2012 Banana Wine

This batch came about as the result of a happy hour discussion with my coworkers about the seemingly limitless possibilities of fruit bases for a wine.  For some reason, the office kitchenette was always stocked with fresh bananas so I boasted that I would create a banana wine... at work.  Having self-imposed this ambitious undertaking, I went looking for a recipe, to determine whether it was actually possible.  It turns out banana wine is a popular drink in east Africa and, as some savvy home winemakers know, is a great way to add body to a thin wine.  Our kitchenette had a sink, an electric kettle, and plenty of cookware so I gathered up my equipment and got started the next day.


Final Recipe:
  • 5 lbs. bananas
  • 1½ cups white grape juice concentrate
  • 15 oz. golden raisins
  • 3½ cups baker’s ultrafine sugar
  • 4 tsp. citric acid
  • ⅛ tsp. Tan Max Nature (tannin)
  • 6½ pints spring water
  • 1 tsp. Yeastex (yeast nutrient)
  • 1 tsp. Fermax (yeast energizer)
  • 1 Campden tablet, crushed
  • 2 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • 1 packet Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast

Dissolved sugar in boiling water, added chopped bananas and raisins, stirring and mashing well. Once cool, added remainder of ingredients except yeast. Citric acid was doubled from Jack Keller’s original recipe (2 tsp.) because the pH was above 4. Let sit overnight. Final measurements:

  • pH: 3.4
  • specific gravity: 1.106
  • sugar (Balling): 28%
  • potential alcohol: 15.5%
banana must


Hydrated yeast in warm spring water w/ a small amount of must. Yeast starter foamed up vigorously. Inoculated must with yeast starter after about a half hour. Discovered 2 gallon primary lid is not completely airtight--airlock is not bubbling. Shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe an O-ring can be purchased in the future. Punched down cap after a few hours--cap is looking thick and healthy.

banana wine after pitching yeast


Punched down cap 2x.


Punched down cap 2x.

fermenting banana wine


Punched down cap 2x.


Punched down cap 2x.


Wine has fermented to dryness. Punched down cap. Will transfer to secondary tomorrow.

Hydrometer reading:
  • specific gravity: 1.000
  • sugar (Balling): 0%
  • potential alcohol: 0%


Poured wine through metal strainer into stainless steel stock pot to remove large chunks, then poured it through nylon mesh bag into secondary glass jug to remove finer sediment. Hydrometer reading is the same as yesterday.

straining banana

banana wine in secondary


Lees have begun to settle.


Wine volume increased and pushed up into the airlock, thus moistening the rubber stopper. I didn’t want another occurrence of the rubber smell from the fig wine so I poured out a small amount to leave more air space in the neck.


Wine has clarified significantly, although it is not quite translucent yet.


Wine looks totally clarified. It’s amazing how rapidly this one finished fermenting and clarifying. I still see the occasional carbon dioxide bubble rise from the lees, so this will definitely need stabilizer if sugar is to be added anytime soon.


Added ¼ tsp sodium benzoate and 1 crushed Campden tablet and stirred well.


No activity in airlock. Extracted a 50 ml sample and added drops of a 1:1 ratio sugar water syrup until the desired sweetness was reached (I forgot how many drops but I multiplied the number of drops by 7.5 to determine the amount in ml of syrup to add to the gallon of wine).


Yeast is active again, judging by increased carbon dioxide output.


Put carboy in the freezer all day long. By late afternoon it had mostly turned to slush. Removed and let thaw at room temperature overnight.


Yeast is still active. WTF.


Still observing activity in the airlock.


By this point I have frozen it solid four times and it still emits gas. I racked and de-gassed it, leaving behind some granular sediment--most likely crushed Campden tablets. Specific gravity is 1.010. Airlock is still bubbling. Might need to buy a sterile filtration system.


No bubbles in airlock for several days. I guess that was just dissolved gas being released. Bottled wine. Yielded about 4.75 bottles because the jug was not completely full.

bottled banana wine


Opened bottles to commemorate a successful code deployment, since everyone at work couldn’t wait for the wine to be finished. Flavors definitely haven’t blended fully and I can appreciate what is meant by a “young wine.” Obviously under normal circumstances I would allow it to age but it still tastes good--semi-sweet with a very mild banana aroma and starchy mouth feel, similar to eating a banana.