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HMan2

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I am planning on making some blackberry wine. I bought a one gallon starter kit and a few other supplies and have been doing some reading on all the processes and feel like i have a pretty good grasp so far. I figured id start small and make a few small batches and once i feel more comfortable i can make bigger batches.

But the part where im confused is mixing all the ingredients in the primary fermenter and taking the initial S.G. reading. So i will freeze my blackberries then thaw and then put them in a strainer bag and squeeze most of the juice into the fermenter. Then i will add water that has been boiled and has the sugar added. After that add 1 campden tablet and then wait around 12 hours and add yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme. 24 hours after that i can add yeast.

When should i take my S.G reading? Do i wait until right before pitching the yeast or right after added blackberries and sugar into the fermenter?

Im planning on using:
5lb of blackberries
1.5 lb of sugar
1 gal of water

Do these ratios look right? I know i can add some more sugar but im not sure if i have too much to make a one gallon batch or not enough. I have a 1 gallon carboy so i dont want to have a bunch go wasted.

If anyone has suggestions I am open to any. I'm having trouble trying to figure our how much water and sugar to add and am curious if anyone had a way to calculate or knows from experience so that im in the general 1.070-1.100 s.g. range.
 

Smok1

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Looks like your on the right track, take sg while your adding the sugar to less than what you want your abv to be, because as the juices come out of the blackberries natural sugars will increase the abv, i think certain blackberries have quite a bit of sugar, so id add sugar to maybe 1.065sg, let the pectic enyme do its thing, sqeeze as much of the juice outta that juice bag as possible and then check the sg rigyt before pitching your yeast. If its not where u want it add a bit more sugar.
 

Ajmassa

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If your fermenter is a bucket, you can just put your hydrometer right in there checking your SG as you slowly add your sugar and mix. You will see it climb if you check after each addition. Don't dump it all on at once.
If your leaving your fruit bag in there then the SG might climb slightly over that 12 hour timeframe too as more juice releases.
So if you get close at say 1.080 just leave it all be. And then you could make any additions if needed after waiting 12 hours.
Though Boiling your water to be used with the sugar already in it won't allow you to check as you add obviously. If you want to do that you could always keep some sugar out and then add remainder to desired SG.
 

HMan2

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Looks like your on the right track, take sg while your adding the sugar to less than what you want your abv to be, because as the juices come out of the blackberries natural sugars will increase the abv, i think certain blackberries have quite a bit of sugar, so id add sugar to maybe 1.065sg, let the pectic enyme do its thing, sqeeze as much of the juice outta that juice bag as possible and then check the sg rigyt before pitching your yeast. If its not where u want it add a bit more sugar.
That helps a ton actually. In my head i've been thinking that if i got an S.G reading but still have a fruit bag in there its going to pull more juice and sugar out and cause the reading to go up over time. So i will do that then and leave it a little lower and then let it sit and then check and add if need be before adding yeast.

How would you recommend doing that is there a certain ratio of sugar water to add in or just stir sugar into the mix and make sure it dissolves?
 

HMan2

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If your fermenter is a bucket, you can just put your hydrometer right in there checking your SG as you slowly add your sugar and mix. You will see it climb if you check after each addition. Don't dump it all on at once.
If your leaving your fruit bag in there then the SG might climb slightly over that 12 hour timeframe too as more juice releases.
So if you get close at say 1.080 just leave it all be. And then you could make any additions if needed after waiting 12 hours.
Though Boiling your water to be used with the sugar already in it won't allow you to check as you add obviously. If you want to do that you could always keep some sugar out and then add remainder to desired SG.
That makes sense to put the hydrometer in the bucket, i was a little worried about pulling too many samples when im only making a one gallon batch. If i want to have 1 gallon of finished product should i have my fermenter filled up to around 1.5 or 2 gallon line so that i dont fall short?
 

