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Old 08-15-2009, 05:24 PM   #1
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Default Blackberry Wine Question

Background:
I haven't called yet but there's a CL ad for machine picked evergreen blackberries for .25/lb. At that price, as long as quality is good, it's not worth it to pick my own.

The Dilemma:
The only wine specific equipment I have is an 8 gallon bucket and mesh bag. I do have plenty of carboys and fermentation sankeys. I'd like to minimize cost but also minimize finished product loss. Fermentation buckets and mesh bags are expensive and I view them as short term use products. Ingredients are, in this case, cheap. I do have a fruit press "The ultimate fruit press". Kind of a piece of crap but it should help.

The Proposed Recipes:
I'll probably make a total of 30 gallons of wine - both based on recipes off of Jack Keller's website. For a heavy bodied wine the recommendation is 6 lb blackberries, 2 1/2 lb sugar. For a medium bodied sweet I'll use 4 lb blackberries and 3 lb sugar. I plan on using Lavlin 1116 for both. I'll of course use pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient as appropriate.

Proposed Technique
Crush berries. Add via large funnel to sankey keg. Allow to steep for 24 hours, then add campden and pectic enzyme. After another 24 hours, add yeast and sugar. Allow to ferment for a week or two on the pulp, then siphon to secondaries. Rack thereafter as necessary.

Commentary
I know I'll be dealing with some clogs and I'll need to leave more wine behind than I'd like but as I understand it at a week of fermentation, there shouldn't be a huge amount of flavor left in the berry pulp. To buy new buckets would cost far more than ingredients, and they'd probably be kinda crappy by next year when I make wine again.

Question
Does anyone have a better idea of how to ferment this wine with the equipment I either have on hand or will cost a minimal amount of money? Recommended siphoning technique? Would I be risking implosion of glass carboys if I used a vacuum pump (from foodsaver) to assist transfer of must/ wine? I may use a second sankey as a secondary and use glass for tertiary and beyond. If I NEED to I can probably aquire a couple brute trash cans, but they aren't air tight and we have pretty bad ants 'round here and they STINK so even one getting in would probably ruin the wine.
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Old 08-15-2009, 11:12 PM   #2
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were are these berries and are there more????? I have been picking wild for a week and I am tired of being scratch.ed travel is not a big deal I am heading east of mountains for pears next weekend and was going to stop at sisters in Bend .

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Old 08-16-2009, 06:01 AM   #3
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They are in silverton. I have not, however, heard back from them (multiple calls and e-mails) so they may be out or simply busy. A search for blackberries on salem.craigslist.org will produce their listing.

If I don't hear back I'll hand pick elsewhere, but will then drastically reduce numbers. There's no F-n way I'm hand picking nearly 200# of berries.

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Old 08-16-2009, 10:21 AM   #4
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LOLOLOL no Kidding

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Old 08-16-2009, 12:50 PM   #5
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You said - "6 lb blackberries, 2 1/2 lb sugar. For a medium bodied sweet I'll use 4 lb blackberries and 3 lb sugar."

Is this per gallon of wine produced? I am assuming not for the entire 30 gallons as this would be a lot less than even a good juice if so.

You could use a Brute garbage can (Plastic) as a primary fermenter for 30 gallons you may need 2). Punch down the cap daily and I would add the campden tablets when you start. This will help to shock any wild yeast or beasties that may be present in the berries. During fermentation you do not need the primary to be completely airtight as CO2 will be produced and will blanket the wine and protect it from O2 exposure. Use the lid for the Brute and some wood clamps to hold it down. Also apply some food grade lubricant to the lip of the container to aid in sealing it up. You can drill a hole in the lid and add a grommet for an airlock if you want to continue using it for the complete fermentation process. When empty, you can clean them out pretty well and use them again . As long as you do not scratch the inside surface, you should have this for some time to use. Another idea would be to cover the top of the Brute with cheesecloth to keep your ants at bay.

Blackberry seeds are quite small and they will no doubt cause you problems if you do not have some means to strain the juice from the pulp of the berries and seeds. Try using paint straining bags to hold you berries in and keep the pulp and seeds contained. Or find another type of bag (nylon stockings might work) if you do not like the paint bags. I wouldn't allow the wine to sit on the pulp to long as it will pick up bitterness from the seeds.

A FoodSaver vacuum system will not be a problem as far as imploding a carboy (IMHO). I also do not think it will have enough vacuum to really tranfer your juice unless the sankey or primary is above the vessel you are transferring to. A 2cfm vacuum pump may however do it for you if your hose diameter is sufficient in size.

I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have made a few gallons of wine in my time. So take my recommendations as you will and good luck to you.

By the way...... Jack Kellar is a great source of information and using his recipe for any wine is a good thing. The guy has been at this a long time and knows his wine.

Salute!

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Old 08-16-2009, 08:57 PM   #6
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I just put my first blackberry wine in carboys. A word of advice....if you can get some sort of bag "I used a fruit bag for $3", nylons sound like they would work too, never thought of that one, I would use them. I also wouldn't leave the fruit in your primary longer then 5 days. I did mine for 4 days and all I had left in the fruit bag were seeds. You wouldn't think it at first, but they will turn into mush after 3-4 days. I squeezed my bag and the juice was a little bitter from the seeds. For 5 gallons I used about 12 pounds sugar, 25 pounds berries. Thats my only reccomendation on it, even with the seeds out, I still had a ton of sediment. I think you'll be glad you kept your berries in some sort of bag in the end. And yes....mix it everyday, kind of bust up the berries in the bag. Have fun!

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Old 08-16-2009, 09:55 PM   #7
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I would definitely use a fermentation bag for this fruit! You can use nylons from Walmart or paint straining bags from HomeDepot. I make Blackberry wine all the time and heres my recipe. Do not leave your fruit in there for 2 weeks as that may be 2 long and te pectic enzyme will have done its job within 1 week anyway so youd just be risking fruit spoilage. Add your sulfites right in the beginning also or wild yeast could start fermentation. Add everything but yeast and pectic enzyme right up front then 12 hours later add your enzymes then another 12 hours later add your yeast that you have at least re hydrated but a yeast starter is the best way to go. As for yeast Lalvin 71B-1122 is a better yeast as it will eat up more of the malic acid that Blackberries are pretty high in.

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