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FARMcurious

to educate, inspire and equip the urban homesteader

Wine-making

June 22, 2010

Plum wine during the fermentation process

It certainly wasn’t easy to decide on what to do with the second five pounds of backyard plums. Turning them into delicious plum jam was the obvious choice, but since I made plum jam last year and we still hadn’t quite used it up yet I thought maybe we should try another preservation technique.

This dilemma just happened to coincide with my trip to Oak Barrel in Berkeley to discuss carrying their wine and beer kits in the store. Bernie, in his infinite patience was telling me some of the issues with making wine on a small scale – the difficulty in ordering fewer than 100 lbs of grapes, the expense of the equipment kits, etc. As I was about to leave his eyes lit up and he added that an alternative putting together big, expensive wine kits was building fruit wine kits! With fruit wine, you could make 1-gallon batches using about five pounds of fresh fruit and have minimal start-up cost. Plus, if you didn’t care much for the result, you didn’t have 5 cases of wine to choke down or bring to the dinner parties of people you don’t know well. BINGO! Not only was it the solution to my pricey wine kit problem, it was also the answer to my excess plum woes! Bernie and I put our heads together and compiled the items required to make a 1-gallon batch of fruit wine, added up the price and I was on my way. I now have a fruit wine kit for the store!!

Two nights, and the addition of a which we had left out of the original kit, later and I had the makings of plum wine. I’d been keeping an eye on my 5-year-old neighbor that evening so I put her to work helping me pit the plums, which blessedly were small enough to fit into my . After we pitted all the plums and were covered in fragrant pink nectar we set to work crushing the fruits – my little helper was a pro and really enjoyed herself. Who ever said making booze isn’t wholesome family fun??

Following Bernie’s recipe, we added water, champagne yeast, yeast nutrient, tannins and a LOT of sugar. It took the entire pound of sugar I’d included in the kit to get us close to the gravity we were looking for on the hydrometer. After all that, we set it next to the beer that’s currently fermenting in our closet and we just have to stir it twice a day for three days before we siphon it into the second jug.

I can’t wait to taste the results!

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