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Elderberry (and other berry!) advice

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DangleBerryWine

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Hi everyone,
Im going to start my first brew (is brew correct ?) this week.
I have 3kg of fruit picked.
I'm struggling to find out how much wine I should make from my 3kg?
Any advice welcome.
Thanks
 

Scooter68

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I've heard of people using 3lbs (1.5kilos) of elderberries because they are apparently pretty strong flavored. My guess is that someone with actual experience will pop in here but, I think you can easily get no less than 1 gallon (4 L ) and possible as much as 2 gallons (8 L)
One thing to remember is that if you go with 1 gallon and it's a bit too stout, you can always blend in some white wine and keep the elderberry flavor and maintain your ABV
 

JustJoe

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I like to have 6 to 8 pounds of fruit per gallon for most fruit wines but with elderberries I cut that back to 4 pounds per gallon.
 

DangleBerryWine

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Thank you Joe,
I can't wait to get brewing!
I'm going away for the weekend so have put the brew off till Monday.
I did start getting the stems off my berries and I have to say they are looking plump!!!

Should I do my primary fermentation with the berries in the mash?
It strain them through muslin first ?
Is that the correct term ?

Thanks again
 

JustJoe

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You are using a lot of beer brewing terms but that's ok. I know what you mean. You should do your primary ferment with the crushed berries in the must (mash is only for beer). If you have a brew bag that fits your fermenter, that makes removal of skins and seeds much easier, You could strain them out before or after primary fermentation but I prefer to put them in the bag and keep it all in the must through the primary ferment. Be sure you use pectic enzyme or you may end up with elderberry jam.
 

Bossbaby

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I started a 5 gal batch 3 weeks ago with 20 lbs of elderberry, it has a very rich color and a small sample today shows a very nice flavor even as a very very young wine..
 

winemaker81

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3 kilos/6.6 lbs of elderberry is a bit light for 8 liters/2 gallons. I'd target 6 or 7 liters of initial volume. After you press the fruit the volume you get will be reduced when the fine fruit and yeast solids settle. Always plan for more volume than your secondary storage (glass jug or carboy the wine rests in while it clears) can hold. Put any extra in smaller bottles.

I'm assuming you're using 4 litter jugs for secondary. If you have access to smaller jugs (2 or 3 liter) you can adjust my comments to fit the space.

An alternative is to add a kilo of another fruit, and bump the volume up to 9 or 10 liters. Depending on the fruit, it may not change the taste much (elderberry is strongly flavored), and you'll have volume for two 4 liter jugs.

Yet another thought -- if you have access to grape concentrate, add a liter of concentrate + 2 liters water, bump the volume up to 9 or 10 liters. I did that with a gallon of elderberry concentrate -- the concentrate was supposed to make 5 gallons/19 liters, so I bumped the total volume up to 5.75 gallons (23 liters), which provided the volume to fill the carboy after racking off the sediment.

Regarding other fruits, for a wine that tastes like the fruit, plan for 2.25 kg (5 lbs) to 3.5 kg (8 lbs) of fruit per 4 liters water.
 

DangleBerryWine

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So much info!
Thanks again.
I am going to try get some grape concentrate .
My secondary jug is a 23L plastic carboy.

- is there such thing as too much head room in the secondary fermentation jug?
 
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DangleBerryWine

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OK ,
After checking the hedgerow I can confirm the elderberry season has passed.
I don't have enough fruit.....
I have ordered 1L of grape concentrate and 2 glass demi johns .

My new target is a much more realistic 10L of wine .
 

winemaker81

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is there such thing as too much head room in the secondary fermentation jug?
Definitely. For a 5 gallon/23 liter carboy, I try to fill within 3"/7cm of the stopper.

There is no clear definition for "how much head space is too much". It will depend on the shape of the container. My best advice is to keep within the above suggestion.
 

DangleBerryWine

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Well my first brew is well under way!
I am going to rack it tomorrow evening ( I think).
Went with my 3kg of berries and 1/2 liter of the concentrated grape juice + 2kg of sugar to make 12/13L of must.
Still trying to get my head around the hydrometer (why is the writing so small!!) but getting there.
Thanks for all your advice so far.
I will update soon!
 

Scooter68

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Why are you planning on racking tomorrow evening? What was the starting SG And what is it now? Racking during a fermentation (Not a 'Brew'). Is done based on the SG. Not a set period of time. MAJOR difference between "brewing' beer and Fermenting wine.
 

DangleBerryWine

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Scooter ,
Thanks for the reply.
I am here to learn and take advice.
Starting SG was 1.080, 4 days later it's at 1.026.
I should wait a while longer ?
Maybe check in 2 days ?
 

winemaker81

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Don't rack yet unless you don't have a choice. Give it 2 more days, and if the SG is below 1.010, rack.

Some rack once fermentation is complete, but anything in this range is a good choice.
 

Scooter68

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I would wait until the SG is no higher than 1.010 AND the foam activity has died down. ( Typically for me that means there is no longer a solid layer of foam ). If you rack too soon you risk a fountain of foam spewing out wasting wine and making a mess. Also as the ferment slows more of the gross Lee's will be on the bottom rather than floating around.
 

DangleBerryWine

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Hi Guys,
Im back with another question.
When the time comes to bottle(a while away yet I know),should I be testing the SG or taste testing ?

I also picked up 4 more glass demijohns locally so I will be doing another batch this weekend!
Cant wait to try some of my own wine!
 

Arne

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To throw a little addition to this. When you get ready to get the fruit out of the must, if you rack the liquid off and stick it in a carboy, leave the fruit and most of the lees (the junk on the bottom) add some storebought apple juice and top off with a bit of water. Add sugar to 1.080 specific gravity, nutrient according to the label, If you think you need it maybe some tannin or acid and let it ferment away. You get a second wine for little cost and with elderberry I prefer a lighter taste. That is just my preference you may or may not like it. Good luck with your projects. Arne.
 

winemaker81

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When the time comes to bottle(a while away yet I know),should I be testing the SG or taste testing ?
Both. When I'm ready to bottle, I record the SG. Why? It's habit, I record SG every time I touch the wine. Most of the time it won't matter (except for first and last), but on occasion it's helpful -- if you recorded it.

For fruits, I sweeten at least a bit, so I add sorbate + M-meta, then start sweetening. Your batch is under 8 liters? I'd start with 1/8 cup sugar, stirring well, then tasting. Keep adding, stirring well, and tasting until it needs just a bit more. Then stop.

Sugar syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water, stir until clear, cool to room temperature) mixes in best. However, I am sometimes lazy -- last elderberry I worked with my son -- one stirred while the other gently sprinkled table sugar on the surface. Both methods work.

Check SG when done, so you'll be able to figure the residual sugar.
 

DangleBerryWine

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Thank for the above advice!
Winemaker81, thats somevery clear advice and thanks for sharing.
Now I have to google m-meta and Residual sugar!

This might be a silly question but after you add sugar can fermentation start again ?
 

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