September 24, 2017

Blackberry and Elderberry Wine

This wine is amazing, it certainly knocks the socks off the old heavy country brews, to me it is more like the modern fruity reds from the new world


Blackberry and Elderberry wine – makes 30 bottles
This recipe is for a standard large fermenter but for a 1 gallon demijohn reduce the ingredients to one fifth of the amount.
It is very important to sterilise your equipment, I use a brew safe cleaner/sanitiser at all stages to make sure the wine stays fresh. (apart from the stirring spoon as described at stage 2)

To make 5 gallons (23 litres) you will need
• 3.5kg blackberries
• 5kg elderberries – without any stalks
• 5.5kg sugar
• Juice of 5 lemons
• 10 Campden tablets
• 5tsp wine tannin
• 5tsp pectolase
• 1 sachet red wine yeast (NB one sachet is enough for up to 5 gallons)*
• 5tsp yeast nutrient*
• 5tsp fermentation stopper (Potassium Sorbate)
• Wine finings (for 23L wine)
*You can use a fast-acting wine yeast with the yeast nutrient already added to it. This avoids using two separate products and works faster.

1. Wash the blackberries and elderberries then put them in a sterilised brewing bucket. Pour boiling water over the fruit until it reaches the 23 litre mark. Now leave it to cool and label with the date.
2. When it is at room temperature (around 21 degrees C) add the sugar, lemon juice, 5 of the campden tablets – crushed, the tannin, pectolase, red wine yeast and yeast nutrient. Stir very well to dissolve most of the sugar and combine all the ingredients, cover with a loose fitting lid and lay a clean tea towel over the top. Leave for 5 to 6 days stirring each morning with a long plastic spoon which has been scalded with boiling water. The brew will be fermenting fast at this stage and so will be producing lots of gorgeous smelling gases.
3. Around the 7th day you will need to sterilise a fine mesh bag, a wine fermenter, a bung and an airlock. It is handy to have some help at this stage as you need to strain and transfer the wine. Pour the berry laden wine through the mesh bag and in to the clean fermenter, resist the urge to squeeze the bag, as this can lead to problems with haze. Fit a bung and airlock (half filled with boiled water)
4. Leave to ferment in a warm room (around 20-23 degrees C) until the bubbling is less than once a minute – this will probably take about 10 days but it maybe faster depending on your yeast and the temperature.
5. Re-sterilise the brewing bucket that you used at the start, an airlock and bung, and a length of siphon tubing. Siphon the wine into the clean brewing bucket leaving the sediment behind. Add 5 crushed campden tablets and 5 tsps of fermentation stopper to the wine, and swish it around for 5 minutes to remove any gas that is left over. Then add the finings as per the packet instructions. Top with a clean bung and airlock then put the wine in a place where it won’t get knocked or moved – you will need to be able to get to it later to siphon it out.
6. Day 30 – approx. Your wine should be clear as a bell. Now sterilize around 30 bottles, their lids and the siphon tubing Carefully fill the bottles without disturbing the sediment in the bottom. This is best done by 2 people one filling bottles and one making sure the tube doesn’t pick up sediment. Cork or cap your bottles, I sterilise mine by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes.
7. Red wine kept in a dark place will keep its lovely colour. …You can drink it straight away but it will mature and mellow with keeping.

8 responses to “Blackberry and Elderberry Wine

  1. Hi there, read somewhere you shouldn’t add the yeast the same time as campden tablets. You should wait at least 24 hrs after adding campden tablets to add the yeast. Can you advise?

    1. Hi Anthonie. You’re not the only one to have asked this. We have always followed the recipe above and not had any issues. However, as you say some sources suggest adding the tablets and yeast separately. You could try a couple of batches. One adding at the same time and one together, to see if you get different results. I’m going to give it a go both ways myself when we get to berry season. Thank you for your comment and happy foraging. Regards Paul

  2. Ooops. Only had 5.5kg of fruit in total so pro rata’d 23 litres of water (15 litres) and along with the fruit it has taken the total volume to almost 23 litres. Now realised that your recipe wasn’t for 23 litres of water 🤦‍♀️. Should I still add the recipe quantities of sugar, yeast nutrient etc. Or should I pro rata these based on 5.5kg fruit in 15litres of water?

  3. Hi, I followed a recipe very similar to yours but it said, after fermenting in the bucket for 5-6 days, to strain into a demijohn on to the sugar! But now I’m wondering will the sugar dissolve as the liquid going in was cold? Your recipe makes so much more sense!

  4. I followed your directions but since read campden tablets should be added 12 – 24 hours before pitching the yeast. Guess I’ll see what happens, though slightly concerned I may have killed the yeast.

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