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Old 03-28-2013, 06:58 PM   #1
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Default Trader Joe's Juice Experiments

I was standing in the juice section of Trader Joe's, staring at all the juice blends they have. Surely, I'm not the first to have considered fermenting these. Checking HBT from my phone, I found surprisingly little information, except for two threads from 2010 and 2008 about the Blackberry Crush juice. Both seem to have taken it in the traditional wine direction using the basic "juice + sugar + yeast" equation. Essentailly, they're both Apfelwein with different juices used.

Challenge accepted!

I bought six bottles, each in the same 64 fl. oz. (1/2 gallon) container.

Recipe

Juice blends include:

Hibiscus Cranberry
Dixie Peach
Cherry Cider
Blackberry Crush
Mango Passionfruit
Pear Cinnamon Cider


Each of juice blend is to be fermented in the jar that it shipped in, with no sugar or other fermentables will be added, innoculated with a hefeweizen yeast stain.

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Methodology:

I opened each bottle on the counter, one at a time. The lid was set aside in the sink and the opening was covered with StarSan'd wax paper. A sample of approximately 16 fl. oz. was poured off each to allow a pre-fermententation tasting and gravity check, as well as leave headspace in the bottle. The lids were washed with warm, soapy water. A 5/8" diameter hole was drilled thought the center of each lid using a Forstner bit and a mini drill press geared at 1560 RPM. The lids were washed a second time to remove any bit oils and sawdust from backing material then sanitized. A drilled rubber stopped was sanitized, then inserted half of the way through the opening, followed by a sanitized 3-piece airlock inserted into the stopper. The airlock was filled to exactly the fill line with a dyed StarSan solution, then the underside of the lid and the bottle's threads were sanitized before assembly.

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Tasting Notes: (pre-fermenttation, in order of tasting, at room temperature)

Dixie Peach - Mostly sweet. Some subtle layering of sweet and slightly tangy flavors that would be easy to miss. The flavor of a raw peach flesh is there, but muted - not nearly as present as found in a can of Kern's nectar. Very little tarness, with a "juicy" finish on the tip of the tongue. No change in aftertaste. Overall lacking in complexity. A full glass would certainly give a stomache ache.

Pear Cinnamon - Cinnamon is a forward note. Pungent aroma of cinnamon and pear skins. Pear flavor follows, again very "juicy" as with the last sample. Well balanced; spicy cinnamon notes mask the overly-sweet pear taste that I expected to find. Cinnamon flavors are of a good mulled hot cider; muted and smooth, not raw or harsh. Warm, inviting, nostalgic even. Flavors build on pallett with successive sips, slowly dulling to a mild sweetness without much complexity. Dangerously drinkable -- would taste incredibly served hot on a cold winter day.

Cherry Cider - Aroma is not immediately recognizable as cherries. Second impression is that the aroma resembles stale berries. Flavor profile is of overripe black cherries that are close to spoilage. A large amount of plum comes through at the end. Aftertaste is of a prunes on the breath, with a slight funk at the end, similar to when opened cranberry juice is left at room temperature for a day or two. Almost too sweet to continue tasting. Certainly would not drink a glass of this if it was free, perhaps even chilled.

Mango Passionfruit - Mango and passionfruit flavors are front and center. Highly recognizable and well-balanced against each other. Lovely tropical aftertaste has hints of fibrous pineapple. Very similar to Dole's version - I would not be surprised if this was simply a repackaging of that juice. Mango flavors continually give way with successive sips, leaving mostly passionfruit. A fine citrus note in the background, providing balance to the sweetness. This is the second juice I consider drinkable, but would prefer it chilled.

Hibiscus Cranberry - Hibiscus is not as present as I would expect it for receiving top billing, except in the aftertaste. Cranberry flavors are muted and not tart in the slightest. Overly sweet. A strong red grape flavor is present throughout, especially with successive tastings as the hibiscus fades away quickly. By the fifth sip, I can't taste anything other than red grapes. Very one-dimensionsal and overly sweet. Poorly balanced. Will not drink this juice -- it was difficult enough to finish this tasting.

