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Plum Wine

Plum Wine


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Nothing could be simpler than combining ripe produce with the alcohol of your choice to reap the rewards months later. The technique also works with nonalcoholic liquids like honey or vinegar.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small red plums (the smaller the better)
  • 1 750 ml bottle vodka or other clear flavorless spirit

Recipe Preparation

  • Combine plums and sugar in a large jar or crock and add vodka. Stir to dissolve sugar and tightly cover. Store in a cool, dark place at least 3 months before using. Plum wine should taste floral and almost Sherry-like, with notes of caramel and raisins.

  • Do Ahead: Plum wine can be made 1 year ahead. Chill.

Reviews Section

Plum Wine Recipe

If you’re reading this article it’s a safe bet that you’re interested in fruit wine making, more specifically plum wine making. An equally safe bet would seemingly be that I, your illustrious unnamed author, am also interested in making wine from plums. And you would be correct, but that wasn’t always the case.

I was once a happy homebrewer with nary a thought to home wine making. Then as fate would have it my progenitors, in their infinite wisdom (love you guys), purchased a home with a plum tree. All seemed well at first. “Oh for fun,” they said. “PLUMS!” they said. But as the long days of summer gradually gave way to the bonfire lit evenings of autumn, it became apparent to my birth-givers that their yard was being invaded, invaded by the purple menace, PLUMS. My mother did what any self-respecting Midwestern defending her home from invading plums would do. She started baking…..and canning…..and saucing…. and ultimately, defeatedly, freezing. Enter: me.

My mother, being the good mother that she is, was aware of her son’s attempts to master the fermentational arts. As such, she, in all her Midwestern motherliness, bestowed upon me many, many. many pounds of frozen plums. As I accepted two igloo coolers full of frozen plums. I gave my mother a slightly bewildered look and asked, “What am I supposed to do with 25lbs of frozen plums?” She replied, “Make plum wine of course!'' Plum Wine? I thought dumbly. I have no idea how to make plum wine.

So, I learned. I was surprised to find that making any fruit wine is incredibly easy. If you have brewed your own beer, your are incredibly overqualified to make your own wine. Don’t believe me? Check out the recipes below.

How to Make 1 Gallon of Plum Wine from Ripe Fruit

Note: This recipe can be scaled up if you have more fruit on hand. We recommend using only one pack of Wine Yeast per 5 gallons of wine.


What Is Japanese Plum Wine or Liqueur (Umeshu)?

Umeshu is a Japanese plum wine or liqueur made by steeping green ume (Japanese plums) in white liquor and rock sugar. When I first saw fresh, unripe ume plums in a store, it was 55 baht a kg which was not bad at all. I immediately thought about making this Japanese plum liquor because this drink had been popular among Thai people for quite some time.

I’d never really understood what the craze was all about until I finally opened my first bottle of CHOYA Umeshu. Since then I’ve been making the drink most times the plums are in season. Boy…when you miss a little, you miss a lot!


Put the spigot on your fermentation bucket and test for leaks. Use water, you don't want to find out with sticky plum juice!! Put the bag full of processed plums in the bucket and pour in the juice. I zip tied the bag closed because knotting it is a pain later on. On the stove, melt the sugar in about a gallon of water. Heat the water up to expedite the process, but don't let it boil. Next, brew a cup of English breakfast tea with 3 tea bags, juice the 2 lemons, add the pectic enzyme (follow the instructions on the bottle for the amount to add) & crush 6 campden tablets. Add everything to the fermenting bucket & stir it up. Put the lid on the bucket with the airlock in the hole in the lid. Leave everything alone for 24 hours to let the campden tablets & pectic enzyme work their magic.

The campden tablets kill off any wild yeast & bacteria that would otherwise spoil the wine.

The pectic enzyme breaks down the pectin in the fruit to allow maximum fermentation of the plums.

The tea adds tannins to the finished wine

The lemons boost the acid level in the must. (unfermented wine)


Midnight Ume Vodka and Plum Wine Cocktails

Refreshing Midnight Ume vodka and plum wine cocktails balance tart and sweet flavors beautifully to create a bright, cheery drink perfect for holiday get-togethers with friends. This post was created in partnership with Drizly and Beam Suntory.

Brian and I have always lived in smaller spaces, first in various Brooklyn walk ups and now in a bright little house in Charlottesville. But we’ve found that any home is perfect for a party, no matter the size, as long as we have the right occasion, good friends, and brilliant cocktails.

