Sunday, September 21, 2008

Charles In Charge: Blackberry Liqueur

I've always been a sucker for fruit liqueur, so now that I have the beginners wine making kit, I thought I'd try my hand at turning some of these wild blackberries into some wine.

My first try at cherry wine didn't turn out to be drinkable, so I called in some reinforcements. My friend Charles is a pretty good home wine maker. He came out to the ranch with a bunch of wine making toys that I don't have, and we got to picking. We needed 12 pounds of blackberries.

The recipe also called for 5 pounds of bananas, and 3 pounds of raisins.
The bananas are suppose to mellow out the acid. I went to Costco and got the raisins and bananas. Charles stopped by the wine supply store and picked up the yeast we needed.

It took us about 90 minutes to pick all the blackberries. I had about 5 pounds in the freezer that I had picked earlier. I thawed them out, and included it in the 12 pounds.

We put all of our ingredients out and we were ready to go as soon as we sterilized everything.

Charles mixed up a few cups of water with "Meta" and washed everything. He also put the yeast in warm water (about 105 degrees) about half an hour earlier.

Here's the berries and bananas and raisins.

Charles brought out an industrial sized potato masher, and went to town on the berries and bananas. After squishing them up pretty good, we used our hands to get the bananas fully mashed.

You want the sugar content to be really high for making liqueur. So we added some sugar syrup that Chuck made.

We checked the sugar content with a hydrometer. It's also called the "brix" count. The higher the sugar content, the higher the alcohol content will be. With liqueur, you want a fairly high percentage of alcohol.

Charles added an 1/8th tablespoon of meta. Charles said the meta kills the bad microbes. Then he added some pectic enzyme. Otherwise known as yeast food. It basically jump starts the yeast. I accidentally hit the stop button midway through this video, so here's the rest...

I let the yeast do it's thing for about 5-6 days.

Every 12 hours I would "punch the cap" that forms on the top of the juice. The berries rise to the top and form a crust. I just used a big metal spoon to punch it down and mix it up. Twice a day.

I put a mesh bag inside a second clean 5 gallon bucket. By the way, I did sterilize everything with a meta solution. Then poured the fermented juice and berries into the clean bucket. I wrung out the bag as best I could to try and get as much juice as possible out of it.

I had a bit of airspace in my second jug, so I added some regular wine to fill the space. I put the air locks on and set them aside to finish any fermentation and for time to let the solids settle to the bottom.

Now we wait for a while, then rack the wine again. After we transfer it to another container, we'll need to fortify the liquid with everclear or brandy for the final product.

See you next time.