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ehlen5

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Going through some old family records we came across an Elderberry wine recipe from sometime between 1857-1865. It basically is elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and water. Fermented in a stoneware crock.

I would like to reproduce this wine. I’ve made quite a bite of country wine but I have a few questions. I have an old crock but no idea if it’s lead free or what else it might have been used. I’ll probably use my standard primary fermentation bucket and use a carboy with an airlock for secondary. I assume the crock was simply a container and has no impact on flavor?

No mention is made of yeast so I assume the fermentation was due to wild yeast although it was about this time that Pastuer identified yeast. I’m a little nervous about trusting a natural fermentation. Any tips on natural fermentation would be appreciated. I’d like to remain as true to the recipe as possible. Obviously there were no nutrients, peptic enzyme, etc. used.
 

Scooter68

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While your desire to replicate a old recipe is a good idea... the idea of a stoneware crock mmm that's potentially a risky idea. The term "You don't know what you don't know.
Stick with the bucket and as far as yeast - the only problem not knowing what qualities a wild yeast will impart. Back in the days - they had very few choices so wild yeast, bread yeast etc - they had to use what they had on hand and they were totally at the mercy literally of what the winds blew their way. Going with fruit friendly wine yeast would be where I would head.

As to the other additives, I'll hold my thoughts and let someone else who may have done a "natural ferment" comment.
 

Rice_Guy

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I am a food industry mind set, so I know our factory in Australia does a natural dill pickle fermentation, , , and it works. Like Scooter I would tend to say what is the point going natural? HOWEVER if I wanted wild i would start with a small mother as from a natural yeast grape ferment or apple ferment. If you use metabisulphite you have a barrier which will push toward Sacchromycets sp. in stead of Kolechera sp. The 1850s would not be using an identified yeast strain. (commercial yeast companies date to about 1910) HOWEVER yeast are hearty buggers and the technology in home use in 1850 was to have a special object (wooden spoon/ stick) used on ALL ferments where it could carry the strain from last year to this year. Yeast are “selections” and the favorite way to get one was to visit a winery that made quality wine and collect samples. ie commercial yeast once was wild.

My elderberry 2018; 1.029, pH 4.26, TA 0.67%: 2019 1.036, 4.63, 0.72%: 2020 1.052, 4.81, 0.78%: 2013 picked at pH 3.94 so I am letting it ripen/ selective harvesting. You did not list acid and sugar. Sugar was common in 1850 and acid would have been natural as picking early or adding lemon. Either way take notes to say how far off modern target you are, you might make a short shelf life low alcohol cider and wonder why.

Yes a crock means a ceramic vessel, yes some had lead. While we are at we have small levels of contaminants from plastic. I know what grandma used and she lived into the 90s so I would use the family heirlooms. A potter probably can give a risk assessment of the inside and outside decoration (family ones are plain cream color inside) Another choice is the lumberyard sells a lead detection kit/ paint department.

Sounds like a fun project would be interesting to taste.
oh England has lots of elderberry recipes/ spices/ grape juice . . . how close are you to other published ones?
 

Rembee

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Here is a excellent article about spontaneous fermentation and may help to answer some of your questions or lead you in the right direction.

I on occasion, once my blueberries are ripe enough to start picking will ferment a gallon of wine using spontaneous fermentation.
I start off with 1 cup of blueberries mashed up in a cup of water with a tbsp of sugar, orange zest of 1/2 an orange and a few leaves off a blueberry bush. I place this into a 1 qt mason jar. The carbon matter from the orange zest, the leaves and from the berry skins provides the nitrogen needed to give the yeast enough nutrients. Within 4 to 6 days normally, this yeast starter will start to ferment nicely. I will continue to add more mashed up blueberries and 1/4 cup 100% apple juice with no additives to this small ferment for another week. I keep this mason jar covered with a dish towel and rubber band.
I then add this indigenous yeast starter into a 1 1/2 gal. blueberry must that I have made up in a 2 gal bucket fermenter with a starting SG of 1.090 to 1.100.
I then monitor this very closely and check the SG daily.
 

dralarms

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Going through some old family records we came across an Elderberry wine recipe from sometime between 1857-1865. It basically is elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and water. Fermented in a stoneware crock.

I would like to reproduce this wine. I’ve made quite a bite of country wine but I have a few questions. I have an old crock but no idea if it’s lead free or what else it might have been used. I’ll probably use my standard primary fermentation bucket and use a carboy with an airlock for secondary. I assume the crock was simply a container and has no impact on flavor?

No mention is made of yeast so I assume the fermentation was due to wild yeast although it was about this time that Pastuer identified yeast. I’m a little nervous about trusting a natural fermentation. Any tips on natural fermentation would be appreciated. I’d like to remain as true to the recipe as possible. Obviously there were no nutrients, peptic enzyme, etc. used.
Want to share the recipe?
 

balatonwine

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the idea of a stoneware crock mmm that's potentially a risky idea.
I agree. But not simply because using a stoneware crock is risky. Rather that the knowledge how to properly use a stoneware crock has been often lost in time. And how to do it right, takes some experience. After all, Amphora were once "the" way to make wine. But it took a bit of "know how", tradition and understanding how to make wine that way. Definitely not "plug and play" method. It will not come in a kit.

