Persimmon wine... or jello?

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Brandon M

Winemaking Newbie since 2022
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I think I just made some persimmon jello.

I'm trying my first batch of wild persimmon wine. This is maybe my eighth or so winemaking attempt so far, all fairly small batches, and most have been reasonably successful. So I'm not TOTALLY a newbie - but close.

I mashed all the extremely-ripe fruit (about 2/3 of a gallon) yesterday and left it all in the bucket (with seeds and skins), added just a couple cups of water, plus campden, 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient, about double the normal dose of pectic enzyme (1-1/2 tsp), acid blend for 3.8pH (about 1/2 tsp), and a couple cups of table sugar, and let it sanitize for 24 hours.

Today I removed the towel from the bucket and found... jello? It was so thick I could scoop up literally heaps with a spoon - like, heaps three inches above the spoon. Not a hint of pure liquid anywhere. Impossible to get an SG even with the refractometer. (And despite the campden, it had a bit of fermentation foam around the edges.)

I went ahead and strained out the seeds and skins, added about 3 more cups of more water, and (for the refractometer) strained a couple drops of clear liquid with a coffee filter to find 35 Brix (yep, thirty five; this stuff will be hot AND sweet I guess). It tasted pleasant, no off odors, just a hint of astringency. So rather than risk it spoiling by waiting another day, I pitched the yeast (Red Star Premier Blanc, 1/2 packet, 13-15% ABV tolerance). The attached image is of the must after all this.

There's already a bit of foaming a couple hours later.

Any advice about the thickness (and anything else, really) would be appreciated. I'm always hesitant to add too much water. Do I need to dilute it more anyway? What are the downsides if I do?
 

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I looked in Jack Keller's book for Persimmon wine, and his recipe calls for 3 lbs of persimmons in 7 pints of water. Given that his recipes are often low fruit, I'd easily bump that to 6 lbs fruit in 7 pints water.

Scale that to how much fruit you started with, and add the appropriate amount of water.
 
Thanks - the Keller website is defunct now. Yes, I'd seen a lot of comments about his low fruit percentages.

I wish I knew the poundage of my harvest. I just collected by volume and it's all mash now. But a gallon of water is about 8 lb, and the fruit is pretty close to the same density, so it sounds like the ratio ought to be nearly 50/50 (6 lb fruit in 7 lb water).

Can I add some water once the fermentation is rolling?
 
I've had a few super thick musts. Crushed pears, applesauce, and my barley was thick like oatmeal. Decided not to add water out of curiosity. They started to thin after about three days and all were successful. Also, they were all oversized batches because I was expecting a healthy amount of gross lees. No idea what you can expect (lees wise) from persimmon.
 
I've had a few super thick musts.
This case is different for several reasons -- the big one is size. 2/3 of a gallon of fruit is not going to produce much wine, so care in general will be more difficult and normal volume reduction from racking will be correspondingly huge.

@Brandon M, I re-read your OP and spotted that the must is at 35 brix. It's entirely possible the yeast simply cannot digest it. I suggest you add water, 1 cup at a time, stirring as best you can, and checking SG when the must is thin enough to check. I'd target 22 to 24 brix as the stopping point. Once you've reduced the brix, the ferment should take off.
 
On your recommendation, last night I added a couple more cups of water and rechecked things, and it lowered the Brix to 16, so I added back another cup of sugar and went to bed.

I'm happy to say that this morning the must was already starting a healthy fermentation, with a good cap of solids on top of some clear lemonade-colored liquid, and plenty of foamy bubbles in the cap. It rung out at 29 Brix, which is high but the yeast seems happy so I think I'll leave it alone at this point. I like sweet wines, anyway.

At the moment, my pipette sample was very astringent, but I wonder if that's from the solids, and what it will do once I remove the solids. Time will tell, I suppose. I may remove the solids early on this batch.
 
At the moment, my pipette sample was very astringent, but I wonder if that's from the solids, and what it will do once I remove the solids. Time will tell, I suppose. I may remove the solids early on this batch.
Your call on removing the pulp.

Don't worry about the taste now. Taste again after 3 months of bulk aging, and expect to backsweeten.
 
