Remove all stones then crush the Damsons into a pre-sanitised fermenting bucket. Tip: An Olive/Cherry Pitter is a useful tool for easily removing stones.
Pour the cold water over the contents together with the rest of the ingredients and the wheat or barley (rinse the grains first under a tap in a sieve and add whole. Do not crush the grains as this can introduce unwanted starch). Slice the bananas into small pieces and add those to the bucket, then stir thoroughly.
Cover the bucket with a cloth and leave it to ferment in a warm place for 5 days. Stir the contents of the bucket daily. Then strain into a 1-gallon demijohn through a muslin or nylon straining bag. Press the bag to retrieve as much juice as possible and then discard the pulp and grains. It may be necessary to top up with cooled boiled water to 4½litres.
Fit a bung and airlock and leave in a warm place to continue to ferment out completely. The end of fermentation will be indicated by bubbles stopping emerging from the airlock. At this point check the specific gravity with a hydrometer. A reading of 0.996 means that all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol and fermentation is complete. Fermentation should take between 2-4 weeks.
Finishing the Wine
At the end of fermentation add 1 crushed Campden tablet and half a teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon. Leave in a warm place for 3 days to kill off the yeast. Then the wine should be left to clear in a cool place (15C) before siphoning from the sediment.
Damson wine can contain high levels of pectin and may not clear on its own. We recommend adding Harris Winefine to accelerate clearing. Then pass the wine through a Vinbrite filter to obtain a professional finish before bottling. If the wine still will not clear, add another 10 drops of Pectinaze and keep the wine warm for a few days. Then repeat the clearing process.
Checking for excess pectin in wine
Tip: The existence of pectin in the final wine can be checked by adding 3 teaspoons of wine to a small glass and adding 5 teaspoons of methylated spirits. Leave the glass for 30 minutes. Excess pectin will show up as a small white stringy residue at the bottom of the glass (or a cotton wool/cloudy appearance). Discard the sample after testing.
After clearing the damson port can be sweetened to the desired level. Although you can use a sugar solution to sweeten to taste, this increases the risk of post-fermentation. it is advisable to use Wine Sweetener or Glycerine (which smoothens the wine) as they are non-fermentable. Add Wine Sweetener/Glycerine in small amounts and keep tasting to avoid over-sweetening the port.
Bottling your wine
The clear wine should now be bottled and stored in a cool dark place to mature for at least 6 months. Add 50ml of brandy to each bottle before filling to fortify the wine.
During the maturing period, any rough tastes will be smoothed out and the port wine will improve in bouquet and flavour. Damson Port is a deep rich red fortified wine that is perfect for drinking by the fireside with some chocolate or stilton cheese at Christmas time.