A Delicious Banana Wine Recipe to Make at Home
If you’re reading this article, you’ve passed the first test: you haven’t keeled over in disbelief at the very idea of a wine made out of bananas.
Because let’s face it, when was the last time you were at a wine tasting and someone described a wine having notes of ‘banana’?
Blackberries, yes; plums, yes; even gooseberries get a mention on your average wine list – but bananas? Not so much.
But in fact, banana wine has a long history and a rich cultural significance in East Africa, Central America, South India and the Philippines, and this banana wine recipe is here to prove it!
Wines and beers have been brewed from bananas for almost as long as bananas have existed, and tips are passed from generation to generation.
Local recipes are cherished and shared, and connoisseurs claim to be able to tell which town – and even which household – brewed their wine, based on the type of banana that’s been used.
That’s the really special thing about banana wine – it’s so small scale.
You won’t find it in any store, because it isn’t mass produced, so if you’re lucky enough to be offered a glass, you can be fairly certain that the wine has been lovingly produced by your host themselves, or picked up on an exotic expedition.
Either way, the distinctive sweetness and tropical notes of the wine will bowl you over and give even the most seasoned wine expert a completely new tasting experience.
On the off chance that you aren’t planning a trip to Tanzania or Tamil Nadu, you can get your fix of banana wine by brewing up a batch of your own.
OK, so you might not be picking the bananas from your backyard plantation, but if you follow our recipe you will create a sweet and tangy banana wine which will send you off to your own tropical paradise…
For banana wine, you can the same wine-making equipment that you would use for any other fruit wine (please refer to our elderflower wine recipe for more details), with one exception – instead of using a plastic basin or brew bin for your fermentation, I prefer to use a metal bin.
My reason for this is that banana wine tends to produce a lot of sediment, particularly during the (somewhat violent!) fermentation process.
The sediment rises up as the moisture bubbles, and you have to scrape banana puree off the sides of your basin a couple of times a day.
For some reason, this isn’t such an issue with metal basins, so you can just leave your banana mixture to do its thing without interruption.
- A sterilized metal brew bin or basin with a capacity of at least one gallon.
- 2 glass demijohns, plus an airlock and bung (if they aren’t included)
Again, try to avoid plastic demijohns with banana wine, as the sediment will stick to the sides, rather than just dropping to the bottom where it can be easily siphoned away.
- A straining bag or large muslin cloth
- A siphon tube (at least 3ft long)
- 6 wine bottles, either screw top or with a cork and corker.
- Approx. 3lbs (1.3kg) of ripe bananas, still in their skin.
- 2lbs (900g) white or brown sugar
- 1 cup of strong black tea
- 8oz (220g) golden raisins
- 0.5oz (15g) citric acid
If you want to make an organic wine, you could use lemon juice instead of citric acid. One teaspoon of citric acid is the equivalent of around one lemon, juiced.
A Note on Yeast for Banana Wine
Ideally, choose a white wine yeast (although your finished banana wine will have more of a sherry-orange color to it), or even a champagne yeast.
Each brand of wine yeast has its own instructions for use, so follow these to determine how much you should use in your banana wine.
Bananas are very starchy, so this wine needs quite an aggressive yeast nutrient which can break down all those starches into sugars. You may even want to use a nutrient which is traditionally suited to making hard ciders or liquors
Alternatively, you could just add some amylase enzyme, but use it sparingly as too much of it will really take away from the natural flavor of the wine.Follow the instructions on the pack to figure out how much you should use.
Our Banana Wine Recipe
STEP ONE - Choosing your bananas
You probably won’t have a huge choice of banana varieties at your local market, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Just don’t choose plantains by accident – they are perennially green and will never give you the sweet flavor and soft texture that you need in your wine.
The most important thing to remember, is that whatever bananas you choose, they have to be RIPE. Like, really ripe. Practically brown.
If you’ve ever used bananas in cooking before, you’ll know that the riper they are, the sweeter they become (that’s why all the best banana bread recipes use brown, almost moldy bananas). Banana wine is no exception – the sweeter, the better!
PRO TIP: If your bananas just won’t ripen quickly enough, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple or a tomato and leave them to sit overnight. The fruits will produce ethylene, which triggers the ripening hormone in bananas, so they should be perfectly ripe by the morning.
STEP TWO - Preparing your mixture
To peel or not to peel, that is the question…
Traditionalists tend to chop up the bananas, peel and all, claiming that this produces a stronger banana flavor in the end.
Sceptics claim that the skin is likely covered with pesticides and artificial preservatives, and should be completely discarded.
And then there’s another group of wine-making enthusiasts who reserve the skins, but toast or fry them up slightly to scare off any bacteria, then add them to the mix just before fermentation.
Personally, I prefer to leave the skins on. It’s easier and faster and definitely produces a stronger taste.
However, this is only really an option if you are using certified organic fruit, which has not been treated with any chemicals or ingredients which might slow down the fermentation process.
If you can’t be sure that your bananas are organic, take the skin off. Otherwise, just give them a quick wash and chop them up as they are.
STEP THREE - Starting the fermentation
Put the bananas in a large stock pot or saucepan, add the sugar and stir.
Pour approx. one gallon of hot (not boiling) water over the top, and cook on a medium heat for around 45 minutes, never letting the mixture reach the boil (sugar burns very easily, and burnt sugar is not something you want to be tasting in your wine).
