Quick & Easy Plum Wine

If you could describe the essence of this summer for you, what would it look like?  For me this year, it’s drinking plum wine at the beach.

We picked some wild plums last month, and quickly turned them into an easy wine.  And on every sunny evening available to us, we have been packing up a picnic dinner and driving the short 45 minutes to Felixstowe Ferry.  It’s like having our own private beach– there is rarely anyone else there.  We eat dinner, go for a raucous swim (again, no one to watch our antics, so it’s extra-fun!) and then dry off and Jeff and I pour ourselves some plum wine and smile at each other and the waves.

I’m excited to share how to make it, because it was so simple, quick and good.  Most country wines require patience– but not this one!  Using cider yeast really sped things up for me, and although not such a refined or strong wine, it’s completely delicious.  For ratios, I used this recipe as a guide– but my actual method for making it is different.

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Quick & Easy Plum Wine

What You’ll Need:

  • 5lbs (2.25 kilos) of plums– I used little red wild plums, but any kind will work
  • 3lbs (1.35 kilos) of sugar (I like to use raw sugar/ sucanat)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 packet cider yeast (ask at a local brew shop, or this one should work well)

In terms of supplies, there are a few basic items you should have.  You can often find these on craigslist, and definitely at a brewing supply store, or you can order them on amazon.

  1. Give your plums a good wash in water, discarding any that are overly bruised or moldy.  Add them to a sterilized fermentation bucket, and bash them up quite a bit with a potato masher or a (clean) wine bottle.  I like to keep the pits in because it gives the wine a really nice almond flavor.
  2. Bring your gallon of water to the boil, and pour over your crushed plums.  Put the lid on your bucket, and leave it for a few days (3-4) and swirl it around every day.
  3. Add the lemon juice and sugar to your fermenting plums, and stir to mix.  Then sprinkle the yeast on top.  After an hour or so, give it a good stir.  Cover and leave someplace warm for four days, stirring once or twice a day. (Sometimes I just grab the bucket and firmly swish it around.)
  4. It’s time to move it to some demijohns.  I like to do this by just using a siphon hose in the bucket, with a funnel topped with a small sieve in the mouth of the demijohn.  Keep the hose a good inch away from the bottom of the bucket, so you don’t suck up all of the yeasty sediment.  Once you have the wine in the demijohn(s) top with an airlock.
  5. After two weeks, rack the wine by siphoning into newly sterilized demijohns, being careful to leaf the sediment in the bottom of the old ones.
  6. Taste it after three weeks, and see how you like it.  We basically started bottling some of it at this stage, leaving the rest to age and racking again over the next couple of weeks.  It is ALL good!  The longer you wait to drink it, the drier and more clear it becomes, so it’s really up to you.  I just finished bottling the last of it, about six weeks after starting it.
  7. If you are not planning on drinking it quickly, then leave it in the demijohn longer. What you don’t want is a lot of young, active wine in bottles for a long period of time.  They could keep fermenting and build up too much carbonation.  So, if you’re in it for the long haul, just keep it in the demijohns for a few months, racking monthly, before bottling.  But you can definitely drink this wine young, as we have.Enjoy!

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This process is really simple, and would be a good one to start with if you are a little intimidated about home brewing.  I am in the middle of another batch, this time wild yellow plums, and just using the natural yeast on their skins.  Will report back on that!

Quick and Easy Plum Wine And Here We Are...

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64 Responses to Quick & Easy Plum Wine

  1. Daniel August 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Nice! I really love the taste of plum, and although my plum tree did not produce at the old place, I am hoping to put in some nice tart ones here. We also have some native varieties that I would like to put into a hedge that will be a great source of wild wine.

  2. grokgrub August 27, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Um, “drinking plum wine at the beach”? Sign me up!

  3. Shelley September 25, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    So do you add more water after u get the mix started..otherwise it woudn’t make much wine?

    • Wendy September 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      Yes I would like to know what to do after this step also. After adding 1 Gallon water then what?

      • ariana September 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

        Hi Shelley and Wendy! The amount of water is correct, but the recipe will make more than one gallon, as you have added juice from the fruit and the sugar. I think it was about two gallons in the end, but could have been a little less.

        Wendy, the step after adding the water is to let it sit, for the plums to infuse the water, and then adding yeast and letting ferment before siphoning out. Hopefully all of this is explained clearly above!

        • Shelley January 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

          I made this recipe with a few tweaks from the wine experts! It turned out every bit as good as the store 😉 I tripled the recipe of plums and water and added just one package of yeast! I added sorbate to kill it at the end and put in a super clearing agent (natural) and it’s awesome. What a crafty fun thing to do with all my extra back yard plums. I would do this all over again 😉 <3

          • ariana January 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

            That’s great to hear! Thanks for reporting back!

          • Danielle August 26, 2015 at 12:10 am #

            Shelley I am interested in your recipe as I am looking at putting on the usual amout as a wine kit which I think is around 22liters. Could you please share??

