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The most important part of wine is the fruit, but that doesn't mean the fruit has to be pretty. Traditionally fruit that wasn't good enough for eating was used to make wine. Though food-quality pears probably do make the best wine, pears that have fallen from the tree or are ugly or a little old will also make excellent wine. This is not a recipe for winemaking experts, it is a guide for regular people who have an abundance of pears that they cannot sell and are not going to eat. This is a simple and basic way to make wine, and it works very well.
Makes two gallons
- 3/4 gallon pears
- 2 lbs. sugar
- 1 1/4 gallon boiling water
- 1 packet or 1 tsp. bread yeast
The Right Container
You need to find a suitable container. For this recipe and in these photos, I'm using a two-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid, and a hole for an airlock that I bought at a wine store for $7. Glass or plastic jars, bottles, or jugs will work just as well. Whatever you use, make sure it's clean. If you don't have an airlock, and your container has a screw-on lid, place wax paper over the top and then twist the cap a half-turn or so, so the container won't build pressure but will keep anything from getting in.
- First, you will need to cut up the pears. Try to cut out any large parts that are brown and mushy. If you have a large-mouthed container (optimal), then a rough cut will do fine. If you have a container with a small mouth, then you will need to cut the fruit small enough to easily fit inside. Remember that you will also need to get them out when you are done.
- Place the chopped fruit in the clean container. Put the sugar over the top. You can make the wine without sugar, but it will have a very low alcohol content.
- At this point, I also add a dozen or two raisins as they contain nutrients that the yeast will feed on, but this is not necessary.
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- Next, pour the boiling water over the fruit and sugar and fill almost to the top, leaving a little room for foam during fermentation. Using boiling water will kill any organisms in the water, container, and pears.
- Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. If you have a small-mouthed bottle, put the lid on tight. Hold it with a towel and shake it to mix. Be sure to loosen the top as soon as you are done so that the bottle will not implode. My plastic bucket held up fine with the boiling water, but I would not recommend flimsy plastic (no milk jugs) for the primary fermenter (the first container you use).
- This recipe does not need to be exact. Just fill a container about half-way, or a little less, with chopped fruit, add about a pound of sugar per gallon of container size, and fill almost to the top with boiling water. For those without scales, one pound of sugar is two cups.
- After adding the water, cover the mixture, which is called the "must", and allow it to cool. I suggest leaving it overnight.
- When it is cool add the yeast. Most supermarkets carry bread yeast in the baking section. You can buy it in packets or, if you plan to make more wine in the near future, buy a 4 oz. jar. Wine yeast can be purchased online or at wine stores and will make better tasting wine but bread yeast is just fine.
- After adding the yeast, gently stir or shake the must then put on the lid and/or airlock/balloon, which allows gas to escape but will keep organisms out. You should be able to see bubbles rising to the top within a day of adding the yeast. This means it is fermenting. Put the wine in a place that is room temperature or slightly warmer and let it work for a few weeks.
- After 3–6 weeks you will want to put the wine in a new bottle, separating the liquid from the solid. The best way to do this is to siphon it using a small tube-like aquarium airline, which is available most anywhere fish are sold. You could also strain it, first through a screen then through a cloth, just remember that too much turbulence will mix air with the wine and hurt the flavor. Odds are the wine may not smell all that great when you open it, but if it wine smells strongly of vinegar, then it has spoiled and will need to be dumped. A little funkiness is nothing to worry about though.
- At this point, you can either drink the wine or, if you are sure it is through working, bottle it and let it age for a year or so to mellow the flavor.
This recipe is not set in stone, feel free change the ratios and see what different results you can get! Also, if you use this recipe please come back and tell me how it went.
Good luck, and enjoy!
© 2011 rick combe