This is a recipe for a wild fermentation, taking advantage of the natural yeasts present on organic fruit and in the air. This is the oldest form of fermentation, before the intervention of pasteurization, commercial yeasts and additives. Although wild yeasts can produce inconsistent results, we find it a fun way to lean into the wild side of fermentation and have always enjoyed the varying flavors of our batches!
(Yields: 1 gallon)
~5 lbs of fruit or berries
~2-3 lbs sugar
1 gallon filtered/de-chlorinated water
fresh lemon juice from ~2-3 lemons (optional but recommended)
Pressurized glass bottles (if carbonating)
Note: Make sure you are using clean equipment at every stage. Sanitizer is not necessary since this is a wild ferment, however you may choose to use it to minimize cross contamination.
Rinse fruit in cool water and remove stems (and pits if using a type of stone fruit). Gently mash fruit in your 2 gallon wide-mouth vessel. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a separate container, then pour over the fruit and stir. Add lemon juice if using. Cover with a cloth to keep out fruit flies, and store out of direct sunlight. Stir multiple times a day to re-submerge the fruit and activate the wild yeasts.
After a few days (depending on temperature of your kitchen and the natural yeasts on your fruit) the wine will start to bubble vigorously. Keep stirring! After another day or two, the bubbling will start to slow. This is the point when you must move the ferment to an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment quickly before your ferment turns to vinegar! Strain out the fruit and transfer the wine to your fermenter with an airlock lid. (Note: you could transfer directly into a bottle and drink while it's young, very effervescent and slightly sweet, but further fermenting/aging often lends better results).
Ferment with an airlock for 2 weeks minimum. After 2 weeks, it's recommended to rack the wine into a clean gallon fermenter for another round of fermentation. This is an optional transfer, but it helps age and clarify the wine and removes from spent yeast (lees) that can cause off flavors. To rack, use an auto-siphon and/or tubing to transfer the wine, siphoning above the sludgy sediment on the bottom of your vessel.
After about two months the wine is ready for bottling. When ready, rack the wine into bottles following the same method, avoiding the yeast sediment on the bottom of the fermenter. It's recommended to further age the wine in bottle for at least 10 months in bottle so flavors will mellow, soften and integrate.