Quantcast

Anything I Should Know Before I Wild Ferment with a Makeshift Rig?

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Hello! I'm very new to wine/alcohol making (intentionally, at least), but not new to fermentation! In fact, I've been wild-fermenting fruit for a while now. I recently thought to apply my wild ferment starter (something like how a ginger bug is, but with fruit), as the beginning to a wine making project.

My understanding for a basic wine making is this:

Primary ferment:
Fruit/solids + sugar, + filtered water + yeast, covered with clean breathable material for oxygen exposure
Ferment for a week or so.

Once your bubbles begin to taper off:
Secondary ferment:
Rack into another sterile container
Apply airlock
*Allow 1-2 months for ferment to complete, then rack into aging container

Aging:
Allow to ferment in dark place for 4-6 months, racking wine off sediment every 3 or so months or as needed.

Test if fermentation has finished by SG readings during each rack. At 1.000 or 0.999, fermentation is complete.

After getting the right reading, wait a bit longer (1 or 2 months) before bottling for safety.
Bottle and cork. Store for at least 1 year before trying a bottle.

Is this correct? I'm fermenting my fruit starter now and that'll be done in a bit, just making sure I have it right before I start. Not sure about the * step.

I decided to try this with my starter because 1, I'm tired of making jam from all my leftover fruit, and 2, I don't want to order wine yeast online. Also I don't want to spend money. Haha. Getting some wine out of this would be nice too.

The fruit starter would be good, I think, due to the fact that, when it's "done", I strain off the raging bubbling syrup it produces and have a mass of fruit full of strong and healthy yeasts. I don't have to worry about whether or not my ferment will start or whether my indoor temp is okay. For my OG reading, I'm thinking of mixing my sugar and water in the pail and then adding the fruit mass, giving it a good stir, and measuring right then. That way it hasn't gotten to the new sugar yet and I'll have as close to an accurate OG I can get with a ferment already started.

Is there a certain SG I should be going for before starting the secondary ferment stage? Have you ever made a wild yeast wine? Does any of this sound familiar? Lol. I decided to make an account here because this site keeps popping up in my search results and everyone's uploaded images are too small to see without membership..

I'm also considering using my wild ferment to make some bread, but that might be an experiment for later.

Thanks for reading!

P. S.
The makeshift rig is that, if I can't get an airlock in time for my secondary ferment, I might try to make one myself...
 

BernardSmith

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
3,314
Reaction score
1,422
Location
Saratoga Springs
The thing is that after active fermentation has ended you want to ensure that there is no headroom. Headroom (the space above the surface of the wine) will fill with air and the oxygen in that air will oxidize the wine and oxidation is like rust only in this context you get unpleasant flavors.
An airlock is any device that will prevent air getting at the wine while allowing any CO2 to be released to the outside world. A drilled bung and tube that has one end inserted into the bung and the other into a container filled with either water or sanitizer fluid (K-meta or star san, or even vodka, for example will work as will a balloon pierced with a pin.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
What do you mean by "fruit starter?"
I first ferment some fruit with wild yeast present on the fruit's skin. Then, once I have a strong and active culture, those drained fruits are my "starter" so to speak.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
The thing is that after active fermentation has ended you want to ensure that there is no headroom. Headroom (the space above the surface of the wine) will fill with air and the oxygen in that air will oxidize the wine and oxidation is like rust only in this context you get unpleasant flavors.
An airlock is any device that will prevent air getting at the wine while allowing any CO2 to be released to the outside world. A drilled bung and tube that has one end inserted into the bung and the other into a container filled with either water or sanitizer fluid (K-meta or star san, or even vodka, for example will work as will a balloon pierced with a pin.
Thank you for your comment and advise! Will the balloon work as a long term solution? For instance, during secondary fermentation and/or up until bottling? I see many people advise against this due to balloons being permeable, but if it works that'd make things easier for me. So far I am planning to go the second route by making a sort of makeshift airlock like the method you described.
 

