Plum season is finally upon us! I found a wild plum tree around the corner on an abandoned lot. Turns out the university owns it and one of their maintenance guys told me to help myself. Awesome! I began plotting what I would make them into as I plucked them from the tree.

I have dabbled in brewing hard cider and thought plum wine sounded like a delicious idea. It takes months and months to mature, so we would be drinking it come Spring time. I searched and searched for recipes, watched videos, talked to brewing friends. I bought the supplies and settled on a recipe for one gallon of wine.

We have a five gallon carboy and my plum wine plans naturally expanded. Why make one gallon when you can easily make five? The brew shop sells the powdery supplies in packets, so we would have enough to make even more. But where to get more plums…

My friend from the Urban Farm knew someone with a ripe tree and put me in touch with them. Turns out they were right around the corner as well! So another 15 pounds later, I had enough for a big, five gallon batch. I think I’ll call the finished product “One Block Wine” since everything was sourced so close to home.

I modified the original recipe to fill five gallons and here’s what I ended up doing:

  • 20 lbs plums, yellow and red
  • 6 lbs sugar
  • 7 1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 5 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast energizer
  • 3/4 tsp grape tannin
  • Bordeaux wine yeast
  1. Boil a stock pot of water. Meanwhile rinse fruit, chop in half and remove pits. Into a sterilized primary bucket with lid, dump fruit and cover with boiling water. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then add more hot water until you are within a couple inches of head space. Cover and cool to room temperature.
  2. Once cooled, stir in acid blend, pectic enzyme, tannin, nutrient, and energizer. Cover and let sit for 12 hours.
  3. Add yeast and recover. Let the mixture ferment for about a week, stirring twice a day.
  4. Strain the wine and transfer to a glass carboy with an airlock.
  5. Rack every 30 days, leaving the bottom couple inches of goop, and reseal with the airlock. Repeat this step every 30 days until the mixture clears (and it eventually will).
  6. After the wine has cleared, wait two more weeks and rack again. Stabilize the wine and bottle. After about six months, it should be ready. If not quite there, wait a few more months. [Recipe adapted from Jack B. Keller, Jr. and from Dorothy Alatorre’s Home Wines of North America]

The picture above is prior to dumping in the yeast. The yeast was added and it’s been sitting for a week, so I’m ready for step 4 today. The process has been easy-peasy so far. The first couple days our house smelled like a (delicious) bar – sweet, plum yumminess – as the bucket burped out some yeasty head. I carefully cleaned up the mess, changed the towel the bucket sits on. Somehow we managed to avoid fruit flies.

One week later is smells even more delicious! I’m planning to just rack it monthly, bottle and forget about it. I’ll keep updating the progress over the next several months. The final update on the finished product probably won’t arrive until next summer!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson