Making Wine From Leftover Fruits And Vegetables

My method of making wine.

I have been using this method for about 40 years and never had a failure yet. We took lessons from a master wine maker and his raspberry was the greatest. We always made our wine in the wash room near the furnace and the temperature stayed almost constant all year. You can make wine out of anything as long as you have enough juice.
I have had failures with peaches and apples but even red beets make good wine.

Your primary fermenter can be smooth sided new plastic garbage can with lid, waste basket with lid, bucket or pail with lid, or a crock with no cracks in it that bacteria can hide in and lid.

Your secondary fermenter can be 5 gallon glass bottles, or 1 gallon glass bottles Carboys, or Demijohns. (Plastic 5 gallon water bottles are ok).

To wash our big bottles and jugs, we took them outside and put in some water with some pea gravel and sand. Just swirl this around and the inside of the jugs will be scrubbed clean in no time.

A wooden sided wine makers’ thermometer is used for stirring the wine and taking its temperature. A floating fish tank thermometer will work and a wooden paint stirring stick or a wooden dowel.

A wine makers hydrometer with balling scale on it to read the amount of sugar in your juice and in your wine. You don’t need to read any other scale on this hydrometer and Hydrometer test jar.

A Vinometer.
5-4 feet of 1/4 inch clear plastic siphoning hose. If you use anything larger you will not be able to control the flow.
Air locks with corks
Empty clean wine bottles.
Corking machine.  New wine bottle corks. If you use new corks you must boil them for 10 minutes. If you use old corks you must boil them for 30 minutes. DO NOT REUSE CORKS THAT HAVE BEEN PULLED WITH A CORK SCREW THAT LEAVES HOLES IN THE CORK OR CORKS THAT HAVE BEEN DAMAGED IN ANY WAY. DO NOT REUSE SCREW CAPS.
Wine yeast and yeast nutrient.
Bentonite or Sparkolloid or any other clearing agent.
Pectic Enzyme.

Almost all of the equipment can be found on line under wine making suppliers or at your local wine or beer making supplier.

A steam juicer is very nice to have to juice your own the fruit. You just put the fruit in the upper part and water in the bottom part and put it on the stove and let it cook. The pure juice will come out of the hose in to your gallon bottle and you can seal with a 9mm sealing cap for later use. We always freeze the fruit before juicing so the juice cells will swell and burst letting the juice come out easily.

Buy several kinds of wine you like to drink and taste them and measure the balling so you know what balling you want your wine to end up to be. You may like it at a balling of 0 or plus or minus 1 or 2 and your measurement will tell you.

To measure the balling, fill your hydrometer test jar within 1 inch of the top with wine. Try to pop as many bubbles that form when you pour the wine in, then gently drop in your hydrometer. When your hydrometer stops bobbing up and down and there are no bubbles attached to it read the balling scale at the top of the wine and that is how sweet it is. This will not work on sparkling wines or champagnes.


2 ounces of sugar per gallon of juice will raise reading on balling scale of hydrometer one degree.

You want to start your wine at “26″ on the balling scale every time you make a batch, it will come out the same every time no matter how dry or sweet you want it to be when you drink it.

Measure your juice with your hydrometer before you add the yeast, use the formula so you know how much sugar to add to bring it to “26″. If your juice has a sugar content of 6 and you have 5 gallons you just say 2 times 5 gallons is 10 and you need to bring it up 20 points on the hydrometer multiply 20 X10 and you need 200 oz. sugar.

Use a stainless steel, glass, or an enamel pan, NEVER ALUMINUM, and put some water in the pan, depending on how much juice you have and how much sugar you need, you can use up to a quart of water. Put it on the stove and let it start to boil, then start adding the sugar, in small amounts, stirring continually. When the water will take no more sugar or you have added all of the sugar you need, let it come to a full rolling boil for about 10 seconds and take it off the heat and cool it down to about 90°F. Stir the sugar water into the juice and measure the balling again, refigure the formula again. This time if it only needs a little sugar just heat some of the juice and devolve the sugar in it, let it cool, add it to the juice and measure again. You want it as close to “26″ as you can get it without going over “26″.

Yeast will die at about 17% alcohol so we usually do not add any preservatives or yeast killers.

Next take its temperature, when it is below 70°F. add 1 tablespoon of yeast nutrient and 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme, stir well and then sprinkle in the yeast, put the lid on and go away. You need to stir it vigorously about 4 times each day and measure the balling once a day.

As soon as the balling gets down to “6″ or “8″ you must syphon your wine into a 5 gallon jug or several 1 gallon jugs that you can put an air lock with cork on. Try to get as little of the mud from the bottom of the primary fermenter as possible. Do not fill your jugs more than 3/4 full.

Put the air lock into the cork provided and put it on your jug. Fill the outside ring with water or vodka up to the line and put the top on. Vodka is the best because it will kill any wild yeast that tries to get in.

Come back in about 3 weeks and measure your wine. If it is below “0″ and you want it to be above “0″ just refigure your formula, take a little wine out of your jug, add the amount of sugar called for, and put it back to work some more. Keep this up until it is where you want it on the balling scale. Keep the air lock on at all times you are not working in the wine.

Leave it for a month measure it again, if it is still where you want it, dissolve 3 tablespoons of bentonite in 2 cups of boiling water. Let set for 24 hours. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture in your blender and a cup of wine and blend. Pour this mixture into your wine stir it around just a little and let it settle until clear. To clean up the blender jar just blend some ice and a little water, pour it out, do it again until clean.

Pour a little wine into the top of the vinometer, let it drip out the bottom, making sure that there are no bubbles in the tube, turn it over quickly dumping out any wine that is in the top and watch the wine go down the small tube. Where it stops is the alcohol content of the wine.

Your home made wine should be 17 percent almost every time. Do not shake the vinometer because it will break easily. I just rinse with water and blow through it to clear the tube.

Now it is time to bottle. Wash your wine bottles. Boil your corks and get to work. Syphon the clear wine into your bottles down to the mud. When you start getting a little mud, syphon off as much liquid as you can into a bottle. Let it settle for a few days and pour the clear wine into a glass and enjoy your work.

Let your bottled wine set for at least 1 day before you start drinking it, but I usually can’t wait that long. If you fill your bottles to full the corks won’t fit so you just have to drink a little to give some head room. Lay bottles on their sides so the corks stay wet until you are ready to enjoy.

This method works for any kind of juice, fruit, grape, or vegetable. I really like wild Irish rose hip wine but I cannot find the rose hip puree any more. I have had poor success with apple or peach but a friend of mine makes great peach. My best wines are apricot and sour red pie cherries.

If you buy wine making concentrates, add as much water as the directions say, minus 1 quart, and proceed with the formula.

You can clear your wine with sparkolloid or other clarifiers that you can get on line but I have never used them.

I don’t use any sulfides or Sodium Benzoate in my wine bottles to kill the yeast because the yeast will not live in wine with alcohol above 17 percent.

I usually use Montrachet Wine Yeast for every thing but you can use any of the specialty wine yeast that is available for each kind of wine you are making. Save your fruit in the freezer that is not cannable for making wine. When you get enough just make a batch. There is no rule that says wine has to be made from only grapes or each batch must be all made from the same kind of fruit.

This can be used as a barter item but when you have a good finished product you will really not want to give it away other than to your best friends. We have many bottles of various kinds in our food storage room for emergencies only. (Wink Wink)

If Ya need me to come over and taste the finished product just let me know.



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  • Ken says:

    Very informative. One thing I don’t understand though, is why you should not use beet sugar. As a homesteader, or in SHTF conditions, this would be the most likely source of sugar.

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