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How To Crush Grapes And Why It's Important!

Crushing Wine GrapesHello,

You say grapes must be crushed before pressing, what do you use to crush them with?

Thank you,
Tony

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Hello Tony,

Crushing the wine grapes is a very straight forward process. All you are looking to do is burst the skin on each grape. This is necessary to efficiently release the juice from the pulp before pressing or fermenting the grape pulp.

If crushing is not done first, you will discover that a significant number of grapes will not release any juice at all. They will stay whole in the wine press. Other grapes may only give up a marginal amount of their juice while being squeezed. This is true regardless of the type of wine press you are using.

On the flip-side, you do not want to over-crush the wine grapes. Doing so may release too much tannin. This could result in a wine that is out of pH balance and bitter tasting. You just want to solidly burst the skins. So don't pull out the food processor. That would be overkill.

Another aspect to consider is that you need to remove the stems from the wine grapes at some point. A few stems are okay, but you do not want all of the stems in the fermentation. This too will cause the wine to become overly bitter with excessive tannin.

How you tackle the crushing will depend on the amount of grapes you are dealing with. If you have just 5 or 10 pounds it wouldn't be a bad idea to crush them by hand. With 50 pounds you might get away with crushing the grapes by beating them with the butt end of a 2x4 while in a bucket. But anything beyond this, and you are going to want to start looking at an actual grape crusher.

We offer four different grape crushers. They all crush the grapes and other fruits equally well. The biggest difference between the grape crushers is speed:

  • Wooden Fruit Crusher: This is the smallest grape crusher we offer. It is hand-cranked and easily does about 80 to 100 pounds an hour. It is well designed and will crush small berries as will as larger fruit.
     
  • Stainless Steel Fruit Crusher: This is a manual grape crusher as well. The main differences are that it is rated at 1850 pound per hour and it is stainless steel, very easy to clean up. It also has rotating knives within the hopper. As you crank the grape crusher the knives will cut up any fruit in the hopper: apples, pears, peaches, apricots, etc.
     
  • Manual Crusher / Destemmer: This is a hand-crank grape crusher. And as the name suggests, it is also a grape destemmer. The crushed grapes fall out the bottom and the stems will fall out the side of the unit. It is rated at 2,200 pounds per hour.
     
  • Motorized Crusher / Destemmer: This unit is much like the above unit. It is both a grape crusher and grape destemmer; it does 2,200 pound per hour, etc. The main difference is that it is a motorized grape crusher, making life a little easier.

I hope this information helps you out. The bottom line is the wine grapes need to be crushed and they need to be crushed by the right amount. Burst the skins thoroughly, but don't over process them. How you go about this is up to you.

Best Wishes,
Customer Service
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

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Comments (6)

Name: Richard Vaughn
Time: Saturday, June 2, 2012

I am getting ready to make a blackberry/blueberry wine. I guess I never thought it over regarding the crushing for these berries. Should I use the same precaution regarding the tanins in either fruit. Can I overcrush these? I was going to juice them through a squizzo processor and then take the skins/cellulose and put them in a bag during fermentation. What would you reccommend? Making six gallons using 8 to 10 lbs per fruit.

Name: Customer Service
Time: Monday, June 4, 2012

Richard, thanks for bringing up such a good point. What goes for the grapes discussed above also goes for most other fruit. Using the squizzo processor is overkill on the blackberries and blueberries. It can even be detrimental to the quality of the resulting wine. Just break them up by hand or use a potato masher or something similar.

Name: Walt
Time: Friday, June 8, 2012

for most fruits (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, etc.) freeze the fruit. After you thaw it, it will be mush. It can then be strained through a colander, or pressed via a fruit bag, or just fermented after adjusting with water.

Name: Tina Ward
Time: Saturday, June 9, 2012

Not sure if it would work for grapes but for a 5 gal batch of muscadine wine I use my Kitchenaid mixer with the meat grinder attachment (blades and press plates removed). When the fruit is pulled through it they are popped perfectly and ready to press.

Name: Chris Conte
Time: Thursday, September 26, 2013

How long can I keep the grapes in the cases before I crush them? Waiting for my cousin to come up.
Thanks.

Name: Customer Service
Time: Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chris, if you do nothing to the grape but let them sit you do not have that much time at all — 2 days, maybe. But what you can do to help preserve them is to spray them down with a water/sulfite solution. This will destroy any immediate mold or bacteria that may be getting at the grapes. Realize, this will also destroy the wild yeast on the grapes, so domesticated wine yeast will need to be added. Use a solution of 1 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite with each gallon of water. Spray liberally onto the grapes. This should get you 3 or 4 days of safe keeping.

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