Getting the flavour

THERE are several ways of extracting the required flavour from our fruit or vegetables—pressing, using juice extractors, or boiling, soaking in hot or cold water, and fermenting on the pulp—and there are advantages to each; which one uses depends on the wine being made and the equipment available (which usually means how much one is prepared to spend!).

Sometimes one first extracts the juice from all the ingredients and starts the fermentation right away. The straight juice may be fermented, but for reasons of economy (to avoid using too large a quantity of fruit) and so as not to have too strong a flavour, it is more usual for the juice to be diluted with water.

Alternatively, the fruit is pulped, the must prepared, and the yeast introduced, so that the fermentation begins immediately, and the liquor is not strained from the solids until, say, 10 days later. This is more convenient for those who do not wish to buy the more expensive equipment. Whichever system is used, the quantities advocated in the recipes remain the same.

In the latter case it is a great help to extraction to add 1 teaspoonful of pectin-destroying enzyme such as Pectozyme, Pektolase or Pectinol, to hasten the breakdown of the fruit (and, incidentally, ensure a clear wine). It should be added 24 hours before the yeast, and only when the must or juice is cool or cold. (Boiling water will destroy the enzyme.)

Pressing: ideal for grapes (which must first be broken), fruit and berries. Even if you cannot afford the luxury of a proper press—and they are not expensive now—it is well worth contriving one of your own or borrowing one from your winemaking club. I have found that the ideal combination for the serious winemaker is a Bryants AK fruit crusher with which to mash the fruit, and a Loftus fruit press with which to press it: these will deal effectively with almost anything, even, say, a hundredweight of apples.

Extractors: the modern way Juice extractors can now be obtained quite cheaply and range from the simple, handoperated one which is a development of the old-fashioned mincer to sophisticated, powerful electric models such as the Kenwood, Beekay and Vitamine. Of these I have used only the Beekay regularly, and must say that this is winemaking de luxe, and is probably the ideal solution for someone who uses 10 or 12 lb. of fruit at a time. It is effortless; but the filter has to be cleaned out after every 4 or 5 lbs. and this becomes tedious when doing larger quantities.

Cheaper than these, or than a press, is a steam extractor, and this, like the others, will separate the juice from the pulp most efficiently. One point to note is that fruit or vegetables should not be left in the steam extractor for longer than 10 minutes or it will have the same undesirable effects as over-boiling.

Boiling: (necessary with some root and fruit wines) is a method that has to be used with care, for if the ingredients (particularly parsnips and plums) are overboiled it may later prove difficult to get the wine to clear. The liquor is then strained off the solids, cooled, and fermented.

Cold water soaking: the fruit is pulped or the must prepared, the yeast is introduced, and the liquor is not strained from the solids until, say, ten days later. This can be used with hard fruit as a preliminary to pressing. All you really need is a large crock or dustbin.

Hot water soaking: boiling or near-boiling water may be poured over the ingredients, which are then left to soak for three or four days, the yeast having been introduced when the must has cooled to 70 deg. F. (21 deg. C.). The liquor is then strained off.

Where boiling water is used the must will have been purified, for any wild yeast which may have been present will have been killed, but if pressing or the cold water method are employed it is as well to add one Campden tablet per gallon, and to wait 24 hours before adding one's chosen yeast. The sulphur dioxide of the tablet will dispose of unwanted wild yeasts but 24 hours later its action will have abated sufficiently to allow your, selected yeast to start working satisfactorily.

When, by one of these means, the flavour has been extracted, the sugar is added and the yeast and yeast nutrient introduced in order to cause fermentation, and the fermentation is then conducted as described later.

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Making Your Own Wine

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