Plum wine easy recipe

There are so many plums available at this time of year it's a crime not to make some effort to use as many as possible. Besides strong arming the family to take as many as possible and freezing loads for the winter, making plum wine and plum jam are quick and easy ways to gain from all that fruity goodness.

Here's the recipe for plum wine. No chemicals are used, just all natural ingredients other than Milton baby liquid to sterilise equipment. A great Summer wine to make. Why not try out some of the other Allotment Heaven easy recipes?

Besides the desire to not waste a single plum, I started making this wine because I was fed up trying to find wine in the shops that didn't have the 'contains sulphites' message hidden away on the back label. Sulphites can cause allergies and a headache.

The instructions below are to make one gallon of wine, which will give you about six bottles. If you can make a batch of five gallons even better... it's simpler to make large batches of wine since it's easier to bottle without disturbing the sediment. Just multiply the ingredients by five apart from the wine, for which you should follow the instructions on the container.

The cost of equipment is pretty low... about £35 if you acquire the wine bottles by saving from bought white wine. Thereafter your only cost is for sugar, lemons and some wine yeast... so having made the initial investment in equipment, typically you're enjoying rather nice, strong wine with no sulphite content for well under 50p a bottle! Why wouldn't you want to do it?


Equipment needed
Something for stirring the contents
Long clear plastic tubing (available from DIY stores)
Funnel
A 1 gallon demijohn (cheaper if you buy several)
6 wine bottles (ideally clear glass)


Ingredients needed
5lbs (2.25 kilos) of healthy plums
3lbs (1.35 kilos) of sugar
1 gallon of water
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Wine yeast


Method
1. Sterilise the fermentation barrel and lid using the Milton liquid.
2. Wash the plums, cut in half and remove the stones.
3. Place in fermentation barrel
4. Bring water to boil and pour in fermentation barrel.
5. Put the lid on and leave for four days, stirring twice daily.
6. Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.
7. Add lemon juice and wine yeast and put the lid on.
8. Store somewhere warm. After a few hours you'll notice something starting to happen... there'll be a froth on the surface as the yeast starts to ferment, turning the sugar into alcohol. Stir the contents twice a day.
9. After five days transfer the liquid to the demijohn using the plastic tubing and funnel. Make sure all the equipment has been sterilised with Milton liquid.
10. Avoiding disturbing any sediment, place the fermentation barrel at a higher level than the demijohn (e.g. put the barrel on a table and the demijohn on the floor), put one end of the plastic tubing in the barrel, and having placed the funnel in the neck of the demijohn give the other end of the tubing a strong suck to pull some of the wine in the tube up and over the edge of the barrel. Quickly remove your mouth and put the tube end into the funnel. The wine should start to drain.
11. Stop removing liquid when you get close to the bottom so you transfer as little of the sediment as possible. Once all the liquid is in the demijohn top up with water to bring to a gallon. Seal with the rubber bung and airlock, having put a small amount of diluted Milton liquid in the airlock.
12. You can now store the wine for months somewhere cool and frost free. At first the fermentation may start up again and you'll see bubbles going through the airlock. Gradually the wine will clear.
13. Once fully clear repeat the draining process, this time from the demijohn to sterilised wine bottles. Put a stopper in each bottle and store.
14. The wine will be ready to drink after twelve months.

56 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:35 am

    Hi,
    I like your recipe and have a couple of questions if you don\'t mind.
    Does the wine clear alright? Some recipes on the Internet suggest that it\'s better to put in the additives.

    Can I double the amount as I have a lot of plums to use, if so do I just follow the recipe and double the quantity.
    Thank you, kind regards, Liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz… The wine will clear, although plum wine is probably one of the fruit wines that take longer than average. You can use additives to clear the wine, their generic name is finings. If you do choose to use one, check carefully what it's contents are… some are made from animal protein for example and therefore may be from an unappetising source. I prefer to do the whole thing naturally, although it does take some patience and self control!

      Yes, just double the amounts if you have a lot more plums to use and a big enough container.

      Hope all goes well.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  2. Anonymous7:34 am

    Hi, followed your instructions and am on fifth day of ferment, should the fruit sink before I syphon into demijohn of should it be strained off first? I am new to this but every thing has worked as suggested....thanks...Ian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian… the aim is to transfer as little of the fruit pulp into the demijohns as possible. So if your fruit is floating on the top or sunk to the bottom that should enable you to siphon off the liquid and easily avoid getting any of the fruit plugged up against the tube mouth. You want to avoid having to strain out the fruit since this will get more of the soft pulp floating into the liquid.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  3. hey john,
    i have a huge plum tree in the garden of our cottage, and this year is the first year i am attempting to make plum wine, after many years of crumbles and jams and chutneys!
    please could you tell me how much wine yeast you would add in your recipe?
    cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Emma… I use Young's wine yeast. Here's a link below showing an image of the container, and just about the lowest price I can find. If you're in the UK, Wilkson's stores stock this yeast. The instructions state one heaped teaspoon per gallon. Hope that helps.

      http://www.brew2bottle.co.uk/super-wine-yeast-compound-60g.html?gclid=CITB1orxzLkCFYqR3godH0YATA

      Regards, John

      Delete
  4. Hiya, I followed your recipe because it seems so simple. I'm new to winemaking. After making plum wine and leaving it in the demijohn for about 3 months, I siphoned it into bottles yesterday. I checked with a hydrometer that it had stopped fermenting beforehand. I had a sip of the test wine - it tasted horrible - quite sour in fact. What can I do to make it taste better? Or will be OK after a year or so in the bottle? Thanx. Please let me know what you think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Crianza... I'm sorry to hear you're having problems. The most likely reasons for the sour taste is are...

      1. Bacteria has got into the mix and has turned the wine into vinegar. If this is the case, it's likely it will get even more sour over time.

      2. It just might be that, being a young wine, the taste will improve and you just may have to slowly add some sugar to sweeten to your taste.

      Since it isn't really ready for drinking until 12 months old, I suggest having another taste in 3 months time. If it's even more sour then, it'll be from reason no. 1 and you'll have to throw the lot away and try again next year, being especially careful over sterilisation and ensuring no damaged plums are used. If the wine taste a little better, leave it for a further 6 months and then judge if you need to add more sugar for taste when it's 12 months old.

      Hope this helps, John

      Delete
  5. Hi, Crianza here again. Just wanted to say the we've had another taste of the plum wine and it seems to be improving. We think it was just a bit young. Thanks for your advice. By the way, we also did your apple wine recipe and just bottled it up today. We had a taste and it was gorgeous - we even felt a tad tipsy after a few sips. After a year or two it should be really nice. Thanks again. Crianza

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great news Crianza...phew! The apple wine turns out lovely and golden, both in colour and taste, so well worth the wait!

      Regards, John

      Delete
  6. Anonymous7:34 pm

    Hi. If I use frozen plums, should I defrost them first before starting to make the wine?
    Thanks, Mo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mo... I suspect when you add boiling water to the plums this will defrost them anyway Mo, so go for it. Regards, John

      Delete
    2. Thanks John. Will have a go and let you know the result.

      Delete
  7. Hello,

    I've stumbled across this recipe today, and I like the look of it (minimal ingredients, minimal hassle). Just one question for you though.

    I've got a fruit press at home, so I was wondering if I cut and stone the plums and then press them, can I just add the juice and skins (wrapped in muslin) to the fermentation barrel? I'm hoping that will reduce the amount of sediment as I can just remove the muslin bag with all the skins when I transfer the liquid.

    Regards,
    Martin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Martin... Yes, that would be a fine way to ensure the wine cleared more quickly.

