Someone sent me a link to this YouTube video. I thought it was really appropriate to include it here.
Justin and I have gotten interested in making homemade jellies, preserves, etc. so it wasn't too much of a stretch to add wine making in to our interests. Our first attempt at wine making went well although on a small scale. We have since started making larger batches and this recipe is for a larger 5 gallon batch.
We used 10 pounds of strawberries. They were on sale at the store and we only spent $15 for all of them.
We also used 6 pounds of sugar, 3 gallons of water, and 1 1/2 packages of yeast. We were just going to use 1 package but I had a half one left over so we just added it to use it up before it went bad. Having a kitchen scale to weigh everything is also really helpful.
We put everything in one of those 5 gallon water cooler containers. We first disinfected it with a tiny bit of bleach and hot, hot water.
With the sugar, make a simple syrup. To do this you need to use part of your water, I believe we used 2 quarts and 1 pound of sugar, heated it up on the stovetop until dissolved. Don't boil it! We repeated the process until all the sugar was dissolved & poured into the water cooler. We also dissolved the yeast in about a cup of warm water and put it in the water cooler.
Pour the remaining water in the water cooler. You should now have everything in there but the strawberries. It's not necessary to do it this way. You can put the strawberries in there first if you want but this is just the way we did it.
Add the strawberries. Justin and I tag teamed and got through them pretty quickly. I removed the tops, Justin quartered and weighed them, and I put them in the water cooler.
Now here is the important part. The water cooler needs to seal properly so air isn't introduced to the wine which could potential spoil it before the sugars and yeast can break down the fruit in to wine. Justin saved the water cooler lid, poked a hole in it & glued a clear tube in to the top of it. The long end of the tube sticks out of the top & only about a half an inch is on the inside. The tube is actually the kind you can buy at the fish aquarium store, unused of course. The glue is JB weld, whatever that is, I'm sure hot glue would work just as well. Anyways, you'll also need a jar of some sort with some holes poked in the top. Fill the jar with water & put the tube in there. As the sugars & yeast break down the fruit it will bubble & release gases. Putting the tube in the water will keep oxygen from being introduced & keeping you from making vinegar! There is a lot of science behind it that has really interested Justin. I just like the end product!
Now you have to set it aside and wait. We put in the the basement where it's cool and out of direct sunlight. We started the wine on May 29, 2010 and it was finished on June 28, 2010. You will know it's done when there are no more bubbles being released.
I have collected and saved wine bottles for the purpose of reusing them for the wine we make. They are cleaned and have the labels removed.
To get the wine out is fairly simple. Justin twist tied several wooden skewers together, enough to be tall enough to reach the bottom. Then he twist tied another clear tube all along the skewers so that the end of the tube is near the bottom of the water cooler. The fruit usually floats so this is the best way of doing it & saves you the extra step of needing to filter the wine.
Then you can suck the air out of the tube and put the end of the tube in your clean wine bottles to be filled. Gravity will do the rest of the work for you. You just need to make sure you don't accidentally overfill the bottles because you weren't paying attention. (Guilty!)
As the wine gets lower in the water cooler you may have to raise it up higher so gravity will continue working for you. You can see the tube going down inside better in this photo too.
Once you're done, seal them up! We got 8 and a half 1.5 liter wine bottles of strawberry wine!
And don't forget to enjoy a glass while you're at it!