And so... yes.... potentially risky. Or.... maybe.... simply a starting point to experiment. And there may be some here to help crock (amphora) wine makers along their way. :)
 

BernardSmith

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If you have a good understanding of how your family made wine and you have a good grasp of the whys and wherefores of the recipe then replicating the wine making using the same tools and equipment would seem to me to be more about nostalgia than wine making. If you can use good modern tools and you can monitor the wine in ways the makers of this wine could not then what exactly is the problem with making that wine using current tools? Your water, the yeast, the fruit, the soil, your kitchen will all be significantly different. Why use a crockpot when you can use a food grade bucket or a carboy? Why use a crockpot lid when you can use a bung and airlock?
 

ehlen5

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Here’s the recipe as I found it. I won’t try to make you read the handwriting.

“Elder Berry Wine
Eight quarts of berries four quarts of boiling water poured over the berries. Let it stand twelve hours stirring now and then. Strain well pressing out all the juice. Add three pounds of sugar to four quarts of juice, one ounce powered cinnamon, 1/2 ounce powdered cloves. Boil five minutes and set away to ferment in a stone jar with a cloth thrown lightly over it when it has done fermenting rack it off carefully not to disturb the lees. Bottle and cork down well.”

Comments and suggestions appreciated while I wait on ripe elderberries. That might be awhile since there’s still about eight inches of snow on the ground.
 

ehlen5

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I am a food industry mind set, so I know our factory in Australia does a natural dill pickle fermentation, , , and it works. Like Scooter I would tend to say what is the point going natural? HOWEVER if I wanted wild i would start with a small mother as from a natural yeast grape ferment or apple ferment. If you use metabisulphite you have a barrier which will push toward Sacchromycets sp. in stead of Kolechera sp. The 1850s would not be using an identified yeast strain. (commercial yeast companies date to about 1910) HOWEVER yeast are hearty buggers and the technology in home use in 1850 was to have a special object (wooden spoon/ stick) used on ALL ferments where it could carry the strain from last year to this year. Yeast are “selections” and the favorite way to get one was to visit a winery that made quality wine and collect samples. ie commercial yeast once was wild.

My elderberry 2018; 1.029, pH 4.26, TA 0.67%: 2019 1.036, 4.63, 0.72%: 2020 1.052, 4.81, 0.78%: 2013 picked at pH 3.94 so I am letting it ripen/ selective harvesting. You did not list acid and sugar. Sugar was common in 1850 and acid would have been natural as picking early or adding lemon. Either way take notes to say how far off modern target you are, you might make a short shelf life low alcohol cider and wonder why.

Yes a crock means a ceramic vessel, yes some had lead. While we are at we have small levels of contaminants from plastic. I know what grandma used and she lived into the 90s so I would use the family heirlooms. A potter probably can give a risk assessment of the inside and outside decoration (family ones are plain cream color inside) Another choice is the lumberyard sells a lead detection kit/ paint department.

Sounds like a fun project would be interesting to taste.
oh England has lots of elderberry recipes/ spices/ grape juice . . . how close are you to other published ones?
Dr. Bob here. You should be able to get a taste of this next year at a club meeting.
 

BernardSmith

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ehlen5, A half oz of cloves in what looks to be 1 gallon of wine seems to me to be an enormous amount of that very powerful spice. If you want to use the cloves I might add them to the secondary in a small muslin "bag" that you tie up. I would taste their impact on a daily basis and be prepared to remove the bag of cloves (or rack the elderberry wine off the cloves avfter a couple of days.
 

Rice_Guy

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Dr. Bob here. You should be able to get a taste of this next year at a club meeting.
Welcome to WMT Dr.B,,,,, so you found where I am when not mowing grass or spraying for black rot at LaNovia, ,,, Maybe the snow is melted enough to prune vines this week. @weaverschmitz is sometimes here too
 
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ehlen5

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ehlen5, A half oz of cloves in what looks to be 1 gallon of wine seems to me to be an enormous amount of that very powerful spice. If you want to use the cloves I might add them to the secondary in a small muslin "bag" that you tie up. I would taste their impact on a daily basis and be prepared to remove the bag of cloves (or rack the elderberry wine off the cloves avfter a couple of days.
I actually hate cloves. I didn’t even think of how clovey the wine might leave. Leaving them out altogether was probably going to be my primary deviation. My primary wine taster is also not fond of cloves.
 

winemaker81

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@ehlen5, Interesting recipe.

One point is that 3 lbs sugar to 4 quart juice is going to make a strong wine. 2 lbs of sugar in 1 gallon water produces a SG of ~1.090; the sugar in the elderberries will increase that. If you add 3 lbs sugar, the SG will be above 1.135, which will result in a very sweet wine, and that much sugar may inhibit a lot of yeasts.

EDIT: Fixed the unit of measure!

I suggest adding 2 lbs per quart GALLON, stir until it is dissolved, then check the SG. If it's over 1.100, you may not want to add more sugar.

Regarding yeast, if you didn't read the article @Rembee posted, you should. I knew guys that did only natural fermentation. Sometimes it worked really well ... and sometimes really not so well. It's a crapshoot, based upon what is in the air at that time, or in their case, what was growing on the grape skins. It's entirely possible that you'll get a yeast that will not have a very high alcohol tolerance, so the wine will be more syrup than wine. I'd use a commercial yeast to help ensure you get a positive result.

If made according to the recipe, this will produce a very sweet, low alcohol wine with a strong cinnamon & cloves taste. (I realize cloves are out). This is a cool project, but the result may be more of a curiosity than something anyone wants to drink.
 
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Rembee

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Let me also mention that if for what ever reason I do not like the way the spontaneous fermentation is going, after checking it once or twice daily, then I will finish off the blueberry wine with a 1/2 packet of a healthy yeast starter of Lalvin 71B. I make sure that it is hydrated very well and active before adding it into the wine. I've never had a problem with the 71B taking over and fermenting to dry. I will then after a month or 2 backsweeten to my liking.
 

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