Beginner here - fermenter question.

bejay9_10(zone 9/10)August 1, 2010

I recently purchased a wine making kit "on-line" and am getting aquainted OK. My first attempt is with my own backyard Santa Rosa plums - which produced a bumper crop this year.

I followed directions with the kit - and also several other "helpful hints" places, but a bit confused about the fermentation stage - when to rack off - and/or not to.

I put mashed plums in strainer bag in primary fermenter - added all of the ingredients on schedule, stirred contents daily - and recipe calls for removal of pulp on 4th day and racking on 5th.

However, this morning - the primary fermenter is bubbling like mad - and I'm not sure if I did something wrong or should I rack, wait for bubbling to stop - or ??



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fedup321(7 NC)

bejay, did the recipe have and hydometer reading anywhere? if not it would help to post the recipe......

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 3:18PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

The kit didn't come with a hydrometer - but today ordered one. However, the recipe with the kit just uses the concentrate that one can order - but as beginners will do (fools rush in - ya know), I decided to use my own fruit.

Admit that I know nothing about the hydrometer use yet - but will do more reading when it arrives.

It says it "measures density of liquids" in books I've read.

Do know a bit about canning and preserving acid-type foods as well - but wine making is new to me, and all of the information I can glean seems to confuse, especially about fermentation times.

As of now, the little air lock is bubbling on top of the primary fermenter. One "helpful hint" says to wait to rack off when bubbling stops ??? Soooo what do I know - not much, I'm afraid. (no - not really afraid - what do I care if the "thing" explodes and puts mash all over my pantry ceiling. Thanks.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 11:33PM
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fedup321(7 NC)

bejay here is steps for a beginner.....usually you wait 5 to7 days before transfering to carboy....



Prepare the wine making produce by cutting up larger fruit, busting skins on smaller fruit, chopping up fruits such as raisins, and bruising any produce like ginger root, etc. Also, any large pits should be removed. It is also important to understand that you can over-process the produce. Food processors, blenders and such should not be used for this purpose. Doing so will cause too much bitterness from the skin and seeds of the produce to be incorporated into the resulting wine.

Stir together all of the wine making ingredients called for, EXCEPT for the YEAST, into a primary fermenter. Collect any pulp in a fermentation bag and submerge the bag into the wine making mixture. Add water to equal the batch to 5 gallons. Then add 5 Campden Tablets. They should be crushed up before adding. Do not add the wine yeast at this point in the process. Adding the wine yeast at the same time you add the Campden Tablets will only result in destroying the yeast.

Cover the fermenter with a thin, clean towel and wait 24 hours. During this waiting period the Campden Tablets are sterilizing the juice with a mild sulfur gas. During the 24 hours the gas leaves the container making it safe to add the wine yeast.

Sprinkle the wine yeast over the surface of the juice and then cover with a thin, clean towel. Allow this mixture (must) to ferment for 5 to 7 days. You should start to see some foaming activity within 24 hours of adding the wine yeast. Typically, 70% of the fermentation activity will occur during this 5 to 7 day period.

After 5 to 7 days remove the pulp from the fermenter and discard. Siphon the wine into a secondary fermenter in a careful manner, so as to leave the sediment behind. You can easily remove the pulp by lifting out the fermentation bag. Wring out any excess juice from the bag. Siphon the wine off the sediment without stirring it up. Get as much liquid as you can, even it some of the sediment comes with it. If necessary, add water back to 5 gallons.

Attach a wine making air-lock and fill it approximately half-way with water. Allow the juice to ferment for an additional 4-6 week period or until it becomes completely clear. You may want to verify with your wine hydrometer that the fermentation has completed before continuing on to step 7. The wine hydrometer should read between 0.990 and 0.998 on the Specific Gravity scale. Be sure to give the wine plenty of time to clear up before bottling.

Once the wine has cleared completely, siphon it off of the sediment again. Stir in 5 Campden Tables that have been crushed and then bottle. When siphoning off the sediment, unlike the first time you siphoned the wine, you want to leave all of the sediment behind, even if you lose a little wine.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:36AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

I appreciate your prompt reply.

Today, I siphoned off the juice into the 2nd fermenter. It was at a 7 day period from my initial removal of the pulp bag.

The air-lock has been installed on the receiving container, and I will now wait for it to clear. Hopefully, by that time my hydrometer will have arrived, and I should know more at that time.

I do have Campden tablets in my original kit, but will need to invest in bottles.

Your help is most appreciated.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 11:48AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

Hi - it's me again -

My fermenter air-lock is now emitting a "burp" about every 15 seconds now. My hydrometer has arrived, and we are "getting acquainted." I've also become acquainted with my siphon hose and wand - (I think I need more practice when bottling time comes).

I tasted my "creation" and you know - it really did taste like wine - a bit fizzy tho.

Does the bubbling stop completely before racking off back into the primary? It created quite a bit of activity the last time - does this stir it up, or has the fermentation quieted down and will be less so on this racking?

