. It would taste flat and crappy if it did work.

    I have made wine many times from blackberries and many other fruits, including pears, apples, peaches, etc. It can be tricky and you must understand the mechanics involved and why certain things must be done.

    Mother Earth News had the basic instructions and recipe I followed, it worked every time and the wines were excellent. By definition only brews made from grapes are wines for the purists.

    Basically you need to make the juices of the fruits involved sterile. You do this with the addition of a volume of not quite boiling water. ~180 F will do, boiling or much higher will set the pectins and make a cloudy wine that you probably can't clear. The juice is added directly. The pulp is put in a bag, the toe end of a nylon works good and thrown into the pot.

    Then sugar is added once the mix has cooled. No fruits will have enough sugar to have much kick. You can also add raisins. You use a hydrometer to add the sugar and predict the alcohol level. It is super important to adjust the Ph. They make a wine test kit with little test strips. You add something like citric acid to get it into the right range. Then in a large open container, regular wine dry yeast is added to the top to start the primary fermentation. All occurs in a few hours. Can't have any wild yeast getting in. You stir daily, the pulp forms a crust and floats.

    It will kick off in 24 hours and bubble like crazy with CO2 release. That continues until the bubbles on the top show decrease in activity enough to transfer it into sealed containers with water wine locks installed. That is the secondary phase and it continues for months.

    Isn't ready for about a year to bottle. Must be racked several times to clear it. Young fruit wines give a horrible pounding headache and your tongue will feel like it is growing grass but can be sampled by Xmas of that year. Experience says best mixed with 7 -Up. Takes about 3 years to be a bit mellow. Can't hurry the process. Seven year stuff is might fine. Can get 14% booze fairly easy. With the right yeast can approach 18%.

    The wines from pear, peaches, etc can taste like liquors. Have a bit of syrup feel to them.

    I don't think the original claim can be true. So many things have to happen. The yeasts naturally occuring in fruits is totally unsuitable for making wine. Must be killed and a good (usually dry wine yeast) subsituted.

    I forgot a few things when I moved. The last jug of my old pear wine in the basement was one of those things. Would be nice to make some blackberry again. I also made combo wines. Raspberry, blackberry, elderberry, etc. You crush and juice the fruits, freeze it to get enough over a time period to make a batch.

    I have served many people blackberry wine but they could not see the bottle and asked them what it was in terms of winery. Nobody ever got it correct. All claimed it was some sort of grape wine, none ever said it was home made. A number would not believe you when told the truth, especially if they claimed to be some sort of tasting expert.
     
  5. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    I'll be glad to share what I know.
    You can make blackberry/fruit wine with little or no special equipment.
    You can use old world or modern techniques.
    Before the techniques a few basic considerations.
    The first is sanitation.
    You and your equipment must be clean.
    The glass containers either for fermentation or storing or making wine has to be clean.
    Do not clean with dish or other soap or chlorox as this will have a residue and impart an off taste to the wine. Hot water and a commercial sanatizer at about $5.00 per bottle of 100 tablets - follow directions on the lable.

    Old world technique uses the existing yeast and sugars with some added sugar.
    The modern technique uses campdon tablets to kill the existing natural yeast, bacteria,fungus, and etc that is normally found on the fruit. Then a yeast is added to the mixture.
    Getting the horse before the cart.
    1. Pick fruit.
    2. Clean fruit by rincing with cold water and drain. Requires about two pints/gal.
    3.Crush/blend fruit and place in an open crock.
    4. Add enough water to make approx. a gallon..
    5.a. If modern - now add curshed campdon tablets and let sit for 48 hours.
    5.b. If using the old world way add water to make a gallon and add sugar.
    Sugar - add 2#/gallon. Daily for about 2 weeks skim off the top layer of the open crock and discard. At the end of the first two weeks strain thru a clean new cheese cloth and put into a clean gallon glass jug. Check for taste and add more sugar to suite. Add water to the neck. Atach a stopper/cork fitted with a bubbler to the jug. Wait till the mixture quites bubling and give another 2-4 weeks stored is a cool dark place. At the end of that time you can siphon off the wine and bottle and cork it.
    6. The modern method is similar.
    a. Crush fruit and add enough water to make one gal.
    b. Put into a clean galss jug and add camdon tablet(s).
    c. Wait 48 hours.
    d. Introduce selected yeast packet - approx $.50-.75
    e. Add sugar same recommendations.
    f. Add cork with bubbler and leave for 2-4 wks.
    g. Siphon off into a clean glass jug. Not necessary but some people do anyway.
    h. Leave until quits bubbling and give another 4-6 weeks before botteling and corking.
    The longer you let the wine age the smoother it gets due in part to secondary fermentation due to maleolactic fermentation.
    These are tha basics without getting into too much details and the whys and wherefores.
    Questions? Tips? Recipes? Comments? Constructive critisims?
    This was hurried and hope I didn't leave out anything.
    If someone else has anything else to add feel free.
    doc623
     
  6. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    Well, for those who'd like to make something easy, try brandy! I've been successfully (and easily) making it for a few years now. Here goes;

    In a clean ceramic or glass container layer about 3 inches of fruit with a covering of about 1/2 cup of sugar. Keep layering until about 2 inches from the top of the container. Cover with plastic wrap held on by a rubber band. This is for expansion. Store in a dark, cool place for 4 months. Strain and proceed to get all liquored up! If I'm out of dark places, I just put the whole thing in a paper bag, tape it shut then label the bag with contents and the date I can start drinking it.

    Measurements DO NOT have to be exact or even close. I have successfully made gallons of raspberry, blackberry, peach and grape brandy. It keeps forever. Whenever 1/2 gallon canning jars are on sale, I buy them for making brandy. Keep the box they come in and you already have a dark place for them.

    Good luck!
     
  7. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    Let me make sure I have this right....

    I put two pints of berries in an open crock, and enough water to make 1 gallon. Can the "crock" be plastic? Can it set on my kitchen counter or will it smell bad and attract bugs?

    Can the water be warm so the sugar dissolves better?

    Is there a difference in taste between the oldworld and the modern ways? Is one better than another?

    So, to that 1 gallon of stuff in the crock, I add 2 pounds of sugar. Pounds as in actual weight, or 2 pints? Or is it the same?

    Where can these be purchased? Can they be made?

    Thanks for your help!!!!! I laugh that this first picking of blackberries is costing me $112,000!!!!! After that, they are free. That's why I don't want to mess this up!

    Chris
     
  8. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    That sounds interesting, too. And easy.

    I don't drink. I just thought it would be "cool" to make something with the first fruits of our new home. Maybe brandy is the way to go? Does it taste different from wine? (I know...that's probably a stupid question, but like I said... I don't drink). I think I'd prefer something sweet... is wine or brandy sweeter?

    Sorry to sound so stupid. :eek:
     
  9. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    Sorry...just thought of something else.

    The wine recipe calls for only 2 pints of berries to 1 gallon of water. I assume that makes a gallon of wine.

    That same 2 pints of berries will yield LESS than 2 pints of brandy.... is that right?
     
  10. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    I'm not much of drinker either. But, like you, I wanted everything I produced to be used. I like a bit of brandy every now and again.

    Brandy will be a bit sweeter and thicker than regular wine. But, I do not find a huge difference myself.
     
  11. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    There are a lot of details that can be addressed, however for the beginner it is best to stick with the basics.
     
  12. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    2 quarts. Being quart basket
     
  13. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup but you must understand the basics. Without the ability to do the basic measurements I think somebody is pulling my leg. Without a hydrometer and ability to do Ph, you have more an "accident in motion" than on the way to a prize. Duh, are you trying to make a sweet or dry wine?? What do you think its final characterics might be???

    Most wild fruit yeasts are going to have very poor alcohol resistance. Even many of the best natural wine yeasts can't get much over 6 - 7%. Most beers brewers yeast peak out around 5%. Low alcohol wines are pretty bland tame stuff.

    I have been to my share of wine tastings with home brews. Most was not going to win any prizes. Lot of tame, bad tasting stuff even if you were half buzzed. The best stuff was made the general way I describe.

    I even tried growing my own grapes. Got the varieties suited for New England. Was a rather poor stuff, even after many tries, including adjusting sugars and Ph. Tried making brandies. Again no great results. They had a Hell of a lot of kick but lost their taste. We did figure out how to "back splice" them with an appropriate juice as a mixed drink.

    Remember wine making is both an art and science and the majority of folks, including the commercial winery, comes up short in the results more often than not. Lots of mediocre wines produced by the professional folks and sold as "House Wines". Some of those local French and Italian wines you can use as paint remover. :bash:

    If this was as easy as being bandied about the World would be flooded with Great Wines. I would have to quaff a glass to really judge but a home brew made from a "Recipe" would not get me driving many miles for the experience.

    Some spend their entire life and make a form of moonshine. I would not admit to having done that, but will say, I have seen it done. :D
     
  14. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    The best way to learn is to jump in and have at it.
    Any other questions?
     
  15. tsdave

    tsdave Grand Marshal

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    http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/030206possum/030206ch12.html

    ""We're so isolated we can hardly get the necessities of life, and when we do, why half the time it ain't fit to drink" (old Appalachian saying).

    I grew up to the music of a merrily gurgling still and can flatly state that if you use just a little common sense, "it" will always be at least fit to drink and perhaps even excellent."
     
  16. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Well, Cosmic is right, but we aren't half as patient as him. Which means we drink the wine at a younger age, some as early as 4 months, but most at about 6-9 months. And do use good yeast instead of depending on the wild stuff. It just tastes so much better.

    I must say that I do use campden tablets, a pectin enzyme, as well as citric acid and other small amounts of additives depending on the recipe. They are cheap and help me make a really good product. Last year my elderberry wine served on Christmas Eve was very well-received. So much so that I have 3 gallons percolating now. I make it dry. Now my mixed fruit wine (banana, apple, raisin) with a couvee yeast was only liked by those who enjoy the bubbles and sweetness. It was an experiment with fruit I was gifted with and wanted to use quickly before it over-ripened.

