Making Banana Wine

This week I am making banana wine. I have made many various types of wine from all kinds of things edible, but this is a first for the banana. 

I am making five gallons of wine, so needed a lot of bananas. They were, of course, green when I bought them, so I had to leave them sitting out at room temperature for a week or so, until they were very ripe. They needed the brown spots on the peel, but no rotten areas. I bought regular bananas so didn't use the peel from those. Non-organic bananas are sprayed with all kinds of things, since people don't eat the peel. I also bought a few large bunches of organic bananas so I could add the peel, as well. I peeled and chopped all the bananas yesterday. 

I recently bought a 40 pint pot with lid, for making wine as well as soup, etc. I filled it half full of water and started to heat it on the stove, before I began to process the bananas. As I peeled and chopped the bunches of bananas, I added them to the pot. I eventually brought all the bananas to a boil in the pot. They boiled for about 10 mins, then I turned off the heat and let it cool. After it cooled some, I used a strainer and scooped out all the banana pieces and mashed them to leave most of the juice/water in the pot. I'll need all of that to make wine. The cut, boiled and mashed bananas went into the garbage. If it were summer, I would compost this, if not for bears. Composting is not recommended here in Fort Nelson, because it draws bears. 

It's important to note here that everything has to be sterilized. The strainer, spoon(s), etc. pot, primary fermenter, thermometer, hydrometer...everything! 

After boiling the bananas for about 10 mins, I used a sterilized strainer and poured the pre-wine liquid (also called "must) into the primary fermenter, previously sterilized. Its basically just an extra large food grade plastic container. It doesn't need a lid and if it has one, its not recommended to seal it closed. The day before I had sterilized the primary fermenter and half filled it with water so the chlorine would evaporate. I poured the very hot must from boiling the bananas directly into the primary fermenter. With the room temperature water already in there, it wasn't too hot for it. 

The acid blend and pectic enzyme were added immediately and stirred well. The fermenter was partially covered to keep out the dust, etc until the liquid is cool enough to put in the wine yeast. If its too hot, it will kill the yeast. Room temperature or slightly warmer is fine. It makes for weeks at room temperature. 

While waiting for the must to cool, I added the sugar. With a hydrometer floating in the must, I added sugar, stirring constantly, until the reading on the hydrometer reached 8% while floating in the must. I'm making light wine with 8% alcohol. The must was stirred for awhile to dissolve the sugar. 

When the must was cool enough, I added a package of wine yeast. I like to use Lalvin E-1118. Its what I have used for decades and I like the taste. I have rarely had it fail. I sprinkled it on top of the liquid and gave it a light stir. Then the lid was put on but left slightly ajar. I have used this yeast to make wine sitting at 17% alcohol. To get much higher than that, you need a different yeast. The alcohol starts to kill off the Lalvin E-1118 yeast at around 17-18%. You can buy yeast for making whiskey that can get you around 21-22% alcohol under ideal conditions, but to get any higher than that, it has to be distilled or fortified. 

When the yeast get going, its vigorous enough for the first few days, to emit enough CO2 to prevent any bacteria from entering the must. Its also too vigorous for an air lock, so needs some space for the gas to escape. When the yeast is working, it creates a lot of foam on the top and has a clean yeasty smell.

After about 4 days, it will be slow enough to need an air lock to keep out the air but still let the gas escape. Then it gets racked into the secondary fermenter with a stopper (bung) housing an air lock. Both are sterilized and well rinsed before using. 

I did this today. This is what it looks like now. There are CO2 bubbles escaping constantly. It will continue to sit in this secondary fermenter with an air lock, until no more bubble escape. Then I will put in the hydrometer and see where the sugar level is at that time. When the sugar level reaches zero or even .999 (slightly less than zero), it will be finished. It can then be cleared, if not clear already, and bottled. I will rack (siphon) it into a glass secondary fermenter carbuoy to clear it before bottling. 

This is something different for me, since I have never made banana wine before. I got a taste of the new wine today, when siphoning it into the secondary fermenter. I think we are going to like this banana wine! Wines I have previous made are: one gallon of lilac, maple, dandelion, chocolate mint, mint, apple, sugar snap pea pod, and a few others I can't remember; five gallons of: rose petal, a favourite, x 2 (made twice), rhubarb x 2, crab apple, cherry, wild blueberry, apple, wild grape, ground cherries, strawberry, raspberry, wild field berry ( a wild black/red raspberry and blackberry mix), 

Update Jan 22: 

The banana wine has finished fermenting! I racked it into the clear glass secondary fermenter for clearing! Next up: time to bottle! 

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