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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Wine

One of my favorite books is called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.  He has a motto that when fermenting things, you don't really need to worry about being all technical and following the rules. For most of history, people have relied on the wild yeast and bacteria in the air to ferment their food.

Most wine making books and experts will tell you that you have to sterilize all of your equipment and ingredients thoroughly so that when you add the correct yeast, it doesn't have any competition. This isn't necessarily true, according to Sandor Katz. I used to think the wine making process was intimidating, but ever since I read his book, I've changed my mind. He makes the whole thing seem simple.

And, just so you know, the book focuses more on foods like bread and sauerkraut than on wine. :-)

Anyway, with his principles in mind, I've successfully made Dandelion Wine for two years now (going on three). SO I decided to try making different wines. When I was at the grocery store, I saw a three pound bag of frozen strawberries, and thought that would make the PERFECT next wine to try making!

Even better, I had some Rhubarb that needed to be used up and cleared out of my freezer. :-)

To begin with, I took 2/3rds of the 3 pound bag of strawberries and all of the between 1 and 2 pound bunch of Rhubarb and set it in a glass jar. I have a TON of these jars because my hubby likes to buy a gallon of pickles at a time and we keep the jars specifically for things like this.

As you can see, it pretty much filled the jar, but there is also plenty of space too.

I then boiled water. I didn't actually measure it, but it's probably about 2 and a half to 3 quarts, as evidenced by how full my pot is.



I carefully poured the boiled water over the frozen material and let it steep overnight.


My house is kind of cool since it's winter, but my stove is gas and so warm at all times. I left the jar on my stove so that it would benefit from the heat and start the fermentation process sooner.

The next day, I removed all the strawberries and rhubarb and pureed them in my blender, then returned them to the jar to steep for a few more days.


Today, I removed as much of the solids as possible without actually filtering the juice. I also added 2 pounds or so of sugar (since this is a first attempt, I decided to use regular white sugar rather than organic sugar), lemon juice (for the citric acid most wine recipes call for), and raisins. The raisins provide the natural yeast to ensure that this will turn into wine and not vinegar or simply spoil. I also added a bit of water to make sure I still had a gallon.


Now I simply have to wait a few weeks for the initial fermentation process to finish. You can already see the froth at the top :-) I'll try to remember to post an update when it's time to filter the wine into a new container so that it can age.

Last note, I couldn't help but take a bit of the juice so that we could all taste it. It tasted like a super extra sweet strawberry lemonade. I SO CAN'T WAIT to taste the end product!!!
LAST LAST NOTE: I didn't filter out the pulp, and that provided a place for mold to start growing. Do yourself a favor and filter the pulp out when adding the lemon juice, sugar, and raisins. I used a bunch of paper towels - one at a time - and a funnel as my filter, but an actual coffee filter might work better if you have it. Also, if the juice doesn't start fermenting within a couple days, it is better to add some yeast (organic or wine yeast) rather than let the whole batch spoil :-)

Have a happy day :-D

Update on 4-2-13: I really thought that my wine was going to be lost because even after I filtered the pulp out, I still got one little spot of white mold on the very top, but I scooped that off and tasted the juice. It still tasted just fine, so I decided to let it sit. I added a few more raisins for good measure. Over the next two or three days, I had a bunch of scummy looking stuff form on top, but it smelled like it was fermenting, so I figured that it was the yeast culture growing in population. I keep checking on it from time to time, and it still looks and smells like wine that is fermenting. My house is on the cool side, so the fermentation is taking a long time, but I remember from my last batch of dandelion wine that it took almost 3 months to fully ferment the first time. I am prepared to wait patiently for this batch to ferment too :-)

6 comments:

  1. Update on 4-13-13: Still taking it's time fermenting, but that's not surprising with old man winter hanging on with a vengeance. It still smells like fermenting wine, but I haven't tasted it. I'll let y'all know when I do and when it finally stops fermenting :-)

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  2. Update on 5-24-13 The wine is ready to bottle! It'll still need to age, but so far, this particular recipe had been a total success!

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  3. What is the quantity for the raisins, please?

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    1. Hiya! I find it actually works best to put enough raisins in there to create a layer to completely cover the top. This can be a bit hard to determine because they will all fall to the bottom at first and stay there until they plump up and float up to the top. But you can't have too many, lol, so put in two generous handfuls to start with, and if that isn't enough, add more until there's a nice thick layer of them at the top. It'll take them about a day to plump up and float, but they will. Not only do they provide the yeast necessary for the fermentation, but they also provide a sort of insulation at the top to protect your ferment. If you take a peek at them each day and see even a hint of mold forming, you can easily scoop that off and replace the raisins. Mold will stop trying to grow when there's enough yeast and alcohol in the brew to prevent it, but by that point, there will probably be a white powdery scummy looking stuff that you might think is mold at first. It's not, it's kahm yeast, which is NOT wine yeast, but is harmless and doesn't affect the brew in my experience. It seems to form a seal on top. Good luck! :-D

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  4. I am making the Strawberry Wine from Wild Fermentation and now have a white film on the top. I have been vigorously stirring twice daily but was wondering if this is what you mean by the good yeast rather than the bacteria? Like with Sauerkraut and the good yeast... Thank you!!

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  5. Hi! In my opinion, without being able to see it for myself, if you see a white film, then yes, that's Kahm yeast. I personally would stop stirring and let the yeast form a sort of protective layer over the top. That said, if it looks fuzzy/furry or grows in "clumps" then it's mold. One thing I have done is if I catch/remove the clump or two of mold right away and taste the juice and it doesn't taste like mold, then I'll let it keep going, but if after removing all visible mold from the top, the juice tastes like mold, then I know it's spoiled and needs to be thrown out. You could try tasting it too, Kahm yeast has no discernible taste, as far as I've noticed. Good luck :-)

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