KAndr97

Good Wines = Good Times
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
32
Reaction score
11
Location
WNY
You can ferment fruit with wild yeast, you're just leaving a loooot more to chance. After all, those wild yeasts are only a fraction of what's living on your fruit. Plus, they tend not to thrive beyond 6% ABV or so and fart sulphur like nobody's business.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
You can ferment fruit with wild yeast, you're just leaving a loooot more to chance. After all, those wild yeasts are only a fraction of what's living on your fruit. Plus, they tend not to thrive beyond 6% ABV or so and fart sulphur like nobody's business.
Hmm, well based on my own wild fermenting history I feel pretty comfortable with using wild yeasts, in terms of health risks/chance. Interesting about their tolerance for alcohol levels, I didn't know that. Mind telling me what kind of fruits you were using? I haven't had a sulphur scent at all in my ferments, but they don't ferment as long as wine seems to (based on my research since I'm new to wine). 1-2 months tops, though I usually settle them out faster. I haven't seen much in the way of wild ferments with alcohol online, other than accidents resulting in it, but never intentionally, so it's a bit more difficult to guess where mine might head.
 

FTC Wines

Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2009
Messages
1,338
Reaction score
395
Location
N. Ft. Myers , Fl
A comment about your P. S. “ Makeshift air lock “. When I started making Wine in ‘69, I used a new 5 gallon plastic gas can for the carboy & siliconed a fish aquarium tube into the vent hole and ran the tubing into a jar filled with water. Instant air lock. Wouldn’t recommend this today, but it was the Mother of Inventions then! Roy
 

BernardSmith

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
3,314
Reaction score
1,422
Location
Saratoga Springs
A comment about your P. S. “ Makeshift air lock “. When I started making Wine in ‘69, I used a new 5 gallon plastic gas can for the carboy & siliconed a fish aquarium tube into the vent hole and ran the tubing into a jar filled with water. Instant air lock. Wouldn’t recommend this today, but it was the Mother of Inventions then! Roy
But brewers would call that a blow-off tube and will happily use that rig today. The thing about balloons is that they tend to keep air out and tend to allow the CO2 to escape but balloons are permeable and they do allow air to pass through. In my opinion that is not a big problem if the batch you are making is small, the cost of the fermentables is low and you don't intend to age the wine for any length of time. Airlocks and bungs cost only a few dollars and are much better suited for anyone seriously interested in spending $$$ on ingredients and time in aging. Truth be told, you can always ferment in a crockpot covered with a plate. If there is sufficient build up of gas inside the pot the plate will be lifted and the gas will escape. The one downside with that approach is the rather large surface area of the wine. Carboys are designed to have very small surface areas exposed to the air.
 

KAndr97

Good Wines = Good Times
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
32
Reaction score
11
Location
WNY
I've never fermented any wine with wild yeast, so I'm not exactly an expert on the subject. Do you mean you were fermenting with yeast before or lactobacillus? They're quite different organisms.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
I've never fermented any wine with wild yeast, so I'm not exactly an expert on the subject. Do you mean you were fermenting with yeast before or lactobacillus? They're quite different organisms.
Wild yeasts. The original culture I guess one could say makes a "soup" of both bacteria and yeast, but at a certain point the yeast overcome and you get a very carbonated result. From this point is where I hope to take out my fruit and use for my wine "starter" mash. Certainly without certain equipment none of us can say exactly what is in every brew, but based on my experience you get yeast dominating the ferment. Based on smell, taste, and visual cues. I've fermented with wild bacteria as well before, for instance making yogurt from the naturally occurring lactobacilli on jalapeno stems but I find it's much less consistent (and less fun) than yeast.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
A comment about your P. S. “ Makeshift air lock “. When I started making Wine in ‘69, I used a new 5 gallon plastic gas can for the carboy & siliconed a fish aquarium tube into the vent hole and ran the tubing into a jar filled with water. Instant air lock. Wouldn’t recommend this today, but it was the Mother of Inventions then! Roy
I've seen this on a lot of websites while looking up making one's own airlock. Silicone. I didn't think of that. I was concerned with how tight a fit I'll need on the tubing, but I also want to make sure I seal with something food safe, just in case.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
But brewers would call that a blow-off tube and will happily use that rig today. The thing about balloons is that they tend to keep air out and tend to allow the CO2 to escape but balloons are permeable and they do allow air to pass through. In my opinion that is not a big problem if the batch you are making is small, the cost of the fermentables is low and you don't intend to age the wine for any length of time. Airlocks and bungs cost only a few dollars and are much better suited for anyone seriously interested in spending $$$ on ingredients and time in aging. Truth be told, you can always ferment in a crockpot covered with a plate. If there is sufficient build up of gas inside the pot the plate will be lifted and the gas will escape. The one downside with that approach is the rather large surface area of the wine. Carboys are designed to have very small surface areas exposed to the air.
Interesting, thanks for that info. I have a nice big glass container but the lid is widemouth. Looking for an alternative lid I can drill for the time being. This is more of a fun experiment with me to get rid of something I usually have (fermented fruits) without having to fill my fridge with jam and preserves. I think I'll be going the "blow-off" tube route.
 

