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Mango Man

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I am new to winemaking and have been using fine mesh nylon bags during primary fermentation, primarily for fruit wine. Although i have read several comments I have not seen any clear guidance. I place the bag into the primary and then add all the ingredients. Allowing the fruit to interact rather than tie the bag closed and allow it to float. Seems to provide more fruit flavor exchange. The issue is stirring the must. The bag tends to get in the way when stirring, even though punching down the cap is no problem. Has anyone heard of any glass or plastic weight rings to keep the bag expanded and near the bottom to facilitate stirring?
 

Johnd

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I am new to winemaking and have been using fine mesh nylon bags during primary fermentation, primarily for fruit wine. Although i have read several comments I have not seen any clear guidance. I place the bag into the primary and then add all the ingredients. Allowing the fruit to interact rather than tie the bag closed and allow it to float. Seems to provide more fruit flavor exchange. The issue is stirring the must. The bag tends to get in the way when stirring, even though punching down the cap is no problem. Has anyone heard of any glass or plastic weight rings to keep the bag expanded and near the bottom to facilitate stirring?
That's one of the issues with using the bags, they tend to accumulate CO2 and float. Personally, whether doing grapes or any other fruit, my preference is to just put it into the fermenter loose and allow it to interact with the fermenting wine, punching down regularly to promote that process. Separating the fruit from the wine at the end of fermenting is a little harder, but there are some good techniques that make it pretty simple. Once you've siphoned or drained off all of the "free run" wine that you can, the remaining pulp / skins can be put into a press for pressing the juice out. If you don't have a press, put a large fermenting bag into a spare fermenting bucket and dump your fermenter into it, then slowly withdraw the bag, leaving the wine behind, then simply squeeze as much juice out of the bag full of pulp as you can.
Third option is to make a cheap press, which lots of folks here have done. It's been referred to here as a "butt bucket press", here's a link to it: Making the most of expensive kits
 

Mango Man

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Thanks John. My first two batches (mango and Mango-Banana) I did not use a bag. After primary fermentation I removed as much of the cap and pulp as I could with a metal strainer. Then I placed a bag into a second container and poured the must into it to strain out as much as I could. I was concerned that the lees would affect the clarity and flavor doing it this way but it is clearing nicely. As for flavor, it is still too early to tell. I have a 5 gallon batch of banana in the primary right now with the bag installed. We will see how it turns out.
 

Johnd

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Thanks John. My first two batches (mango and Mango-Banana) I did not use a bag. After primary fermentation I removed as much of the cap and pulp as I could with a metal strainer. Then I placed a bag into a second container and poured the must into it to strain out as much as I could. I was concerned that the lees would affect the clarity and flavor doing it this way but it is clearing nicely. As for flavor, it is still too early to tell. I have a 5 gallon batch of banana in the primary right now with the bag installed. We will see how it turns out.
Sounds like that's working for you, so no need to change. Even when you end up with some of the sludge / lees in your wine, if you do a good job of letting it settle and racking, you'll come out just fine in the long run. The important thing is to try to get as much of the gross lees out of the way within the first 2-3 days after your wine has stopped fermenting. Once it stops and the CO2 isn't churning everything up, it typically settles out pretty well on its own.
 

Ajmassa

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I did this once before. If your batches are small enough that you can use a 7.9gal fermentor then they sell extra large “brew bags” that will line the whole bucket. Everything goes in. Proceed as a completely open fermentation. Doesn’t float or anything. Then grab the handles and remove when complete and you’ll have your free run wine separate from all the solids to press. I was not concerned about the lees in there with the press. It sat with the wine and was stirred up for a week. Pressing with it wasn’t a big deal

not sure if what you did is exactly this or not, but I had no issue with the bag staying in place. (Also pictured in there is a crude version of that butt press John mentioned)
D90F7AC9-096D-4C62-BACC-108D36F6D075.jpeg
 
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BernardSmith

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So this exchange raises what is for me a fascinating question. In grape wine making one is likely to ferment the grapes after crushing and then after active fermentation has been deemed to have ended you remove the grapes and press out the juice. Why then does it not make the same good sense to follow a similar procedure when fermenting country wine? You would simply pour the juice through the fruit and collect the fruit in a bag AT THAT POINT (rather than ferment in a bag) and then you might press the fruit in the bag to extract any remaining juice. There is the same exposure to O2 as with grapes, isn't there? ... Indeed, that exposure to O2 may be beneficial in removing any H2S that the yeast (even unstressed yeast) may have produced.
 

Wine Lab

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I liked the idea when making fruit wine or for that matter, wine kits with grapeskins and oak chips, to use a large strainer bag in the fermentation pail, that overlapped the top edges of the pail, and then have all the ingredients floating in there loose and able to have full contact, etc. It would require some sort of a punch down every day to submerge the fruit cap. When fermentation was complete, it was simple to wring out the strainer bag and remove the pulp. This to me seemed like a better option than to use a muslin bag that you get in wine kits tied up with a knot which tended to float to the top and was hard to keep submerged, plus I always wondered about the actual contact that resulted as it would float quite high in the must.