For me, holiday celebrations are the best because it’s a time for being indoors and cozy, with sentimental favorites on the stereo and the flicker of candles. But when it comes to food and drink, I’m happy to stray from convention. Traditional holiday flavors like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon begin feeling staid quickly in the winter and anyway, there are so many other tastes that can evince a merry, relaxing feeling. These lemony Midnight Ume Cocktails made with Haku Vodka are unexpected, refreshing, and just right for holiday merry making.

The subtle sweetness of Haku finds a bright counterpoint in the form of a little lemon juice, while the sweet and sour plum wine bridges the two splendidly. Homemade ginger syrup adds a touch more sweetness and also serves as a nice nod to the season. Finally, a splash of soda lends a little effervescence to make the Midnight Ume a breezy antidote to the heavy foods and drinks of the holiday season.

Haku Vodka’s clean, round, slightly sweet taste makes it a perfect base for cocktails. Moreover, the minimal, modern aesthetics of Haku’s faceted glass bottle, washi label, and kanji calligraphy also make it a striking and unique gift for a host or hard-to-shop-for family member. Shop Haku Vodka, and the rest of the House of Suntory collection on Drizly here.


The basic recipe is simple and can be used to make almost any fruit wine. The Beverage People's fruit wine recipe below will show you how to make blackberry wine, and also functions as a raspberry wine recipe, plum wine recipe, and cherry wine recipe.

The recipe(s) are designed to start the fermentation with 6 or more gallons of must, understanding that once the fruit solids have been removed the liquid volume will be reduced. A starting volume of 6.5 gallons should yield 6 gallons of finished wine, while a starting volume of 6 gallons should yield about 5.5 gallons of finished wine.

The summers of Sonoma County are flush with the bounty of wonderful fruit. And as Byron Burch, the shop&rsquos founder, was fond of saying, &ldquoIf it&rsquos got sugar or starch, we can make alcohol with it.&rdquo Besides the fun of discovering a use for extra fruit, these wines really add variety to your cellar.

Grapes are naturally suited to winemaking. They make enough sugar and acid on their own. Most other fruits lack enough sugar and acid to make wine on their own. Most of the sugar and some of the acid must be added. Because of this, it's best to think of fruit wine as a recipe. The fruit will provide color, flavor, some acid and some sugar and added water, corn sugar (dextrose) and acid will build up these ingredients to actually make wine.

A good grape wine needs to start at a minimum of 20° Brix to generate about 11% alcohol and in addition will need at least 0.5 - 0.7% Titratable Acid for an acid balance in the finished wine. These amounts will taste good without overpowering the flavor or aroma with alcohol and tartness. So with those parameters, we can create our recipe to reproduce those conditions.

Start with about 12 pounds of corn sugar for 6 gallons of finished wine. You need about 2 pounds of corn sugar for every gallon of Must to get to 20° Brix, plus the fruit will provide additional sugar and volume.

Next you need between 15 and 20 pounds of fruit. The more fruit the better, but always have at least 15 pounds. Always use more when making wines from fruits that have lighter flavors and aromas. In my experience, darker colored fruits like blackberries, blueberries and cherries tend to make better wines. They tend to have stronger flavors which are more likely to be retained in the finished wines. Think of the flavors of the fruit itself. If there isn&rsquot much flavor or complexity in the fruit to start with, there won&rsquot be much left in the finished wine. Wines made from fruits such as apricots or melons usually have little to no flavor or aroma once they have finished fermenting.

While the fruit will contribute some sugar to the must, it is usually not enough to make the Brix high enough for wine. A good tip to start with is to add the sugar in increments after you have mixed together the fruit, water, acid and nutrients. After each addition is stirred in well, use your hydrometer to take the Brix reading and then continue adding until the amount of sugar reaches about 20° Brix.

Remove as much of the seeds or pits as possible. While seeds and pits are annoying to remove, it is worth it. As alcohol in the wine increases it may extract compounds from the seeds or pits which may have a negative impact on the flavor or even be harmful. Tiny, soft fruits such as blackberries and blueberries can be gently crushed, just enough to break the skins. Fruits a little larger and firmer such as cherries and small plums can be halved and pitted. Larger fruits can be quartered or cut into golf ball-sized chunks.

Since most fruits, including grapes, do not contain enough nutrients like nitrogen for the yeast to carry out the fermentation, yeast nutrients are always added. Using 1 to 2 teaspoons of Fermaid K acts like vitamins for the yeasts, keeping them healthy. Then the yeast can work to complete the fermentation and avoid production of undesirable flavors and aromas.

You can also add 1/2 oz. of the enzyme Pectinase to break down pectin in the fruit, allowing for easier extraction of juice and minimizing haze in the finished wine. Pectinase should be added before the fermentation begins as alcohol inhibits its activity.