Blackberry Crush - Taste is immediately reminiscent of blackberry jam. Taste of ripe berries is immediately present. Swetness is well-balanced against tartness. Very little aroma to speak of, even when swirled. Successive tastings reveal more and more blackberry complexity. Berry taste continues to build while sweet and tart notes fade, until it begins to taste very akin to blackberries picked straight off the bush. Very drinkable pre-fermentation. I'll likely buy this one again as a special treat for myself.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gravity, Sugar Content, Manufacturer Description & Ingredients:

Dixie Peach - 12.6 Brix (1.0489 SG calculated), 29g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "Peach flavored juice blend with Peache & Apple purees [sic], four other juices from cencentrate and other added ingredients." Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), apple juice concentrate, peach puree, white grape juice concentrate, apple puree concentrate, pear juice concentrate, peach juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, natural flavors, ascordbic acid (Vitamin C), beta-carotene (for color).

Pear Cinnamon - 12.6 Brix (1.0489 SG calculated), 26g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "A blend of autumnal pears from two juice concentrates with a hint of cinnamon." "A festive twist on a traditional favorite. Delicious chilled or warmed." Ingredients: Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), pear and apple juice concentrates, pear puree, citric acid, cinnamon, nautral flavors .*See Note 1

Cherry Cider - 13.8 Brix (1.0537 SG calculated), 29g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "Cherry flavored juice blend from concentrates with other added ingredients." Ingedients: Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), apple and pineapple juice concentrates, natural flavors, cherry and plum juice concentrates, grape skin extract (color).

Mango Passionfruit - 13.0 Brix (1.0505 SG calculated), 29g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "Heart of Darkness / Flavored juice blend with three other juices from cententrate with other added ingredients." Ingredients: Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), apple juice concentrate, white grape juice concentrate, mange puree, passionfruit juice concentrate, mango juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, ascordbic acid (Vitamin C), natural flavor.

Hibiscus Cranberry - 13.4 Brix (1.0521 SG calculated), 30g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "Flavored juice blend with seven other juices from concentrates with other added ingredients." Ingredients: Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), apple juice concentrate, white grape juice concentrate, hibiscus concentrate (hibiscus concentrate [sic], apple juice concentrate, plum juice concentrate, white and red grape juice concentrates, citric acid, pomegranate juice concentrate, hibiscus extract, natural flavor), cranberry juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, plum juice concentrate, citric acid, raspberry juice concentrate.

Blackberry Crush - ??? Brix (??? SG calculated), 29g per 8 fl. oz. 100% juice, pasteurized. "Blackberry flavored juice blend from concentrates with other added ingredients." Ingredients: Filtered water (sufficient to reconstitute), apple and white grape juice concentrates, blackberry puree, blackberry juice concentrate, natrual flavors. *See Note 2

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Expectations/Predictions:

Dixie Peach - Will lose almost all of its flavor in the fermentation process. Aromas will be lacking or not present. Will ferment dry with only a hint of peach/apricot flavor. 77% attenuation, 6.1 Brix (1.0111 SG calculated), 4.8% ABV.

Pear Cinnamon - Hopeful for this juice. Will ferment sweet, leaving a sweetness profile similar to Ace's Hard Perry. Aroma of pears will disappear, but cinnamon will remain. Pear flavor will be somewhat lacking compared to pre-fermentation profile, but still identifyable as such. 77% attenuation, 6.1 Brix (1.0111 SG calculated), 4.8% ABV.

Cherry Cider - Will ferment dry, leaving a very tannic note. Expecting a taste similar to a funky Ros?. Will have a strong alcohol bite with little flavor, certainly not recogniable as cherry in any way. 75% attenuation, 7.2 Brix (1.0134 SG calculated), 5.1% ABV.

Mango Passionfruit - Tropical flavors will almost certainly disappear, as they are primarily the sweetness that makes them identifyable. Some passionfruit character will remain in the afterstate, but all mango flavor will disppear, expect with possible the bitter taste of mango skins. 75% attenuation, 6.7 Brix (1.0126 SG calculated), 4.8% ABV.

Hibiscus Cranberry - Will ferment out dry and bland. The hibiscus aftertaste will disappear entirely or transform to something unrecognizable. I expect a flavor profile similar to a $2 bottle of red table wine. 73% attenuation, 7.3 Brix (1.0141 SG calulated), 4.8% ABV.

Blackberry Crush - Very excited for this juice. Sweet notes are expected to mute greatly, but still be present. Expecting a flavor profile similar to a commercial berry-flavored white wine. Cannot predict attentuation or ABV. *See Note 2

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Innoculation:

Each (48 fl. oz.) juice is to be innoculated with ~45 billion cells of WLP 300 / WY 3068 (Weihenstephan 68). Cells were stepped up at from a 61-day-old White Labs vial of WLP300. Vial was refrigerated for all known segments of transport and left to warm at room temperature for three hours prior to pitching into starter. Starter was completed over 46 hours using a 5000ml borosilicate Erlenmeyer flask, covered with sanitized aluminum foil. All protein- and hot-break were pitched. Temperature varied between 66F and 69F throughout the step-up.

