Madeira with figs and Bananas

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Nov 15, 2009
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I ran across a Maderia recipe that uses figs and bananas. Anybody here ever make it? Thank you.

I finally have some figs coming off the tree. I do have one issue. The recipe calls for fig extract and I'm using fresh fruit. My fig wine from last year came out pretty good but I'm thinking that with the banana in the recipe, I'll have to use more fruit. Also, the fig extract is quite sweet (70 brix) so I'll have to take that into consideration as well. This is my first time trying a "cooked" wine so this should be interesting. The figs this year are much bigger than last year and the tree that produced first last year has not produced any fruit yet. I've attached a photo.


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I have a preliminary recipe for the Bual and Malmsey madeira based on comparable recipes and the recipe as given. This is for 6 gallons of finished product.

24 pounds of fresh whole figs
24 pounds of bananas
30 pounds of mustang grapes
sugar as required
water as required
6 Campden tablets
2.5 oz acid blend (adjusted)
3 tsps pectic enzyne
6 tsps yeast nutrient
sherry or madeira yeast

Currently, I do not plan to use the peels or skins. I may substitute some Blanc du Bois grapes for the mustang depending on the harvest. I currently do not have an Estufa so I'll start looking around for some type of conversion or construction.

As I mentioned, this is my first attempt at a cooked wine so I do encourage any feedback you care to contribute regarding this recipe. I did change things from the original recipe based on ingredients I have on hand. I'll get into the procedure as the process begins.

I might as well attach a photo of the Blanc du Bois grapes. These are on a one year old vine that was a stick in February of last year. I credit the input of the chickens in the run behind the fence. This vine was too big for me to move by myself so I just left it. Since I plan to move it next year, I figured I might as well let it produce some grapes. The chickens thank me daily since they have gotten more grapes than I'll get at harvest.


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e-wine and other interested subjects
That sounds like a great recipe for Madeira. One of the cool things about making the maderia is that when you fortify your wine, you end up with about five bottles of extra that you can bottle up as unbaked wine.Make sure you pull that much off before adding your spirits. I started out by using Brandy. But it cost me about $40.00 for the brandy. So I have switched to Vodka. The Brandy certainly works better but I have to watch my costs these days. If you can afford it, use Brandy.
Now for the Estufa. I am a building contractor so I had almost everything on hand. I started with a old metal wall mounted file cabinet that I brought home from a job. I have thought that an old metal school locker would work well and you could get two 5 gal. carboys in it. I used two inch ridged foam for the insulation. I used large roofing washers and sheet metal screws to fasten the foam to the cabinet. I covered all six sides. The door is just a piece of particle board and a couple of cheap hinges.




I used some old K-V adjustable standards to support and a cut down BBQ grill for a shelf


The thermometer sticks through the front of the door into the oven compartment


I wired an old porcelain pull chain lamp base inside and low. I was going to use a lightbulb for heat. But my neighbor had this brass cabinet heater. They are very long living and should never fail.


The only thing that I have had to buy was a $4.00 household light dimmer that I can control my heat settings.


I take about three days to bring the temp from room temp to 130 degrees. And I also take that much time to bring the temp back down when it is done baking



I also have been using the side and a magic marker to keep track of cooking times.

a couple of other details for you I have been using Oak chips in my last two efforts and I really like it. Even though you will be starting with clear finished wine, You will end up with a black sediment that either needs filtered or racked off. Even with raking one week after baking I still had some sediment after bottling.
As you might be able to see by my notes, I have a three gallon batch of spiced peach baking there now. I wasn't willing to put the whole five gallons in there because I wanted some of it to drink as simple wine.
Have fun with the baking project. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy trying to help.

Great job on the Estufa! It kinda reminds me of a Blue M oven. We had them in our lab and someone decided to cook a can of peas in one without punching a hole in the top of the can. The door left the hinges and traveled ten feet before hitting the ground. They never got the door to fit correctly after that because the sides were a bit bowed. "Sweet Pea", as he became know from then on, never lived down the incident. Despite the damage, the insulated sides would have been a good starting point for an Estufa.

I appreciate the offer for help and I plan to take you up on the offer. I also have questions on the process. One question in particular relates to fortification. The procedure in the "partial" book I have never mentions the addition of any spirits with this recipe. It does have a "quick" madeira recipe where you add brandy. Instead, the author relayes the process of checking s.g. and topping at defined reading. This is the procedure I plan to follow. Has anybody used this procedure? What kind of results did you get and was it worth the extra effort?

Currently, I have all the figs peeled and in the freeze waiting for the grapes.

