When to separate pulp

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Jun 11, 2020
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I’m new to wine making and I had a question about when to separate the fruit pulp from the must during the fermentation.

I read on some forums that you rack it out of the bucket into a car boy at 4 to 7 days. Some other people said they fermented tell the wine was dry before racking the must from the pulp.

Which do you recommend?
Hi atbeton97 - and welcome. Pulp... or lees? If you are asking how long you let the fruit macerate I think that often depends on the fruit itself and your technique for extracting flavor. I don't make grape wine but I believe that those making wine from grapes will leave the grapes in the fermenter until active fermentation has ended, though they frequently stir the fruit into the must (wine) to prevent the fruit on the surface from drying out and so becoming a haven for spoilage organisms. If you are making wines from apples then, typically, you press the the apples to extract all the juice and strain the pulp before you pitch the yeast. For dandelion wine I would allow the flowers to macerate for two days before straining and pitching the yeast while for elderflower wine I will make a tea from the flowers, straining this an hour later and then pitching the yeast when the tea has reached room temperature overnight. Recently made a wild blueberry mead and left the berries in the must until I racked to the secondary, again, as active fermentation was ending.

If by "pulp" you mean the sediment or lees, then you really do not want to rack off the lees until active fermentation is ending. Rack too soon and you may leave behind too many of the yeast cells and so stall your fermentation - because those lees include many of the living yeast cells
From your title, I assumed you meant pulp, so here's my take on pulp, not lees.

I've tried a couple methods. I blend my fruits and simmer them on the stove for an hour before cooling them and tossing in the campden tablets. I've tried screening the pulp out before starting primary, and it's most effective for making a clearer wine, but it limits how much fruit sugar ends up in the wine and loses about 1/3 of the volume. I've also screened from primary to secondary, and while I still lose volume, it allows more of the sugar to be used. The downside is that the wine is still fairly cloudy. Once you put the wine in secondary, you really can't screen it without risking turning it to vinegar. I tried once and lost a batch of peach wine.

Ingredients also matter. If you're using potato in your recipe, it pays to screen into the primary. So far for me, banana seems to settle out well with just racking.

For simply knowing when to rack off the lees, the primary fermentation will be strong for a few days, then taper off. That's when I rack to secondary.