You won’t be able to forget the light bitterness and characteristic almond flavor of cherry wine with pits. But cherry pits contain harmful substances: cyanide and prussic acid. In order to make both safe and tasty beverage, you’ll have to thoroughly follow the proposed method. The correct aging time and increased sugar content neutralize harmful substances.
You’ll need sweet-and-sour berries to make cherry wine. Start by thoroughly sorting cherries, removing unripe, tainted or rotten berries. Even one tainted or moldy fruit can spoil the whole batch. To avoid contamination with pathogenic microorganisms, the used containers must be sterilized with boiling water and wiped dry. You should handle must only with clean hands.
It’s better not to wash the cherries because their peels contain wild yeast which we require to start the fermentation process. If you had to wash the dirt off the berries then to get a guaranteed result it’s recommended to use store-bought wine yeast (under no circumstances use dry or pressed baker’s yeast). You can also simply make your own homemade yeast starter with raisins.
- Cherries – 6.6 lbs/3 kilos
- Water – 3 liters
- Sugar – 2.2 lbs/1 kilo
Cherry Wine with Pits Recipe
- Remove the stalks from the cherries and mash them by hands without spraying any juice. Each and every berry must be mashed.
Warning! If you damage the pits, the wine will turn out too bitter. That’s why you can’t use any appliances while mashing cherries.
- Put the squash into a vessel with a wide bottleneck—enamel or plastic pan (bucket) works fine. You can’t use aluminum or any other metal containers due to oxidation of cherry juice.
- Add 400 grams of sugar (40% of the total volume) and pour water. Stir it and cover it with gauze or a dense piece of fabric to protect from flies. Leave the must in a dark room with room temperature for 3-4 days.
After one day max (usually about 6-12 hours) you should see the signs of fermentation (sour smell, foaming, and hissing). After adding water and sugar you should stir the must with a clean hand or wooden stick every 8-12 hours, sinking the pulp (floating peels and flesh of berries) in the juice. Without stirring the must might become acidified or moldy.
- Filter the juice through gauze. Squeeze the pulp thoroughly. Return about ¼ of pits into the filtered juice and add 200 grams of sugar (20% of the amount in the recipe). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. The remaining pulp is no longer required.
- Pour the cherry juice with pits into a fermentation container. At least ¼ of its volume should be left for the remaining sugar, foam, and carbon dioxide. Install airlock or a medical glove with a hole in one of the fingers. Leave the container in a dark room with a temperature of 65-77°F / 18-25°C.
- After 5 days add 7 oz / 200 grams of sugar (20%) to the must. For this, you’ll have to take off the seal, pour 200 ml of the must (the amount in ml equals the amount of the added sugar in grams), and dissolve sugar in it. Then pour the syrup back into the must and install airlock.
Warning! Taste the poured must before adding sugar. If it’s too hard or bitter remove the pits. After the fermentation and maturing the taste will become better.
- After 6 days filter the must through gauze once again in order to remove all of the pits. Add the remaining sugar—200 grams (20%), stir it and pour back into a squeaky clean fermentation container. Install the airlock.
Depending on yeast and temperature the cherry wine will ferment for about 25-55 days. Then the wine will become brighter, there will be sediment at the bottom, and the water lock will stop emitting gas (the glove will deflate). When this happens it’s time to move on to the next step.
- Separate the young wine from the sediment through a narrow straw into another container. Taste the wine and add sugar to your liking. You can also increase ABV by adding vodka or ethyl alcohol (3-15% of the volume).
Since cherry wine with pits is distinguished by its almond flavor, increasing ABV and sweetening after fermentation will improve the taste. But it’s recommended to first determine the optimal proportions on a small amount of wine, so as not to spoil the whole lot.
- Fill the storage containers with the wine (it’s better to top off the containers to minimize contact with oxygen). Tightly seal the containers. Keep them with airlock for the first 10 days in case the fermentation hasn’t finished fully.
- Put the wine in a dark place with a temperature of 40-61F° / 6-16°C for aging. Leave it for 4-6 (or better 8-12) months till its ready.
With 2-4 cm thick sediment forming filter the wine by pouring it through a straw (at first, every 10-15 days, then less often). When the sediment will stop forming for more than a month, the beverage can be bottled for storage and sealed.
When stored in a refrigerator or basement the shelf life is up to 5 years. 10-12% ABV (without additional ABV increasing).