Category Archives: Fermenting

Plum wine: #1 – Today’s the day…

Today was the day to pull the fruit pulp bag!  Stirred the must well then tested:

  • Brix 20
  • PA 11%
  • SG 1.080
  • PH 3.2
  • Acid: 4 reactive so 1.00 the goal is .65 which would need an additional 2 tsp acid blend.  Still holding off adding more.

Washed/sanitized lid, airlock, and lip/outside of ferment bucket.

  • Snapped on lid
  • Filled airlock with sanitizer and inserted into lid

Yay!!!  We have ‘bubbling’ in the airlock.


Plum wine #2: Starter & Pitching….

The yeast starter is doing well!  To a gallon jar:

  • 1 cup water boiled and cooled to 100 degrees
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 pinches yeast nutrient

Mix well until fully disolved, then sprinkle yeast on top of mixture.  Cover jar with a paper towel and a rubber band.  Set timer for two hours.

  • Feed the yeast 1/2 cup warm water (95-100)
  • Feed 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • Feed 2 pinches of yeast nutrient

Wait another 2 hours, then repeat.  I will be doing this until 10:00 PM tonight when I will pitch into the must.

Plum Wine (Batch 2…)

This morning….time to add some of the wine ingredients.

  • 7.5 tsp acid blend
  • 3.5 tsp of yeast nutrient
  • 1.25 tsp of yeast energizer
  • .625 tsp of tannin (5 of 1/8 tsp or 5 dashes)

Mix together will small amount of cool filtered water and pitched into must, stirred well

  • 5 tsp Pectic enzyme

Stir until dissolved in small amount of cool filtered water and pitched into must, stirred well.

Next……the yeast starter.  I will be using “Premier Cote de Blancs” for this batch


Plum wine second batch started today

Our little JRT is at the vet today for dental work.   To keep myself busy, I started the second batch of Plum Wine.   As I just finished assembling the must, the vet called.  Our poor little pooch needs to have 7 (seven!!!) extractions.  He is 13 years old – which means he is 91 – the poor thing.  I am off to buy some soft food.  He will probably wish he could have some wine after today!


Plum wine:  Today’s batch

  • 28 cups of sugar added to bucket and dissolved in 8 cups boiling water
  • Place fruit bag and roughly pit and chop 30 pounds of plums
  • After 20 pounds cut, added another 6 cups of boiling water and stirred well
  • After 30 pounds cut, added 6 cups of boiling water and stirred well
  • Then added 8 cups of cold filtered water
  • Allowed the must to cool to 80 degrees
  • Crushed 5 campden tablets and dissolved in 1/4 cup filtered water.
  • Pitched into the must and stirred well
  • Finished at 1:45 PM – wait 12 hours to added Pectic enzyme and 24 hours to add yeast starter.

Good morning wine….

One of the daily check-ins you learn to do when fermenting, is to always say ‘good morning’ and ‘good-night’ to your bubbling brew!  Checking in several times to push the cap down is very important daily.

This morning the Brix is at 26, S.G. is 1.100, and PA is about 13.5%  This is good, the decreases indicate fermentation is happening.  It also is not fermenting too quickly.

Acid: was much better at .875 (3.5 reagent * .25).  Our target is .65 so still need it to adjust by .225.  This equates to adding an additional 1.5 tsp of acid blend (.225 / .15). I still am not going to add in the additional acid because I want to make sure what is already in the must is fully dissolved.  It is easy to add acid and much harder to adjust down if it is too high.

PH remains consistent at 3.2

Saturday….busy productive day….

Woke us this morning with a busy morning schedule.  My sweetie and I plan to have dinner this evening, so no working late into the evening!  First was the check on the wine must and the yeast starter.  I fed the happy yeast more sugar, warm water, and some more nutrient.  It is a strong starter so once pitched, it should soon begin to ferment the plum must.   First, however, I needed to check the specific gravity, PH, and acid.

Brix/Specific Gravity (S.G.)/Potential Alcohol (PA)

To test specific gravity, I use a tool called a hydrometer.  This tool measured the specific gravity of sugar in wine must, helping to determine the potential alcohol when finished.  Using Pearson’s Square,  I will be able to determine if I needed to increase/decrease the sugar in my must to achieve my desired finished alcohol percent.