          • Wayne Wilson August 29, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

            At what point did you add sorbate?

  4. Josie October 6, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    Don’t the pits of plums have natural traces of cyanogenetic glycocides, the primary compound found in cyanide. The author also mentions an almond flavor. I would just discard the pits…

    • Kimberly October 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      The cyanide it produces is actually healthy for you….known as B17 (not a real classified vitamin) and has been known to kill cancer cells leaving healthy cells alone.

      • rob dud December 13, 2015 at 1:28 am #

        I have heard this also and heard it comes from the nut in the shell

  5. Steve January 4, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    How large is “one packet” of yeast? I.e. what sort of weight are we talking?

    • ariana January 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

      Steve, it’s about 5 grams.

      • Ray August 1, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

        Mines too dry. Can I add sugar to sweeten it up a bit?

        • ariana August 2, 2015 at 7:01 am #

          Ray, you sure can. Just give it some time after adding the sugar to make sure fermentation has stopped (no bubbles in airlock, no effervescence) before bottling.

  6. Tony January 13, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Just did a double batch of this. It started naturally fermenting before I put the yeast, lemon juice and sugar in. Looks really hopeful at this stage.

    • ariana January 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

      That’s great, Tony! Hope it comes out nicely for you.

  7. Steve January 17, 2015 at 3:59 am #

    Just got a batch on the go with a couple of buckets of plums from my tree – really excited to see how it turns out! Thanks for posting the recipe :-)

  8. Naomi February 14, 2015 at 3:00 am #

    Help I think I’ve done something wrong it all went great till I put it in th demy thing and closed the lid it started to creak from too much air. Is this normal?

  9. Naomi February 21, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    This is awesome thanks for posting it I have made peach wine aswell can’t wait to taste

  10. TheWineBrewer March 14, 2015 at 12:39 am #

    ​I have a great video on how i made Plum wine here:

  11. TheWineBrewer March 14, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    ​I have a great video on how i made Plum wine here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvjMKoWMGZw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_ZIHwdtD54

  12. Graham Holmes April 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    It was my impression that any “natural” fermentation (i.e. prior to adding the wine yeast) should be prevented … hence the addition of boiling water at the start of most wine recipes. So what’s actually going on in the first four days of the above process? Is there any harm or benefit to adding the yeast as soon as the initial mixture cools (or 24 hours after adding pectolase, if used)? Thanks for any help.

  13. Laurie April 17, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this user-friendly process for making wine. I just sampled my Chinese plum (we have a tree) wine and it is delicious! I can’t wait until we harvest our muscadines and scuppernongs in Alabama this fall. Also, I enjoy your expat blog. My husband and I are both retired Army and occasionally talk about living abroad again.

    • ariana May 27, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      So glad to hear that your wine is shaping up nicely– it’s so much fun to make! Thanks for stopping by to let me know.

  14. ingridsperow May 26, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Ariana I love your blog and I love telling your story about how you guys made it to Spain after an email snafu!!!
    We foraged wild plums in time before all the wild critters got to them and I am making my first batch. I have 2 girls so there were constant interruptions—I was trying to do too many things at once. I boiled the water with the sugar–ugh!! (I was also making elder flower syrup) then added it to the plums. Then the next day I added the yeast. Hope it all turns out, looks like they started fermenting in one day–we shall see in a few days. Thanks for all your foraging tips-love it!

    • ariana May 27, 2015 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks for this note! I’ll bet your wine will be just fine– it’s very forgiving. And I have to confess a little envy about the elderflowers. I miss them!

  15. Sheila July 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    I am excited to make this recipe I have a TON of golden plums on my tree this year! You mentioned that the golden plums have natural yeast? What would I do differently?

    • ariana August 2, 2015 at 7:06 am #

      Hi Sheila,
      They do have a natural yeast, so you could make a completely wild wine. Do everything exactly the same, except don’t wash the plums (as long is they are basically clean, coming off of your tree) before you do this, and set a few aside when pouring over the boiling water, then add them. The yeast should begin to develop naturally, just sitting in the fermentation vessel. It might take a couple more days, but not necessarily. It will smell yeasty/ beery. Carry on with all of the same instructions, and know that because all yeast strains are a little different, your timeline might be different than when using a commercial cider yeast. It will be a fun experiment!

  16. sally August 11, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Hi I have a spare pack of red wine yeast would this be ok to use or dose it have to be cider yeast?thanks.

    • Mike August 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

      Sally, I think its preferred. The wine yeasts are more alcohol tolerant and continue to ferment beyond a lot of cider yeasts. Go for it.

  17. Danny August 13, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    i made 2 gallons from my plum tree… I used to give them away for a couple jars of plum jam. The wine came out fantastic!!!! I like this recipe because it’s natural. No chemicals. My local brew store kept trying to sell me chemicals. A neighbor allowed me to pick his plums. Just put 40lbs into wort, froze 40lbs more.