Stir the mixture pretty much constantly while it cooks, and use a potato masher to mush up the sugary bananas as much as possible.
Meanwhile, roughly chop up your raisins and toss them into the metal brew bin.
Remove the banana mixture from the heat, and allow it to cool down for around ten minutes before straining it through your straining bag or muslin cloth, squeezing every last drop of banana juice out. Don’t worry about getting a perfectly clear liquid at this stage – your wine is going to be strained many, many more times before its done.
Pour the strained liquid over the raisins in the brew bin, then add the citric acid, the black tea, the wine yeast and the yeast nutrient. I would also add a scoop or two of the banana mush to this mix, for extra flavor.
Cover the bin, and leave it to ferment for five days, stirring every day.
WARNING: During this stage, your banana wine is going to look, frankly, disgusting. As the ripened bananas ferment, they will turn your mixture a muddy brown color. Plus, if you are using an aggressive yeast nutrient (which you should be – see above), your mixture will be bubbling and puffing like a tar pit in a storm. Don’t panic – this is perfectly normal for this stage of the process, so just keep stirring your mixture and be patient.
STEP FOUR - It all starts to be clear
After five days of fermentation, the wine should have stopped frothing and bubbling, although you may find a bit of dark brown banana/raisin residue sitting on the top. Just whip out your trusty straining bag, and get to work!
Slowly pour the mixture over a straining bag which has been stretched over another large pot or bin, and squeeze it tightly so that all the liquid is released.
I would strain the mixture at least twice at this point, as there will be a LOT of sediment to clear away. Use a new straining bag each time, so you get the cleanest liquid possible.
Now you just need to get the liquid into your demijohn so it can keep up the hard work of creating alcohol. Use a funnel and very carefully (and slowly!) pour in the clear banana liquid. If it doesn’t fill the one gallon demijohn, just add a little splash of bottled or filtered water.
Fit the airlock and give it a few taps with the hammer to make sure it’s completely airtight.
Store your demijohn in a cool dark place, and leave it for at least a month.
STEP FIVE - Racking
Banana wine requires more racking than most other fruit wines because this starchy fruit takes a long time to ferment. After a month in the demijohn, it will probably still be bubbling a bit and you will definitely notice some sediment building up at the bottom of the jug. However, between the bubbles and the sediment, you should have a clear orangey liquid which is finally starting to resemble something that you might actually drink!
Time to rack it for the first time.
Get your siphon and a second demijohn in place, and steadily siphon the wine out of one demijohn and into the other. For detailed instructions on how to rack your wine, check out our elderflower wine blog.
If your freshly racked wine comes in at under one gallon, you can add a tablespoonful of sugar syrup at this stage, and a splash of filtered or bottled water.
Re-attach the airlock and bung, make sure they’re on good and tight, and leave your wine back in a cool, dark place for another three months.
After three months, repeat the racking process all over again.
Leave it for another month, and check for bubbles. When you are certain that the wine isn’t bubbling any more, leave it another three weeks just to be extra sure, then you’re in the endgame.
STEP SIX - Bottling up!
Before you bottle up, rack your wine one last time so that you have the clearest liquid possible, then you’re nearly done!
Use your siphon tube to transfer the wine from the demijohn into the bottles. The bottles should be on the floor and the demijohn on a flat surface above them, then suck on the siphon tube until the liquid starts flowing and quickly work to fill up the bottles from the tube without spilling too much!
When the bottles are full, use your corker to cork and seal your bottles and that’s it!
But don’t get too excited - you may be ready to bottle your wine now but you’re still at least six months away from drinking it. In fact, some wine-makers recommend leaving it for up to a year before cracking open the first bottle.
When it’s finally time to taste the fruits of your labor, make an occasion out of it. Invite your friends and family over, crank up the central heating, and imagine you’re in East Africa or the Philippines, sharing a drink with your nearest and dearest.
Recommended Reading: Don't miss our guide on how to make muscadine wine!
Section 5: Conclusion
If you were on the skeptical side before, I hope that this tutorial has convinced you to give banana wine a try!
Best case scenario: you try something new and you LOVE it. Worst case scenario: you don’t like it that much, so you just use it to improve your other homemade wines instead.
Making banana wine is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, and you’ll end up with a product that you can’t (easily) get anywhere else in the US.
For the price of a few bananas and a bit of winemaking equipment, and by following this banana wine recipe, you can find out for yourself what makes banana wine so beloved all across the world.
Banana wine is brilliant in its own right, but wine-makers love it for another reason – it goes with everything.
Bananas are among the most naturally sweet fruits on the planet, and banana wine can rival most Rieslings when it comes to sweetness.
When blended with other wine mixtures, it adds body and flavor without being overpowering. It is particularly good when blended with flower wines (elderflower wine; dandelion wine; etc) which are naturally thin and dry.
Because banana wine has already gone through the tedious fermentation process itself, it can easily be added to another wine mix right at the very end of the process – in fact, some winemakers intentionally add a glass of banana wine to each bottle of homemade wine as they believe it improves the taste and longevity of the mix.
If you’re making another homemade wine and you aren’t too sure about the taste, banana wine will come to the rescue.
If you liked this tutorial, you might enjoy reading our other recipes for homemade wine. If we’ve missed one of your favorites, drop us a line and help us spread the joy.
Please leave any feedback in the comments below, and share this article with your wine-loving friends!