Fruit and juice canned by grandmother

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Bobbyrohr88

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Brand new member here! Have made wine in the past, but want to start making a cleaner, better product.

Grandma recently passed away, but she was an avid canner of all sorts of things, including local wild fruits and their juices.
I'd like to make wine from these if possible, but should I treat them like raw fruit or concentrate? I'm not sure of the recipe she used, so I'm blind to any ingredients to what she may have added that might cause adverse reactions...

Any advice is appreciated!
 

Bobbyrohr88

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What do you mean by a better cleaner product? Just sourcing better ingredients?
No, in the past when I've made wine, it was a very basic recipe. No acid blends or chemicals. It was drinkable, but that's it.
Now I'd like to make some better quality stuff, so I purchased a bunch of stuff recommended in a YouTube video.
 

vinny

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I ended up on this forum because I needed to unlearn all I had been 'taught' about wine making on Youtube.

I am not saying that your sources will be the same as mine, but don't hesitate to ask questions here. People on this forum have been making wine for decades. You can't find a better source for info. There is a whole section just for recipes, and many of us have recipe books and even pdf's we can share if you mention what you are planning to make.

@BigDaveK has made wines from preserves and will be able to give you some recipes and insight when he chimes in.
 

BigDaveK

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Welcome to WMT!!

I was gathering day lilies for everyone's information. :h

Sorry about your grandma.
You can certainly use them for wine. Been canning for years and pectin and citric acid are the most common chemicals. Look in a canning book (she must have some) and compare recipes to her jars. There are a few that use less common chemicals. I did an absolutely wonderful Christmas Pickle that uses alum.

All water-bathed cannned food needs an acid, either from the ingredients or added, or a lot of sugar. Pectin would be used in a jelly.

I would treat them as something in between raw and concentrate. Many fruits are canned with an acid (citric or lemon juice) and also sugar. The amount of sugar is sometimes up to the canner - could be a light or heavy syrup.

How old is it? I've eaten 4 year old canned fruit/vegetables and they tasted fine. I've tasted 5 year old stuff, flavor still there but the cell structure was breaking down and it had an unpleasant mouth feel. I would hesitate using old jars.

I would take the band off if it's still on and lift the jar by the lid. (Be careful.) If it holds, the seal is good and the contents should be fine. Open it and smell. If it smells "funny", pitch it - as in throw away. If it smells good, taste it. If it tastes good, use it for wine or whatever else.

This is exciting! You have experimenting to do! Go slow and use that hydrometer!!!! You may not have to add much sugar.
 
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vinny

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Oh gosh....

I'm no expert but thank you.

I know some things. And I know I don't know some things. Some of the things I don't know, I don't know I don't know. Always learning.
You have made different wines with preserves though, no?

Did you wing it or use recipes calling for canned ingredients?

Sounds like @Bobbyrohr88 has lots of options with solid fruits and juices. I would not suspect that they would have much in the way of chemical in them. I personally can my own stuff because I can control what I put in it. If the goal is not to naturally preserve, it is cheaper to buy commercial canned goods.
 

BigDaveK

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You have made different wines with preserves though, no?

Did you wing it or use recipes calling for canned ingredients?

Sounds like @Bobbyrohr88 has lots of options with solid fruits and juices. I would not suspect that they would have much in the way of chemical in them. I personally can my own stuff because I can control what I put in it. If the goal is not to naturally preserve, it is cheaper to buy commercial canned goods.
Did the jelly/jam wine twice. I used 5 half-pint jars for 1 gallon. You can't really use more than that because of the sugar. One batch came in at 1.090 and I didn't add any sugar. The other was at 1.080 with half a cup.

I did some recipe searching and it's really just a basic ordinary wine recipe. Heck, all wines are essentially flavor element, acid, nutrient, sugar, water, yeast. The only difference is the jelly/jam takes the place of the flavor element AND the sugar. The wines turned out surprisingly well. In fact, depending on this year's harvest, my jellies/jams will be made with the idea that I can make wine during the winter if I get bored and don't have other ingredients. @vinny you're playing with so many other things you gotta try it once!

I still have jars of onion jam, tomato basil jam, bluebarb jam and anise hyssop jelly that try to get my attention every time I'm in the basement.
 

Bobbyrohr88

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Thank you guys all so much!

The ingredients I've gathered are:
. Wine tannin
. Yeast nutrient
. Acid blend
. Pectic enzyme
. Camden tablets
. Premier yeast
. Potassium sorbet
. Bentonite

The recipe I intended to follow came from "HowToDoneRight" youtube channel.

