"What recipe would you use for wild
plums? The ones I picked
are slightly smaller than golf balls, orange when ripe, and
extremely tannic. Pretty high acid as well. I am in South Texas,
if that helps you identify the fruit I found." Ken Smith, Houston, TX
The Texas wild plum is small and tart. In size, it ranges from little bigger than a marble to slightly smaller than a golf ball. They flower early, fruit early, and are usually gone by the end of May. Indeed, my trees dropped their last plum around May 16th.
The Prunus Texacana ripens to an orangish-red. They are ripe when you reach up and grab one and it just drops off in your hand. The small ones might contain more stone than fruit pulp, but their flavor in jelly or wine is worth the trouble of such meager offerings. They store reasonably well in the refrigerator until enough are collected for a batch of wine. Six pounds is a perfect amount, but one could make a reasonable wine with only five pounds. By themselves, they make a fairly thin wine with a strong, tannic bite. The recipe below improves upon those deficiencies by adding golden raisins for body and bananas for smoothness.
One word of warning. This wine MUST age at least two years before tasting, and even then will only be marginal. However, it improves dramatically with another year's maturation, so make it with a three-year aging in mind. Because it takes so long to mature, you should make this wine every year. Serve it slightly chilled.
Wash the plums and remove any that show signs of insect infestation. Place them on paper towels to dry and leave them at least two hours. Put the plums in a bowl and place in refrigerator. In 1-2 weeks they will turn dark. Meanwhile, buy 2 lbs bananas and let them get ripe. If they turn slightly mushy, so much the better. The only parts to discard are sections of flesh that actually turn brown. When plums are ready, put water on to boil and chop or mince the raisins. Put the plums in a sterilized plastic pail and mash them with the end of a sterilized piece of hardwood (the thick end of a baseball bat works great), but do not crack the seeds. Just mash the plums up as best you can. Now peel the bananas and slice them thinly (1/2 inch maximum), adding them to the plums. Add the chopped or minced raisins and the sugar. Pour the boiling water over this, stir well with a wooden paddle to dissolve sugar, and cover with a clean dish towel. When cooled to 70-75 degrees F., stir in the crushed Campden tablet. Recover the pail and let sit 12 hours. Stir in the pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient. Recover and set aside another 12 hours. Add the yeast (if dry, sprinkle over the top and DO NOT STIR for 24 hours) and recover. When fermentation is strong (for dry yeast, about three days; for an already started yeast, the next day), begin punching down the cap of pulp twice daily. After 7 days of strong fermentation, drain off some liquid and measure specific gravity. When S.G. is 1.020 (may take up to 10 days), strain pulp through a nylon straining bag and squeeze to extract as much juice as possible. Discard pulp and return all juice to pail and ferment another two days. Siphon off stones and sediments into secondary and fit airlock. When ferment dies down to a steady bubbling, top up to within one inch of airlock. Rack into clean secondary after 60 days, top up and refit airlock. Repeat 60 days later. In another 60 days the wine should be clear, but if it isn't, rack again and allow another 60 days. If clear and all fermentation has stopped, rack into bottles. [Author's own recipe]
Again, this wine MUST age AT LEAST two years (I wouldn't touch it for three), but will be worth the wait.
My thanks to Ken Smith for the request.