But I had the same issue using a large strainer bag in a fermentation pail and them trying to stir the must daily. What I ended up doing is putting a heavy clear glass plate on the bottom, let's call it a weight plate, about 2 lbs., and it would do two things - one provide a flat smooth bottom for stirring purposes, and second, it would weigh down the strainer bag so it would not float up or get in the way of stirring. I had first used an ordinary stoneware plate, but found that the rim on the bottom of the plate reacted with the wine must and so then used just clear glass heavy dinner plates. I also found using fine mesh strainer bags was not a good idea, as it was so hard to wring out when you want to remove the pulp, they seemed to plug off with the sludge and made it very hard to strain out. So I switched to coarse strainer bags used in beer making and found it much easier to wring and squeeze out when you are done.

However, after reading Johnd's response, i.e. "put a large fermenting bag into a spare fermenting bucket and dump your fermenter into it, then slowly withdraw the bag, leaving the wine behind, then simply squeeze as much juice out of the bag full of pulp as you can"; this even makes more sense to me than what I am doing, why fight the strainer bag in the fermentation pail at all, just throw everything into the pail without a strainer bag, when the time comes to transfer, a syphon will take most of the clear wine out before plugging off with pulp, grapeskins oak chips, or whatever. At that point, you would put a strainer bag in a spare fermentation pail and just pour the remainder of the must into it and then wring it out and remove all the pulp. This sounds much simpler to me and I plan to try it next time.

I tend to do both primary and secondary fermentation in the same fermentation pail, after the primary is nearing completion, I snap down the lid after installing an airlock in it and leave it there until the secondary fermentation is done also, then transfer to a glass carboy for degassing. It eliminates one transfer and allows for longer contact time for the fruit pulp or grapeskins in the case of wine kits. It is usually complete in 14 to 21 days. I found the strainer bag to be a bit of a hassle then as you need to tie into a knot or put an elastic around the top part of bag before secondary fermentation so I could get a good seal when snapping down the lid. Using Johnd's method would eliminate this hassle too as there would not be a strainer bag to deal with.

Always amazes me that no matter how many years of doing the same thing, and thinking this is as good as it gets, this wine forum brings up new ideas that makes you reconsider and try a different method instead.
 

Scooter68

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I guess a lot of the decision process stems from the type of fruit you are working with.
Currently I'm making Apple Cider but the process is the same if I make wine. I have about 4-5 bushels of apples this year. A lot were picked early (obviously looking at the Calendar) but birds and squirrels had decided the apples were ready. So I have a lot of apples with bad spots peck marks etc. I cut those off, run the remainder through the crusher and then an Omega Slow Juicer. That givens me a fairly thick juice but with zero skins, seeds stems. That can just go directly into a bucket no need or use for a bag.

Blueberries - They have seeds that will get through any bag I've seen or used so while a bag captures Skins, the seeds are everywhere and they will go up the siphon readily. So those hang around for a long time perhaps as long as the third racking after fermentation.
Peaches - Much like Apples if you process them through a juicer with one difference. The must becomes like pudding initially and makes SG readings a bear to get.
Blackberries & Raspberries (Black or Red) About the only thing left are some stems and the cores so a bag might not be of much use
Mango - A lot of fiberous pulp that needs squeezing - So it's one where the open bag in the bucket might work nicely.

All that to say that a lot depends on what fruit you start with. Of course prepared juices for the most part have no fruit pulp so that's easy.

I have a cheap Italian press that stays in the box now. I spend more time getting it clean, ready to use & Then cleaning it up afterwards for the precious little good I get from it. I'd rather squeeze and twist the daylights out of a fermentation bag than mess with my press. I can buy a lot of bags for the price of this press. Even building a press, unless you are doing a lot of batches or have a large batches.... The Press holds about 5 quarts if I remember correctly which is large enough for the pulp and stuff left from a 3-5 gallon batch - but just too much of a pain to use.
 

RichardC

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I am new to winemaking and have been using fine mesh nylon bags during primary fermentation, primarily for fruit wine. Although i have read several comments I have not seen any clear guidance. I place the bag into the primary and then add all the ingredients. Allowing the fruit to interact rather than tie the bag closed and allow it to float. Seems to provide more fruit flavor exchange. The issue is stirring the must. The bag tends to get in the way when stirring, even though punching down the cap is no problem. Has anyone heard of any glass or plastic weight rings to keep the bag expanded and near the bottom to facilitate stirring?
The bag getting in the way is not a problem once your primary is big enough. I went big with my first banana wine and primary was a 12 gallon bucket. I pushed down the bag (coarse mesh and tied,) and swished it around to get bubbles out. I stirred must not in full circles but by moving dabla ( big, wooden, roti flipper, shaped like a cricket bat,) back and forth where the bag was out of the way. Squeezing bag after primary was done was a PITA, but, I think it introduces less O2 than pouring must through bag at end.

For the racking, I tied a fine mesh bag to the end of the hose and squeeze out whatever got caught.
 

