While I have been experimenting with homebrew for a few years now, I had never made anything else of the fermented kind. That is finally changing, with my first batch of rhubarb wine sitting on the counter in a jug as we speak! Following is the recipe and method that I have followed so far in this exciting new adventure.
On Monday night I took 3 lbs of frozen rhubarb (originally from our garden) chopped the stalks into pieces between 1/2” and 1/4” long, and then mashed them up with a hand potato masher in a pot. I added 3 lbs of white sugar, stirred it together, and then put the lid on the pot. I left the pot on the kitchen counter until Wednesday night, when I was ready to proceed to the next step, and when it appeared as though the sugar had all dissolved and perhaps something was happening in the pot.
The mixture smelled like the filling of a rhubarb pie, and the surface was covered in bubbles. I was simply following the distilled advice of multiple online recipes, and at this stage I did not know exactly what to expect due to their general vagueness. I knew that in a nutshell I was supposed to extract the juice from the mixture, top it up with water, and then add yeast. To my surprise when I moved the pot, the contents swished around as though it was full of liquid. Upon investigation I discovered that the sugar had dissolved and formed a liquid with some of the rhubarb juice. With the help of my friend Gavin, I poured the mash into a colander above a second pot, and then we took turns mashing the remains of the rhubarb in the colander with a potato masher to squeeze out the remaining juices. Once we had sufficiently exhausted our muscles, we moved on to the next step.
I had previously rehydrated my packet of wine yeast in 2 ounces of water, and made a big mug of Typhoo tea for the wine. We poured the syrupy rhubarb juice mixture into my antique 1 Imperial Gallon jug, noted that we had a smidgeon under half a gallon, and then added the tea (which was still hot) and measured about 1 and 3/4 US Cups. Some recipes said to add apple juice, some said white grape juice, while others said black tea; I opted for tea since it was what I had, and it is something that I quite enjoy. We then added the yeast mixture into the jug, and topped it up to 1 Imperial Gallon (about 1.2 US Gallons) with drinking water from our property’s 300′ deep well that goes through a reverse osmosis filtration system and is extremely delicious. The temperature inside the house while we did all this was 70F (about 21C) and with half the contents of the jug being at room temperature, and the remaining half a mixture of hot and cool, I can guestimate that the yeast was pitched into a mixture that was within ten degrees of 70.
The first thing that we all noticed was that the rhubarb juice had remained at the bottom of the jug, and the top half was occupied by the tea, water, and yeast. While it looked very beautiful, I was unsure if this division was desirable. However, within ten minutes the airlock had begun to bubble, a sure sign of activity, and so I let it be. By Thursday afternoon the division was still there, and so I decided to give it a stir with a clean wooden stick. While the stir did not change much in terms of appearance, with the airlock back on it continued to bubble away. By Thursday night the colour divide had crept a few inches lower along the jug; clearly the process was in full swing, and my lack of premixing would not seem to be an issue. Now I can only be patient and see if over the coming weeks the contents of my jug ferment accordingly and turn into rhubarb wine.
Below is a list of the online recipes that I consulted the most during this adventure.
And a bonus video for those of you with an appreciation for odd humour!