I am getting ready to start a batch of persimmon. I have over 20 lbs and discarded another 10. This will be my third go with persimmon. The first was my very try at wine and it was not good. The second was my favorite I’ve made so far. Last year we didn’t have persimmons, this year there are an abundance. I have my fruit in the freezer now. My plan is to add pectic while it is thawing. I don’t plan on mashing them, just going to put them in a nylon bag and put in primary, skin, seed and all. After they thaw it will be a bag of mush. The first time I made persimmon I aggressive squeezed the bag for the first few days and the must was very thick. The second time I just stirred the bag around and it worked much better. Not sure if this helps but that’s been my experience. The astringency was overwhelming initially, but time healed it. I’m finally catching onto the patience thing 😊
 
I am getting ready to start a batch of persimmon. I have over 20 lbs and discarded another 10. This will be my third go with persimmon. The first was my very try at wine and it was not good. The second was my favorite I’ve made so far. Last year we didn’t have persimmons, this year there are an abundance. I have my fruit in the freezer now. My plan is to add pectic while it is thawing. I don’t plan on mashing them, just going to put them in a nylon bag and put in primary, skin, seed and all. After they thaw it will be a bag of mush. The first time I made persimmon I aggressive squeezed the bag for the first few days and the must was very thick. The second time I just stirred the bag around and it worked much better. Not sure if this helps but that’s been my experience. The astringency was overwhelming initially, but time healed it. I’m finally catching onto the patience thing 😊
Your feedback is very valuable!
 
Thanks - "time" as in "aging time in the bottle"? Or pre-bottling, or what else?
I’m pretty new to this and I probably bottled a little earlier than I should have. I would say I still tasted astringency at bottling, so time in the bottle helped. This go round I am going to bulk age longer before I bottle. When I drank it after about 9 months in bottle there was no astringency. Again, I’m just now catching the patience thing and hoping with my new found skill this next batch will be even better. I am going to do a 3 gallon batch this time. That’s as big as I can go with my current setup. I usually do gallon batches because I am experimenting a lot at this point.
 
Just as an update, my 3 gallon batch of persimmon was a bust. I guess it’s true that you can do the same wine twice and get totally different results. When I removed the fruit bag it was very dense and heavy, yet there was so much gross lees still. I have racked it from primary to secondary but didn’t taste it because it looks horrible, although smell was very fruity. I’ll try tasting it when I rack again in a couple weeks, right now the sight of it just scares me. That being said, the first gallon looks pretty good, it’s just the second gallon jug that scares me. If I get a gallon and half in the end I’ll be happy. Fruit was free so not a big loss, looking at this as a learning experience. I’ve posted some of this in another thread about early racking, but wanted to add to this thread too since it’s specific to persimmon. I also had to add a lot of acid to get Ph down, so I’m kinda afraid I over did that. In retrospect, I’m going back to smaller batches until I get a better idea of what I am doing.
 
Well, I'm quite new at this too (maybe 10 batches into winemaking) but I do have a couple thoughts.

I also had a crazy lot of liquid stuck in the fruit cap. The cap was probably half the volume of the primary ferm bucket. Straining it did absolutely nothing - it hardly dripped at all. So I ended up pressing it all out laboriously with a spoon through a sieve to recover as much liquid as possible. And that was with double the usual dose of pectic enzyme. Seems to be the nature of the fruit.

I also had to add quite a bit of acid blend, more than I ever have for another juice. I ended up buying a titratable acid test kit from a local homebrew store, just so I could see how much acid it actually has now. But I won't be doing that test until fermentation is done, because it takes a non-trivial amount of liquid.

My post-primary liquid was excessively astringent - like, totally mouth puckering. I've tried fining it with some egg whites to pull out the tannins (which are supposedly where the astringency comes from). I'll be racking it tonight, and we'll see if that worked. So if I were you, I'd at least taste it to see if you need to address the astringency.

But I'm kind of like you - I'm real nervous about tasting anything in-process. It's scary.
 
Just as an update, my 3 gallon batch of persimmon was a bust. I guess it’s true that you can do the same wine twice and get totally different results. When I removed the fruit bag it was very dense and heavy, yet there was so much gross lees still. I have racked it from primary to secondary but didn’t taste it because it looks horrible, although smell was very fruity. I’ll try tasting it when I rack again in a couple weeks, right now the sight of it just scares me. That being said, the first gallon looks pretty good, it’s just the second gallon jug that scares me. If I get a gallon and half in the end I’ll be happy. Fruit was free so not a big loss, looking at this as a learning experience. I’ve posted some of this in another thread about early racking, but wanted to add to this thread too since it’s specific to persimmon. I also had to add a lot of acid to get Ph down, so I’m kinda afraid I over did that. In retrospect, I’m going back to smaller batches until I get a better idea of what I am doing.
Wine doesn't look, smell, or taste like wine early in the process. You're looking at sludge that you will discard. Don't worry about it now.
 
We are off-topic from Persimmon wine ... but this fits the current flow. I racked a Vidal tonight, and poured the loose sludge from 2 carboys into 1.5 liter bottle. This looks really unappetizing, right?

2023-vidal-xx-sludge.jpg

I put the bottle in the fridge, and 4 hours later it looks like this:

2023-vidal-xx-sludge-4-hours.jpg

I'm going to leave it for a week or so, then decant the wine off the top. I hope to recoup about 500 ml of wine.

/Back to your previously scheduled topic
 
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