Step 2 - Cleaning and Processing Fruit for Making Wine
After you’re done picking, don’t waste time. Get cleaning ASAP! The longer fruit sits, the more susceptible it is to bacteria. Keeping the fruit cool also helps the fruit retain its firmness. For an example, when I pick my raspberries, I put the buckets into the fridge until I have time to clean them. Remember: The cleaner you pick, the less time it takes to get your fruit ready for the freezer. Try not to put leaves, twigs or bad fruits into your bucket.
I usually clean most of my fruit by filling my sink 1/2 full with cool water and adding about 1/2 a gallon at a time. I let it soak for a little while, drowning any of those lurking little bugs. I go handful by handful, shuffling them over in my hands and removing anything not worthy. Be very careful not to rinse soft fruit with high powered spray of water. I put the good fruit in a colander to drip dry while I clean the remainder. Unwanted stuff gets put into the compost bucket. I also peel, slice and pit if needed, before freezing.
Once the fruit is dry (blotting with a paper towel helps), I freeze the fruit in a single layer, on a cookie sheet until firm, then transfer to a plastic bag. This is a great way to keep the fruit from sticking together and freezing in one huge lump. Removing as much air as possible also helps protect the fruit against freezer burn. Every bag that goes into the freezer is also labelled with the type of fruit and the year. We use this fruit in smoothies and desserts later in the year and this freezing method makes it really easy to take out the amount you need.
Why we like freezing the fruit prior to wine making…
Processing tips for making wine at our shop:
No matter which freezer bags you use, more often than not, they will leak once the fruit starts to thaw. Maybe the plastic breaks down over time; maybe the bags get snagged or nicked when in the freezer. Whatever the reason, NEVER trust a freezer bag to keep in the juice while thawing. Always put your bags into a clean container that can catch all of the leaking juice. This juice should not be dumped out. There's lots of flavor and color that can be added to your wine!
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