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Loz
02/10/2013 at 16:21

Hi, I need advise as a first time wine maker.

I'm making Elderberry wine following a River Cottage recipe. I'm at the stage where its been in a bucket, loosely covered for three days. It then says to decant into bottles/demijon for the vigourous fermenting to take place. I bought a plastic demijon from my local market. My problem is...it doesn't say to seive the berries out so, I;ve left them in, in doing so, the whole amount doesn't fit into the demi, so should I leave berries out or liquid and the lid doesn't fit and I'm not sure how the air lock works. Should I push it tight or leave it loosely on top or remove it all together. I've literally just decanted it, its full to the bim, bubbling and leaking from the lid!!! HELP!!

02/10/2013 at 16:47

it wants straining into a fermentation vessel with an airlock loz

the fermentation vessel takes a rubber bung and the airlock pushes through it. The airlock needs some water in it so the fermentation gases bubble out through the water but the air can't get in

02/10/2013 at 17:00

I would have strained it though fine muslin before putting into the demi-john.  

I don't know about plastic demi-johns - I used glass ones with plastic fermentation locks/bubble trap with a little of the camden tablet solution in it..  

The best book I know for home made wines is Drink Your Own Garden by Judith Glover - very clear explanation of simple techniques which can be adapted to make any wine, together with good illustrations of equipment.  Available via Amazon 

03/10/2013 at 17:07

The airlock is to stop any bacteria from the air getting into the wine during fermentation because if the wrong ones get in there you will get something more like vinegar. Thus it needs to be about half full of water  - sterilising solution would be fine but shouldn't be necessary if the airlock was sterilised when you sterilised the demijohn. You need the U-bend to be full  of water so that excess gas escaping from the demijohn has to bubble through it due to pressure build up inside, whilst air from outside atthe lower pressure can't bubble back through - simple but effective, the same technology that keeps smells from wafting out of your toilet and sinks!

I assumed there that you have a typical winemakers airlock like an sideways S tube. I actually hate wine so only brew beer and mostly use a different type of airlock (until the head forms which is usually enough to protect beer) with a tube up the centre and a lid with a 'curtain' concentric with the tube a outer wall - again they need to be about half full so the 'curtain' from the lid is covered, forcing escaping gas to bubble under it to get out.

The key to success with any brewing is sterilisation and cleanliness, keep the bad bacteria out and natural forces do most of the rest!

If I fail to make elderberry cordial again at the weekend (ended up with jam before) I might have to try wine next year, I guess it will be different than grape wine so maybe I'll like it...??

03/10/2013 at 17:09

Hmm, did I make it clear that the bung should be tight so the airlock is the only way for gas to get out and to stop any air getting in?

03/10/2013 at 19:01

Boater, if you use high alcohol tolerance yeast like I used to, you'll very quickly find you no longer care what it tastes like!

10/10/2013 at 17:03

Wine making should be one of the first things a gardener should learn ! It is obligatory ! Necessary !  Desireable !   Now, winemaking is simplicity itself. For blackberry, rasberry, or ANY wine  made from garden produce, it is all grist to the boozer producers heat and mill.   Roughly 3 + lbs of fruit crushed into a plassy bucket. pour boiled water over the mush, Leave it for 3 or so days,

Add some yeast nutrient, a teaspoonful for every gallon, and then add the sugar, barely 3lbs. It is just short of the weight of the fruit, as a rule of thumb. This amount keeps the wine adjustable to taste. If it's too dry, add a bit of made up syrup, just boiled water and sugar, and add to taste.

Then, after three or four days, STRAIN the stuff off into a basic fermenting bucket.Add the yeast,  just sprinkle on top.  After a ew days, and the liqquid has been bubbling away excitedly and has started to settle down, you can then , with the use of a funnel, pour it into a demijohn, up to the shoulder of the jar. 

Now, you can either go into this seriously, OR just enjoy the process. You can either go to a winemakers shop and get an airlock, ( cheap as chips ), OR you can merely stuff some coton wool, or a muslin clootie over the jar mouth, to stop any wine flies, foreign bacteria getting into the wine to be. Patience ! is the watchword. Watch it. DO NOT TOUCH IT !  LEAVE IT ALONE !! and at the end of the fermentation time, which you will know, it will stat to clear. If it doesn't, pop into your local Wilko's and get some 'finings', which has an almost miraculous clearing property. In a matter of 24 to 36 hours, your wine will be crystal clear, and virtually ready for bottling.

