Fermented beverages from
various fruits can be made successfully on a small scale on the farm
without expensive equipment. Success depends upon the use of clean,
sound fruit of good quality, care in manipulation, and the possession of
a knowledge of the principles of fermentation. Control of fermentation
is by far the most important factor concerned.
93. Red Wine. Red
wine is made by alcoholic fermentation of crushed red wine grapes. The
color of these grapes is in the skins and does not dissolve until
fermentation takes place. It then dissolves in the fermented juice,
giving the characteristic red color.
(a) Crushing. The grapes
may be crushed in an apple or fruit crusher or with a heavy stick or
with the hands. Use only clean ripe grapes; never moldy ones. It is not
practicable to make less than five gallons of wine. Wooden containers
are necessary for good results.
(b) Yeast. Compressed
yeast or magic yeast cannot be used for wine. The grapes will ferment of
their own accord, but may not give a good product. If only a few gallons
of wine are to be made, the grapes may be allowed to ferment with the
yeast naturally occurring on them. Better results will be obtained if
yeast obtained from the Viticulture Division of the University of
California, Berkeley, is used. This may be obtained for one dollar per
culture. Directions for its use accompany the culture.
(c) First Fermentation.
The crushed grapes are placed in an open wooden vat or open barrel or in
a stoneware crock. The yeast from the University is added or the grapes
are allowed to ferment spontaneously. They should be stirred well three
times daily. Fermentation is allowed to proceed until almost all of the
sugar is fermented. This will be in five to eight days at room
temperature. By this time the wine should have become deep red in color.
(d) Pressing. The juice
is pressed from the fermented grapes. A cider press or kitchen size
fruit press may be used for small quantities. A jelly bag may also be
(e) Final Fermentation.
The wine is transferred to barrels or casks. These are left open until
the sugar is all fermented. This will take place in about two to three
weeks. During this time the barrels should lie on their sides with bung
holes up and open and they should be kept full.
(f) Settling and Filling
Up. When fermentation ceases and the sugar is all fermented, the barrels
are filled with other sound new or old wine and closed with bungs. They
should be examined once daily for about two weeks, removing the hung or
cork to release pressure of gas and then replacing it. This will prevent
bursting of the barrels. As the wine cools it contracts in volume and
more wine must be added occasionally to keep the containers full in
order to prevent vinegar formation. Souring of wine is often caused by
not keeping the barrels full.
(g) Racking. When the
wine has settled for about a month, it is drawn off (" racked ") into
clean barrels, casks, or demijohns, and these are filled completely and
(h) Aging. Newly made
wine is not pleasing in flavor. It must be allowed to age in barrels or
other closed and well filled wooden containers for at least a year
before it should be used. The containers must be kept full and closed
during this time. Wine improves with age up to a certain point. Claret
is usually best when three or four years old.
During aging, the flavor
and bouquet of the wine develop by a slow oxidation process, brought
about by the air which slowly gains entrance through the pores of the
(i) Clearing the Wine. If
properly made, wine will usually become clear of its own accord. If it
should not do so, it may be clarified by filtration.
(j) Bottling. When the
wine has acquired its best flavor (after two to four years for red
wine), it should be bottled to prevent deterioration. The bottles should
be well filled and corked with good quality wine corks so that the
bottles will not leak. It is also a good plan to seal the corks with
paraffin to prevent molding.
94. White Wine.
White wine may be made in a small way on the farm in barrels or
puncheons (180 gallon barrels), or in small casks. Demijohns or bottles
may be used, but the results so obtained are not very satisfactory. A
barrel or cask should be employed. White wine grapes of good quality
only should be used.
(a) Crushing, Pressing
and Settling. White grapes are crushed and pressed before fermentation.
The juice is not allowed to ferment with the skins, in this way
differing from red wine.
(b) Fermentation is
carried out in barrels or puncheons, etc., with the bungs left open.
Open vats are not used. The same care in fermentation should be given as
for red wine (see paragraph 93). Fermentation should be complete in four
or five weeks.
(c) Racking, Filling Up,
Aging, Clearing, etc., are carried out as for red wine.
95. Other Fermented
Fruit Juices. Hard cider and other fermented fruit juices are often
made for home use. These may be used while still in fermentation, as
"sharp" cider, etc., or may be allowed to ferment "dry," i. e., until no
sugar is left and may then be allowed to age in wood before use. Or they
may be bottled just before fermentation is over to produce sparkling
The juice is pressed from
ripe fruit and allowed to ferment spontaneously or fermentation is
induced by the addition of pure yeast from such a source as the
University of California or some other reliable source. Compressed yeast
can be used but may not give an agreeable flavor.
If the fermented juices
are to be aged this must be done in wooden barrels or casks for the best
results. Because of their low alcohol content, vinegar fermentation must
be carefully avoided by keeping the barrels full, well closed, and in a
cool place. These juices age very quickly and may be used in a few
months after fermentation.
oranges, blackberries, raspberries, sweet plums, cherries, and peaches
may all be used for hard cider. Peaches and pears may be pressed more
satisfactorily if crushed and fermented before pressing.