Strawberry Country Wine

When asked to host a fermentation demo for Suzie’s Farm‘s 2013 Strawberry Jam here in San Diego, I had to think about all the ways strawberries are preserved. The most obvious is, well, preserves. Since that does not involve fermentation, that was a non-starter.

WINE, ambrosia, food of the gods! I watched Sandor Katz make a wild fermented country strawberry wine (i.e. he did not use a starter) at one of his wonderful workshops. So we started our own batch (using wine yeast, though) this year. The total process took about 7 months, and we got 30 bottles from the batch.

We even entered it into the 2014 San Diego County Fair. As of press time, the judging has not been done yet, but our fingers are crossed!

The wonderful Curds and Wine store in San Diego generously provided all the equipment and supplies to make the wine. They carry everything you need (including the rack space if you don’t have room in your house– see pic below) to make the good stuff– wine and cheese!


Strawberry Country Wine
Author: 
Recipe type: Wine
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 6 gallons
 
Ingredients
  • 18-20 lbs. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 package active dry wine yeast
  • 12 lbs. organic sugar
  • Campden tablets
  • 3 Tbsp. citric acid
  • Filtered water (up to 6 gallons)
  • 5 tsp. Yeast nutrient
  • 2 tsp. Wine tannins
  • 1 Tbsp. pectic enzyme
EQUIPMENT
  • 7-gallon bucket with tight-fitting lid and airlock
  • Hydrometer
  • 6-gallon carboy (glass or plastic)
  • Mesh bag
  • Long (2-3 feet) spoon
  • Sampling siphon (18-inch)
  • Auto-Siphon (2 feet)
  • Rubber tubing (3-4 feet)
  • No-rinse powder cleanser
  • 30 wine bottles and corks
  • Wine corker (borrow one!)
Instructions
Making Must
  1. Day 0: Sanitize all equipment (bucket, lid, airlock, spoon, mesh bag) using a solution of no-rinse powder cleanser mixed in water (1 Tbsp. per gallon).
  2. Remove green tops from strawberries (if using fresh). Mash berries with clean hands or a potato masher.
  3. If using frozen berries, defrost in filtered water over low heat. Mash berries while in water.
  4. Make simple syrup by dissolving sugar into a gallon (or more) of filtered water using your largest cooking pot (a stockpot is best). Heat the water over low heat to hasten the sugar dissolving.
  5. If using fresh berries, add mashed berries to mesh bag. If using frozen/thawed, strain berries into mesh bag over 7-gallon bucket. Tie off mesh bag tightly and add to bucket.
  6. Cool syrup down to body temperature (100°F/38°C) and add to bucket.
  7. Top off bucket with filtered water up to 6 gallon mark.
  8. Add wine tannins, citric acid (to lower pH), campden tablets (crushed), pectic enzyme (for clarity) and yeast nutrient. Stir contents together.
  9. When mixture has cooled to 85°F/29°C, “pitch” the yeast by sprinkling on top of mixture. You don’t need to stir it in.
  10. Seal lid tightly and store in a cool (68°F/20°C is ideal) spot for one week.
Fermentation
  1. You will start to see bubbling in the airlock in a day or so.
  2. Day 7: In one week, open the lid, and take a specific gravity reading. Sanitize the hydrometer and sampling siphon in a solution of the no-rinse powder cleanser. Fill the sampling siphon, then carefully place the hydrometer into the siphon. It will float to the level indicating the specific gravity of the solution. Take note of the reading.
  3. With clean hands (rinse in the solution), remove the mesh bag, squeezing as much liquid as you can back into the bucket. There will only be pulp left. Discard and wash mesh bag.
  4. Snap and seal lid onto the bucket tightly.
  5. Day 30: In 3-4 weeks, check the specific gravity again using the hydrometer. Once it reaches 0.99, then all the sugars have been consumed and it is ready to rack (transfe to a carboy).
Racking
  1. Sanitize the carboy, auto-siphon, airlock, stopper, and rubber tubing in a solution of no-rinse powder cleaner.
  2. Carefully transfer the wine from the bucket into the carboy. Stop a few inches before you reach the bottom of the bucket to leave the lees (the gunk which has settled to the bottom of the bucket).
  3. Fill carboy up to neck. If not enough wine, top off with a bottle of finished white wine.
  4. Place a stopper with an airlock attached to the full carboy.
  5. Day 120: In 4 months, replace the airlock/stopper with a solid stopper (so the airlock does not dry out or get moldy.
  6. Bottling
  7. Day 150: Remove the stopper from the carboy.
  8. Prepare Sanitize the bottles, corks, auto-siphon and rubber tubing with a solution of no-rinse powder cleaner.
  9. Transfer the contents of the carboy into bottles. Use a wine corking machine (best to borrow one!) to place corks in the wine bottles.
  10. Once all the bottles are filled, store them at least a month in a cool, dry place (to get past “bottle shock”)
  11. Day 180: Enjoy your wine!

 

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