After completion of starter fermentation, solution was cold-crashed at 35F for 48 hours and wort was decanted off until yeast rafts began to flow out the neck of the flask. When returned to the countertop, the wort was less than 1/8" thick above the yeast bed. Solution was sworled for several minutes to ensure homogeneaty, then poured into sanitized 35ml 2-Liter soda bottle preforms, re-sworling after every third pour. Preforms were cold-crashed for 48 hours upright in a perform holder, decanted, and left to warm to room temperature for 3 hours before pitching into must.

Viable initial cell count: 75 billion
Gravity of starter: 1.039 SG
Volume of starter: 5,000 ml
Type of starter: canned starter wort from US 2-Row (2.0 SRM)
Growth model: stir plate (K. Troester)
Estimated growth factor: 9.9
Estimated new cells: 743 billion
Estimated total cells: 818 billion
Number preforms filled: 16.8
Estimated cells per preform: 48.7 billion

This yeast was chosen specifically because of its ability to retain fruity flavors in ciders and wines. The original choice, Lavlin EC-1118, as abandoned because of its propensity to leave juices overly dry and champagne-like.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fermentation conditions:

After pitching, fermentation was allowed to commence immediately. Samples were remained at ambient 64F to 66F overnight.

Pictured at 17 hours. Airlock activity present in all six fermenters. The two orange-colored juices are fermenting away, but are not forming any krausen. Reason unknown.



Fermentation is expected to continue at these temperatures for two weeks (27 Mar 2013 - 10 Apr 2013) before gravity samples are taken.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

Note 1 - The refrigerator was raided at some point during the night. This sample was found on the SWMBO's nightstand, drank down one-third of the way. Additionally, it was raided by sugar ants shortly thereafter, with half a dozen found dead floating in the solution. Samples were all taken from the middle of the fluid, so ants were not sampled. I'm not convinced that they would throw off a refractometer reading after so little time.

Note 2 - The refrigerator was raided again shortly after the first time. The Blackberry Crush sample is missing. A glass of a matching the sample glass' description was found on the SWMBO nightstand, now apparently filled with what smells like Shiraz and tests near 1.001 SG. An empty glass was found also in the sink. A few drops were recoverable from the empty glass, but the reading indicates that the sample was finished beer. Perpetrator is still as large.



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Old 03-28-2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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Results

Pitched 27 March 2013.
Left in primary until 23 May 2013 (just shy of 2 months) at 70-75F.
Cold crashed for 48 hours at 35-38F.
Allowed to warm to 55-60F for tasting.
Tasted still, poured directly off the primary. No siphoning or carbonating involved.
Tasting assisted by two friends, both of which are beer drinkers, and also by the SWMBO.
Pallet was cleansed with two rinses of water between samples.


In Order of Tasting

Hibiscus-Cranberry: very dry; thin; like apfelwein without the apple flavor. Score: 2/10
Dixie Peach: vaguely peach-y; tart; very reminiscent of sucking on a peach pit. Score: 2/10
Mango Passionfruit: All passionfruit and nothing else; still, very thin; tart. Score: 3/10
Cherry Cider: Very plum-y; most drinkable so far; most character. Score: 5/10 (friends did not agree; "tastes like Tussin"; score: 2/10)
Blackberry Crush: Cabernet-like; reminds me personally of a thin Petit Siraz; very mildly sweet; good color. Score: 5/10
Pear Cinnamon: Acrid; medicinal; bitter; no flavor, other than of earwax; locks onto the pallet and doesn't let go, even after swishing with water; refuses to vacate the tongue. Overall: -1/10.


Overall Results

Of all of the juices, I think only the Blackberry Crush stands a good chance at making a wine. However, using the EC-1118, it ended up dry and thin. Would certainly make again, but next time with a Cider or Hefeweizen yeast. Especially recommend a yeast that preserves or adds fruity flavors.


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Old 03-28-2013, 07:20 PM   #3
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It sounds like a good hard talkin' to with swmbo is in order. Looking forward to what's left of the results.

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:23 PM   #4
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This sounds really interesting, I'm looking forward to reading the results as well!

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
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Thanks!

Today marks the end of my 14-day primary. Fermentation was done at 68-72F constant throughout the entire period. That's warm compared to my beers, but remember that I used a hefeweizen yeast. If they fermented too warm, I'll hopefully have avoided a phenolic profile and gotten a banana profile. I'm aiming for a recipe that can be made year-round in temperatures that people normally keep their homes: 65F-75F.