Scooter68

Fruit "Wine" Maker
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
3,395
Reaction score
1,903
Location
Northwest Arkansas
1) Silicone sealant gasses some nasty vapors when new. How long that continues I don't know but even if it's gone in 24 hours, there is still the question of - is it food-safe or not.
2) Wine fermentation has become pretty refined over that last 50-70 years and while wild yeast ferments can be successful, you need to know what varieties of yeast are present or, as mentioned, you're taking a big risk with a relatively low payback. Cultured yeasts made for wine making aren't expensive and typically provide repeatable good results.

This is a bit different than a brandied fruit batch that you keep going by feeding it with more fruit and sugar from time to time. Wine has far more subtle characteristics and can be less forgiving to mistakes in steps or processes.

It comes down to Personal choices of course but still a risk. This board exists to help folks be successful at making wine and to share experiences - we try to help each other learn without going to the school of hard-knocks.

A lot of new names pop-up on this board and many of those who demonstrate impatience or a desire to buck the commonly accepted steps and processes soon fade away never to post again.

Wine making - successful production good wine, requires some adherence to sound practices. For a new wine maker, sticking to tried and true processes for a few batches at least typically results in success for the wine maker and a lot less headaches and 'strange questions' for help when things go awry. Again, it's a personal choice but understanding the basics of wine making before launching that first batch generally yields far better results.
 
Last edited:

KAndr97

Good Wines = Good Times
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
32
Reaction score
11
Location
WNY
How alcoholic does your fruit starter get? Does it get you tipsy or is it more like a way to preserve the fruit? It sounds interesting, I might just have to try it.

Also, depending on what kind of fruit you use, make sure to read up on nutrient addition. To my knowledge, grapes usually have enough Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN) to finish a fermentation without sticking or producing any off aromas. However, I wouldn't know because I only make fruit wine and mead. Even yeast bred for optimal performance will stink up a batch QUICK if you don't feed them properly. I can't imagine that wild yeast would be very happy in a low nitrogen environment. I wish I had one simple and concise article that I could link to for ya but nutrient addition is neither simple nor concise. Google is your friend.

You might have seen this article already but it goes pretty in depth about spontaneous fermentation. Best of luck and keep us updated!
 

Ignoble Grape

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2017
Messages
160
Reaction score
117
Location
Central Coast, CA
You can ferment fruit with wild yeast, you're just leaving a loooot more to chance. After all, those wild yeasts are only a fraction of what's living on your fruit. Plus, they tend not to thrive beyond 6% ABV or so and fart sulphur like nobody's business.
I didn't know that. Interesting. ...
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
How alcoholic does your fruit starter get? Does it get you tipsy or is it more like a way to preserve the fruit? It sounds interesting, I might just have to try it.

Also, depending on what kind of fruit you use, make sure to read up on nutrient addition. To my knowledge, grapes usually have enough Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN) to finish a fermentation without sticking or producing any off aromas. However, I wouldn't know because I only make fruit wine and mead. Even yeast bred for optimal performance will stink up a batch QUICK if you don't feed them properly. I can't imagine that wild yeast would be very happy in a low nitrogen environment. I wish I had one simple and concise article that I could link to for ya but nutrient addition is neither simple nor concise. Google is your friend.

You might have seen this article already but it goes pretty in depth about spontaneous fermentation. Best of luck and keep us updated!
I haven't actually tested before, since, this is my first time fermenting with the intent to make alcohol. The fruit makes a syrup, so I can't say I've drank enough to get tipsy, however I have definitely gotten into the alcohol range with it. I made a nectarine ferment that I left a little longer than planned and it started to taste and smell a bit like fruity beer. Without cooking, the remaining fruit will last a month or two in the fridge, but I tend to eat them before that. I've had a couple of such "over" ferments, so thus I thought it might be nice to go in this direction. Thanks for that additional information, I will look into that as well. As I've been researching wild fermented wine, I've seen a lot of folks using things like elderberries, blueberries, or plums aside from grapes. I'll have two flavors by the end of this, hopefully. I will try to update this thread as I progress.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
1) Silicone sealant gasses some nasty vapors when new. How long that continues I don't know but even if it's gone in 24 hours, there is still the question of - is it food-safe or not.
2) Wine fermentation has become pretty refined over that last 50-70 years and while wild yeast ferments can be successful, you need to know what varieties of yeast are present or, as mentioned, you're taking a big risk with a relatively low payback. Cultured yeasts made for wine making aren't expensive and typically provide repeatable good results.