    Edited to add: I like the Montrachet dry yeast with the elderberry and blackberry wines. Sells for under $1.25 I think.

    Cosmic-is there a publication on home winemaking you would recommend? I used to get Zymurgy for homebrewing many years ago, but am less familiar with the wine making ones.
     
  17. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    People buy yeast because it gives the same results every time.

    Wild yeast is different every year: there is a great deal of variation.
    You MIGHT get good results, and you might not.
     
  18. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    BCR, the best practical guide to wine making not using grapes was that article in Mother Earth News. Called something like "Lets make blackberry wine". In the issue maybe somewhere between #30 - 50. I still have it but all that stuff is still not unpacked as am redoing the house. Might be able to find it on line or somebody might have the back issues.

    The fine points are you must have a hydrometer, know your start points, know what you want to make and have very repeatable procedures that mirror the normally accepted practices. Non-grape wines all need to be measured and corrected for Ph. It is one of the prime ways to tune to your tastes. Good practice is to keep a notebook on each batch, so if you like a result it can be repeated. Even one year is a bit early to be sipping, especially if you are swinging some good alcohol content.

    Montrachet dry yeast is a nice one, should be able to get up to 14% alcohol. With some of the Spanish heavy wine yeasts can get close to 18%. Best if you can get local where they have been kept refridgerated. I never used any sulfites or tablets, never attempted to halt the process using crude tasting methods.

    Most home brew wine from grapes will be pokey, unless you can get the prime grape bred for the purpose from a prime region. The fruit wines can be just super. I especially liked the peach and pear. I came to the conclusion grape wines where not worth the effort, quality was difficult to achieve with what I had available.

    Drinking any wine too soon does have another risk. You are exposed to all the fusil oils, phenols, weird acids inherent in the process of making booze. Without a proper aging those nasties don't get properly nulled out. If you regularly drink good quantities will be hard on your esophagus and stomach. Bad wines can be hard on you, but a person can adapt and acquire a taste.
    Maybe explains some of the claims. :D
     
  19. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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  20. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    There are many ways to make wine, but all of them use the same process or it does not become wine.

    Sanitation; If "foreign" bacteria get ahead of the yeast it spoils. This means that you need to keep the process clean, introduce wine yeast to the mix as early as possible and in as great quantity as is practical. To do this I wash the fruit, sometimes scald it (peaches) before peeling. I scald or otherwise sterilize my brewing vat (5 gallon buckets) and I sterilize my bottles before bottling.

    Yeast; I use packets of wine yeast from a commercial source. To multiply I boil potatos, save the potato water and add a bit of sugar. I then put the yeast in this mix when lukewarm and let it ferment overnight, greatly multiplying the yeast to be added to my wine. For peach wine I use champagne yeast, and I do add the commercial yeast nutrient. The yeast is prepared a day before I start the wine.

    Sterilizing; I sterilize vats/buckets with a chlorox mix, rinsing them with hot water multiple times afterward. Bottles are washed with dishwasher detergent and boiling water and rinsed well. Just before bottling I put a cup of grain alcohol in the first bottle, shake it and then pour in the next and so on until all the bottles are sterile. I do not use the campden tablets as they contan sulphur and some people are allergic to wine with sulphur.

    Once all is ready I pour the fruit and water into a fermenting vat, add sugar, more or less depending on the wine I want, seal it with a water seal or a piece of plastic and let it work until done. If it is in a bucket I generally remove it to one of the bottled-water jugs (the 5 gallon kind) and set it in a dark place for a while, up to a year. I bottle it whenever I get around to it.

    For those of you with no real equipment, a clean 5 gallon plastic bucket with a dry-cleaner's plastic shirt protector held over it with rubber bands works great. Just loop together rubber bands until you have a long enough chain to go around the bucket and hold the plastic tight against the bucket. Then punch a pinhole in the plastic. When the yeast works the plastic will bulge upward with the carbon dioxide being generated. When the plastic goes flat again and sags you will know the fermentation is over. The yeast may have exhausted the sugar in the fruit mix or it may have reached a high alcohol concentration and died. If you have the float to test you will know. Otherwise you taste.

    Yeasts die at different alcohol concentrations. Champagne yeast dies at around l4%. If you slip a straw or a tube into the mix and withdraw a bit to taste and it is "weak" you can generally restart the fermentation by adding some sugar. I like a sweet wine, so I generally add enough sugar that the wine reaches max alcohol before it uses up the sugar.

    When I bottle it the wine never comes out even with the bottles, so any extra goes in an old gallon communion wine bottle. This sits on the kitchen counter until it is all gone. Got one there now been there for months. The bottled wine does not last so long because the sisters in law and my wife's little old lady friends are fond of it.

    Like crops everywhere some years are not as good as others but this last batch was super.
    Ox