We have a large winter pear tree. Every year the pears fall onto the floor. By mid December they are almost ripe. Some of them have started to rot and the Jay birds have started to peck at them. Winter pears are strange because if you pick them off the tree earlier in the year and store them inside they don’t go ripe. They seem to prefer being outside or they need some frost before they ripen. About 3 years ago I decided to try and use my pear windfall. After a while surfing on internet I found that the Roman soldiers who were stationed in Britain had no access to grapes so they bought pear trees with them and made pear wine. Roman soldiers tended to drink a litre of wine each day so they must have needed a good source of wine.
My pear wine recipe is very simple and could be very useful in a dystopian post technological age in latitudes where there is no grapes but it is still possible to get sugar.
I suppose the Romans’ pear wine must have been pear beer because they had no access to processed sugar so the alcohol by volume must have been about 5%. (maybe they used honey)
A treeload of ripe winter pears maybe 100kg
Some yeast. I used Young’s Dried Active Yeast.
Lots of sugar.
200 litre plastic barrel
Pick the pears discarding pears which are totally rotten.
Wash the pears in cold water to get rid of old leaves and other debris.
Cut the pears up into chunks. Maybe 1.5cm chunks. Discard all the really nasty rotten bits but keep the over ripe areas. I did not discard the cores.
Throw the cut up pears into Sodium Metabisulphate solution and let them get covered in the solution.
Three years ago I did not use any chemicals and everything was fine but last year the whole batch of 150 litres turned to vinegar. I don’t like using chemicals but as I am using semi-rotten fruit hopefully it will stop it turning to vinegar. I got the pears out of the metabisulphate trug with my hands and put they into an intermediate trug before throwing them into the plastic barrel.
Metabisulphate bath for the cut up pears
The next thing to do it to pour boiling water into the plastic barrel as fast as possible. We use every available kettle and put big pans on the wood stove. The idea is that the heat of the boing water will kill any unwanted bacteria. I don’t know how hot we managed to get the must but it was too hot to put a hand in, maybe 60C.
Heating up water on the wood stove
The next thing to do is to put in a lot of sugar. I put in 22kg. It can be disolved in the water in the pans but it seems to disolve OK in the actual plastic barrel.
I used a refractometer and the sugar reading says that this has an alcohol potential of 5%.
I want the wine to be about 13.5% so I use my Chapitalisation Calculator
This is what it tells me
“You have 150 litres of must
At the moment your must has a potential alcohol volume of 5 %
You would like your finished wine to be 13.5 % alcohol.
To do that you have to add 24.23 kilos of sugar to the must.
BTW: That is 53.42 pounds
If fermentation goes OK I will add about 20KG of sugar after a couple of weeks.
It is very difficult to be scientific about the amount of alcohol because the pears are in chunks not in solution. Supposedly they have a sugar content which would be about 5% alcohol. The last bit of sugar is added bit by bit.
The yeast and Pectolase is added the following day one the liquid has cooled down.
Maybe I had beginner’s luck with my pear wine 3 years ago. It was wonderful. The pears shrivelled and the wine cleared on its own. All I had to was siphon it off in April.
I served it chilled to 11C and it was really tasty.