You get roughly, if you are VERY careful, over 5 bottles of wine, or barely 6 bottles  per gallon. Remember, you can make a decent wine out of nearly anything ! It is simply, soaking the fruit to get the flavours out of it, adding sugar, yeast nutrient, yeast and keeping it fly free by covering the top of the fermentation jar. Airlocks are for serious boozers !  All decent allotmenteers are serious boozers, bless 'em.

 

 

11/10/2013 at 16:26

Try CJ.J.Berry's book of  Wine making  it has everyything you would want to know .  The first lot of demi jons etc I bought at a jumble sale otherwise a certain large store that replaced a 'cheap' store  usually stocks everything you need  from yeast to bungs Syphons and demijons  or go online  there are many suppliers who will post   though I guess glass demijons would be a bit heavy!  good luck--  its a fascinatinfg hobby even if you dont drink  a great deal    

11/10/2013 at 16:40

If you want to produce vinegar then follow the advice to not use an airlock. Cotton wool or muslin will not keep out bacteria and will definitely not keep out oxygen both of which will spoil the wine very quickly.

11/10/2013 at 16:48

Demijohns keep appearing out of the blue. I have a collection of 'em, growing year by year, and now have about a dozen of them. Only one is coloured, brown, but for white wines, clear is OK. For red wines, just keep the jar in the dark somewhere. Like husbands or mushrooms, we like to be kept in the dark.

Bottling the wine is a good and fun time. Syphoning off the glorious ruby liquid is a celebration in itself. If you get empty wine bottles with screw tops, DO make sure that the wine is stable and fermented out, or you will have minor (or major) explosions from lively stuff spraying out over your house and carpets ! Taste it before bottling. you can always adjust the stuff to your palate. BUT, if adding to the sweetness, make sure you let it settle for a while, as it just might start up again, and then you have to leave it for another few weeks before bottling it.

11/10/2013 at 16:56

YO ! Steephill......... I've used airlocks for years, and never had vinegar, BUT to be on the safe side, I use boiled water in the lock with a camden crushed tabled in it. Nae probs, peeps

12/10/2013 at 10:00

I has occurred to me that one can make wine out of just about ANYTHING fruity ! She who must, and I, do a lot of juicing  every morning, and I have taken to using the stuff  from the hopper, popping it into a plassy bucket, and when the bucket is 3/4 full of whatever, citrus peelings, oranges, apples, banana skins, rasp and straw berries from jam making episodes, ANYTHING with a nice smell, I then top  it up with hot water, let it soak for a week, and then go through the procedure above, and call it Summer fruit' wine. It daoesn't have the usual strength, or 'body', but it IS palateble and good for taking up to t'lotty on a hot day and havig a nice swally after digging a trench to put the mess from the fruit soaking.   See ? It all comes around to replacing what has been taken. We are doing a service to mother nature. Give and so shall ye receive !   Hic !

12/10/2013 at 10:05

One of the first jobs when I retire is to clear out and organise the garage (stuff to be reclaimed by progeny or dumped) and then I'll have room to start making wine again - did it for years when the progeny were at home - even won a prize or two 

12/10/2013 at 10:25

Wor hoose is now reknowned for sending fine and upstanding members and pillars of the community, home to their respective hovels, in a state of 'dishabille' I think this is how it's spelt, and we get the dirt on the neighbours ! Mind you, they too, get the rirt on us, but we have no shame !!!

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/32340.jpg?width=752&height=350&mode=max

 Sliante !

12/10/2013 at 10:30

It's when the  nose turns red that y'gotta worry !

12/10/2013 at 10:38

I keep me trousers ON !  I am a man of mystery.

 

12/10/2013 at 12:06

I reckon the bestest wine has been a Damson in distress.  Others in close formation have been, raspberry, balckberry, and a 'rawther' whimsical Strawberry. ALL notable for their real fruitiness, full flavour and clarity.

 

12/10/2013 at 14:53

You two have started early 

12/10/2013 at 18:01

Dove, good luck with the garage clearance. I remember I had a list of When I Retire jobs. They are still just a list.

I found Mr Berry's recipes produced wines that were rather sweet. The copy we used to have showed the author's face on the cover. He certainly looked as if he enjoyed his work.

12/10/2013 at 18:09

my wine stars were oak leaf and gooseberry, both producing a secondary fermentation. 

Made rhubarb, far too sweet, ginger, rather 'medicinal'. Combined the two, still nasty so put it in the freezer til solid then strained off the non frozen part hoping for something potent, still naff.

Over all we had mostly not bad, occasionally great and even more occasionally undrinkable

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