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Elderberry wine help

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by efoyt, Sep 29, 2008.

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  1. efoyt

    efoyt Member

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    Hello, I am a first time wine maker. I planted elderberry tree's two years ago. And I got just enough this year for a small batch. I haven't bought all the fancy things I will need to use to make wine in the future so I used a basic recipe for my first run.

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4515073_homemade-elderberry-wine.html

    No yeast, just sugar and sitting in a crock.

    Anyway I followed this process on Saturday night and my concoction isn't bubbling yet. When should I get bubbles???

    I have the Glass top to the Crock over it not plastic wrap. Should I use plastic wrap?

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  2. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Wild yeast can give you a bad brew with nasty alcohol flavors. Relying on wild yeast will take a long time to start fermentation and it needs to be uncovered so the yeast can get at it. I suggest buying a packet of wine yeast and pitch it to the brew and cover.
  3. efoyt

    efoyt Member

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    If i add yeast should I try and make it air tight after? And any special kind of Yeast. Is it OK that I make it last Saturday and I'm adding yeast today? I'm a newbie at this.
  4. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    By boiling it and putting it in a crock you've done 2 things- killed the wild yeast, and removed oxygen. Yeast need oxygen in the first stages of propagation- they use it all up. If the brew is not exposed to air- it won't have oxygen or much wild yeast to start the process. When I homebrewed- I'd swirl the wort in the carboy to add oxygen before adding my yeast starter- this stuff would be rockin in a few hours- big time. Adding the yeast that you want early outcompetes the wild yeast.

    If I was you- I'd get some wine yeast and pitch it ASAP. Covering with saran wrap is sort of weird- the CO2 the process will make will blow it off there. If it's a narrow mouth bottle- then just put a baggie over it so that yeast isn't falling in. Otherwise the plate should work- it will just burp as CO2 builds up.
  5. tnroadkill

    tnroadkill Member

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  6. efoyt

    efoyt Member

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    I added Wine Yeast last night. Great link to another great forum thanks I'll use that site as I move forward in this process. Also might ask some more questions here as it seams like their are some people here that know what they are talking about. I'll post if it all works out.
  7. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    If you've gone to the brewing store to get wine yeast, then next time around you might also
    consider adding some yeast nutrient and some sort of metibisulfate product, which will kill most
    wild yeasts and bacteria before you add the yeast. Of course, the heating of the 'must' (unfermented wine)
    such as you did already accomplished that.

    I'm also trying elderberry wine this year. I used a ratio of 2 pounds of sugar and 4 pounds
    of berries per 1 gallon of water. Good luck!
  8. efoyt

    efoyt Member

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    I did buy Sodium Metabisulfite ( Cosby and Baker ). I got it thinking it was a cleaner but I am finding that it is much more. More of a sanitizer. I'm going to sanitize my bottles with it after washing with soap and water. Do you know how much to use to wash with, their are no directions on the bottle. Also should I treat my wine with it before bottling. I didn't think I would have enough berries to make wine this year so I was very unprepared both in equipment and knowledge. Also would you share your recipe with me? And how did you get the juice out of your berries? Juicer, press, by boiling?
  9. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I'm mainly a homebrewer, so the whole wine making thing is something I have dabbled in very little.
    To make the wine, I first took the berries and froze them. This does two things.. it helps you "roll"
    the berries off of the little stems, and it also releases the juice in the berries by breaking down the
    cell walls. BTW, you don't want to have any stem material in the must.. chew on one and you'll find out why.
    They taste awful and they leave a waxy residue on your fermenter that is near impossible to get off.

    I put everything together at a ratio of 4 pounds of berries and 2 pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of room temperature
    water. Everything went into two clean and sanitized 5 gallon buckets with a plastic sheet held over the top
    with a rubber band. I added 1 gram of sodium metibisulfate per gallon of must. This creates a sulfur gas which
    purges wild yeasts and bacteria. After 24 hours (to wait for the sulfur gas to dissipate) I pitched a packet of wine
    yeast into each bucket. After 10 days, I just took the wine and racked it (transferred it) into a sanitized 5 gallon
    glass carboy. I slightly mashed the berries that were left behind a little with a potato masher to get some more of
    the juice.

    Adding a little more metibisulfate at bottling time will help to stabilize the wine, and kill the wine yeast in case you
    want to add any more sugar/honey/etc at bottling time to sweeten up the flavor a bit. (That's entirely up to you).
    A little trick with bottling: Soak your cleaned bottles overnight in a solution of 1/3 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water (approximately).
    Drain them, but don't rinse them. Put a little square of tin foil on the top and put them on the shelf until bottling day.
    When you're ready to bottle, pull the foil off, and rinse the inside well with hot water. You will have a clean, sterile bottle
    to put your wine in. It saves a lot of time on bottling day, and the bleach makes a way better sanitizer than metibisulfate..
    Bleach is also better at removing stains on bottles.

    good luck!
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I'm a mead maker (honey wine) and I tend towards the minimal artificial ingredients end of things, but a few comments...

    1. Some people are sensitive / allergic to sulfites - I've known asthmatics who claim they trigger attacks, and other people who say that sulfites give them headaches, and / or worse hangovers... If you feel you must use them, keep them to a minimum... I used to, but after I found how much better stuff tasted without them, I no longer do so. On the mead lists there are lots of comments from people who report far less after effects when drinking sulfite free mead as compared to sulfited mead or wine...

    2. You don't EVER want to make an actively fermenting container air-tight - this is a fancy way of saying "bomb"! However while you must allow the CO2 produced by the yeast to escape, it is equally important to keep out excess oxygen and potentially contaminating wild yeasts and bacteria. Covering an open fermenter with a cloth is the bare minimum, what I think is better is to seal the container and use a fermentation lock. If using a plastic bucket, use the lid, drill a small hole in the lid and put a rubber grommet in the hole, with the stem of the lock in the hole in the grommet. If using carboys, use a stopper with a hole.

    3. For carboys do NOT use plastic water cooler jugs - they aren't oxygen proof, and there is some suspicion that the plastic may leach nasty stuff into the brew. Either use GLASS carboy's or PET plastic carboys made by an outfit called "Better Bottle" (I like the latter as they are much lighter and easier to move around than glass)

    4. Make friends with your local brew supply shop, lots of advice and help there.

    5. When looking online for advice, avoid the generic "help on everything" type forums, and look for a specialist in brewing the type of thing you are after. Your link only took me to the home page, but from the other replies it sounded like the advice they gave would give a marginal product at best. There has been a huge amount of progress in brewing science the last few years, and while doing it "Ye Olde Fashionede Waye" sometimes gave good results, but often also made vinegar, doing it with modern science and techniques can consistently produce stellar results...

    6. If using corked bottles, invest in a "floor corker" as opposed to a hand held lever corker - a floor corker is easier to use, and handles different style bottle necks much better... OTOH if doing "crown caps" (aka beer bottle caps) a hand held capper will work just fine.

    7. I find a "bottle washer" that attaches to the sink faucet is a very good way to clean your bottles - get the kind that attaches with a hose and sits on the bottom of the sink. The sort that screws directly to the faucet puts a lot of strain on the plumbing and can cause things to leak - especially when using it to wash carboys... You will also want to get some assorted bottle brushes for the stuff the bottle spray washer won't get.

    Gooserider
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