This is a bit different than a brandied fruit batch that you keep going by feeding it with more fruit and sugar from time to time. Wine has far more subtle characteristics and can be less forgiving to mistakes in steps or processes.

It comes down to Personal choices of course but still a risk. This board exists to help folks be successful at making wine and to share experiences - we try to help each other learn without going to the school of hard-knocks.

A lot of new names pop-up on this board and many of those who demonstrate impatience or a desire to buck the commonly accepted steps and processes soon fade away never to post again.

Wine making - successful production good wine, requires some adherence to sound practices. For a new wine maker, sticking to tried and true processes for a few batches at least typically results in success for the wine maker and a lot less headaches and 'strange questions' for help when things go awry. Again, it's a personal choice but understanding the basics of wine making before launching that first batch generally yields far better results.
Yeah, I read up on it and it seems not really what I'm looking for. There do appear to be food-safe versions available, but not in my area and too costly. I'm looking into other options.

Interesting, that is the beauty of online forums. There's the ability to gain information in a short time. A lot of through traffic is necessary to keep a forum alive. I can say that's true for any forum.

I suppose I'm a bit different. I always like experimenting with ideas I have. When I see the outcome myself, it helps me understand better. As I see by the replies here as well as my research on the topic, there is very little known about wild fermentation. Strangely enough, as this was once the "tried and true" process for a lot of people, and still is, throughout the world.

I have to say, the fruit "starter" ferment I make doesn't even have a particular name in English, because I learned of it reading in a different language's texts. Therefore I suppose it's natural that the unknown can seem a bit radical.
I'm not fearful of the outcome. In any case, this is an experiment with something I usually have leftover, so not much is lost either way. If it turns out well, then I'll have some delicious wine waiting for me. :)
 

LenMajdan

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2013
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
The technique is called Peid de Cuve by the French who have been using it for centuries. It is a safe and reliable technique. When this small batches starts to ferment you know straight away if it is good or bad. I either pick some fruit a few days before harvest to make the Pied de Cuve or if I'm freezing the fruit first I'll keep some aside to make the starter. The end result is a more complex and interesting wine because the variety of organisms is greater than in off the shelf cultured yeast. If you want a consistent result off the shelf is the way to go. If you like some variety wild fermentation is exciting.
 

enigmaticpea

Junior
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
The technique is called Peid de Cuve by the French who have been using it for centuries. It is a safe and reliable technique. When this small batches starts to ferment you know straight away if it is good or bad. I either pick some fruit a few days before harvest to make the Pied de Cuve or if I'm freezing the fruit first I'll keep some aside to make the starter. The end result is a more complex and interesting wine because the variety of organisms is greater than in off the shelf cultured yeast. If you want a consistent result off the shelf is the way to go. If you like some variety wild fermentation is exciting.
Thanks for your comment, and glad to see someone who's familar with this! I did see pied de cuve come up in my research recently actually! I'm very excited to see how this turns out for me.
--

As an update, I got my supplies and fermentations going full strength so I just now strained off my fruit and have my first mash going.

This does make me wonder about the entire stuck fermentation + specific gravity too high situation a lot of people seem to find themselves in, since my starters ferment in an extremely high sugar environment. I forgot but will check the specific gravity on my apple syrup since it is just thick and bubbling away happily. Could be some difference in the strains of yeast naturally present and their aptitudes for sugar. I did read somewhere that s. cerevisiae ends up dominating other yeasts as time goes on. I suppose many are stuck due to alcohol and not the sugar, though some say sugar acts as a preservative. These starters have been fermenting since the 13th of December, so just over 20 days. They were "ready" or bubbling heavily a week or so ago, but I waited until I had everything to start with first. Super excited!
 
Last edited:
Top