Tuesday, January 25, 2011


A man came to see em today with a problem with his plums. Well, not an actual problem, and actually plums (settle down). He has too many Billingtons and no idea what to do with them. 'Why not make wine?' I naively asked. 'Why not indeed? Here you go!' he replied and passed me 50kg of them. Dear oh dear. Still, I grew up with fruit wine making, and made some pretty palatable Boysenberry wine and 'port' back in '98, so I figure I can have a crack at it. But where to start? I really can't be bothered chopping up 50kg of little plums, so the first step is a series of trials to establish exactly how little work I can get away with, and still achieve excellence.

So - trial one:

First, take your plums...I figured 5 litres of plums would be a good start.

Should have rotated the picture before I uploaded it...

Pour on an equal volume of very hot water. I figured this would kill wild yeast, and split the skins, releasing juice without me needing to do too much physical processing. After fermentation the stones should fall out of the pulp, and I'll just have to work out a way to strain it effectively. Gluggy pulp could be a problem, in which case the application of handy enzymes to break it down will be indicated.

Next up is a bit of Queensland sunshine in a jug - I figured 1.5kg for now which is 30 brix but will be diluted by the plums down to about 20 (that's a guess, but that's why we do experiments isn't it?).

Now it's into the 20 degree room for a day or two to cool, and for the plums to start macerating.

I'll test the juice (brix, pH and titratable acidity) tomorrow or Friday and work out what adjustments are needed. Then it's DAP, nutrient complexes and a neutral yeast to start the ferment.

Old Faithful

It already looks good photographed down the bunghole - the trick is to avoid making jam. Or to make really good jam.

So - Billington plums. What? Small, firm, used by Watties in their tinned plums. Good flavour, low bitterness. Apparently. We shall see.

Trial two will be devised if trial one doesn't look like it's working. It may involve cooking. I also intend to source some ethanol and make a plum liqueur. Or pickled plums, either way it can't be too wrong.
The Damson people at the Farmers' Market put theirs in Gin for a year, then bottle the plummy gin and put the boozy plums in chocolate. Mmmm.

Update -Day Two

We have some scrummy plum cordial - 22 brix, 2.7 pH, 9 g/l TA - so it will benefit from a drop in acidity, either by dilution or deacidification. I added a bit of pectinase but the bottle was dated 1994 so I may have to work on that...
That sugar will give us about 11% alcohol depending on what comes out of the plums over the next few days. I may chill it to prevent any fermentation before the extraction is complete, or I may just wing it...

A drop of sorbate and sterile bottling and it'd be excellent as it is though.

1/2/2011 16.5 brix, 22 degrees. Added DAP. It begins! Mu hah hahahahahh!!!

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