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Elderberry Wine Recipe

Elderberry Wine Recipe - Makes 6 Bottles of wine   

Another 'hedgerow wine' favourite. It's mid September and the Elderberries are in abundance in the hedgerows! 

A friend picked me 3lbs Elderberries and froze them for me as I wanted to see if it made any difference from using them 'fresh'.(If Elderberries are out of season one can use Dried Elderberries which come in 500g bags.) - Note: with any dried fruits or flowers, only half the amount is required.

I must admit I had no idea how much juice would come out of them when I started defrosting them. Luckily they were in a plastic bag and also in a large bowl, this was just as well as when they started defrosting it was carnage with juice leaking everywhere....and it stains! So take heed :o)

A lot of the riper berries fell off the stalks with little encouragement. I emptied these into a sterilised fermentation bucket.

3lb Elderberries (Ripe/no red berries)
1.6kg VinClasse Brewing Sugar
1 Tsp VinClasse Citric Acid
4.5L Boiling Water
1 Sachet VinClasse Sherry/Port Yeast
1 Tsp VinClasse Yeast Nutrient 

Day 1
Once the berries were defrosted and the stalks removed (you can use a folk to do this) I gently crushed the Elderberries with a potato masher being careful not to crush the seeds as apparently they can be bitter. Place them in a sterilised bucket.

Image result for elderberries in a fermentation bucket

Add 4.5L boiling water to draw the juice out of the berries and stir gently for 5 minutes.
Add 1.6kg VinClasse Brewing Sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
Add 1 Tsp VinClasse Citric Acid to enhance the 'fruity flavour' and leave to cool down to around 20°C before adding the yeast.

Add 1 sachet VinClasse Sherry/Port Yeast (5g)  and 1 Tsp VinClasse Yeast Nutrient and stir well.
I took an hydrometer reading (OG = Original Gravity) The Original Gravity is the specific gravity measured before fermentation. It was 1100 and the temperature was 21°C. The colour of the must was a rich , dark red. Try to keep in an area that will have a level temperature of between 18°C and 22°C and is not in direct sunlight.

Day 2
I checked the must and it was like a 'berry crust' on top where the juice was bleeding from the berries and the berries had floated to the top. The temperature on the LCD strip on the bucket indicated that it was 24°C (a little too high) so i moved the bucket to a cooler location as I did not want the must to over heat as this would kill the yeast off. I carefully stirred the must/berries and could hear a slight 'fizzing ' sound as fermentation was taking place.

Day 3

The 'berry crust' was still on the surface and the 'fizzing' quite audible now, fermentation was well under way :) I gave another gentle stir to help release the juices and left over the weekend undisturbed.

Image result for elderberries in a fermentation bucket

Day 7

I strained the Elderberries and must through a 'Large, Fine Straining Bag' into a Large 5L heavy duty jug. squeezing as much juice a possible.

I then decanted the juice into a sterilised 5L Glass Demijohn and filled to the bottom of the neck so that there wasn't too much airspace but enough to allow continuing fermentation. The remaining must went into a spare, clean plastic demijohn to use to top up if required.

I added a bored bung and airlock (half filled with water) and moved to a warm place to continue fermentation.
Day 8

When I checked it it was bubbling away gently and I left it for 4 weeks. I then took an hydrometer reading once the bubbling ceased and the Final Gravity Reading was 996 on 3 consecutive days. 
I entered the OG 1100 and the FG 996 into the Homebrew Alcohol Calculator (on the Balliihoo Website) to calculate the Alcohol content of the wine and it came out at 14% ABV
I then racked it off into a clean glass demijohn with a solid cork bung and placed in a cool dark place for several months until I was ready to rack off into bottles.