Mango Man

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After several batches with and without using a fermenting bag I am now convinced that using a bag in the primary just hinders punching the cap and stirring the must. Using the straining bag inside a container captures all the pulp when transferring from the primary. I use a bucket with a spigot for this purpose. After squeezing any remaining juice from the bag I remove it and discard the pulp. I then transfer to a glass carboy and install the airlock. At this point I am not trying to remove any yeast lees because I have been stirring the must twice a day during the primary fermentation so everything is mixed together anyway. The lees will come out in the secondary after a few rackings. I have no issues with the wine clearing using this method and it allows me to thoroughly stir the must without the bag getting in the way, which seems to help the fruit mix well. I have not found any disadvantages yet. Thanks for all of your opinions on this topic.
 

pete1325

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I used this method for the first time with spring Chilean juice buckets to extend maceration. So far it's made a huge difference in the process. More body for sure. The bags make it much easier to manage the mess as well.
 

DizzyIzzy

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I am new to winemaking and have been using fine mesh nylon bags during primary fermentation, primarily for fruit wine. Although i have read several comments I have not seen any clear guidance. I place the bag into the primary and then add all the ingredients. Allowing the fruit to interact rather than tie the bag closed and allow it to float. Seems to provide more fruit flavor exchange. The issue is stirring the must. The bag tends to get in the way when stirring, even though punching down the cap is no problem. Has anyone heard of any glass or plastic weight rings to keep the bag expanded and near the bottom to facilitate stirring?
Hi Mango, you might try glass "Sauerkraut" weights. I, personally, do not have a problem with stirring. Daily I punch the mesh bag down, then with my hands I squeeze the fruit to distribute all that flavor goodness. Then, with my hands already wet, I hold the bag to the left with my left hand, and vigorously WHISK with my right hand. This process results in a wonderfully heavy fruit flavor. BTW.....notice I said WHISK (metal whisk). I find that so much more effective than stirring with a spoon. I hope this helps..................................................Dizzy
 

hounddawg

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I am new to winemaking and have been using fine mesh nylon bags during primary fermentation, primarily for fruit wine. Although i have read several comments I have not seen any clear guidance. I place the bag into the primary and then add all the ingredients. Allowing the fruit to interact rather than tie the bag closed and allow it to float. Seems to provide more fruit flavor exchange. The issue is stirring the must. The bag tends to get in the way when stirring, even though punching down the cap is no problem. Has anyone heard of any glass or plastic weight rings to keep the bag expanded and near the bottom to facilitate stirring?
on all my wines i dump all fruits or berries straight into my ferment barrels, i use a stainless steel stirrer that fits into cordless drill every time i stir it turns everything into a sludge, at end of ferment i use,,, aw i forget the correct name, but it is a stainless steel strainer i think,i scoop out the cake, then filter the must through a 25 micron into secondary, then i press my cake and add that must to my secondary as well, it is a lot more work, but i believe it gives much more flavor to my wines,
Dawg
 

my wine

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Is there any concern that filtering must and adding back could add excessive oxygen to the process?

I'm new to this and it sounds like a great idea otherwise.
 

Scooter68

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Regardless of how you do it, there is some exposure to oxygen but unless you wave it around in the air and drag the process out over a hour or more, I wouldn't worry a great deal. Do what is reasonable to minimize exposure but as long as there aren't fruit flies buzzing around or a strong wind blowing through the room, I wouldn't worry needlessly. Filtering should not be an issue at all
 

hounddawg

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Is there any concern that filtering must and adding back could add excessive oxygen to the process?

I'm new to this and it sounds like a great idea otherwise.
noit in the latter stages of fermente, so when my ferment has a cap, it is normal practice to remove cap and either press the wine out, or filter the sludge out and press outta strainer bag, , that being said, once in the secondary, you will let it sit under airlock to allow degassing and your fines to settle to bottom, at that stage you will either syphon off your wine leaving your sediment,, or if you have a vacuum pump system, especially with a filter housing, you can rack, filter, degas all at once, same goes for bottling, you can filter, and bottle at the same time, there is a member on here that has a good system @vacuumpumpman , an there are other systems as well,
Dawg
 

MTJoeT

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I did this once before. If your batches are small enough that you can use a 7.9gal fermentor then they sell extra large “brew bags” that will line the whole bucket. Everything goes in. Proceed as a completely open fermentation. Doesn’t float or anything. Then grab the handles and remove when complete and you’ll have your free run wine separate from all the solids to press. I was not concerned about the lees in there with the press. It sat with the wine and was stirred up for a week. Pressing with it wasn’t a big deal

not sure if what you did is exactly this or not, but I had no issue with the bag staying in place. (Also pictured in there is a crude version of that butt press John mentioned)
View attachment 64778
These also are what I use and I have no problems punching down the cap or stirring. Works the same as fermenting in bucket 1 and the transfer to bucket 2 with a strainer bag, just takes out the second bucket transfer. Just pull the bag out and squeeze when done with Primary Fermentation. Bag measurements are 29" x 29" and cost me $8.

Note: Keeps all the small seeds out also.
 
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