Perform an acid test to make sure you have the right amount of acid in your wine. A desirable range is about 0.5 - 0.7% TA. Add tartaric acid using the simple equation on our wine magnet or from the directions in your acid test kit.

Add 5 to 10 grams of wine yeast that will accentuate the fruit flavors of the wine. We often recommend a white wine yeast that produces fruity esters such as Epernay II over a clean, relatively neutral champagne yeast. The added esters from the yeast tends to lend more complexity and flavor to the wine. Another great choice is Beaujalois 71-B as it accentuates fruit flavors. I used 71-B for a cherry wine I made last year and was quite happy with the ripe, fresh cherry flavor and aromas in the wine.

Sulfite should be added to the must before fermentation begins to kill or inhibit wild yeast or bacteria and at multiple times post-fermentation to build up free SO2 to protect the wine from oxidation and spoilage.

When it comes to the fermentation itself, the easiest way to ferment fruit wines is to begin with a fruit wine starter kit or obtain similar equipment from your own resources. You will start the fermentation in a large food grade bucket fermentor with about 8 to 10 gallons capacity. This will give you plenty of room for the fermentation and also be easier than trying to remove and clean fruit pulp from the inside of carboys. Place the fruit in a non-reactive nylon mesh bag and allow the fruit to ferment within it. Twice a day, remove the lid of the bucket and use a sanitized spoon to push down the rising fruit pulp cap. Continually punch the cap down during fermentation to keep the fruit in contact with the yeast in the liquid. Also, don&rsquot let the cap dry out or it may attract bugs or bacteria. When the cap stops rising, simply lift the nylon bag from the bucket out of the wine. Gently squeeze out whatever juice will freely come out and discard the fruit. Replace the lid and allow the wine to finish fermenting. When the wine hits 0°Brix or below, siphon to a 6 gallon carboy. Secure an airlock or breather bung. Make sure to top up into the narrow area of the neck, even if you have to add a neutral white or rosè wine. Refer again to the sulfite instructions for additions you will make during storage and before bottling.

Detailed instructions for making fruit wines.

Use the following procedures for 6 gallons of Berry or Stone Fruit Wines:

  1. Smash sound, ripe berries (or pit stone fruit), tie loosely in a straining bag and place in open top fermentor.
  2. Heat 6 quarts water with Corn sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cool and pour into the fermentor over the fruit.
  3. Add the remaining water, Yeast Nutrient, Pectinase and Tartaric Acid. Add 5 crushed Campden Tablets.
  4. Cover with loose plastic sheet or lid and allow to cool and dissipate the sulfite, waiting for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. Stir in the Yeast. Once fermentation begins, stir or push the pulp down into the liquid twice a day.
  6. After 5-7 days, strain and press the pulp. Funnel the fermenting wine into closed fermentors, such as glass or plastic carboys, and attach a fermentation lock. Note: if this fermentation is very active, you may need to divide the wine between two carboys so it won't foam out and spill.
  7. When bubbles are no longer actively rising through the wine, siphon the wine back together into one full carboy. Optional: Fine with Sparkolloid, add 3 Campden Tablets and store for four weeks with an airlock.
  8. Rack (siphon) away from the sediment, top full with a neutral wine and leave under airlock for 3 weeks up to 4 months.
  9. For bottling, rack into an open container, and add 3 crushed Campden Tablets. Sweeten with sugar syrup to taste and add 1/2 teaspoon Sorbistat per gallon to stabilize. Siphon into bottles, cork, and set aside to age for at least 3 weeks.

Blackberry, Raspberry, Plum, or Cherry Wine Recipe

(omit acid addition for sour cherries)

Original Brix: 20

Total Acid: .6-.65%

Equipment needed For 6 gallons of Fruit Wine or Cider

GET A COMPLETE FRUIT WINE STARTER KIT FOR 6 GALLONS OR GATHER TOGETHER THE EQUIPMENT BELOW.

  1. 8 to 10 Gallon Food grade Bucket and Lid.
  2. Nylon Bag to fit bucket.
  3. One 6 gallon glass carboy (water bottle) with a fermentation lock and a #6 1/2 or #7 drilled rubber stopper. Or PET plastic carboy with a #10 drilled rubber stopper and fermentation lock.
  4. Racking tube and flexible tubing.
  5. Bottle filler
  6. Corks or crown caps.
  7. Two 1/2 cases wine or beer bottles.
  8. 25 pack of Campden Tablets
  9. Corker or Capper

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Related Video

I've been making ice cream all summer and this was such a fruity favorite! Used about 6 plums and didn't have the wine but it was still very flavorful. Subbed 1/4 maple syrup for the corn syrup. Was a great consistency after about 30 minutes in my ice cream maker.

