10/27/2017 TimberGardener 0Comment
Fresh from the bog!

My parents live on the coast of Oregon, surrounded by berries of all kinds.  One is the cranberry, which is farmed in floodable bogs near their house.  It’s really cool to see how the berries are harvested, it’s a pretty efficient system, if you don’t mind getting wet! I visited during the fall harvest this year and bought a few exceedingly fresh bags from one of their neighbors.  I had never seen cranberries this big…they were the size of cherries.  Dan and his wife had never heard of anyone making cranberry wine, but they gave us the inside scoop on cranberry farming as they sorted some of the berries by hand.  I’VE never made cranberry wine before, so I couldn’t reassure them their berries were going to a good home.  We’ll find out in 6 months.  This wine was started on October 27, 2017.

Cranberry Wine

6 lbs cranberries (more like 7 lbs)
2 lbs raisins
6 lbs sugar

Sanitize 2 gallon fermenting bucket and lid.  Grind frozen cranberries and raisins through a 3/4 horsepower grinder (which happens to be out on your table because you just made sausage) on the coarse setting.  Pour sugar over the top.

2 tsp pectic enzyme
2 tsp yeast nutrient

Add 2 pinches k-meta to 4 cups water, add to bucket.  Boiled 1.75 gallons water with lid to sanitize.  Cool.  Add to bucket and stir thoroughly.  You will end up with a lot of liquid, I ended up with almost 4 gallons.  I was only aiming for 2, but cranberry taste is still very strong at the end.  Set in a cold place.

Brix 23 (13.5%)
Acidity 0.3% (need to adjust to 0.6%)
Gravity 1.100

Day 2: Pitch dry yeast Premier Rouge, good to 14% alcohol.

Day 4: Finally yeast is working…slow process!  May be because of low acidity.  Added 1/4 tsp tannin, 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient, 2 tsp tartaric acid (should have added acid earlier but I had to order it!).

Day 5: Still bubbling, stirring 3 times a day.

Day 6: Still measuring at 1.050.  Too early to transfer to a secondary fermenter.  Too bad I’m leaving for several days, I’ll just hope it’s still fermenting slowly and I can rack when I get back!

Day 10: Acidity measured at 0.6%!  Racked, added 1 tsp tartaric acid to 3 gallon carboy to bump it up just a little more.  Squeezed lees through jelly bag.  Added pinch k-meta since I got my grubby hands all over it.

Day 31: Tasted – whoa cranberry!  It tastes just like you would think a cranberry wine would taste.  There is still some residual sugar, so it basically tastes like slightly alcoholic cranberry juice.  The lees are really cloudy at the bottom of the fermenter and I’d like them to pack down a little so I don’t lose a lot of juice.  I racked about a cup of juice into a container and added 3 Tbsp of prepared bentonite sludge.  It looks like liquid kitty litter and it hurts me to put it in my beautiful wine.  Poured the whole slurry back into the 3 gallon carboy and shook it gently.  Bentonite works best if there is still fermentation going on, so this should still be in the right window.


Day 33: I shook the carboy and moved it to a slightly warmer spot.  This cranberry is the slowest fermenting beverage I’ve made.  I think the bentonite is helping to pack the lees down a little bit, but I’m sure if I measured the gravity it would still be around 1.015…so we still have a way to go.  That’s okay…I’ll just go admire the beautiful, clear apple ciders in their gallon carboys.

Day 37: The cranberry is still bubbling once every 5 seconds even after it’s been kept in much warmer room.  It does seem to be a little bit clearer.

Day 73: We finally cleared out enough carboys to rack the cranberry wine!  After popping the airlock (still bubbling slowly after 73 days) we thiefed a sample…and it was so good!  I was worried about this one because of its crazy, long fermentation, but it tastes cleanly of cranberry with some residual sweetness (at 1.011 to be exact).  This one is getting stopped as it is…I don’t think I would want to drink a completely dry cranberry wine, and right now it’s almost perfect.

Beautiful dark cranberry wine! The carboy in front has a flashlight shining through to show the color.

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