Do you grow fruit on your homestead and are not sure what else you can do with it? Has your family eaten enough of it that they are ready for it to go out of season? Are you jammed and jellied out? Why not try wine making? In this post, I’ll take you through step 2 in the fruit wine making process, which is starting the first ferment. ( Didn’t catch step 1? Read it here.)
Wine making is such a worthwhile way to use the extra fruit we grow or buy at the store. It’s a super easy way to use 4lbs of ripe fruit that you don’t want to go to waste!
The cool thing is that you can use pretty much any fruit that you grow (with the exception of citrus maybe). I’ve used strawberries, figs, cactus fruit, melon, grapes, mixed berries, and probably more that I can’t remember. Knowing the wine you are giving as a gift, sharing with your friends and family, or sipping on in your leisure time came from your own land and hands is priceless!
In this post, I’ll show you how to prepare the fruit wine mash for the first ferment, and start the brewing process. I am required to let you know that the links for products following this paragraph are affiliate links. You don’t have to shop through them, but you definitely can. If you do, Stone Family Farmstead gets a few dollars, which helps us to continue to offer free content to you. Thank you for your support!
What you will need
If you haven’t yet purchased all of the items on this list, head over to this post for the complete list, where most all of the below items are explained and linked.
8 quart stock pot
Star San (spray bottle optional)
12-16 cups water (tap is fine, i usually start with 12 and add more later in the process if needed; either way is fine)
sugar, 3-1/2 lbs
fresh or thawed fruit, 4 lbs (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
yeast nutrient, 1 tsp
pectic enzyme, 1/2 tsp
acid blend, 2 tsp
tannin powder, 1/8-1/2 tsp
campden tablets, 2
dry wine yeast (1 packet, I used Montrachet)
2 gallon fermenting bucket with lid
hydrometer and test jar
long handled spoon
How to make the wine mash, step by step
This process will be completed over 2-3 days, depending on how quickly your sugar water cools to room temperature. These instructions will assume that your sugar water cools completely the same day, and that you complete steps 1-14 the first day.
- Measure and add water to stock pot, cover, and bring to a simmer.
- Stir in your sugar and make sure it dissolves completely.
- Remove sugar water from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Sanitize your fermentation bucket, lid, airlock, long handled spoon, mesh bag, measuring cup (any size), potato masher, hydrometer and test jar. Allow to dry completely.
- Pour sugar water into the fermentation bucket.
- Chop your fruit into small pieces (if using fresh fruit).
- Add your fruit to the mesh bag and tie off the bag.
- Crush fruit with your potato masher or very clean hands to extract as much juice you can from the fruit.
- Submerge mesh bag with fruit into the mash.
- With the measuring cup, fill the test jar with liquid. Float the hydrometer in the test jar liquid, and allow it to stop bobbing before you take the reading. Normal start gravity readings are 1.070-1.090, unless you are making a sweet wine. Write this number down where you will remember. You will be taking gravity readings at various times throughout the wine making process.
- Pour the mash that you used from the test jar back into the rest of the liquid.
- Crush one campden tab between two spoons, and stir the powder into the mash with your sanitized long handled spoon. Snap the lid on the bucket tightly.
- Disassemble the airlock to fill to the line with water, then reassemble.
- Pop the airlock into the hole in the lid of your fermentation bucket. Wait 24 hours for the mash to be sanitized.
Day 2 (24 hours later)
- Sanitize a 1 cup measuring cup, a quart jar, and a spoon and allow to dry.
- Remove the airlock and lid from the fermentation bucket.
- Transfer 1 cup of liquid from the bucket to the quart jar.
- Pour the full packet of yeast into the quart jar and stir with your sterilized spoon.
- Cover with plastic wrap and a rubber band and wait 1-3 hours, or until it bubbles. Cover fermentation bucket until the next step.
- When your yeast is bubbly, reopen your fermentation bucket and pour in your yeast mixture.
- Add your yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, acid blend, and tannin.
- Stir with your sanitized spoon, making sure all powder is dissolved.
- Add the lid and airlock back to the bucket.
- Stir daily with a sanitized spoon for 7 days.