Yum! I made this on a 100-degree day, and it was perfectly light and refreshing. Not wanting to go to the store in the heat, I used what I had on hand -- orange-pineapple juice instead of orange juice, agave nectar (1/4 cup) instead of corn syrup and no orange peel or plum wine. Despite the substitutions, it was delicious. I will definitely make this again.

This was a delicious sherbert! I had some plums that were on the verge of going bad. My guests thought it was just perfect for a hot day! Love it and will be repeating this for sure.

I agree with Ronni in that the orange flavour is pretty strong however, it is still wonderful sherbet. I used port as I was too lazy to hunt for some plum wine. I just wish I discovered this recipe at the beginning of plum season rather than at the end.

This was a wonderful way to finish off a Japanese style supper! I have only two comments though: The orange juice is a bit overpowering reminding me of a orange creamsicle with a "fruitier" flavor. Sherbets (or sherbert) and ice cream take much longer to freeze when there is alcohol added to the mixture. You might want to add the plum wine as it's mixing in the maker, or just save it to drizzle onto the dessert. Relatively easy and definitely worth making. Great texture and wonderfully exotic.

Wow!! This is wonderful!! It's funny I'm learning Japanese recipe from American but this is part of friends ship, don't you think?

Fantastic. Very easy. I used canned plums with juice, because the fresh weren't ripe. My company loved it!!

I didn't know an ice cream maker was so difficult to use. However, the sherbet turned out great. I made this as the dessert to accompany a japanese meal & the guests loved the idea that it was homemade.


Key Notes

  • If you’re looking to make all-natural plum wine, then you won’t need to add any Sulfur dioxide/Sulfite (such as Campden tablets) to curb the fermentation. You’ll have to allow the yeast to die out naturally, although it can take a bit longer. Your ingredients can include the following:
    • Fresh ripe plums
    • Sugar
    • Chlorine-free filtered clean water
    • One teaspoon of fresh lemon juice (per one gallon of wine)
    • One packet of champagne yeast
    • Plum wine isn’t too sweet, especially if you’re making a 100 percent natural plum wine. Also, depending on the sugar level of your fruits, the wine’s alcohol level can range between 15 to 20 percent. Usually, the final taste is like that of brandy, only that it’s not distilled.
    • During the fermentation process, small amounts of methanol can be produced due to the presence of pectin in the plum fruits. However, the level of methanol formed during the process of making wine (homemade or commercial) is usually meager. The danger comes with distilling it to get brandy. This process increases the methanol concentration. However, if you want to prevent methanol from forming, you must ensure that while fermenting, it isn’t contaminated with fungi, yeast, or any other pectin-loving bacteria. If any of these are present, they’ll act on the pectin and break it down into methanol. Keep everything clean and sterilized from start to finish, and you won’t have any worries.
    • No matter what kind of plums you’re using, ensure to select the fully ripe ones for the best results. Usually, they don’t last beyond a day or two once they’ve ripened fully. At that full-ripe stage, they’re excellent for winemaking.

    Q: How long does it take before the plum wine is ready for bottling and consumption?

    A: Well, if you keep it longer, it gets better with the taste. Generally, the waiting period can range from five months upward. Although there are other methods to get your plum wine ready quickly, if you want a fantastic taste, patience is the key.

    Q: When do you remove the pits from the fruits?

    A: You can decide not to remove the pits while preparing it. Instead, you can leave them in the mash and have them filtered out later on when you’re transferring the juice into the carboys. It’s quicker and much easier that way.

    Q: What kind of bottles are suitable for bottling plum wine?

    A: Ultimately, it depends on what you want. You can be creative. There’s no one-shoe-fits-all or mandatory packaging specifications. However, some recommendable options include plastic-pop bottles (two liters), flip-top beer bottles (one liter), and flip-top wine bottles (750 milliliters).

    Q: How much water will I need to make the plum wine?

    A: The quantity of water you use somewhat determines how much wine you get in the end. A gallon of water is okay for a start, but then you need an ample amount of plum fruits for that quantity.

    Plums come in different varieties, from Damsons to Green Gage, Victoria, Golden plums, etc. They also vary in color: reds, yellows, purples, etc. However, one significant characteristic they have is that they all make fantastic wine. Plum wine has many nutritional benefits and makes for an excellent after-dinner treat. Hopefully, this easy-to-follow guide should help you prepare this simple homemade plum wine effortlessly.


