Making Banana Wine: A Simple One-Gallon Recipe from Start to Finish

In this episode of “Doing the Most,” we delve into the process of making Jack Keller’s banana wine. Jack Keller was a pioneer in home winemaking, exploring every fermentable he could find, including fruits, vegetables, roots, flowers, and herbs.

He literally wrote the book on the subject.

This banana wine is part of a broader series where we brew Jack Keller’s wines and learn from his processes.


For Jack Keller’s banana wine, you will need:

  • 4.5 pounds of bananas
  • 1 pound 14 ounces of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pectic enzyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of amylase enzyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon of grape tannin
  • 1 gram of Fermaid K
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
  • Yeast (we used Alvin’s D47)


  1. Start by boiling one quart of water.
  2. Put all the bananas, with their peels on, into muslin straining bags. This keeps all the fruit and pulp together, preventing it from floating in a mashed mess in your bucket.
  3. Add the hot water to the sugar to dissolve it.
  4. Pour the sugar water directly on top of the bananas. Mash the bananas a bit with a potato masher to ensure the liquid saturates throughout the bags.
  5. Let the mixture cool for about an hour.
  6. Add all the powders: the amylase enzyme and the grape tannins.
  7. Add more water to get it up to the one-and-a-half-gallons mark. Because there’s so much fruit in there, it will take some extra liquid to get a gallon quantity.
  8. Add the pectic enzyme and the yeast nutrients (both diamonium phosphate and Fermaid K).
  9. Add the yeast, cover the mixture, and put it under an airlock to let it ferment.
  10. Every day, open it up and move the bananas around to ensure they don’t get dried out and prevent any vectors for mold growth.
  11. After 10 days, remove the bananas, squeeze all the liquid out, and let it finish fermenting.
  12. About two weeks later, rack it off into a clean and sanitized carboy.
  13. After about a month of cold crashing, get it into bottles.

Pioneering Banana Wine

Jack Keller is known as the pioneer of home winemaking and has experimented with various fermentable ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, roots, flowers, and herbs.

Banana wine is an interesting subject for home brewing. The host mentions that they have made banana wine in the past and even won a blue ribbon for it. However, they admit that it wasn’t perfect and they have never found the perfect recipe for banana wine. They are excited to try Jack Keller’s banana wine recipe and see how it turns out.

Before diving into the recipe, the host provides some important information. The bananas used in this recipe should be very ripe, even overripe. The host waited for the bananas to become aggressively ripe before using them.

The bananas are cut into medallions with the skin on, which may concern some people due to potential pesticide residue. It is recommended to wash the bananas thoroughly or use organic bananas to avoid this issue. The banana peels are important in this recipe as they add tannin structure and enhance the banana flavor.

Jack Keller’s wine recipes usually result in less than a gallon of wine after transferring from primary to secondary fermentation. However, in this recipe, they followed the instructions and added a full gallon of water, resulting in almost a gallon of wine in the end. This is because bananas don’t release much juice, so the transfer is one-to-one.

Moving on to the ingredients, the recipe calls for four and a half pounds of bananas, one pound 14 ounces of sugar, half a teaspoon of pectic enzyme, half a teaspoon of amylase enzyme, 1/8 teaspoon of grape tannin, one gram of fermaid K, one teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and Alvin’s D47 yeast.

This is one of the cheapest wines from Jack Keller’s book because bananas are affordable. It is a great option for someone starting their first homebrew on a budget.

The process begins by boiling one quart of water. The bananas are placed in muslin straining bags to keep the fruit and pulp together. The hot water is poured over the sugar to dissolve it, and then it is poured over the bananas. The mixture is mashed slightly to ensure the liquid saturates the bags.

After letting it cool for an hour, the powders (amylase enzyme and grape tannins) are added, followed by more water to reach the one and a half gallons mark. Pectic enzyme, yeast nutrients, and yeast are added, and the mixture is covered and left to ferment.

Every day, the bananas are moved around to prevent them from drying out and becoming a breeding ground for mold. After 10 days, the bananas are removed, and the liquid is squeezed out. The wine is then left to finish fermenting.

After about two weeks, it is racked off into a clean and sanitized carboy. After a month of cold crashing, the wine is bottled. A few months later, the host opens a bottle of the banana wine. It has a nice amber or gold-yellow color, similar to what one would expect from fermented bananas.

The aroma is dominated by banana, with hints of fruity, cidery, and berry notes. The host tastes the wine, emphasizing that all of Jack Keller’s wines are tasted dry, without any back sweetening. The wine has a dry, grippy, and tannic character, with a taste reminiscent of banana peels.

There are also hints of cideriness and a touch of acid. The host suggests that back sweetening the wine would elevate the banana flavors and make it more enjoyable.

In the end, back sweeten the wine with some simple syrup. This transforms the wine, bringing out the fermentation character while adding a pleasant sweetness.

Tasting Notes

The resulting banana wine has a nice gold-yellow color. The nose is big on banana, almost like artificial banana, with fruity, cidery, and berry notes. There’s a hint of blueberry, tart apple, and a banana laffy taffy kind of thing going on.

The taste is quite unique. It’s like what a banana would taste like if it had no sugar. There’s a deep dryness to it, grippy and tannic. You can sense the banana peel, the smell of that gritty fibrousness of the peel that’s leafy and verdant.

There’s not a juicy, luscious banana character there; it’s not vegetal but it’s not fruity either. It kind of rides that line in a way. There’s just a bit of cideriness there, which is characteristic usually of country fruit wines, and just a touch of acid.

Back sweetening the wine can elevate all of those banana characters. Adding back some sweetness ties everything together, creating a truly great fermented product.

This banana wine recipe is part of a broader series on Jack Keller’s home winemaking book. A big thanks to Homebrew Ohio for sponsoring this series. Happy brewing and winemaking, and here’s to Jack!

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