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Old 07-23-2011, 08:51 PM   #1
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Default Best way to handle fruit with stones

This is my second year and I'm excited. Last year I just threw some boiled plums, sugar and bread yeast in a bucket to see what would happen. I was surprised to get pretty good wine! This year I got a hydrometer and proper equipment and tried to improve my methods. Well, I just started 3 batches with some variations. It's all great fun, but I haven't found a really good way to handle the plums at the start.

Of course I wash them first, but then things get inconvenient. Many recipes call for taking the stones out. To do this, I've tried slicing them -- too time consuming; boiling-cooling and hand squishing them -- fun, but it takes a long time for them to cool, and I can only do about 30-35 plums at a time. Last year I tried boiling and straining/squeezing the whole fruit through a fabric (a boil-sterilized pantyhose). This was faster, but the amount of juice that could be squeezed out was limited.

Next year, I'd like to just put the whole fruit in the primary, pour some boiling water over them and mash them up somehow. Some recipes say something like this, but not how to mash up the fruit. What's the best way to do this? Does letting the stones remain in the must cause any problem?

Also what's the best way to thaw frozen fruit. I had to freeze the early plums, and thawing them out took a long time. I froze sliced and de-stoned fruit. Is it possible to just freeze the whole fruit? What kind of container works best for this?

Thx for helping me tweak my process!

Second year plum wine-maker,
feffer

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:23 PM   #2
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OK, I guess I said too much. STONES, leave 'em in or take 'em out??

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:33 PM   #3
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Wash the fruit and put it in the freezer. Then when you make the wine, stick them in a mesh bag to thaw in the primary. Use campden tablets to sanitize and kill the wild yeast and other microbes, and proceed with the winemaking. When you stir, "smoosh" up the fruit well. If you use pectic enzyme in the must, it'll help make the fruit even easier to break down. When it's time to remove the fruit, usually five days or so, pull out the mesh bag and squeeze well. You will be removing the stones and the skins just by doing that.

I freeze my stone fruits in big plastic bags once washed. Don't use boiling water, unless the recipe specifically tells you to! You'll set the pectin (think jelly) in the fruit and cause a haze. Thaw in the primary in the mesh bags and add campden to the water/sugar you add.

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:38 PM   #4
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Wine making is not for the impatient. I pick plums, cut out stones, then freeze. all of this happens weeks/months before I am ready to make teh wine.

Some recipes, like cherry, you can leave stone in. Plums have large stones and need to be removed IMO. While there may be a faster way, I do not know of it.

I am not going to peel labels and clean used beer bottles before bottling a beer or cider on teh same day. I'm not going to pit fruit, freeze, and wine on the same day either. To each their own, steps work best for me.

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Old 07-24-2011, 11:03 PM   #5
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thx for the replies. They are very helpful.
@ Yooper: I've seen recipes that use the mesh bag approach, but have not tried it. Does the fruit get enough exposure to the yeast that way? Or is that not important?

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Old 07-24-2011, 11:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by feffer View Post
thx for the replies. They are very helpful.
@ Yooper: I've seen recipes that use the mesh bag approach, but have not tried it. Does the fruit get enough exposure to the yeast that way? Or is that not important?

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The fruit really breaks down into a discolored pulp-ish mess. Freezing first helps this happen, and then using pectic enzyme ensures it. Then you want to pull the fruit out, as it will actually start to rot after a few days.

We do this with plum wine, cherry wine, chokecherry wine, crabapple wine (where you especially don't want to break the seeds), etc. For easily removed pits/stones I would destone before freezing. But for some, removing the stone (like in chokecherries) would be very tedious!
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:08 PM   #7
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I love mesh bags. I use fine nylon bags for most of my fruit wines. They may work well with plums with stones, I have not tried. Either way, I love the bags.

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Old 07-24-2011, 11:25 PM   #8
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The fruit really breaks down into a discolored pulp-ish mess. Freezing first helps this happen, and then using pectic enzyme ensures it. Then you want to pull the fruit out, as it will actually start to rot after a few days.
hmmm, I have some batches in primary now with NO bags and the plums mashed or blended up. Should I be straining these now to remove the pulps and skins...before they rot?

thx,
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:27 PM   #9
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hmmm, I have some batches in primary now with NO bags and the plums mashed or blended up. Should I be straining these now to remove the pulps and skins...before they rot?

thx,
feffer
The pulp and skins are usually removed at about day 5 or so. Once fermentation slows, the fruit is removed and the juice/wine is placed into an airlocked carboy to finish up.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:32 PM   #10
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OK, I'm good then. Fermentation is still active, and things look good. This is my second season, and I'm still pretty shaky on the process. The input here has been really helpful.

thx,
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