  1. A= The current Brix (sugar content) of the must is 20, leading to a potential alcohol (PA) of 11%
  2. B= The current Brix (sugar content) of my simple sugar assembled this morning.  For every 3 cups of sugar, I dissolved it in 1.5 cups of boiled water.  This mixtures Brix is 70.
  3. C= My desired finished is a Brix of 28 with a PA of 16%

To find the part of my wine must that is ‘juice’ (D) and ‘strong syrup’ (E)

  • D= B-C   70-28=42 parts of juice
  • E= C-A.  28-20=8 parts of sugar syrup
  • D+E=Total Parts….42+8=50

To use this information, we need to equate the parts to fluid ounces.  Using proportions and ratios:

  • D= 42/50 = .84 or 84% juice
  • E= 8/50 = .16 or 16% syrup
  • .84+.16 = 1.00 or 100%

For every 128 ounces, 84% should be juice and 16% should be syrup.

  • 128*.84 = 108 oz.
  • 128*.16 =   20 oz.

For 6 gallons:  20 *6 = 120 ounces should be syrup or about 15 cups of syrup.  After adjusting,  I started with:

  • Brix of 26.5
  • SG of 1.112
  • PA of 15% (wine typically is around 12%….I like to go a little high to account for topping up as ferment/rack.


For my acid test, I use a wine makers acid text kit.  For country wines (those made from fruits other than grapes) the goal is to have a Tartaric range o .55 – .65.  When testing, the reagent is drawn into a ml syringe.  As it is added to the test tube of must, I keep track of how much was injected into the sample until it has a color change.  (For this light wine – it will turn magenta pink.)  I had to add 5 ml before the color changed.  For each ml you multiply by .25 giving the acid content in percent of tartaric.  So mine equates to 1.25  My goal is .55 – .65.  My must needs more acid per the test.  I need to add the equivalent of .60 to change my results.  Each tsp. Of acid blend, adjust .15 tartaric, so I need to add 4 tsp of acid blend.  I added to the must but will retest tomorrow when the must has had the chance to mix.


Using a basic PH strip, I tested my must and it is reading at 3.2.

Pitching the Yeast

After adjusting the must of sugar, adding acid blend, and testing PH, I pitched the yeast.  Hopefully by tomorrow morning, I will wake to fermentation in the bucket!



Wine must and Yeast Starter

So this morning the must was at 85 degrees, allowing me to add the additional ingredients.   To sterilize and kill any wild yeast naturally occurring in fruit, a sulfite agent called campden was added.  Next acid blend, tannin, yeast nutrient, and yeast energizer were mixed together in filtered water, then also added to the must.  Because campden kills wild yeast the final two ingredients must be added after the SO has dissipated.  Pectic enzyme naturally breaks down the structures of plants – so for fruit, it allows the fruit to breakdown and release more of its natural juices.  It is added 12 hours after the campden.  Finally, the wine yeast will be added 24 hours later.  If introduced too early the campden will prevent fermentation.

It is very helpful to make a yeast starter, when making wine, because the yeast can begin to work and multiply.  The allows them to be very healthy and active when pitched into the must.  Often people will sprinkle the yeast on top of their must, if the yeast is an old culture or the must balance not quite right, this can also spoil all that hard work put into preparing the entire batch of wine.  Better to have it fail outside of the must than in your must!

Part 3: Yellow plum wine…

Put 8 gallons of water on to boil.  Pitt and coarsely chop the 36 pounds of plums.  Add them to the primary fermenter where 7.5 pounds of sugar has been dissolved with 2 quarts of boiling water.  The fruit bag should be inserted and tied on the outside of the fermenting bucket.  When finished chopping plums, add enough boiled water to bring to 6 gallon marking.  Now wait for the temperature to drop to 70 degrees Fahrenheit before adding for a 6 quart batch the amounts shown in parentheses:

  1. 1.5 tsp. acid blend (9 tsp)
  2. 1 crushed Campden tablet (6)
  3. 0.75 tsp. yeast nutrient (4.5 tsp)
  4. 0.25 tsp. yeast energizer (1.5 tsp)
  5. 0.125 tsp. grape tannin (.75 tsp)

A yeast starter will be prepared and peptic enzyme will be added at that time

Next post….add ingredients and creating yeast starter….