2014 Loquat Wine

It's time for another batch of loquat wine.  This will be our third year.

April 12, 2014

I picked about 30 lbs. of loquats from our neighbor Erik's tree.  This is more than last year, probably because I got to it earlier this time.  A few of them had purple spots, which I learned is sunburn but I picked them anyway.  At least it's not some kind of fungus.  I washed the fruit in a colander while Jed hand-dried them.  As I recall all too well the tedium of removing loquat seeds, I put that step off for another day.

April 14, 2014

I've finally figured out a system for quickly de-seeding these things.  First of all, I didn't waste time cutting off the blossom ends.  I probably would have lost some valuable fruit doing that anyway.  By scoring the fruit around its equator (down to but not through the seeds) the two halves pull apart easily and the seeds can be pried or squeezed out without too much trouble.  Cutting on a bias exposes more of the seed, making it easier to extract, but takes a bit more practice, especially when the juice starts to make your fingers sticky.  It had been a couple of days since these loquats were picked, so they seemed to have dehydrated a bit in the meantime.  This also helped.  I threw the sliced fruit into a pot with a small amount of water, mixed with 5 crushed Campden tablets and 1 tbsp citric acid to prevent browning.  After a while, the fruit started to pile up so I dissolved another tbsp of citric acid in some water and sparged it over the top.  Toward the end, the mass of fruit was so high I crushed 5 more Campden tablets and a final tbsp citric acid and poured that over the top.  Yeah, that's probably overkill on the sulfite but I remember last year's loquats turning brown very quickly.  I was able to finish the entire lot in probably about an hour to an hour and a half, dropping the seeds into a bucket to be made into nespolino later.  The fruit retained its yellow-orange color fairly well, although the sunburnt ones browned very rapidly.

I wasn't planning on preparing the must that night, so I coarsely puréed the fruit in the blender.  I stirred the pulp to thoroughly distribute the sulfite and acid, then Jed and I transferred it into resealable bags and stored them in the freezer.

April 26, 2014

Several discussions on winemaking forums claim that Jack Keller's loquat wine recipe is light on fruit (and last year's batch certainly was) so I decided to pick more.  I filled a 2 gallon bucket about 3/4 of the way with loquats, washed them, and put them in the fridge.

Jack's site describes a method of adding body to fruit wines with bananas.  I bought about 12 lbs of bananas last week and put them in paper bags to ripen.  By today they were perfect--soft but still yellow.  I sliced them and put them in a nylon mesh bag and then boiled that in 2 gallons of water, then reduced it to a simmer for 30 minutes.

boiling bananas

Periodically, I had to scoop out the scum that formed on the surface.

banana scum

The resulting liquid looks like dirty dishwater but tastes like bananas.

banana water

I poured the gray banana water into the primary and then added the frozen loquat purée.  Now it just looks like vomit.

loquat pulp in banana water

April 27, 2014

I took the loquats out of the fridge and de-seeded them, placing the fruit in a couple cups of water containing a crushed Campden tablet and a tsp of acid blend.  I puréed them, ending up with 8 lbs 5 1/8 oz of pulp.  Combined with the fruit I picked a couple weeks ago, I estimate that I probably have about 11 lbs of pulp in total.  

loquat pulp

I added the pulp to the primary, stirred it, then drew off a couple cups of must and dissolved pectic enzyme in it and stirred it into the primary.  Jack's recipe calls for a half tsp per gallon but I rounded up to 3 tsp since I used more fruit.

The specific gravity was 1.034 so I added sugar, a half cup at a time.  After dissolving 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the specific gravity was 1.048.  I'll add the rest after a few days of fermentation.

After calibrating my pH meter, I measured the pH at 3.88, which is too high for a white wine.  I drew off  2 cups of must and dissolved 3 tbsp of acid blend in it, then stirred 1/3 of the acid solution into the primary.  This brought the pH down to 3.76--still too high.  Adding the rest of the solution brought it down to 3.54.  I repeated the process, drawing off some must and dissolving acid in it.  After pouring in 1/3 of it, the pH was 3.40.  The other 2/3 brought it to 3.36.  I made one more acid solution and poured the first 1/3 in.  This time it hit 3.30 which was what I was aiming for.  I discarded the remaining solution, as it was extremely acidic.

I sealed the primary and set it aside so the pectic enzyme can do its thing overnight.

April 28, 2014

Tonight I prepared the yeast and added some extra ingredients I forgot earlier.  I took the lid off the primary and the specific gravity and pH were unchanged from last night, which is good.

loquuat must

I stirred in 1 1/4 tsp tannin (chestnut extract) and 3 tsp Yeastex.  The package recommends 1/2 tsp per gallon but I'm going to use Côte des blancs, which has a high nutrient requirement.  I also added another tsp of pectic enzyme.  This batch has a lot of fruit and I don't want to end up with only a couple of gallons when I transfer it to the carboy.  I'm planning to wait until tomorrow to pitch the yeast anyway, so I don't see how it would hurt in the meantime.

I hydrated 1 sachet of Côte des blancs in 1/2 cup water at 102° F, which also contained a pinch of nutrient and a pinch of sugar.  A thick yeast cap developed.

yeast starter

After 15 minutes, I added four spoonfuls (the big brewer's spoon) of loquat must.  15 minutes later, the yeast cap rose again, so this starter looks healthy.  I secured a paper towel over the top with a rubber band to keep bugs out.

April 29, 2014

This morning, the cap on the yeast starter had receded and I heard very little fizzing.  I pitched it anyway and sealed the lid.

Update at 1:30 PM: Jed confirms there is activity in the airlock!

Tonight's specific gravity: 1.043

April 30, 2014

Specific gravity: 1.034