Theres a lot more juice (several dozen gallons) than there is canned fruit (maybe a couple dozen gallons). Some of it is quite old (1970's) but was still sealed and actually tasted fine after I gathered the courage to try it. Grandma canned a few gallons of wild choke-cherries, sand plums, currants, and German blackberries each year.
Even cooler...I do a lot of metal detecting and "privy digging", and last fall I dug out the privies on our families farm and collected over complete 100 bottles ranging in dates from the 1880's-1940's. Liquor bottles, medicine bottles, and soda bottles. I plan on using these as wine bottles and gifting them to family members (after thorough, THOROUGH sanitation. Lol!).

So, I have 2-5 gallon carboys, and lots of brand new buckets and bleach. Plan on doing this in my root cellar (live on a farm) where the temperature and humidity is steady (but maybe a little cool?).

Alright... Theres my situation, what I have, and what I'm trying to do. What's step 1?
 

vinny

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Step one... Well, I'm going to throw a caveat in here. Lots of people would say don't touch anything over a couple of years old. Fear, illness, death, cooties (This is a big one, I don't think you can get rid of them!), and plenty of other reasons. You are going to have to use your head along the way and really asses what you are using.

I, however, am a firm believer that age may reduce flavour and nutrient value, but if properly sealed you should not have an issue with death or illness. As long as you are not dealing with massively rusted cans and pin holes, you should be fine. If a seal has let go there will be pretty obvious signs. Mold, lack of colour or muddy colour, lower liquid levels, off smells, bad odor, and poor flavour. This is also the order in which I would assess things to make my judgement, sight, smell, and then taste.

I think you are on the right track. Wine is the best use for this, except maybe a few jars for the pantry if they are from the last few years.

You are going to have to do a little fiddling and get creative. You can try different balances of ingredients, but the end goal is the same as Bigdave mentioned above. You will just need to replace the recipe fruit component with juice and preserves.

You can start with juice, add preserves to increase specific gravity and add additional sugar/water to adjust potential ABV. Smashing or blending fruit solids might help to release sugars giving you a more accurate potential ABV reading. Mesh bags make racking and clean up much easier.

It might also be a thought to make a recipe with frozen berries or fruit so you can get an idea of how a must tastes. I find they range from light and sweet to aggressively sweet and jam like. Tasting another recipe or two might just offer a guideline to gauge fruit and juice content.

1 gallon batches are great for experimenting.

You don't want to ferment in your carboys. Use a bucket with extra head space to accommodate stirring and foaming.

Depending on the recipe and the ingredients you choose, you can add things like raisins to improve mouth feel. Lemon, orange or other juice for acidity and flavour. Rind to really impart more citrus and lemon flavour. If it's a dark berry or 'thick' juice you can get more creative with chocolate powder, pepper corns and other accents in smaller amounts.

The way I see it, you have nothing to lose. Water, yeast, and sugar are cheap and other than the ingredients in the list you have above, it's about all you will need.

Wine is forgiving and a recipe is not law. They will give you a good guideline for required nutrition, acid and tannin levels, but you can adjust fruit and sugar as you see fit. Your hydrometer will ultimately be your sugar/water gauge.

Wash (Scrub) and sanitize your equipment. You might want to consider a wine/beer sanitizer for after your first cleaning with soap and bleach. Bleach compounds can react with cork and taint wine. Some won't even wipe a counter in their prep area with it. It is forbidden!

Other than that.. Just time. Many youtube videos imply you can have wine in weeks. It is ready when it's ready. Meaning it tastes good. If it is mediocre, time can make it better, so can tweaks. If you don't really like it, you can still make it better months later before bottling.
 

Bobbyrohr88

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@vinny

Thanks so much! You're dead on about the pin holes and stuff... About half the older stuff was noticeably bad. The other half is still completely sealed, so I'm going to give it a shot.

You mentioned starting with juice and adding preserves to increase the specific gravity... What kind of preserves?
Also, if I start with a gallon of juice, can I dissolve sugar directly into it?
Would I add raisins, lemon, etc. immediately prior to fermentation?


I hope to get a few gallon batches going asap, but I don't want to rush anything and ruin my end product.

