Persimmons are one of the very last fruits of the year, ripening in November and December. This late-season allows you to get one more batch started before the new year, and homemade persimmon wine is a good way to finish out the year.
Persimmons can be expensive, but I found a great deal this year. The vast majority of them went into homemade persimmon jam, which is one of my families favorites. After that, my kids devoured an out of this world persimmon upside-down cake made with honey and almond flour. Still, there were more persimmons!
What else to do when you’ve exhausted your creativity? Ferment it! Persimmon wine is the obvious solution. Since persimmons can be a bit on the pricey side, I’ve made this as a small batch wine recipe, using a quart jar and a mason tops waterless silicone fermentation cap.
In the past, we’ve tried to extract juice from persimmons using a small home juicer. They’re really starchy fruits though, even when dead ripe. That extra starch allows them to thicken up into a jam without pectin, but it also stops them from gushing with juice without a bit of work.
This time I tried the same sugar juicing method that I used with my rhubarb wine and peach wine. Simply slice up the persimmons and add the sugar directly over the top of them in a mason jar. I know, it looks preposterous, but in just a few hours the cells will pop and the persimmon slices will be deflated down to almost nothing and floating in a nearly full jar of their own sugary juice.
After the persimmons give up their juice, you can either muddle them down to extract the last bits and then remove them, or leave them in and add the remaining ingredients on top. If I had it to do over, I’d remove them because they take up quite a bit of space in the jar which will lower the yield a bit unless you backfill with water after the primary. They also can clog up a water-lock if the ferment gets going too hard, but that’s why I like these waterless silicone lids. I’ve yet to have one clog even with chunky fruit in there.
Either way, I’d recommend filtering out the fruit after 8 to 12 hours in the sugar, and then using a bit of water to wash off the last bits of residual sugar from the fruit into the jar. That way you get as much persimmon flavor into the wine as possible.
This is a pretty simple wine recipe, and it doesn’t call for much. I didn’t use pectic enzyme to clarify the wine, and it shows in the somewhat cloudy finished product. I would recommend adding pectic enzyme, and I’ve included that in the recipe.
I’ve added quite a bit of acid to this recipe in the form of lemon juice. Persimmons need a bit of acid to bring out their flavor in my opinion, but for a more neutral flavor try using winemaking acid blend instead of lemon juice.
For reference, here’s a quick rundown on the basic winemaking additives that you could use in any wine recipe:
- Pectic Enzyme for breaking open the mango fruit cells.
- An acid blend to decrease the overall pH.
- Yeast Nutrient to feed the little beasties and give them the micronutrients that help them thrive.
- Tannin to give the sweet wine a bit of astringency and balance the flavor.
- Potassium Sorbate and Camden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) to completely end the fermentation and stabilize the wine before bottling.
For this recipe, I’ve omitted the tannin, as even the big 5-gallon batch recipes I can find only use 1/2 tsp across 5 gallons. I’ve also omitted the stabilizers (potassium sorbate) because I accidentally ingest enough of that garbage in anytime I eat packaged food, and I’m not about to go adding it to my homemade goods on purpose. If you’re familiar with wine stabilizers to stop fermentation and you’re comfortable with using them then that’s your choice.
A couple other things to note. This recipe is for a small batch one quart of persimmon wine. If you want to make a full one-gallon batch, no problem, just multiply by 4. Similarly, a big 5-gallon batch can be made by multiplying all the ingredients by 20.
If you are going to make a one-gallon batch leaving the pulp in, I’d highly recommend investing in a wide mouth one-gallon jar equipped with a waterlock. Cleaning fruit pulp out of narrow neck carboys is an unholy pain, and these jars are a great inexpensive solution for a much cleaner primary ferment.
- Slice persimmons and place them in a quart mason jar. Top them with sugar and allow the sugar to extract the persimmon juice for 8 to 12 hours.
- Filter out the persimmon pulp, muddling it a bit to extract the last bits of juice. Pour a small amount of water over the pulp to extract a bit more flavor and put that into the jar. (or, if you prefer, leave the pulp in the primary and filter it out after the initial ferment after 7 days)
- Add in the acid source (lemon juice or acid blend), yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme.
- Dissolve the wine yeast into a bit of water and allow it to rehydrate for at least 5 minutes. Then add it into the fermenter.
- Add more water as required to fill the jar to within 1 inch of the top. Put on a mason jar airlock and allow the mixture to ferment for 5 to 7 days, until fermentation visibly slows.
- Carefully pour the wine off into a new jar, leaving any sediment or pulp behind. If you left the persimmon pulp in, this is the time to filter it out.
- Refill the secondary fermenter jar to within 1 inch of the top and allow the wine to ferment for an additional 4-6 weeks until the wine begins to really clear and fermentation slows to a stop.
- Bottle the wine in flip top grolsch bottles and allow it to age for about at least a month before drinking (ideally 3-4 months). For larger batches, one gallon or more, bottle in wine bottles with corks for better results.
This is a small batch quart recipe for persimmon wine, but it can easily be increased for larger batch sizes. To make a full gallon, multiply by 4. To make a half gallon in a mason jar, multiply by 2. For a large 5 gallon batch, multiply by 20.
For small batches, it's simplest to bottle in flip top grolsch bottles, but for larger batches I'd recommend using wine bottles and corks for better results.
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