Friday, August 31, 2012

Spontaneous Plum Wine

Not having a job and being home all day, I tend to end up browsing the internet for random brewing styles and techniques (rather than applying for jobs like I should be).  I found 'dinosaur plums', which apparently are pluots.  Like any good homebrewer, I spent the night doing various Googles for plum, apricot, and pluot wine recipes.  I'm still planning a pluot wine, but in the process I happened upon Slivovitz, a distilled plum brandy.  I found it interesting that this maker didn't add any yeast to the mix, just plums.

Basically, you add some plums, let them start fermenting, and add more plums.  Repeat until the fermenter is full.  No stirring or mixing until the last addition. He used whole plums, but they won't fit into my 1 gallon jug.  I cut them into eights and pitted them (some recipes call for branches and pits, others recommend only using the flesh). I also added 8 ounces of honey that I found in my cabinet.  I'm hoping it might add some 'wild' bugs stuck in the honey. 

Obviously I won't be distilling it, since it's illegal in the States. Maybe that means it's just a $20 experiment in making rotten plum mush. Maybe I'll try making it into an ice wine, that seems closer to Slivovitz than plain wash/wine. Who knows? I'll just keep going and see what I get. 

Plum Mush

8 oz Honey - 8/27/2012
2 lb Black Plums (walmart) - 8/27/2012

No yeast pitched. Relying on the natural yeast on the skin of the fruit (or trapped in the honey)
Cleaned jug with OxyClean (no sanitizer)
pitted and cut plums to fit into fermenter 

Day 1 - Lots of liquid leaving the fruit.  Small bubbles forming around fruit at the surface.  Airlock bubbles every 45 seconds, so something is happening.

Day 4 - The plum meat is floating in their own juice. Its amazing how red/purple the juice is. Even more amazing is how much there is. The airlock has been consistently been bubbling every minute. There is a Lacto looking pellicle forming. Maybe the fermentation is mostly lacto right now, because it formed very fast. Waiting until the plum meat starts to break down before adding more plums. 


  1. How is the process going? I make berry and plum wine and have a Serbian friend who's family has been makin Slivovitsa for 4 generations. Let me know how your's turns out.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I've done a bit more with it, but not a tasting yet. The pellicle disappeared shortly after this picture, fermentation really kicked off and started throwing a bunch of moisture into the empty space that killed the pellicle. I added a few more additions of plums, too. I think somewhere between 6 and 8 pounds total. I've honestly been a little scared to try it, but I will soon. I'll write up the rest of what I did in my tasting post.

  3. Interesting! I thought about doing this for a mead, just to see what happens. Didn't think about just doing it straight up with fruit, which I guess is how it all started way back when anyways!

  4. A lot happened since this post, with some good learning opportunities.

    I filled the first jug, and started a second. I tried just using plums (no honey) but they started to dry out rather than releasing their juice like the first batch. I added honey and the plums released their juice. I think the osmotic pressure of having a greater concentration of sugars outside of the fruit pulled the juice out.

    Both jugs formed pellicles, but not the bubbly kind in the picture. One was powdery white and one was powdery brown. Neither looked moldy (my biggest concern) but the brown one was a little worrisome.

    I ended up having to dump them, because I couldn't do anything with them. The yeast/bacteria weren't eating the fruit pulp like I had hoped, so I basically had 2 jugs of chunky plum juice. They didn't settle to the bottom or float to the top either, so there was nothing to rack out. If I did this again, I'd probably try it more like a traditional fruit wine with the fruit in a mesh bag. I'm not sure how removing the fruit after a few days would impact the formation of the pellicle and the cell count of the microbes though.

    They both had a nice sour smell, like a good sour beer, but the taste was odd, and unfortunately not too great. It's hard to explain, but it was kind of like drinking New Belgium's La Folie if they made it out of plums instead of beer wort.

    My goal was to use the yeast and bacteria from this experiment in a sour beer, but since nothing settled the yeast flocculated onto the floating fruit instead of the bottom of the jug.

    I may try something similar in the future, but for now I'm experimenting with sour beers and bottle dregs. New posts coming soon.


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