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!). After we dry off, Jeff and I pour ourselves some plum wine and smile at each other and the waves.
I’m excited to share how to make this homemade wine, because it is 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.
Quick & Easy Plum Wine
This plum wine is quick and easy to make, not requiring the months of aging that other country wines need. Most importantly, it is very, very delicious.
- 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.
- 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 a bit with a potato masher or a (clean) wine bottle. Note: The important thing with brewing whole stone fruits is to not crack the pits in the process. Including the seeds is a controversial topic, since they contain cyanic glucosides– which can convert into cyanide. The biggest cause of cyanide leeching into the brew is broken seeds. I like to keep the pits in because it gives the wine a nice almond flavor, but if you are at all concerned, just take them out.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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! [Update: All of the plum wines we have made have turned out great!]