Smok1

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I ussually make 5 gallon batchs, i use 25 lbs of fruit, juice it, put the juice into the fermentor pail, put the pulp into a strainer bag. Then i top up my fermenter to about 4.5 gallons ( leaving room for my sugar) put in about 20 cups of sugar, mix it real good, then i top up to the 5 gallon mark with water, then i throw in my bag of fruit pulp, which will get me to maybe 5.5 gallons end of primary, then i transfer to a 5 gallon carboy and the rest to a half gallon or 1 gallon carboy, so basically on a 5 gallon batch i wouldnt add 5 gallons of water, 5 gallons minus whatever the juice i get out of my fruit, maybe 2.5 gallons of water per 5 gallon batch. Rest is fruit juice. I do mine a bit differently thought because i use a omega auger type juicer to juice my fruit first instead of having a huge bag of fruit to press everyday.
 

Scooter68

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Standard "Simple Syrup" ratio is 2 cups Sugar to 1 cup water. Boiling the water is fine before adding the sugar.

I would add the pectic enzyme right away - Don't wait on that. Put it in as you add the berries. Let it get to work before any fermentation actually starts.

The general rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours after adding the Campden Tablet (K-Meta) before pitching the yeast. As long as the mix is covered you could wait a little longer.

SG readings - If I'm using real fruit the SG reading will change from before you add the campden tablet (Day 1) to the next day, so as someone else said - don't worry if you don't have the SG exactly where you want it the first day. Save some of the Simple Syrup solution for adding just before pitching.

Acidity - Same thing applies - expect it to change from the first day you start until the day you pitch the yeast. Key is to get it in the ballpark (pH of 3.4 - 3.6) A little lower number like 3.2 or 3.3 isn't anything to really worry about but keep an eye on it. If it drops below 3.0 or rises above 3.7 It's easy to make the must more acidic with acid blend, tartric acid, or citric acid. Don't try to over-control it either. I've had must drop to 2.86 and still turn out fine as the wine ages some of that acidity will fade.

Most of all keep posting here as you go and folks can't talk you through any issues. Keep good notes on what and when you do things as well.
 

Redbird1

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Everything I have read says that "standard" simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio. If using a 2:1 ratio, it is considered "rich" simple syrup.
 

BernardSmith

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Hi HMan2 - and welcome. I can see a small problem. You say you have a 1 gallon carboy. Carboys have narrow necks but your plan is to ferment 5 lbs of berries - How will you get the berries into or out of the carboy? You are also planning on adding 1 gallon of water - but those berries are going to take up a significant amount of volume during the first few days of fermentation. A simple solution may be to go to your local home brew store (LHBS) and buy a 2 gallon food grade bucket which you can use as your primary fermenter and then when almost all the fermentable sugars have been fermented you rack from this bucket into your carboy. Fermenting fruit in a bucket allows you to stir the fruit several times a day to ensure the fruit is kept constantly wet and exposed to the yeast and allows you to stir the must to help ensure that the colony of yeast is dispersed throughout the solution.
 

Scooter68

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Everything I have read says that "standard" simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio. If using a 2:1 ratio, it is considered "rich" simple syrup.
What I read for wine making does not differentiate two types. http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3667

And regardless - for wine making we want to add as little volume as possible when raising the SG. It takes a little more time to dissolve that much sugar but it's much easier to raise the SG without pushing up the volume and diluting the flavor.

So call it Standard, Super, or Rich - for wine making less water is better for flavors and volume control.

It keeps well in the fridge other than occasionally forming Rock Candy if left too long.

AGREED - Fermentation in a carboy is going to be asking for headaches with foam fountains, daily stirring and clean up afterwards. Unless you have a big mouth bubbler, I'd stick with a bucket It holds a lot more Foam/Head/Cap before giving you trouble and a cloth cover will tend to suppress the foam (Break the bubbles) rather than let it clog and airlock or overflow. I just tie down a cloth cover over it to keep out bugs.
 
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Redbird1

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I'm not disagreeing with the concept that adding less water is generally better. Just trying to make sure the terms aren't being confused. I think most people assume that "standard" simple syrup follows the 1:1 ratio, so saying standard and then specifying a 2:1 ratio is contradictory and likely confusing.
 

