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Homemade Apple Wine from Frozen Apples


My new book, Homegrown Pantry, includes a section on making wines from homegrown tree fruits and berries. After all, wine making is a form of fermentation, a fascinating method for preserving garden food. 

Our cool basement makes a good place for aging homemade wines and storing homegrown food.
This historic label from California show a 20 percent alcohol level, but most apple wine recipes produce a wine in the 10-11 percent range. Special techniques are needed to push apple wines above 12 percent. 
Homemade apple wine can be two years in the making, but the results are worth waiting for.

With three mature apple trees in the yard, I have plenty of fruit for making homemade apple wine, but not enough to justify buying an apple mill and press. For several years I've been freezing apples for making wine, which works really well. Cells break apart when the apple pieces freeze and thaw, which sets the stage for fast, efficient fermentation. 

Freezing Apples for Making Wine

Before freezing apples for making wine, wash them thoroughly in warm water and cut out cores and bad spots. Peel apples that are not organically grown, or have been picked up from the ground. My apples are unsprayed, so I leave the peels on to give the wine more apple aroma and (sometimes) a pale pink tint. When freezing apples for making wine, I often freeze them on cookie sheets and then bag up the frozen pieces to keep them from sticking together. 


My Recipe for Frozen Apple Wine

I like working in 3-gallon batches because they are easy to manage and not too heavy, an important consideration with slow-working fruit wines that must be racked several times. A 3-gallon batch produces about 15 bottles of wine.

This recipe produces a light, dry wine that goes well with most foods that pair with fruity white wines – cheese, poultry, and many vegetarian casseroles. It also makes a great base with for blending with more aromatic fruits like blackberries or raspberries.  

Frozen Apple Wine (3 gallons)

15 pounds frozen apple pieces (4 or 5 one-gallon freezer bags)

7 pounds sugar (about 14 cups), dissolved in 2 gallons hot water

1 teaspoon yeast nutrient

2 teaspoons acid blend

7 drops liquid pectic enzyme

1 package white wine yeast, such as Lalvin K1-V1116

>1. Remove frozen apples from freezer and allow to thaw slightly as you prepare your equipment. Sanitize primary fermentor and a large fermentation bag.

>2. In a large pot, heat a gallon of water almost to boiling, and mix in half of the sugar. Set aside, and heat a second pot of water in which to dissolve the remaining sugar. Stir both pots until all of the sugar is dissolved.

>3. Working inside the sanitized fermentor with clean hands, place the frozen apple pieces in the fermentation bag and tie off the top. Pour the hot sugar water over the frozen apples, cover, and wait a few hours or overnight for the apples to thaw and warm to room temperature.

>4. When the fermentor no longer feels cold to the touch, stir in the yeast nutrient, acid blend, and pectic enzyme. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface, and lift the fermentation bag a few times to mix the ingredients. If there is not enough liquid to cover the bag of apples when pushed down, add a little more cool water.

Step 5

>5. At least once a day, when your hands are clean from washing dishes, open the fermentor and lift out the fermentation bag, mashing and turning it as you place it back in the fermentor. The bag of apples will want to float, and this procedure rotates the fruit pieces that are exposed to air.

Step 6

>6. After five to six days, when the apple pieces are fermented to mush, lift out the fermentation bag and hold it for several minutes to allow the wine to drip back into the fermenter. You can squeeze the bag gently, but avoid squeezing the brown apple solids into the wine.

>7. At this point you can stir in another half teaspoon of yeast nutrient to energize the yeast to keep working. Or, stir in a half cup of sugar dissolved in two cups of warm water. This step is optional, but it’s an easy way to keep the yeast from stopping too soon.

>8. About eight days after you started, rack the wine into a sanitized carboy, leaving behind the muck at the bottom of the fermenter. Add boiled, cooled water as needed to top off to three gallons. Cover the carboy with an old tee shirt, install a fermentation lock, and allow the wine to continue to work. Bubbling should be rather steady for a week or more, and you will slowly see solids settling out of the murky wine.

>9. Rack the wine after a month, taking only the liquid and leaving behind the solids at the bottom of the carboy. There may be a lot! If you are now far short of 3 gallons, rack into two 1-gallon jars, or top off with a similar dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc. 

>10. Rack again at 3 and 6-month intervals. Apple wine that shows no signs of fermenting activity can be bottled after 6 months, or you can stabilize it chemically before bottling if you prefer. I prefer patience, and let my apple wine made in the fall cold-stablilize in the basement through winter. When temperatures warm in spring I bring it upstairs to warm. If it shows no signs of activity, it's ready to bottle. Homemade apple wine is best after it has aged for at least a year. 

Homemade apple wine
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ingredients for homemade apple wine

The Added Ingredients

Like other fruit wines, homemade apple wine benefits from the addition of yeast nutrient to support vigorous yeast activity, pectic enzyme to break down the fruit fibers, and a powdered acid blend to balance malic acid, the primary acid found in apples. Also use an aggressive yeast that will dominate the wild yeasts on the apples. 

Good Apples for Wine

Most of the apples for my frozen apple wine come from our big ‘Williams Pride’ tree, which produces Rome type apples with bright red skins. I mix in some 'Enterpise' (big McIntosh type) to diversify the flavors. Any type of apple can be made into wine, including crabapples. 

freezing apples for wine
Freeze Lots of Apples
A gallon size freezer bag contains 3 to 4 pounds of cut apples, depending on how tightly they are packed. In addition to using them in Frozen Apple Wine, you can combine them with blueberries, raspberries or other fruits in unique homemade wines.   
Having Trouble? 
Apple wines can be slow to clear on their own, but various clarifiers can be quite effective. Check out my page on an old technique that uses eggshells to clear homemade apple wine.
Copyright 2017 by Barbara Pleasant