      Good luck, and thank you for the positive comments about the recipe.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  8. Anonymous5:24 pm

    hello you mention that you need a large strainer when do you actually need a strainer during the wine making process as you don't state it anywhere in the method. thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooops! Sorry, that but was copied from the apple wine recipe, where you do need a strainer. For the plums you don't. I've corrected the 'Equipment needed' list. Thanks for spotting that.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  9. Anonymous7:00 pm

    Hi. I have a lot of red cherry plums the are very sweet when left on the tree until they drop. Some of them have natural yeast already forming on the skins so I squashed them and put the whole plums including stones into the fermentation barrel and only added an equal amount of water by volume as i didn't want to dilute the yeast and plum sugar. Within a couple of hours the fermentation started. Been going really strong for 5 days now and smells wonderfull. Going to transfer the wine to demijohns tomorrow. Will update if successful or a disaster later. Stuart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that Stuart. I'll be interested to hear how it turns out. I've always ducked using the natural yeast on fruit to do the fermentation in case I end up with a form of cider (though that might not be too bad anyway). Hence the recommendation under 'Ingredients' to use wine yeast.

      Best of luck! John

      Delete
  10. Anonymous9:09 pm

    Hi John
    I made your plum wine recipe in Sept 13. It is in a non see through 25L container with an airlock fitted. I have racked it twice. The airlock is still blipping about once every 4-6 hours. Someone has told me I should have bottled it months ago and I thought if it was still blipping it was fermenting and so not yet ready. What do you think? Should I bottle it or leave it longer? I am patient if needed!
    Many Thanks

    Tracy

    When I tasted it last - around 4 months old it tasted reasonable although was very cloudy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tracy… If the airlock is still blipping it IS still fermenting. Sounds like its nearly finished, though, if it’s happening only every 4 to 6 hours in this warm weather. I'm fascinated to discover how you know that… have you been doing a bit of airlock-watching?. Trouble is, if you bottle now you may pop the corks.

      Wait a little longer. Should be OK to bottle once the weather cools.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  11. Anonymous12:58 pm

    I have just followed the recipie and would like to know what sort of % the wine will be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi... although you're supposed to measure this with an hydrometer, I've never done this. Prefer the anticipation of that first drink. But you'll find it's pretty strong ~:0)

      Delete
  12. I have a question on your method steps:
    5. Put the lid on and leave for four days, stirring twice daily.
    6. Add the sugar and stir vigorously to dissolve.

    Is that step 6 after four days, or add the sugar and stir at the same time within the step 5 four days?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Teresa... all steps are sequential, so only add the sugar for step 6 onwards after four days. Regards, John

      Delete
  13. Anonymous4:45 pm

    hi John, I have not ried the recipe yet but it sounds more do-able than some of the more complicated versions on the net (which I am glad of!) My question is could I use this same recipe for other fruits?

    Many thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You certainly can as a general principle. You might want to have a look at the other Allotment Heaven alcohol recipes at http://allotmentheaven.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/allotment-heaven-easy-recipes.html

      Delete
  14. Anonymous11:25 pm

    Hi john
    I bottled my wine today. It has been fermenting for almost one year. I sweetened it slightly and it is beautiful. It has a very slight cloud but I prefer that to using finings. Also, it is incredibly strong! Thank you so much for the recipe, I am looking forward to sharing with friends at a BBQ tomorrow and then saving some until next year.
    Best regards
    Tracy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like it Tracy. Sounds like the BBQ will go with a swing! Regards, John

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Room temperature is just fine, Brian. Regards, John

      Delete
  16. Anonymous1:39 pm

    I have just bought the kit needed and im wondering healthy plums.. can i cut out the maggoty bit or do all of them need to be untouched by insects lol ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you were absolutely sure of being left with unaffected plum, you can cut out the affected bit. But if you've got plenty of plums it's a lot faster to go for unaffected fruit. Hope this helps. Regards, John

      Delete
    2. Anonymous1:34 pm

      Thanks and can i check is it 9 days before i transfer to the demijohn ?