Smok1

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I usually dont make a simple syrup to raise my sg, just because i typically miscalculate the headspace sugar takes up, before pitching my yeast ill throw on a brew belt to help warm up the juice a bit and just put raw sugar into the juice and stir it up really good till disolved and then check sg. I do however make a simple syrup when backsweetening.

I do agree that less water will be better for your blackberry recipe. I think when the recipe calls for a 1 gallon batch it doesnt mean add 1 gallon of water and 5lbs of fruit, it means add 5lbs of fruit and top up to the 1 gallon mark on your primary bucket with water. I do however add a little bit more so i can reduce the headspace when transfering to my carboy.
 

HMan2

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Hi HMan2 - and welcome. I can see a small problem. You say you have a 1 gallon carboy. Carboys have narrow necks but your plan is to ferment 5 lbs of berries - How will you get the berries into or out of the carboy? You are also planning on adding 1 gallon of water - but those berries are going to take up a significant amount of volume during the first few days of fermentation. A simple solution may be to go to your local home brew store (LHBS) and buy a 2 gallon food grade bucket which you can use as your primary fermenter and then when almost all the fermentable sugars have been fermented you rack from this bucket into your carboy. Fermenting fruit in a bucket allows you to stir the fruit several times a day to ensure the fruit is kept constantly wet and exposed to the yeast and allows you to stir the must to help ensure that the colony of yeast is dispersed throughout the solution.
My apologies for not being clear. I do have a 2 gallon food grade bucket that im going to be using as my primary fermenter and then will rack into a carboy after around a week or so.

I think the part im not sure on is how much water and sugar to add before primary fermentation.

Since i want to make 1 gallon i would assume if i had around 1.5 gallons in my primary that by the time i siphon and lose some due to sediments i would have enough to fill the carboy up to where it needs to be.

After adding my fruit and pectic enzyme should i just start adding in the simple sugar that i make? In about a 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water ratio until i get up to around the 1.5 gallon line and then adjust my S.G to around where it needs to be?
 

HMan2

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I usually dont make a simple syrup to raise my sg, just because i typically miscalculate the headspace sugar takes up, before pitching my yeast ill throw on a brew belt to help warm up the juice a bit and just put raw sugar into the juice and stir it up really good till disolved and then check sg. I do however make a simple syrup when backsweetening.

I do agree that less water will be better for your blackberry recipe. I think when the recipe calls for a 1 gallon batch it doesnt mean add 1 gallon of water and 5lbs of fruit, it means add 5lbs of fruit and top up to the 1 gallon mark on your primary bucket with water. I do however add a little bit more so i can reduce the headspace when transfering to my carboy.
That makes sense. So i will add my 5lb of fruit and then add my simple sugar solution or fill up with water a little past the 1 gallon mark and then add sugar to adjust to my S.G. I need. Its making more sense now i feel like i could ask a million questions when starting out.

Does it make a difference if i just add sugar into my fermenter or does it need to be dissolved in water first? I woudl think as long as its stirred in and mixed up it wouldnt make a difference but i dont know anything. I do plan on keeping my pulp in a straining bag to cut back on all the particles i have floating around
 

Smok1

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You dont need to make a simple syrup to add into your fermenter, you can just add sugar, simple syrup is already dissolved so it will mix in with the juice quicker, if you just add sugar just make sure you stir it up real good and wait a few minutes before taking an starting specific gravity reading. You sound like youve done the research and are on the right track so try not to overthink the proccess, one thing with fruit wines is not sure what yeast your using but i always give my yeast a really good start before adding it into the primary. Ill take a 1 liter glass measuring cup, 1/2 cup 40 degree celcius water, put a tsp of sugar into it, wait 15 min till it gets foaming, then ill add a cup of my juice from the primary into the measuring cup with the yeast and wait 30 min, then ill add another cup and wait another 30 min. By then you should have a good happy yeast culture that will be happy to dive into your juice. I just pour that into my primary and dont stir for 12 hours. Someone posted a podcast about yeast on here the other day which was really informative, i think about 20 min into it they talk about how important it is to start your yeast and get it happy before adding to your juice, ill see if i can find it.
 

