Sunday, June 30, 2013

Homemade Cherry Wine

When Andy and I met around 11-1/2 years ago, I was surprised he included wine-making as one of his hobbies. He's most definitely not a wine drinker. Now that I know him as well as I do, it's not surprising at all. I know he can't sit still for three seconds and he loves to make, build and create things. The first time I had tried his cherry wine, I was so impressed. It was a light wine and not overly sweet like some homemade wines can be. Well, that wine disappeared pretty quickly, so I had the opportunity to experience making it for the first time.

A friend of his, Doug, has a sweet Grandmother who had a cherry tree and she gave him permission to pick them. Now, I don't want to come off as the whiny baby that I am, but man, you talk about work! There's a lot of work that goes into making cherry wine. We went and picked the cherries we needed and I popped out all the stones by myself. My shoulder and hands were about to kill me by the end of the day. But the wine we bottled probably tasted even better because of the effort that went into it. That summer I attended a Pampered Chef party and I found a cherry stoner. It only does one at a time, but it's super easy and less painful for your body. The other day we were in a big box store and I found one that does 6 cherries at a time. I'm praying next year's cherry crop will do as well as they did this year.
The next spring Andy bought two cherry trees to plant along with peaches, pears, apples and apricots at his place in the country. With the exception of the freeze killing the crop last year, we have been able to make wine from his own cherry trees for the past four years. Typically the weekend before Memorial Day, we are out there picking all that we can before the birds find these tasty treats and wipe them out. This  year the Spring was so cool and the weather so crazy, the cherries weren't ready to pick until the second week of June.

When we finally got married (11-11-11) after being together forever, we thought a few people might like our homemade variety and served the last bottles of cherry wine we had. None of the "store bought" wine was opened. We were wiped out! And then the great cherry freeze of 2012 happened and I was really getting nervous that we'd never get our supply refilled. It's all good! :-) This year's bottle will be ready in time to celebrate our Second Anniversary.
 Stoning the cherries (or removing the pits) is my least favorite task, but I went through 21 lbs. of cherries in around four hours.
 Bowl #1
 Bowl #2
DAY 1
Line a clean 5 gallon bucket with a clean pillowcase. The lower the thread count, the better, when it comes to wine making. (The cherries sat over night in the refrigerator due to the amount of time it took to pick and stone the cherries. Notice the amount of juice that came out.)
 Pour in the cherries into the pillowcase lined bucket.
Using a stainless steel spoon or mashing utensil, mash the cherries.
Put 10 quarts of water in a large pot. Bring  to boil and add to the cherries.

When the water is cool, USING A STAINLESS STEEL SPOON ONLY stir in 1/4 tsp. of liquid pectic enzyme OR 5 tsp. power pectic enzyme. We order our supplies from All Seasons Nashville. If you don't have access to the fresh fruit, they sell purees you can substitute with.
 DAY 2: Stir cherries with a stainless steel spoon.
 Extract all the juice from the cherries and pour into a clean 5 gallon bucket. This is why you want a low thread count pillowcase, it makes it a lot easier to SQUEEZE the juice from the cherry pulp.
 For a 5 gallon jug, we use 12-1/2 lbs. of sugar. Add that to the juice and stir well until sugar is well blended. Add a crushed nutrient tablet also.
In a measuring cup add enough warm water to activate the yeast and add it to the bucket. We do use yeast specifically for wine making when we fix the cherry wine. However, we have used the kind you buy at the grocery when we made muscadine and blackberry wine and they turned out fine.

Cover the mixture up and let it sit for 24 hours in a warm place.

 Pour into a fermenting bottle and fill it up with water to the bottom of the neck.
Place an airlock in the bottle and let it ferment away. When the bubbling quits, siphon it off into clean bottles.


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