Rhubarb, rhubarb

Discussion in 'Wine, Cider, Mead and Kombucha Discussion.' started by tonyhibbett, Mar 29, 2019.

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  1. Mar 29, 2019 #1

    tonyhibbett

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    There are many opinions on making rhubarb wine, some of which are misleading.
    1. When to pick: Some recipes say that forced rhubarb is unsuitable, others say it's ideal. Since I don't force rhubarb, I cannot comment, but some of my crop is ready for harvesting now, so I have started a batch, using the thick outer stalks and it tastes and smells great. I made a batch last year in november, which turned out very good, which puts paid to the argument that the end of season crop is no good, although not ideal for cooking.
    2. Oxalic acid: This is only present in the leaves, so it doesn't really matter how you extract the juice. With both batches, the pH was 4.0, which is on the low side of acidity for wine and I had to add tartaric acid to get a suitable level. Adding lemon or orange rind to offset the acidity is not required, in my experience.
    I have found the best treatment is to slice and crush the stalks, add all the sugar plus enzymes (rohavin colour and pectozyme), leave for 24 hours then press out the juice. Rinsing and re-presing the pulp serves only to release fine pulp particles which can cause clearing problems. Adding sulphite tends to bleach out the colour.
    3. Yeast: Rhubarb can ferment on its own yeast if no hot water or sulphite has been used, but for best results, I use wine yeast.
    4. Quantities: Recipes range from 3 to 6 pounds per gallon. 3 is perfectly adequate (using my method of extraction), except for the end of season, when the flavour is less strong.
    5. Additives: Last year I used 250 ml of white grape juice concentrate and reduced the sugar (normally 1 kilo) to 800g for a dry wine at 12% abv. This year I added 50g of fresh grated ginger instead, which gives a subtle complexity to the flavour. When elderflowers are ready, I will include these as well. There is a version which includes dried rosehip shells, which I will try next.
    Tannin and glycerine improve the mouthfeel.
    6. Sparkling versions: I successfully carbonated last year's using a Sodastream. However, force carbonation makes the wine taste more acidic, so I added 1 Sweetex tablet per bottle.
     
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  2. Mar 29, 2019 #2

    Graz

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    I've done this recipe on a few occasions and the results have been good, third post down: https://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=4289.0

    Really nothing too it, macerate in sugar overnight to extract the juice, add to DJ, rinse it to get any remaining sugar, add to DJ, add a cup of strong black tea, top up with water, add wine yeast and stand back.

    Sometimes simple is best though pimping with ginger/elderflowers/hips/etc. is worth a try if you fancy something a little different.
     
  3. Apr 27, 2019 #3

    tonyhibbett

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    Well I tried adding 50g of grated fresh ginger per gallon with the rhubarb. You can't actually detect the ginger in the flavour but it gives a bit of depth. I then tried with 25 g of dried rosehip shells, which are quite bitter and give a bit of an edge to the rhubarb. The next step is adding strawberries. The recipe I used only included 6 strawberries, with guavas, peaches and mangoes, plus grape juice concentrate. The only mango I could get locally was an 850 g tin of pulp, of which I only needed 115 g The pulp was a bit problematic. Even after straining the must, the dj had a lot of fine sediment which kept erupting like an undersea volcano. When it had settled, I racked and got 300 ml of the sediment out. I then passed this through muslin and recovered about half of the liquid and returned this to the dj. Considering that mangoes are 83% water and 14% sugar, the flavour is quite overpowering.
    I ran out of grape juice concentrate but found a source selling it at £35 for 5 litres, which is a good price. It's also top quality at 80 brix (80 g sugar per litre) compared to the Young's at £10 per litre and only 65 brix.
     
  4. May 3, 2019 #4

    tonyhibbett

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    I tried another version with strawberries. The recipe is actually for strawberry wine, using rhubarb to offset the strong strawberry flavour. I used 900 g of strawberries and 1.2 kg of rhubarb, with 500 ml of grape juice concentrate. I mashed then pressed the strawberries, yielding 500 ml of clear pink juice with 7% sugar. However, the flavour was rather weak, so I added the pressed pulp to the crushed rhubarb and sugar. 24 hours later I strained and pressed this, adding the strawberry juice and grape juice concentrate, topping up to 4.5 litres +yeast and nutrient. The pH was 3.5, so no extra acid was added. Once the fine pulp had been removed all trace of red had gone. Currently there is a somewhat sickly sweet strawberry flavour but a nice rhubarb aroma. I topped up the jar with 500 ml of grape juice, which has somewhat diluted the strawberry flavour.
    Meanwhile I stopped (by racking and fining) the rosehip version at sg 1002. The glucose content is just 0.2%, which in Champagne terms is still extra brut and the acidity, at 7.6 ppt, is too high by any standard, so I added 10 g of potassium carbonate to reduce this to a palatable level. Despite fining, the yeast appears to be still active, which would make ideal conditions to prime and bottle ferment.
     
