One step cleanser
5 medium size watermelons
10 lbs of sugar (preferably corn sugar)
Citric Acid (2 tablespoons)
Campden tablets (5 crushed)
5 gallons of water
potassium sorbate (4 tablespoons)
1 package of yeast
bucket to mix ingredients
Optional: Bentonite Clay, or a Wine filter system.
1.) Sanitize all containers and equipment before starting. We want the yeast to have a clean home to grow in.
To limit the amount of seeds and pulp in the must we crushed the melon chunks through a strainer. This allowed for maximum juice, and we could keep the seeds for planting next year. We did this until we got at least a gallon of watermelon juice. Watermelon has such a light flavor we always use more juice than we think we need.
We use city water in our home that is filtered with a under sink system. We also boil the water on the stove to make sure its super clean. once the water has been boiled and cooled down we add it to the bucket with our watermelon juice. Followed by the 10 lbs of sugar. Stir and add in your citric acid. This is your wine base. Do not add the yeast yet!
Crush your campden tablets and add them to the bucket of watermelon base. Campden tablets will help keep the wine clean sterile and the yeast happy. At this point we cover the bucket with a towel or old shirt to avoid dust falling into it. After adding these campden tablets we need to let it breathe for 24 hours before adding the yeast. So wait 24 hours and then give everything a big stir.
Transfer your bucket of wine base to the conical fermenter. Clean bucket and put aside. (Note: you can just add everything to the conical system right away, no need for using a bucket if you work the system correctly)
Take a reading on your hydrometer and make sure it’s within the Specific gravity reading for your type of wine. If it’s to low for yeast to be comfortable add another cup of sugar to compensate and adjust the reading. Once the Specific gravity is where it needs to be we can pitch the yeast.
2.) Now the wine is ready to have the yeast added, which is also called “Pitched”. We throw in a few spoon fulls of yeast nutrient stir, and then simply shake your yeast packet onto the top of the wine. Your wine is now ready to start making alcohol. screw on the top and add water to the air lock. Within 3-5 days you should be seeing a lot of air bubbles going out of the air lock at least once every few minutes if not faster. The yeast will be actively eating the sugar and making alcohol for at least a week. Let it do it’s thing until you notice the bubbles have stopped.
After thirty days take another reading and if your wine is dry add more sugar and wait thirty more days to rack.
Let the wine sit for 30 days, then use the ball on the bottom of the conical unit to catch the must. Open and close the valve, clean out ball, and reattach. Let the wine sit for another 30 days. At this point the wine will need to be clarified which is done over time or by helping it along with additional products. The cone helps push the must to the bottom and into the ball out of your wine. After the next 30 days open and close the ball again to remove more of the sediment. Check the flavor of the wine at this point and pull some wine out to measure your Specific Gravity. If your wine is in the correct range for the SG it’s ready to finalize and move into bottles. If not add more sugar!
Clarifying the wine:
There are three things we need to do, remove excess gasses from the wine. Filter, and finally use the potassium sorbate to inhibit yeast growth for proper bottling.
Degassing: this is where you take the top off the conical fermenter and stir the wine vigorously. Yeast eating sugar gives off both alcohol and other gases. We want to help those other gases escape as easily as possible. Some people stir by hand, but you can use a drill and a long attachment to stir the wine. You want lots of foam to show up to release all the gases. The recommendation is to stir on and off for at least 5 minutes. Use your best judgment on this process.
Filtering; is optional to give your wine the clarity of a store wine. You can use a wine clay (Bentonite) to force all the impurities to the ball of your conical filter, or you could use a wine filter system. Once filtered it’s time to get ready for bottling.
Potassium Sorbate: A few spoon fulls of this will stop the yeast from being active in your bottled wine. You’ll also want to throw in a few more crushed campden tablets at this point and the wine is ready to be bottled and stored. I usually taste the wine at this point and see if it needs another cup of sugar. You can add more sugar to help the flavors come out at this point so just sweeten and stir to taste.
Your conical fermenter has the bottling attachment you can use at this point to simply drain the gallons of wine into the bottles. Once your bottles are done cork them and store for your wine tasting party.
Enjoy your wine!