Ajmassa

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. Ill take a 1 liter glass measuring cup, 1/2 cup 40 degree celcius water, put a tsp of sugar into it, wait 15 min till it gets foaming, then ill add a cup of my juice from the primary into the measuring cup with the yeast and wait 30 min, then ill add another cup and wait another 30 min. By then you should have a good happy yeast culture that will be happy to dive into your juice. I just pour that into my primary and dont stir for 12 hours.t.

This can be overwhelming for a 1st batch. And Not being sure how to troubleshoot if you use an incorrect amount or do something out of order can be frustrating.
If you wanna keep it simple just sprinkle a strong yeast on the surface and walk away. It'll start showing activity within a day or so.
There's no wrong way to do any of this. Everyone has their own ways they feel comfortable with. During fermentation you can leave the bucket open if there's no kids or pets or bugs around. You could snap the lid tight with an airlock. You could leave the lid resting on top loose (I go with the loose lid) or you can drape a towel across. None are wrong, and some people prefer methods for easier access because of all the TLC your fermentation needs. (Checking SG, stirring, additional nutrients etc...)
Also, And just to give you a little heads up, a 5 or 6 gallon batch of wine is the same amount of work as the 1 gallon. Just more volume. It's all about the carboys. So having 2 one gallon batches going would be twice the amount of work as 1 six gallon batch.
 

wineforfun

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My apologies for not being clear. I do have a 2 gallon food grade bucket that im going to be using as my primary fermenter and then will rack into a carboy after around a week or so.

I think the part im not sure on is how much water and sugar to add before primary fermentation.

Since i want to make 1 gallon i would assume if i had around 1.5 gallons in my primary that by the time i siphon and lose some due to sediments i would have enough to fill the carboy up to where it needs to be.

After adding my fruit and pectic enzyme should i just start adding in the simple sugar that i make? In about a 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water ratio until i get up to around the 1.5 gallon line and then adjust my S.G to around where it needs to be?
As mentioned, just add sugar (doesn't need to be dissolved in water beforehand) and stir it in well. Take an initial reading without any sugar added. Then I would start off adding 2 cups sugar and take another reading. (after each reading, dump test tube full of sample back into primary) This will let you know how much 2 cups sugar will raise your SG. You can then keep adding accordingly until you get to 1.090 -1.095 or wherever you are heading.

I make a lot of 1 gal. batches. I try to have 1 1/4 - 1 1/3 gal. in my primary when starting out. After fermentation is complete, you should have approx. 1 gal. and a 750ml bottle. The 750ml bottle can be used to top up when racking. That way, in the end, you will end up with at least 1 gal. of finished product.
 

HMan2

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As mentioned, just add sugar (doesn't need to be dissolved in water beforehand) and stir it in well. Take an initial reading without any sugar added. Then I would start off adding 2 cups sugar and take another reading. (after each reading, dump test tube full of sample back into primary) This will let you know how much 2 cups sugar will raise your SG. You can then keep adding accordingly until you get to 1.090 -1.095 or wherever you are heading.

I make a lot of 1 gal. batches. I try to have 1 1/4 - 1 1/3 gal. in my primary when starting out. After fermentation is complete, you should have approx. 1 gal. and a 750ml bottle. The 750ml bottle can be used to top up when racking. That way, in the end, you will end up with at least 1 gal. of finished product.
I was hoping to do something similar to this. How do you store that 750 ml bottle do you need an airlock on top of that to keep it from going bad?
 

Smok1

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I use half gallon bottles that fit the bung for an airlock but my buddy uses wine bottles for his top ups and he just puts saran wrap with a elastic band over top, just so stuff dont get in but allows gases to escape if it becomes too much
 

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