  5. May 11, 2019 #5

    tonyhibbett

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    The first strawberry version now tastes neither of rhubarb nor strawberry but quite a nice wine. The second version has a light strawberry flavour.
     
  6. May 15, 2019 #6

    tonyhibbett

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    Next version is with 50g of grated ginger and 250 ml of elderflowers, infused with boiling water, like tea but left overnight, plus 250 ml of grape juice concentrate. There's plenty of rhubarb, so I used 4 pounds.
     
  7. May 26, 2019 #7

    tonyhibbett

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    In the end, both strawberry versions turned out very similar, with no strawberry or rhubarb flavour prominent. When carbonating, I found that 7 seconds at 0c is the optimum amount. Any more just wastes co2 and time.
    The ginger and elderflower version is quite promising. This time I used a masticating juice extractor, which has a narrow aperture which is fine for rhubarb stalks, eliminating crushing and chopping. It has a very high (90%) rate of liquid extraction and the small amount of very fine (green) pulp is easily skimmed off in the early stage of fermentation.
    I have found 2 other variants - one with pears and another with peaches. I started with pears. Although a straight pear wine would be rather bland (Babycham!) the juice is quite powerful as a flavour modifier. I opted for 2 tins of pears for both convenience and economy. Each 440g tin contains 4 pears with a net weight of 320 g. Crushed and pressed got 150 ml of 'clear' juice with a surprising 16.5 g/l sugar content at pH 3.3 (malic acid). Once the ingredients were mixed, the pH meter gave a very low acidity, so I added tartaric acid. However, a calibration test showed the meter to read 8.0, when it should be 7.0, hence the must ended up too acidic and had to be adjusted down to 6.5 ppt. This speeded up fermentation.
     
  8. May 27, 2019 #8

    tonyhibbett

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    Just 300 ml of pear juice took over the flavour of the litre of rhubarb juice!
     
  9. May 30, 2019 #9

    tonyhibbett

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    Very strange. When I tried to strain an elderflower infusion I found the liquid had turned to jelly! This suggests a lot of pectin but has never happened before. I added some pectolase which has thinned the jelly but not completely liquefied it, so I topped it up with some boiled water and will leave it overnight.
     
  10. Jun 11, 2019 at 1:34 PM #10

    tonyhibbett

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    Thee ginger and elderflower version took a long time to ferment out and, after 2 attempts at fining, it was rather hazy. Given the problem with the elderflower extract, I assumed pectin was the problem, even though I had initially used pectolase. This doesn't work so well with alcohol so I used 4 times the dose and kept the temperature at 24 degrees celsius using a heat tray. After 24 hours the wine was much clearer but still slightly hazy, so I filtered it and it came out perfectly clear. The prominent flavour is elderflower.
    The pear version ended up with rhubarb being the prominent flavour, even though the recipe was actually for pear wine. I have found another such recipe which uses less rhubarb and includes melon, so that's the next one to try.
     
  11. Jun 11, 2019 at 1:58 PM #11

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    How much rhubarb do you have!? :laugh8:

    Some interesting experiments here. Very tempted to add some ginger for the extra depth.

    On yeast, I've made with Sauternes yeast previously and that came out quite nice and very much had that dessert wine flavour to it. I've now got some "rhubarb wine yeast" from CrossMyLoof so will see what that's like - no idea what it's meant to do.
     
  12. Jun 12, 2019 at 10:24 AM #12

    tonyhibbett

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    I have 6 plants, planted last year. They have grown really well.
    The old adage that May is the best time to harvest may well be true, as the current batch has inferior flavour. However, the last 4 weeks have been very dry, which obviously affects the water content.
     
  13. Jun 12, 2019 at 1:09 PM #13

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