Originally Posted October 13, 2011. Updated 12/9/20
For one, by the time you’re ready to add the yeast to get the product started... well, you’re working with a liquid that just looks revolting. Muddy brown-grey dishwater looking stuff.
You add the yeast, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
Then, the yeast starts acting on it. Oh BOY does it ever! I’ve never seen such violent fermentation before!
It really is a sight to behold.
All of a sudden, that ugly, milky looking mixture clarified at some point. It left you with a gorgeous, brilliantly golden yellow and crystal clear wine.
No worries though - let your finished wine age for about a year after bottling, and you'll be rewarded with a smooth, flavorful wine that packs a punch! The harsh "Everclear" flavor will age right out.
This recipe is very easy - and very CHEAP - to make. Also, it finishes a unique color, which will make a beautiful addition to your wine rack - or gift.
How to Make Banana Wine
If you haven't attempted making wine before, don't be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing:
Just a small handful of entries, and you'll be good to go!
Banana Wine Ingredients
You’ll want to use fresh, whole, RIPE bananas. Note quit “banana bread” ripe, but definitely heading in that direction.
The ripeness of your bananas will impact the flavour, sweetness, and ABV of your final wine, so it’s definitely worth holding off a few days, if your bananas aren’t very ripe.
Remove any stickers, wash the bananas, cut off the ends and discard them, and slice them up - peels and all. There’s a lot of flavour in the peels!
Sometimes the liquid will cook up relatively “clear”, like the top left image below. On other occasions - as in the top right photo - it’ll cook up to a very milky mixture.
It’s all good. As I mentioned before... this wine gets interesting!
It’s always fun to see which way it’ll start out, and watch the transformation from there.
While sugar is technically optional when making wine, NOT adding any sugar will result in an INCREDIBLY dry wine.
When you’re making wine from bananas - much like with any other light coloured, non-grape fruit - you’ll want it to have at least some residual sweetness to it, or it just won’t taste like much. The sugar helps to bring out the banana flavour!
Sugar is an important part of wine making, and there are a few aspects of sugar to keep in mind:
Type of Sugar
In terms of type of sugar, we’ll swap between using plain white granulated sugar, brown sugar, or a mix of them.
Due to the robust nature of the banana flavour - and how much of it sticks around after fermentation - it can definitely handle the added flavour from a brown sugar.
I find that brown sugar - either in whole or in part - makes this wine smell and taste a bit more like a baked good, than when it’s entirely granulated white sugar used. It’s a bit of added complexity.
Conversely, using all white sugar will give you a wine with a “cleaner”, clearer banana taste.
Feel free to use either type, raw cane sugar, or a mixture of any/all of these.
Note: If you’re going for the brown sugar for some or all of the sugar, try adding a vanilla bean and a cinnamon stick to your boiled mixture, leaving them in through fermentation!)
How to Make Banana Mead
If you’d like to make a mead rather than a wine, you can swap the sugar out for honey. We’ll usually use 15-20 lbs of honey for this, if made as-is... though we’ll usually make meads in smaller batches. (3-5 lbs of honey for 1 gallon of water used).
A couple notes:
- I say “Banana Mead”, as that’s what most people would understand... but mead with fruit is technically called “melomel”.
So, swapping sugar out in favour of honey would give you a banana melomel. The more you know!
- In any mead or melomel recipe, you’re going to want to consider the flavour of the honey you’re using. Generally, we recommend using a fairly lightly flavoured honey - a clover or orange blossom honey, for instance.
Where white sugar is fairly neutral in flavour, honey can be aggressively flavoured, and that can compete with the fruit flavour. When it comes to banana mead, you have more leeway there - the banana flavour is INTENSE, so there’s more room to play.
Wildflower or buckwheat honey, for instance, are options. Buckwheat in particular goes nicely with banana, and doesn’t overwhelm the flavour.
Aside from flavour, there’s the matter of alcohol content.
Your wine’s final ABV will vary wildly dependent on a few things: The initial sugar content of the bananas you use, how much sugar you add, and what kind of yeast you use (more on that in a bit)
Any amount of sugar will result in a higher alcohol content than making the same wine without sugar added. Sugar - both in the base wine itself, and from the added sugars - is what feeds the yeast, the yeast eats up the sugars and gives off alcohol as the byproduct of that process.
More sugar = more food = more alcohol... to a point, anyway. About that...
The type of yeast you use will impact the alcohol content of the final product.
Yeast organisms don’t have an *unlimited* capacity to process sugar into alcohol. At some point, the environment they’re living in - the brewing wine - becomes too high in alcohol for the yeast to survive. They die off, the fermentation stops.
