Apple wine with LOTS of solids

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ChuckD

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I made two batches of apple wine last year by chopping the apples fine and adding all the ingredients according to a recipe from a friend. After primary fermentation I scooped the must into a mesh bag, squeezed out the juice, and transferred the resulting liquid to a secondary. In the first batch I had about three inches of solids settle out within a few days. With batch number two the solids were almost five inches. Ten days ago, I did the same with a new five-gallon batch and today I still have a carboy 1/3 full of opaque sludge. The SG when I transferred it to the carboy was 1.034. Today fermentation is still very active and I added two teaspoons of pectic enzyme to see if that would help.

How can I consolidate the lees so I can rack off the wine without losing half of it? Or should I just wait until the fermentation slows?
 

ChuckD

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Let fermentation complete. The gross lees will probably compact a bit on its own.

For future reference, I recommend not squeezing the pulp until the SG is below 1.010.
Thanks. My primary was a 10 gallon food-grade trash can. It didn't have a sealed lid so no air lock was used and I previously used air lock activity to know when fermentation was mostly complete. I didn't check the SG until the next day when it was bubbling like crazy in the secondary... lesson learned.
 

ChuckD

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So I measured the SG today and it was .994. As you can see there are LOTS of lees. How long can I wait to see if they compact some more? Otherwise, I'll be racking it into a three-gallon carboy.

apple lees.jpg

This is the most I have seen so far. The other apple batches had about 3" and 5" of lees. I think I'll be looking for a press, or maybe just make one... one of my other hobbies is woodworking.
 

Scooter68

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You can press those lees in a fine mesh bag or a piece of sanitized muslin cloth. You will still get a lot of fine lees but put that cloudy strained/pressed wine in the fridge for about 24-36 hours and you can reclaim a lot more wine.
Also in the future if you are going to do much more wine making with harder fruit like apples, or peaches a good press might be worth considering. I do smaller amounts (3 gallons commonly) so I use a slow speed Omega juicer. It separates the skins and while I still have a lot of lees, the apple pulp is controllable to start with. Shoot, I often get a good amount of coarse apple sauce out of the deal too.
 

ChuckD

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Well 10" of snow had me looking for indoor projects so I racked the wine today. I got four gallons of dry apple wine (FG 0.992). With a little back sweetening this is going to be good. I plan on letting it age for another three months then sweeten and bottle.
racked apple.jpg

I was going to try and salvage some wine from the lees like Scooter 68 suggested, so I grabbed an empty gallon water jug. However, while I was racking it the cane started losing suction, so I pumped it again and pulled the hose out of the water jug. While trying to stop the flow I tipped over the water jug... thus ended my experiment! All the mess has doubled my resolve to add a restaurant sink

Meanwhile, fermentation in my elderberry and wild grape wines is slowing down so I'll probably be racking them into carboys in the near future.
 
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