      Delete
    3. No, it's 14 days...

      In step 5 it's 4 days
      In step 7 it's 5 days
      In step 9 it's 5 days

      Thanks, John

      Delete
    4. Anonymous5:46 pm

      Confused about this - is step nine an extra five days of stirring after step 7?

      Delete
    5. Hmmm.... you're right! The steps are a bit confusing so I've tidied the timing explanation up. And having confused myself, it is 9 days before transferring to the demijohn. It won't be any problem if you've left it for 14 days before transferring to the demijohn... it's all fermenting time anyway.

      Thanks for spotting that. Regards, John

      Delete
    6. Anonymous9:48 am

      I feel like im being a pain but ive never made wine or any kind of brewing before and im stuck again , im on day 10 and have just seen your reply and havent yet bought the plastic tubing to siphon off the wine , i have googled and it seems it comes in different sizes........ now i have no idea what size i need and it seems b&q etc dont have any so im going to have to order online . any help appreciated.

      Delete
    7. No problem... here's a link to the type of tubing at a good price. You need a minimum of two metres. The length depends on how high you're going to put the barrel and how far you're going to stretch. Generally you have to be able to adjust the depth of the tube in the barrel as it empties at the same time as getting ready to stick your finger over the other end once the demijohn is full, so the flow down the tube is maintained ready for the next demijohn.

      Hope this helps... here's the link:

      http://www.dorsethomebrew.co.uk/shop/straining-and-filtering/313-pvc-tube-1-point-5-metre-three-eighths-inch-bore-5021954099129.html

      Regards, John

      Delete
    8. Anonymous12:46 pm

      Hello its Caroline again, i have bought the tube and i have just transferred to the demijohn, as i was sucking the tube i got a taste of the wine and i would describe it as a very dry cider , not very nice. Is this normal at this stage ? Thanks for all the help.

      Delete
    9. It won't taste all that great at this stage, Caroline. You'll still have quite a bit of yeast floating around in the liquid. You've still got a settling period to go through in the demijohn, then further months in the bottles. Although you can drink after 12 months, the wine is at its best after two years. Thanks, John

      Delete
    10. Anonymous1:44 pm

      Thats great , i have even started the apple wine today to give that a try :)

      Delete
  17. Hi John,

    Could I use this recipe for other fruits such as blackberry or elderberry (same quantities)?

    Cheers :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andy... Yes, you could use the same recipe for fruit with a similar moisture content. Regards, John

      Delete
  18. I have just got home to find that my wine is not fermenting 24 hours after adding the yeast. It is room temperature, thermometer on the side says 22deg so just don't know where I have gone wrong. Can you please help, I have followed directions to the 'T'. Thanks
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa... That's happened to me occasionally too. Sometimes the yeast needs a bit of a kick start, so use some yeast nutrient. It's available from Wilkinsons, here's the link...

      http://www.wilko.com/homebrew-accessories+equipment/wilko-yeast-nutrient-50g/invt/0022654

      Regards, John

      Delete
  19. Hello. Do we really have to remove the stones if they are unlikely to split? Also, if I do have to, my wine books say cut in half and take out the stones.Mine are so ripe I could just squash the plums by hand and pull out the stones, does that cause the fruit to become too mashed up? I see somebody else wanted to use their press.I also have a press, but I worry that pressing them causes too much haze to the wine because of pectin and it will struggle to clear.I personally will be using a pectic enzyme anyway, I'm sure the achohol will cause me more damage than a bit of pectolayze.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Neil... Many fruit stones and seeds contain toxins such as arsenic, although it's in such small quantities it's unlikely to hurt you. I've always preferred to remove the plum stones, but I'd be interested int he end result if you leave them in.

      It's best if you use firm fruit and don't mash them up, otherwise you'll have too much soft pulp in the mix and it will be difficult to clear. Pressing apples is fine, but plums cause more problems.

