Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sap Wine Update

Some people have said they are interested to see how the whole thing progresses and what happens, so here is some information about it all. Yesterday evening, I was finally able to complete the first stage of my Birch sap wine project :) . This second batch of Birch sap amounted to a gallon, so I needed to use our preserving pan to be able to boil it all with the orange and lemon zest. With citrous fruits, I always use just the zest and juice because the pith can impart an unpleasant bitter flavour. I added this to my first batch of sap into a brewing bucket - now I was ready to introduce all the other ingredients; these were: rasins, a cup of tea, a little malic and tartaric acid, some pectin enzyme,  brewing sugar and yeast nutrients.

I love the simplicity of my hydrometer - the amount it floats, depends upon how much sugar is disolved in the liquid. This is becaurse the more sugar there is in the liquid, the denser it is. Toward the top you can see 1.000 - this is the level it would float in pure water (a specific gravity of 1.000). I was aiming to get enough sugar disolved in my 'must' to reach a specific gravity of about 1.090. I have never achieved this first go - until now -yippee!!! Usually I have to fiddle about adding more sugar solution a little at a time until I get it there. As I like dry white wines, I will let this ferment right out. So with a reading of 1.090 I should obtain a wine that is nearly 12% alcohol by volume. The final reading I will aim for is 0.990, right at the very top of my hydrometer (the alcohol makes a finished wine less dense than water).

Once all the ingredients have been added, I'm ready to pitch my yeast. For wine, this is the most important part of all. Yeast is a fungus that basically converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The more you pamper your yeast, the better the resulting wine. A good wine recipe is one that gives the yeast everything that it needs - sugar, oxygen, vitimins, some acid, nitrogenous matter, a little warmth and no competition from other yeasts and bacteria (which is why keeping everything sterile is crutial too). This picture shows the finished 'must' with the yeast sprinkled on the surface. I had to wait until the temperature had dropped to 21deg before doing this, because too warm a temperature can damage or even kill the yeast.

And here it is this evening (24 hours later). This stage, while it is fermenting in my brewing bin, is called the primary fermentation. This usually lasts about a week and during this time, the yeast is multiplying at a phenominal rate. As you can see, it has already started to froth and I need to stir it quite thoroughly, several times a day because the yeast needs plenty of oxygen while multiplying. The carbon dioxide given off helps to prevent airborne bugs from reaching the brew, but as the fermentation settles down and becomes less vigorous, I will then strain off the liquid into a demijohn and prevent the air from getting to it with an airlock. This creates is a much slower fermentation and is known as the secondary fermentation. I'll try to put this up in about a week. If anyone reading this is still awake it'll be a miracle - but if you have read this through to the end - thanks!

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for showing us Jerry. Very informative. Reminded me of a chemistry lesson. Not that we were ever taught how to make wine. Though it might have been a lot more fun. Enjoy!!!

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    1. Laura, I love the idea of wine making lessons - not expecting it to appear on the national curriculum though!!

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  2. Yes, I read this through to the end! Astonishing how this ferments so quickly. Looking forward to the next update :)

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    1. Ann, you deserve a medal for reading it all! Yes the primary fermentation goes like a train, this morning it looked alive! However the secondary fermentation is the opposite and can take months.

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    2. ...but hopefully worth waiting for! :)

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  3. The last photo looks like a good homemade bread :-)) Looking forward to seeing the next step.

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    1. It's interesting you say that Jane - when I stirred it this morning it smelt like bread too - must be the yeast.

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  4. Fascinating read Jerry - and brings back memories. Am beginning to wish I hadn't got rid of all my winemaking equipment :) Looking forward to the next stage.

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    1. Glad you liked the post Rgged Robin.

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  5. Hi Jerry, I've just enjoyed your last post as well as this one (which I definitely read to the end) and found them both really fascinating. I have never heard of this at all but it certainly sounds like you know what you are doing. It all seems very technical and complicated but it will be interesting to see what you think when you try it eventually. Of course my first thought was would it harm the tree but then I immediately thought no, Jerry would never do anything which would cause harm :-)

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    1. Hi there, yes, it's all very technical and complicated and will probably taste like battery acid when I've finished with it!! Jan I'm flattered by your confidence in me regarding tree well-being. No trees suffered in the making of this beverage. I'm assured from a number of reputable sources that it is possible to take up to a gallon from one mature Birch tree. I took one and a half gallons from four trees. The hole needs to be only half inch deep and I plugged the holes with tightly fitting dowels which will heal over in due course.

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  6. Jerry, what a fascinating series of posts on birch wine. I had no idea you could make such a thing. I grew up in Vermont where we tapped the maple trees and made syrup. 40 gallons of sap makes one gallon of syrup. And it is delicious. I wonder if we could make maple wine?

    BTW, you are such a wonderful writer. I love reading your blog.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comment Mary. Yes I think Maple sap would be even more conducive to brewing because it has a higher natural sugar content than birch.

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  7. Hola Jerry. Esta tradición o costumbre de hacer vino a partir de la savia de los árboles como el abedul o el arce es desconocida en el Mediterráneo. Creo que tiene que ver con antiguas costumbres de los pueblos nórdicos y seguramente con el tipo de clima y las plantas y árboles que estaban más a mano para conseguir el producto deseado. En el Mediterráneo toda clase de bebida alcohólica sale de la uva de la vid. Ya no sólo el vino, sino aguardientes y otras bebidas parecidas. En Mallorca dejamos macerar determinadas mezclas de hierbas en aguardiente de anís para obtener una deliciosa bebida estomacal, que tanto puede tomarse seca como dulce. Espero no haber sido demasiado prolijo. Saludos para todos.

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    1. Thanks for such an interesting reply Francesc - I would love to try your special Mallorca infusion; it sounds very tasty.

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