Mountain Apple Wine

These are what we call Mountain Apples here. There is a tree in the back of our office property. The fruit is fresh and juicy, texture sort of like strawberry or pear. They don't keep at all well though, so either a juice, drunk up rather soon or, yes, they're calling me ........ wine. Mountain Apple Wine. And, it should be a lovely rose in color. This will be my first use of this particular fruit for winemaking.  Almost every year I make at least one batch of Lemon Mead (since our tree is prolific), and which is absolutely wonderful, as well as a few batches of whatever fruit is in abundance on our bits of land.  So far, pineapple, tangerine, guava, jaboticaba, cashew apple, banana and starfruit (carambola), some in blends.

To give you an idea of how fast these mountain apples were going to the worms, I prepared (cut up and removed seed from) that bowl full and put them in the freezer. The second batch, I thought could wait until tomorrow, and ripen a bit more. However, next day, cutting those open revealed lots of worm inroads. Had to toss a lot out. I ended up with 6 lbs. worth though, which will make a large jug of wine, or 4.5 liters, (500cl.).  A little over a gallon anyway.

So, I then added 3 lbs. sugar and one of honey, dissolved in boiling water, to the mashed fruit, as well as the juice and zest of one lemon, some peppercorns, bruised, with 3 allspice leaves, and we were good to go. Right into a primary fermenter, with an air lock on top, where it will stay for a few weeks, until the sugar is down to 3-4%. We are converting the sugars to alcohol here. Use of a hydrometer is highly recommended. Doing an acid test is good.  Also, reading Terry Garey's excellent book, The Joy of Home Winemaking, without which, or something comparable, this process probably shouldn't be attempted.

In the top right photo you can see a net bag containing the fruit, and the pretty rose colored future wine in the white bucket. I just got myself an industrial sized potato masher from a restaurant supply store, which works great for mashing fruit.  After 24 hours in the fermentation bucket, wine yeast is sprinkled on top.  If the weather is cold, you may want to give it a head start by putting the yeast in a jar with some honey or sugar and warm water until it is bubbling nicely, and then add it.

This is a process that teaches patience. The must (what it's called in the primary fermenter) must be transferred to a glass carboy (large jug), also with an air lock, after removing the net bag of nasty looking (by now) fruit.  Do slap on a label. A few months down the road you will notice sediment collecting at the bottom of the jug.  Dead yeasts. This is a sign you need to rack (not torture) your wine.  Siphon it off into another (always scrupulously clean) carboy.  This might have to be done 3 or more times in the coming months.  My Starfruit Wine is notoriously hard to clear.  The Lemon Mead hardly needs more than one racking.  After a year or so you can try it out. At that point you may want to leave it age a bit more.

I have found that meads (I call it mead if the sole sugar added is honey) take longer - at least two years for best flavor.  Honey gives the wine more character and depth though, so it's worth it in many cases.  I take lots of notes in my little wine journal, for future reference. Also highly recommended.  Store your fermenting jugs in a dark, cool place.  Later you can have the fun of creating cute (or serious) labels after you bottle, even adding heat shrink caps over the lids or corks to be extra fancy.
June 4 2011 - Note on the wine
Since I  have occasionally read winemaking posts which leave me in suspense as to results, I have added a few comments here on how that Mountain Apple Wine turned out, while there are a few bottles left.  Also, please remember this post was not meant to be definitive on winemaking.  It takes a good book, like the one I mentioned above, for that.

So, light, dry, with lovely floral  and herbal notes.  Wonderful, if I do say so.  It's not as rose colored as in the beginning, now at a more golden blush.


Ivy said...

Thanks for visiting my site and I am glad you enjoyed the Acropolis Museum. Hope you'll make it back to Athens one day. I've never heard of these apples before. I read your feta post and I am so looking forward to leave Athens and relocate somewhere in the countryside. If I do, I will surely like to try making my own feta.

Claudia said...

Thanks Ivy, we are blessed to have a source of fresh goat milk right down our road. And, I do want to go back to Greece one day.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i know what you mean by going to worm so quickly - this is pretty much what happened to our apricots, so we ate wht we could as quickly as we could and the rest had to be salvaged into jam

here's an explanation about the taverna business in hania:
work is very seasonal in crete. tavernas are busy when there are lots of tourists around. tourism actually stops at the end of october, when the chartered european flights stop coming into the town, and there are too many restaurants to serve the town's resident population, so most places in the port area close down. the owners of those places usually have other businesses to attend to (eg olive oil production), or they also had other tourist businesses along with the restaurant (eg renting out rooms, a hotel, etc), so they've made their money for the year. those same places will open at the weekend when the weather is good, and on festive days - people are ou and about on those days, and most locals love going to the harbour, even in the middle of winter, as long as the sun is shining and it isnt raining (which is most of the time in Hania). some establisjed places open year round, but they arent located in the harbour - they are all over the countryside and usually out of the town. we also have winter places whihc close down int he summer - who wants to be stuck indoors in summer? people wont go to them in any case if all the other places are outdoor tavernas!

Claudia said...

Aloha Maria, it looks like the weather has a major impact on tourism. Here it's more stable, days of rain, days of sun & days of both, year round. So, merchants are able to stay open. Your weather though gives people the opportunity of breaking up a routine and diversifying. If one business happens to fail, they have an alternative at least.