Thanks for replies.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 9:52AM
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fedup321(7 NC)

BEJAY, Your wine will continue to emit bubbles thru the airlock until it has finished working, that is when you can bottle. I personaly do not rack as often as others, maybe 1 time every 4 or 5 weeks..of course if you have no other carboy to rack into it could present a problem, unless you use your primary bucket.

About the siphon hose you will be almost helpless without the item below, when just fit you hose over the tube and with pratice you will learn to lift the filler at the right time to allow room for the cork...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:10PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

About the filler - I think I have one that came with the kit. The appendage at the bottom moves back and forth - (shuts of/on?). However, about racking sooner - the "brew" is still quite cloudy. The airlock is slower to bubble this morning. I thought the wine had to be completely clear. I can rack back into the primary - but is this wise? Lots more air to come into contact with. What about Campden tabs.

I have a lot of books/on-line stuff and info - so I'm a bit confused. But keep me up-to-date anyway. My biggest source of information is from an old book, "Creative Winemaking" by Andre de Chambeau, which I fell heir to somewhere in my travels, however, this is my first reading with intent to pursue.

It's written in "old English" which I find at my age - easier to understand.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:18AM
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fedup321(7 NC)

Bejay....One of the most helpful sites on the internet is posted below....I suggest you read starting with the page I posted and keep progressing by clicking on the yellow links at bottom of page....

Here is a link that might be useful: jack Keller

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:13PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

That reads like a great lesson website. Will follow it along - wish me success. I'm already looking forward to my next venture. I planted some wine grapes last year, and am in hopes they will survive and produce - would love to make some Chardonnay some day.

Much obliged for your help.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 10:02AM
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bunnyman(Thumb of MI)

Your wine is probably done by now.

I'd like to add for others reading that I never rack! Yup... never. I have plenty of fermenters... nice heavy glass carboys from the days they were used in water coolers. I let the wine freely ferment for 6 to 12 months. The yeast will settle to the bottom and I siphon the clear wine off at bottling time.

My current wine (apple/blueberry) has been in the same fermenter for 3 years now. I pour off a quart when I feel like drinking. It has not spoiled or taken any off flavor. Probably pushing it now as I've drank most and there will soon be enough oxygen to turn it to vinegar. I should get going this weekend and bottle the remainder and start a new batch... next February it would be nice to sample a fresh batch while the snow blows and the wind howls outside.

Just wanted to say racking is over-rated. Best for people in a hurry. I like to drink not work. Most of my wine is just juice, sugar, acid blend, and yeast... then on goes the bubbler lock... 6 months actually passes fairly quick.

Been making wine for 20 years now and never had a batch that was not good enough to drink it all. Can't say the same for the beers I've made.

: )

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 1:19AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I don't rack much either and have always had good wines. Others have told me that I might get an off flavour by leaving it on the lees for so long, but I have not noticed a problem yet. You lose wine every time you rack, so I avoid it. I'm a fairly clumsy racker as it is...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:44PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Same here,
I make my wine the old fashion way, no chemicals no nothing, just use the natural east, mostly I do is apple juice, pie cherry juice mixed with choke cherry.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 7:35PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

My second batch of lime wine has finished fermenting now. It took a good while to get it going (stuck ferment) but I rigged up a grow light next to the fermenter and wrapped a towel around the whole - raising the temperature to around 74. My pantry stays cool about 69, in cooler weather, and this just wasn't enough. It's great for storing canned goods, flour, dry stores tho, at that temp.

So - next step - what about storing long term temps - is it Ok to stay at 69 - 70 once bottled?

Also - another next step - I put Sparkeloid in it to clarify it - works fine. Unfortunately - I should have put it in BEFORE I added more sugar to taste - as it was clear - then had to repeat it after adding more sugar (Ok - to me - kiddo - try reading instructions a little better)

So now on 2nd try, wine is almost clear - with Sparkleoid doing great job - a lot of white fluffy stuff sunk to bottom of carboy now.

How I dread next step - the siphoning - I know it can be done - but haven't mastered that tube yet. I even bought one that is normally used for siphoning gas out of my truck - I can do that! - but that wine thing scares me.

Anyway - I really think I'm making progress - and after re-reading all of the above postings - found some great advice there.

I have printed out some of Jack Keller's 1 gallon recipes and have collected a lot of gallon jugs - so see you again as soon as I can get lime wine siphoned, and will surely begin my next venture thereafter.

Just my 2 c's.

Thanks to all.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 6:47AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I don't add chemicals to mine, either, Konrad. No sulfites and so sorbate. Just juice, sugar, yeast, pectic enzyme and acid blend. I have not had to filter one yeat either in years of making. They are either clear on their own when finished or I use chitosen/islinglass to clear them.

Hubby uses Sparkaloid for his beer with success.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 1:43PM
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