Thanks again!
 

vinny

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You mentioned starting with juice and adding preserves to increase the specific gravity... What kind of preserves?
What ever you have. For example, peach juice, you can add peach preserves (slices/jam/jelly) in place of sugar as it will already be in the preserves. This is where your hydrometer comes in handy. You'll be looking for a specific gravity of around 1.085-1.100 depending on your desired ABV. SO, if your juice is 1.065 you could add preserves to up the fruit content and SG. Depending on how your mixture works out you can add additional sugar or water to raise/lower SG which will affect you final alcohol %.

This is where you have to get creative by deciding what you want to make with what you have. It could be blackberry currant. You could add dried currants for more zing.

I am pretty new to this myself, and I just made a few batches where I used a recipe as a guide and tweaked them just to be able to see the results. boiling vs juicing and adding pulp, etc.
Also, if I start with a gallon of juice, can I dissolve sugar directly into it?
Absolutely, this is called chaptalizing. Increasing the sugar content of a must to increase SG to adjust final alcohol % (ABV). This is where the hydrometer will allow you to know what you are making. Say you start with a gallon of juice and add 2 cups of sugar. You went from 1.065 (7% potential alcohol) base juice SG to 1.30 (18% potential), so you add water to bring it down, but now it's lacking fruit content you could bump the fruit up with a preserve. I hope My attempt to clarify is not adding further confusion. I am just trying to demonstrate your goal and what it might take to hit it. The above example is extreme as you likely won't ever shoot your target gravity by such a degree. Many chaptalize kit juices to hit a desired ABV.
Would I add raisins, lemon, etc. immediately prior to fermentation?
Raisins yes. They are dried grapes, adding them literally imparts the same properties as a grape wine for ingredients like carrot or berries that will produce a thinner wine with less mouth feel and fullness.

Lemon, rind, berries, chocolate, etc. can all be added to either primary or secondary. Adding them in primary will create a more rounded out and blended flavor, maybe not even fully identifiable as lemon, just upping the acidity and dimension of the wine. Where adding after fermentation in secondary will impart a more distinct note of what was added. Ie. fermetation changes the flavor of all added ingredients and blends those flavours together to create your wine, adding ingredients to secondary with impart that specific flavor. Some people will add blackberry juice to a blackberry wine to back sweeten and specifically impart a a distinct blackberry flavour.

I forgot to mention in the last post that back sweetening, adding sugar after fermentation is complete and yeast has been neutralized with sorbate, can really pick up the fruit notes of the original ingredient without actually making the wine sweet. It can knock down the notable sourness a berry can impart and bring out the more rounded berry flavor.
 

vinny

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Here's a choke cherry recipe for example.

2.5 lbs choke cherries
1/2 pint grape concentrate or 1 lb raisins
7 pints water
2 1/2 lb sugar
1/2 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp nutrient
1 campden
yeast.

You could start with a gallon of Gramma's Choke Cherry.
The raisins are added to compensate for the lack of body of choke cherries compared to grapes. Just to make the wine feel more substantial.
Water to get your 1 gallon total volume. Not needed if you choose to use straight juice. This is where you need to have a general goal and experiment. More juice will make a stronger base for your wine. Do you like a little flavour, or a lot? Taste your must. 1 member here will make a pie with the flavour ideas he has to see if he likes the mix, then use that for a wine base.
Sugar to reach desired ABV. This recipe calls for 1.090-1.095 which is a potential alcohol of 12-12.5% ABV, but will likely yield more like 13+% because of the immeasurable sugars added in the raisins. You will need to measure your base gravity and calculate required sugar volume, or add in smaller amounts and take readings.
Acid blend is just to adjust the acidity to blend out the wine. You could use a lemon and include the rind instead to impart different flavors.
Pectic enzymes helps break down the fruit pulp and extract tannin. Different fruit recipes might require you add it.
nutrient will ensure a healthy ferment
Campden will sterilize the must so the yeast you add is the one driving the fermentation.

This is just an example, and a breakdown of why you are adding the specific ingredients. You can pick a single recipe, blend 2 or 3 depending on what you want to make. For example, one calls for citric acid, the other lemon. One has oranges or another flavour you would like to add.

You can make it as simple or fun as you want. Follow a recipe and ignore all outside factors. Or make whatever you want based on what you have, blend flavours, mix ingredients. Wine making is base on the personality of the winemaker. You decide the risk vs creativity, as well as just what you want to make. You might look at this explanation and a recipe and know exactly how you want to play with it. You might also want to stay as close to the original as possible. That's where you have to run with it.

Anyone want to verify my last 2 posts, here. @winemaker81? This is a lot to share for my experience. Anything to add or correct me on? I don't want to lead anyone astray!
 
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