  18. Kellie August 24, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    This is an awesome recipe and I can’t wait to try it! One thing concerns me: stonefruits, including plums, contain cyanide in their pits which is that “almond” flavor you’re getting. Cyanide is poisonous, so from now on, removing the pits would be a good idea!

  19. Danielle August 26, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    Help! I am a newbie and just juiced 10 litres of purple prune plums since I never knew to ferment them practically whole. I am hoping to just use the juice for this batch and am wanting to make a full carboy of wine (22l) Basically I have the juice and want to get it into the primary fermenter with the juice to water ratio as well as yeast/sugar amounts. I sliced up my hands and made my job way more complicated but O well live and learn. haha Really looking forward to following the directions using the natural yeast on the next batch!!

  20. Lee August 31, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    Hi, I have just started this with my greengages from back garden. When do you think I should bottle them, for drinking at Christmas? And how many times should I rack them?

    • ariana September 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      Hi Lee,
      I would just rack enough times until they come out nice and clear. I would guess about three times, but it varies. This wine was good to drink as soon as fermentation stopped and it clarified. If you are using a cider yeast, then I would think bottle it by November and enjoy at Christmas– but it could be ready earlier, and we have saved ours for up to a year and it also tastes great. Basically, it’s hard to go wrong!

  21. Anasuya Basil September 1, 2015 at 3:22 am #

    My gallon jug just exploded! I couldn’t get the airlock/rubber stopper to stay on so I used a screw on lid and after 4 days it blew up. It sent broken glass all over my kitchen and livingroom. I have another batch in the demijohns with the metal clasps so I hope there are no other blow ups. My cat is scared to be in the house. Live and learn!

    • ariana September 14, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Please use airlocks! So glad no one got hurt!

  22. diane September 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    Can I put it in bottles and put ballons on tell ready?

    • ariana September 14, 2015 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Diane, I have not tried this myself, but others have said that it works. If you do try it that way, please report back on how it went!

  23. diane September 10, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    How much yeast do I add ,i made 5 batches how much do I add to each batch?one pack to each?

    • ariana September 14, 2015 at 11:55 am #

      While one pack would eventually be enough for the whole batch, to keep things on schedule I would add at least three packets.

  24. Anasuya Basil September 13, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

    Just opened a carboy, fortunately I was outside and pointing it into the garden as the top blew off with a loud bang shot out like a bullet and I lost half of the wine as it bubbled over.

    • ariana September 14, 2015 at 11:53 am #

      Yes, this is why it’s really important to use an airlock that will allow the CO2 to release and not build up.

  25. Anasuya Basil September 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    I bought all the things on your list, but I didn’t understand the terms I guess. When you said put the airlock on the demijohn I didn’t realize that was the top that allowed CO2 to pass through. I had purchased it but didn’t use it. I looked at the picture of the carboy and used that with the metal braced top. Live and learn!

  26. Gerald Carroll June 16, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    This plum directions gets 5-star review by me !! 😀

  27. Jochen July 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    The fermentation bucket you linked seems to have a pretty tight seal…is it safe to have the lid on tight after adding the yeast, or should I just set it loosely on top of the bucket to keep it from exploding?

    • ariana July 6, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

      Jochen, I would put it on more loosely. You want to keep most stuff out, but definitely allow for some breathing during this stage.

      • Jochen July 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

        Fantastic, thanks!

  28. Betty July 9, 2016 at 1:57 am #

    Hi,
    After letting the plums ferment for 4 days there was a layer of white globby stuff.
    Is this normal?

    • Ariana Mullins July 9, 2016 at 8:19 am #

      Hi Betty,
      Yes, that’s probably yeast– a good thing. Does it smell yeasty?

  29. Sam H July 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi. Was just wondering. I have a boiler type juice extractor. Can you just start this recipe with just the juice?

    • Ariana Mullins July 27, 2016 at 7:15 am #

      Hi Sam,
      It would certainly be worth a try! I haven’t done it that way, but I have made cider from just the juice, plus some sugar. I would do a google search for instructions that are for that method, though.

  30. Meg L. July 28, 2016 at 5:17 am #

    Hi, I’ve had my wine sitting for two days so that the water can absorb the plum juice (nothing added yet) and this morning there was mold growing on a few of the skins that had floated to the top of the bucket!!! It’s definitely black mold and not yeast. Can I scoop out and continue or is it completely contaminated and I should start from scratch? :(

    • Ariana Mullins July 28, 2016 at 5:27 am #

      Hi Meg,
      I would scoop out the mold and keep going and see how it goes. Once you add the yeast, it should take over any bad bacteria. Just pay attention to the smell and how it looks– you can usually tell by smell when it’s a serious problem.

      • Meg L. July 28, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

        OK- I’ll give it a shot! Adding the yeast and sugar tonight. :-)

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