    Plum Wine - Recipes

    Three Plum Wine Recipes

    Basic Plum Wine Recipe (One gallon recipe)

    I think this recipe looks pretty good and you should be able to use any type of plums. The plums should be good and ripe but not rotten. Good Luck and let me know how it turns out and any changes in the recipe you may have changed.

    3.5 qt. water
    2 lbs sugar or 2 lbs. light honey
    4 lbs. ripe sweet plums or 3 lbs. wild plums
    5 tsp. acid blend (Do not use with wild plums)
    1/8 tsp. tannin
    1 tsp. yeast nutrient
    1 Campden tablet (recommended)
    1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
    Champagne or Montrachet yeast

    Boil water and sugar/honey. If using honey, skim the scum.
    Wash, stem, and pit the plums. Cut into small pieces saving the juice.
    Put in straining bag in bottom of primary fermenter and mash.
    Pour hot sugar water over fruit and fill up to 1-gallon mark.
    When cooled add acid, tannin, nutrient and Campden tablet. Cover and fit with air lock.
    After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme.
    24 hours later add yeast and stir.
    Remove straining bag after a week.
    When must reaches Specific Gravity of 1.030, rack to secondary fermenter.
    Rack again in 2-3 weeks.
    Rack again in 2-6 months.
    After it ferments out, stabilize with Campden tablets or stabalizer and add 2-6 oz of sugar to sweeten if needed.
    Bottle and age 6-12 months.

    Easy Plum Wine Recipe (one gallon recipe)

    3 1/2 lb ripe plums
    4lb-granulated sugar
    1 pack yeast
    1 gallon boiling water
    Wash plums and pour on water.
    Stir and mash with wooden spoon.
    Leave for ten days.
    Remove mould carefully. Strain off into another bowl and add sugar, yeast and stir.
    Cover and stir daily for three days.
    Ready to bottle use demijohn or gallon jug here.
    Ready in six months. Better after nine.

    My only real concern with this recipe is that the wine would not be done fermenting when bottled. It may be a good idea to put on an airlock for a while to make sure it is done fermenting before final bottling and aging. Also, with no chemicals used, I wouldn't store too long before drinking. I would probably add a Campden tablet at final bottling to kill off any stray bacteria.
    Let me know how it works out if you try it!

    Versatile Plum Wine Recipe
    (per gallon recipe, adjust as needed)

    You can use these recipes for any plum-type fruit -- home grown or store bought Italian, Damson, Yellow , Greenage, or any sweet plum. With wild plums, which are generally high in acid, use acid tester or cut down to 3 lbs. per gallon.

    4 lb Plums, pitted
    6 pts Water
    2 lb Sugar
    1/2 tsp Acid Blend
    1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
    1 tsp Nutrient
    1 Campden, crush
    1 pkg Wine yeast

    Wash, drain and remove stones. Chop into smaller pieces.
    Put in nylon straining bag, crush and squeeze juice into primary
    fermentor. Keeping pulp in bag, tie top, and place in primary.
    Stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT yeast. Cover primary.
    After 24 hrs., add yeast and cover primary.
    Stir daily, check Specific Gravity, and press pulp lightly to aid extraction.
    When ferment reaches S.G. 1.040 (3-5 days) squeeze juice lightly from bag.
    Siphon wine off sediment into glass secondary and attach air lock.
    When fermenting is complete (S.G. has dropped to 1.000 -- about 3 weeks) siphon off sediment into clean secondary and reattach air lock.
    To aid clearing siphon again in 2 months and again if necessary before bottling.

    To sweeten wine, at bottling add 2 tsp. stabilizer, then stir in 1/4 to 1/2 lb. dissolved sugar per gallon.

    Some explinations of chemicals used in wine making.

    Ammonium sulfate or "yeast nutrient", is necessary with most fruit wines.

    Tartaric acid adjusts the acidity to a pleasant level for reasons of taste, much as you use salt to bring out flavor in foods (not exactly the same, but the analogy will do.)

    Pectic enzyme is needed to break down something in the fruit that is good for jams and jellies, but you don't want that consistency in wines. You often add more pectin when making jelly. You don't want any when making wine.

    The Campden tablet (1/16 tsp. sodium bisulfite) is "sulfite", added at the beginning to kill off weak wild yeasts and prevent bacterial growth. You add this at the beginning, wait 24 hours, and then it is safe to add your winemaker's yeast, as the sulfite should have dissipated into the air as sulphur dioxide, which prevents anything from spoiling your wine. Some people add more at each racking and again at bottling time.


    Related Video

    I followed the above recipe. The "wine" has now been a sealed jar for three weeks

    what are the next steps? Wait another week, strain and drink? Is there anything else that needs to be done? Thank you

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