How to Make Wine in Third World Nations (or at home…)

Want to make 5 gallons of wine out of whatever fruits you have lying around?  Fermentation is easy and I encourage all of our friends to make their own wine.  It’s cheap, fun, tastes great, and you can use all local (organic if possible) ingredients.  Every person in the United States can legally produce up to 100 gallons of moonshine wine but if you’re in another country check your laws and hide it in the closet if you need to.  This recipe only uses 4 key components: fruit, water, sugar, and yeast.  The yeast interacting with the sugar is of course what makes the alcohol, a simple reaction that seems to stun so many people.

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I’ve been told that this orange bucket isn’t the best for storing food. Buy the better one or use a different vessel.

We started making our own wine a long time ago.  Carrie learned how to do it in Tanzania while in the Peace Corps and showed me the tricks.  I got all scientific with it (like usual) and it’s a pretty fool proof process now.  First off, get a 5 gal bucket (anything with a tight fitting lid works, just adjust the volume of the measurements) Clean it really well with some bleach or whatever cleaning products are lying around, then rinse it out with clean water.  Here are my supplies:

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8 organic ruby red grapefruit, 13 organic bananas, 3 lbs organic evaporated cane juice (replacing some of the sugar), 4 cups brown sugar, 3 lbs white sugar, 3 TBSP dry yeast.

In a different container, put about 3 or 4 tablespoons of yeast to a cup of warm water (80 or 90 degrees) and 1 tablespoon sugar .

2013-01-30 13.12.06Mix this around and set aside. Next, fill about 1/3 of the bucket with fruit of your choice. I like to chop the fruit, but not too small.

2013-01-30 12.58.55The goal is to be able to pick out the pieces after fermentation. Some people use cheese clothe but I think it’s unnecessary. Now put 6-8 lbs of sugar into the buckets.

2013-01-30 13.12.43The amount of sugar depends on a few factors. If you want really strong wine, or are using fruit that isn’t very sweet, then I would suggest closer to 10 lbs. I have put more than 12 lbs into it before, it just needs to ferment longer and will be really strong. After adding the sugar, fill the remainder of the bucket with room temperature water (around 80 degrees give or take). Just make sure to leave an inch or two at the top. Mix this all up, hopefully dissolving most of the sugar. Take the yeast mixture that you made at the start and drizzle it over the top of your mash.

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I used an immersion blender before adding the yeast to mix all the sugars up as well as chop the fruit a little smaller.

Put the lid on the bucket and put it into a closet, preferably someplace warm.  The batch that I made will be about 10% alcohol but if you add more sugar it will be stronger (I ran out and didn’t feel like going back to the store).

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Now the waiting game begins!  Make sure you mark the date on the bucket so you know when it was started.

That’s it.   After a couple hours or a day, the mash will start to bubble.  This is the reaction happening.  The yeast eats the sugar and produces alcohol and CO2.  I use a simple airlock to let out the gas or you can just wait until the lid pops off and replace it (more work).  Here is a link that explains how to make a simple airlock or you can pick one up at a home brew store if you’re not in a third world nation.  Continue letting the bucket rest until the yeast eats all of the sugar, 1-4 weeks depending on your temperature and initial amount of sugar. Open it up sometimes, but don’t stir it. Once you see the bubbling start to slow, taste the wine. I like it pretty dry so I wait until I can’t really taste any more sugar. When you’re ready, strain it and put it into clean bottles and cork it. Just be careful that it actually is finished before you cork it or you will have explosions.
This is super simple but after you do it a few times you can get more and more scientific about it.  A hydrometer is nice. They are around $10 online and measure the sugar amount in your mash. By measuring the value before and after fermentation, you can easily calculate the alcohol volume.
You can use pretty much any fruits, spices, vegetables… the possibilities are endless.

If anyone tries this we would love to hear how it turns out.