My bonsai orchard yielded some terrific plums, but not enough for wine. So when Safeway offered plums at $0.99/lb I jumped at the chance. Here’s how I made 12 lb of plums into a gallon of plum wine.
|Plums||5375 g (11 lb 13 oz)|
|Sugar Syrup||1250 ml (5.25 cups)|
|Water||800 ml (3.33 cups)|
|Pectic Enzyme||2 teaspoons|
|Sulfite||1 campden tablet equivalent|
If you’ve looked at other plum wine recipes, you’ll notice I’m using a lot more plums and a lot less water than most people. I’ve made plum wine the traditional way, and I liked it. It was thin, however, and rather than adding bananas, raisins, glycerin, or anything else to give it more heft I decided to just use more plums. I go into more detail about how much water I added and why in the measure and adjust section.
I’m making this plum wine a lot like you’d make a rose. One way to make rose is to juice red fruit (or fruit with red juice), and make it like a white wine. So the plan is to juice the plums, add acid (if the titratable acidity is too low) or water (if it’s too high), then pitch the yeast.
The big difference from a conventional wine from grapes comes from the sugar and acid content of plums. That will mean bigger adjustments than for a grape wine.
Juice the plums
I juiced the plums by freeze-thawing and got a 56% juice yield (3 liters from 5.375 kg). That’s a lot higher than for the apples, but I took too long to do it. It was four days from thawing the plums to getting settled juice, and by then I noticed signs of fermentation. Wild yeast or some other unwanted microcritter was helping itself to my plums, so I needed to check the infection and introduce my yeast of choice. I added sulfite immediately, and my yeast had been growing and multiplying in a starter – they should have no trouble dominating the must.
This method can work pretty well – I juiced almost twelve pounds of fruit and more than 55% juice with Ziploc bags and buckets – but you’ve got to stay on your toes. Be quick (do as I say, not as I do!), clean an sanitize thoroughly, and use sulfite.
Measure and adjust
I took the usual measurements of the juice: SG: 1.057, TA: 10 g/L, pH: 3.31. These will be off because of the infection, but it’s better to have data that’s a little off than to go in blind. I decided on a target of 1.100 for the specific gravity and 6 g/L for the titratable acidity, and used the Wine Recipe Wizard to determine the amount of water (0.8 liters) and sugar syrup (1.2 liters) I needed. Adding this to my 3 liters of juice got me 5 liters of must.
Haven’t I forgotten something?
Most of the work is done. It’s been two months, I’ve racked twice, and there is no sign of off tastes or smells. There will be some waiting while the wine clears and ages, and I’ll need to rack (and measure and taste) a time or two. I might adjust one more time, depending on how the wine tastes and what my measurements show. I expect to bottle some very nice plum wine in six to twelve months.
Oh, and the harvest from my bonsai orchard? I thought about tossing those plums in with the store-bought fruit, but I have a better idea. There may not have been enough for plum wine, but that little harvest was just right for a half-gallon of plum liqueur! I’ve made liqueur before, but haven’t talked about it on this blog before – watch for it in an upcoming post.