      Although pectic enzyme is extracted from fruit and fungus, and therefore you could say is from a natural source, I try to stay away from anything subjected to a manufacturing process. Yes, I know the sugar and yeast ingredients have been through this process, but it's all about reducing that type of content as much as possible for me.

      Hope this helps, Regards, John

      Delete
  20. Anonymous5:37 pm

    Hi John,

    I'm just starting my 2nd year of winemaking. Last year's batches were all pretty successful and for one batch of plum wine, excellent (sadly only 1 gall was made)
    Most batches were made from thawed out previous years' frozen stewed apple and blackberry as most of the new crop was commandeered by the wife for either eating or freezing. I didn't notice any difference between batches made from stewed and those from fresh.

    This year I'm experimenting with some different methods and your no added chemicals principal is the same as mine (I only use boiling water to sterilise, but Milton looks a safe alternative and all organically grown fruit), so I'm giving the plum recipe a try.

    My method last year was similar to yours, adding boiling water to the fresh or frozen fruit in a 1 gal fermenting bin and gently pulping (unlike your advice to avoid pulping, but I had no problem clearing), but the main difference is, I only added the boiling water to about halfway, then heated the other half in a large pan and added the sugar and kept heating until all dissolved. In your method, getting it all to disolve in only lukewarm water takes ages. I then added this to the bin without the 4 day wait as in your recipe. I wonder what exactly is the purpose of the 4 day wait, does it extract more flavour? The boiling water will have killed off any wild yeast, so it won't have started fermenting.

    As a final note, all my bottles were definitely drinkable by Xmas, and those that survived a couple more months didn't seem very different. I'm going to try and be more patient with this year's!

    Regards,
    Bill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bill... Yes, the four day wait is to allow maximum seepage of the juices from the plums. I accept it does make it more difficult to then dissolve the sugar, but I suspect if you put the sugar in too early it will inhibit the juices fully coming out.

      Yes, having patience is difficult when the full bottles of lovely coloured wine look ready. But I suspect the flavour is enhanced on a similar scale to that of the apple wine... have a look at the comments for that, one of which from Chris gives a scale which indicates a 3yr old wine is at best flavour. You can read that at the link slow. Regards, John

      http://allotmentheaven.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/apple-wine-easy-recipe.html

      Delete
  21. Hi John,

    Which is better, brewing sugar or granulated?

    Cheers Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andy... there are no doubt some subtle differences between the two, but I doubt you could easily tell the difference at any stage in the brewing process or in the end result. I always use granulated sugar.

      Thanks, John

      Delete
  22. Anonymous9:00 pm

    Hi I am making wine for the first time and have made the plum wine I have followed the recipe but I had a lot of sediment at the bottom of my demijohn and some pulp floating on top it's only been in for a month but i have siphoned it into a clean demijohn, its only been in a month will it be ok its seems t8 off stopping fermenting though. Thanks sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would normally bubble away for a bit longer than a month, Sam. When you move it into a clean demijohn did it smell alcoholic? If so, you're probably OK.

      Yes, the plum wine does have a lot of sediment because the fruit is softer than, say, apples. It just takes longer to clear.

      Regards, John

      Delete
  23. Anonymous5:33 pm

    Hi John, just wanted a little advice, I've chopped the plumbs smaller so should only take 3 days & have only added half the water as I was thinking of dissolving the sugar in the other half before adding it after the 3 days. should I let it cool down before adding or will the boost in tempetature then help the yeast? I know it should be tepid. Great forum this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure if cutting the plums smaller will reduce the time for the juices to leach out. You could use billing water for the other half gallon and mix the sugar in with that; it will make dissolving the sugar easier. After pouring the additional half gallon into the barrel ensure it is warm, and not hot, before adding yeast. The slightly increased temperature should help get the yeast going.

      Thanks for the positive feedback.

      Delete

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