Different types of yeast have different tolerances for alcohol in the environment. That is, some yeast will be able to survive higher amounts of alcohol in the wine, so they’ll continue producing it longer than some other types.
Some types of yeast will bring you to something like an 8% ABV, while others will let things run wild until close to 20% ABV.
It’s good to know what you have in mind, when you choose your yeast.
If you want a sweet wine with a low-ish ABV - without having to back sweeten it (more on that in a bit) - choose a yeast with a lower tolerance for alcohol.
If you’re looking for a dry wine with a low ABV, choose a yeast with a lower tolerance for alcohol, and don’t use a ton of sugar.
If you want a sweet wine with a high ABV, use a bunch of sugar with a high-tolerance yeast... and be prepared to backsweeten it.
If you want a dry wine with a high ABV, use a fair amount of sugar and a high tolerance yeast.
Scaling This Wine Recipe
As a note, you can easily scale this wine recipe up or down - in fact, there's a function inside the recipe card itself to do the math for you!
One note, though: You don't necessarily need to multiply or divide the yeast, but the software doesn't know that. We will use one full pouch of yeast for anything from 1-5x gallons, and then 1 pouch for every 5 gallons beyond that.
As a related note: The recipe software is definitely geared towards cooking, not wine making. Therefore, you can pretty much ignore all of the info it gives you: The nutritional info is calculated on everything that goes into the wine.
It does not take into account how much sugar will be fermented out, how much volume is lost to racking, the fact that the fruit pulp is removed before the final product, etc.
Back Sweetening Your Homemade Banana Wine
Sometimes - usually, even - you’ll find that the yeast went a bit too far with their smorgasbord, and you end up with a peach wine that’s not as sweet as you’d like it.
... and that’s when you back sweeten it! You can read my How to Stabilize and Back Sweeten Wine post for information on how to back sweeten it.
More Home Brewing Recipes!
While you've got your current homebrew fermenting away, why not consider putting a batch of something else on, to occupy your wait time? Here are a few of my other wine, cider, and mead recipes:
Blackberry Wine Recipe
Blackcurrant Wine Recipe
Blueberry Wine Recipe
Cherry Wine Recipe
Cranberry Clementine Christmas Wine Recipe
Cranberry Wine Recipe
Faux Lingonberry Wine
Lychee Wine Recipe
Mango Strawberry Wine Recipe
Mango Wine Recipe
Mint Wine Recipe
Lychee Wine Recipe
Partridgeberry Wine Recipe
Passionfruit Wine Recipe
Peach Wine Recipe
Stone Fruit Wine Recipe
Strawberry Wine Recipe
Ube Wine Recipe
Watermelon Wine Recipe
Cider & Miscellaneous Homebrew Recipes
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Homemade Banana Wine Recipe
- 21 lbs RIPE bananas Washed and sliced into thin rings
- 5 gallons Bottled water You won’t use it all
- 15-20 lbs White and/or Brown sugar We used white
- 6 teaspoon Acid Blend
- 5 teaspoon Pectinase
- 1.25 teaspoon Wine Tannin
- 6 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient
- 4 lbs Golden Raisins
- 1 packet Wine Yeast We like Red Star “Champagne” for this recipe
- Potassium sorbate or other wine stabilizer
- In large stock pot – we used a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer – combine bananas, sugar, and about 4 gallons of water. Heat to almost boiling, mashing and stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to heat for about 45 minutes – never allowing it to come to a boil – stirring every few minutes. Remove from heat, add acid blend, pectinase, tannin, and yeast nutrient. Stir well.
- Place raisins in a freshly sanitized 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket. Carefully strain hot banana liquid into the fermenting bucket, over top of the raisins. Top with water to 6 gallons, and add a few scoops of the banana mush. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).
- The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a sanitized paddle, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)
- Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!
- Let sit for about a week, stirring (sanitized paddle!) Every couple of days or so. It will get black on top. It’ll look awful… and your whole brewing area / basement / garage will smell like banana bread!
- After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized 6.5 gallon carboy. (At this point, we ran the raisins and remaining pulp through a juicer and added it to the carboy, but that’s entirely optional. Will give the wine extra body if you do it!)
- Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.
- Using sanitized equipment, rack the banana wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 6.5 gallon carboy. (At this point, we added 4 lbs sugar for added sweetness. It probably also upped the final ABV!). Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.
- By this point, you’ll find that your wine has clarified, and looks NOTHING like it did when it started. Enjoy your handiwork. Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.
- When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.
- Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.
- Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork.
- I’m not going to lie – the wine you bottle is going to be pretty harsh. Drinkable, but definitely banana flavored fire water. Put the bottles into the cases they came in and forget about them for a year (or two!) – you’ll have a much tastier wine at the end of the wait!