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I seem to have lost the links from the web sites I had so I will try to give you the Readers Digest version of what I can remember.
The Portages Would load their wine into large Oak "Hogsheads" sometimes as large as 450 gallons. These would go onto sailing ships and sent into the Mediterranean and as far away as the Indian Ocean. They would sell quantities of the wine as they traveled from port to port. They might only sell a barrel or two in each port.
Knowing that the head space in the Hogshead would be replaced with air/oxygen the wine would start to oxidize. So before they ever left home port, they would add enough spirits to raise the alcohol content to 20-22%. This would sterilize the wine and make it so that any oxidation effect would not harm the wine. In fact it would improve it.
These ships would spend many month on their voyages. Often the temperatures would be 100-120 degrees for months on end. When they returned home they found that the wine that had not sold was better than when they left with it. Viola Maderia. It became so popular that they started baking the wine at home. Then as today the now smaller oak barrels of wine are fortified then set out in the hot sun or in attics to bake. There is also some belief that the rocking motion of the ships mixed the wine and introduced oxygen to the benefit of the Maderia. So some of todays producers actually place the barrels on a rocking rack system to replicate this effect. When ever I walk by my Estufa I grab the corner and give it a little shake.
Being fortified with the spirits, produces a drink that just about can't go bad. Bottles that are well over 100 years old are still just as good as ever( unlike many old bottles of other wines) and worth sometimes thousands of dollars. An opened bottle will not go bad even if left uncovered for a few weeks as long as you keep the bugs out.
While you are fermenting your wine and making your Estufa, I would recommend buying a $20 bottle of Sandeman Maderia. Drink half of it in small doses and then keep the rest to taste test along side your wine. I have been pleasantly surprised with my results. And I still have a half of a cup of the bottle I bought for testing.

My wife and I picked the mustang grapes this morning but we only got 20 pound. Based on what I read about the mustangs, 20 pounds will not be enough so we decided we will wait for the BdB grapes. The start of the madeira will have to wait two more weeks for our first grape harvest on our own property. We will process the mustangs on their skins and make a red wine. I've never worked with grapes before so this is a new experience. I'll start a thread under the from grape heading and will keep you posted on the BdB harvest.


Thanks the madeira history. I've read about madeira before and have some different recipes I want to try. Also, I have some thoughts on my Estufa and will keep you posted on the progress. Now I'm not a building contractor so be prepared for some questions. I often have good concept followed by unskilled execution.

We finally harvested the Blanc du Bois and we will use 24 pounds for the madeira, which my wife has rename "Figeira". We juiced the grapes with a return just over 2 gallons. We bought the bananas Wednesday and will start putting everything together on Sunday or Monday. We did not get a picture of the harvest but it was the first grape harvest we've ever done from our own vines. We had over 16 pounds of grapes left over which we will use to start a BdB wine. Look for it in the "Wine from Grapes" section. The BdB juice for the Figeira will go through the same initial process as the BdB wine until we join it to the figs and bananas.

We chilled the BdB in the primary then we transferred into the secondary yesterday. We added sugar to bring the s.g. up to 1.090 and added the yeast nutrient. We added the yeast early this morning and we'll see how it goes. We have never started the fermentation in the secondary so this is a little unusual for us but it is what they recommend for the BdB. The fig and banana primaries are quickly working their way to wine.

For a number of reasons, we've had some concerns about the the process we are creating. This is a 12 gallon batch and our largest primary/secondary is 6.5 gallons so basically, we have three "primaries" that will converge into two secondaries. We have the BdB which needs a lesser exposure to oxygen yet the yeast still need to grow. And finally, we have nothing to compare the end result to except for a Madeira. To us, this is the second most exciting part of the process. The most exciting part will be pulling the cork.

We combined everything into the two 6.5 gallon secondaries and all is going well. Fermentation is quite active although not overly active. We'll have to keep an eye on the specific gravity and follow the procedures as directed.

The s.g. dropped below one so we did an add on Monday and the fun continues. It looks like we will need to draw off some of the wine before our next add. We plan to draw off a half gallon from each carboy. We will use the gallon to top up each carboy after we rack.

The wine in the two 6.5 gallon carboys is slowly fermenting. The s.g. is 1.006 and 1.008. I did rack one time since my last post and made two more adds. I do plan to racking again in the near future. I do not believe I will needs to make any more adds and I am waiting for the wine to clear.

Woodbee, you are not the only one growing impatient. I can't wait to sample the final product. We tasted the wine during our last rack and it was very good. I don't know how that will reflect on the final product. Next year, we may produced some wine with the same formulation but this year, I want full benefit from the yeast.

I also have two, five gallon grape varieties going into the estufa as well as two, one gallon experiments. I still have to finish construction but I do have some time. It looks like we have until Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas. If that is the case, I may change my plans but the construction will continue.