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Making Banana Wine - how do I manage must pH?

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Sir Nanigans

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I'm making simple banana wine. I'm experienced in fermenting things, but new to wine specifically. The must has a high pH and I'm wondering how to bring it down and how far down it has to go.

I used two bunches of bananas (probably 2-3lbs, this is a micro batch) and added about a gallon of water and enough sugar to bring the SG to 1.1. The pH didn't read at all on my litmus test, which starts at 4.4. I added two lemons worth of juice and it still hardly reads - it could be my imagination. I don't want to add too much flavor from acidic compounds to the must, but it seems like it's going to need a lot more acid. How high of a pH can I start with and what kind of acid is going to be friendliest to my banana flavors?

Sorry I don't have exact numbers, I deliberately chose to wing this batch because it's fun and sometimes just my style. It's okay if it doesn't turn out.

Little update: I've read that citric acid can be attacked and turned into acetic acid rather easily. Looks like I'm using the wrong stuff, and should probably stick to pure tartaric acid. Especially since I intend to use no sulfites. Maybe I'll pasteurize in the fermentation vessel before carefully and quickly adding yeast and then hoping that by some miraculous chance I didn't introduce anything that will turn this to vinegar.
 
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Johnd

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I'm making simple banana wine. I'm experienced in fermenting things, but new to wine specifically. The must has a high pH and I'm wondering how to bring it down and how far down it has to go.

I used two bunches of bananas (probably 2-3lbs, this is a micro batch) and added about a gallon of water and enough sugar to bring the SG to 1.1. The pH didn't read at all on my litmus test, which starts at 4.4. I added two lemons worth of juice and it still hardly reads - it could be my imagination. I don't want to add too much flavor from acidic compounds to the must, but it seems like it's going to need a lot more acid. How high of a pH can I start with and what kind of acid is going to be friendliest to my banana flavors?

Sorry I don't have exact numbers, I deliberately chose to wing this batch because it's fun and sometimes just my style. It's okay if it doesn't turn out.
In fruit wines, typically, acid blend is used to reduce the pH (increase the acidity), it's a combo of three different acids, tartaric, citric, and malic IIRC. A good starting point for most fermentations would be in the mid 3.xx's, say around 3.4 or 3.5, depending upon what your final acid content goal is. Not having made banana wine, I can't guide you as to where you might want to end up, but I'd be willing to bet that @dralarms (our banana wine sage) can help you along there.........
 

Sir Nanigans

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In fruit wines, typically, acid blend is used to reduce the pH (increase the acidity), it's a combo of three different acids, tartaric, citric, and malic IIRC. A good starting point for most fermentations would be in the mid 3.xx's, say around 3.4 or 3.5, depending upon what your final acid content goal is. Not having made banana wine, I can't guide you as to where you might want to end up, but I'd be willing to bet that @dralarms (our banana wine sage) can help you along there.........
Thanks for the info and the lead on someone that might help me. I'm new to these forums; does your mention notify dralarms of your reply here, or do I need to message him directly?
 

Johnd

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Thanks for the info and the lead on someone that might help me. I'm new to these forums; does your mention notify dralarms of your reply here, or do I need to message him directly?
No problem, and welcome to WMT. My mention of dralarms with the @ before it will notify of the mention in the post, which typically prompts users to check out the post.
 

dralarms

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In fruit wines, typically, acid blend is used to reduce the pH (increase the acidity), it's a combo of three different acids, tartaric, citric, and malic IIRC. A good starting point for most fermentations would be in the mid 3.xx's, say around 3.4 or 3.5, depending upon what your final acid content goal is. Not having made banana wine, I can't guide you as to where you might want to end up, but I'd be willing to bet that @dralarms (our banana wine sage) can help you along there.........

Honestly I’ve never adjusted anything on my banana.
 

dralarms

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Thanks for the info and the lead on someone that might help me. I'm new to these forums; does your mention notify dralarms of your reply here, or do I need to message him directly?

What I do is freeze my fruit, and then thaw with plenty of pectic enzyme, I add no water. I make rather large batches. One of my best was about 130 lbs of bananas, ended up with about 13 gallons of wine. If you”must” add liquid please use apple or white grape juice. That may be why I’ve never had to adjust my ph.
 

Sir Nanigans

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What I do is freeze my fruit, and then thaw with plenty of pectic enzyme, I add no water. I make rather large batches. One of my best was about 130 lbs of bananas, ended up with about 13 gallons of wine. If you”must” add liquid please use apple or white grape juice. That may be why I’ve never had to adjust my ph.
Wow, thanks for the response. I added water because I was worried that too little separation might occur and I would lose a lot during the first racking. If that's not the case then I'll keep that in mind for the next batch. I'm surprised you don't adjust anything - I read that bananas have a pH above 4, possibly closer to 5 and that fruit wine wants 3.4ish to start. Looks like I have a lot to learn still.

My batches are only 4L. have a tiny apartment and no room for a real operation, so I do what I can with a stock pot and a reused wine jug. I might just do 3 or 4 batches back to back, starting the next as soon as I rack the current into a different vessel, like a wine train. That way I can try sugar+water+acid, fruit juice only, and no adjustment at all, and compare.

Thanks again!
 

dralarms

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Wow, thanks for the response. I added water because I was worried that too little separation might occur and I would lose a lot during the first racking. If that's not the case then I'll keep that in mind for the next batch. I'm surprised you don't adjust anything - I read that bananas have a pH above 4, possibly closer to 5 and that fruit wine wants 3.4ish to start. Looks like I have a lot to learn still.

My batches are only 4L. have a tiny apartment and no room for a real operation, so I do what I can with a stock pot and a reused wine jug. I might just do 3 or 4 batches back to back, starting the next as soon as I rack the current into a different vessel, like a wine train. That way I can try sugar+water+acid, fruit juice only, and no adjustment at all, and compare.

Thanks again!
I’ll have to check the ph one my next batch just to be sure.
 

BernardSmith

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Sidebar issue: I recently read a paper that discussed the use of banana peel as the substrate for banana wine. This was a paper written by three scholars from India who were researching the transformation of peel as costly waste byproducts into a profit source (wine) and they suggest that banana peel (at least from the bananas that are grown in India) makes a very drinkable wine (about 1.5 kg of peel /gallon)
 

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