Will take gravity samples with my refractometer, correct the readings, then work out ABV/ABW and post the results. They're getting cold-crashed tonight in the refrigerator for a good long 72-96 hours to really compact that flocculant hefeweizen yeast. On the 15th (Monday), I'll split each juice up. I figure I have about 48 oz left of each, like so:

1. 12 fl oz of each juice will go into a longneck and be warmed to room temperature.
2. 12 fl oz of each juice will go into a longneck and go back into the refrigerator.
3. 12 fl oz of each juice will go into a longneck and go back into the refrigerator, to then be force carbed with my SodaSteam (I'm too impatient for natural bottle carbing).
4. Any remaining juice will be split up and placed in 35ml soda preforms (identical to White Labs vials) for shipping to wine-drinking friends for second opinion.

Never autosiphoned a batch this small, so it may be a learning experience.

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:39 PM   #6
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I have a bottle of blackberry crush that has been sitting for a few months. I've heard that it tastes really great, but I was afraid to try it because the last drink I made with some cran-pom (also highly recommended) thing was pretty hoochy. I probably didn't let that age enough, so I was thinking just let the blackberry go until I feel like bottling it.

Also, not sure if this is your experience, but the crush developed a large floating krausen (I forget what the exact name of this phenomenon is, but I saw it a while back 'round here somewhere) that has not sunk and I doubt it ever will. It's like a huge brain sitting on top. The juice itself has cleared beautifully, which is awesome considering how thick and cloudy it is pre-fermentation.

Looking forward to hearing your results!

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:50 PM   #7
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That wasn't my experience this time around.

You can see my results at 17 hours pictured above.

By 48 hours, the Cherry Cider krausen doubled in size. It's been very slow to dissipate, and still has a small amount left now at Day 14. All others have fallen.

The Pear Cinnamon krausen dropped away completely, leaving a thin wispy lacing.

The Passionfruit Mango took 48 hours to even get a krausen, and it fell a few days later.

The Dixie Peach never developed a krausen at all.

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Old 05-06-2013, 05:10 PM   #8
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I have a much less quantitative juice experiment under way. While buying apple juice (Martinelli's) for a 5 gal batch of cider, swmbo asked if I could make cider from other kinds of juice. I overconfidently told her "I can ferment anything with sugar and no preservatives in it." She pointed at a bottle of peach-mango (PM) juice that fit my criteria, and I quickly put a gallon of it in the cart. The PM juice was very cloudy, like many "healthy" juices, but I figured it might settle in fermentation. On the way home, we hit the LHBS and picked up a smack pack of Wyeast 4766 cider yeast. I used this in upstatemike's caramel apple cider (my first and only batch of cider) and it worked great (by my inexperienced standards). Once home, I sanitized everything, put 2 gallons of apple juice (1.054) in my 6.5 gallon carboy, 2 quarts of PM juice (1.052) in my 1 gallon jug, smacked the yeast pack and set it on the counter to warm and swell. After a couple hours at 72* (ambient), the smack pack was quite swelled but not firm. I sanitized and pitched about 20% into the PM jug and the remaining 80% into the carboy, then added the remaining juice to each, topping them both with airlocks. Within 4 hours I had slow bubbles through both airlocks; and within 12 I had bubbles on the surface of both. Two days in, I had a mild krausen on the PM and the sediment was settling to the bottom of the jug. After 7 days (yesterday), the PM had stopped bubbling (1.002) and the apple was continuing slowly (1 bubble every 10-15 seconds). I poured about 85% of the PM juice into a sanitized pot, leaving the sediment in the jug. I boiled about 2.5 cups of white table sugar in about as many cups of water, let it cool to 70*, added about 2/3 of it to the PM (bringing it back up to 1.020, then bottled. It was nice and sweet, but with that fermented zing. The bottles will sit for 3 days (that's what it took my caramel apple cider to carb nicely) then cold-crash in the fridge. Yes, I am aware that my carb time for the PM is a SWAG based on comparing it to a very different cider. Come Wednesday, after 3 days in the bottle at about 62* (in the garage where any bottle bombs will have minimal damage potential), I'll post the results of the peach-mango cider experiment. The apple will get backsweetened with FAJC after a total of 14 days in the primary, then bottled for 3 days, then pasteurized. Stay tuned...

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Old 05-12-2013, 03:50 PM   #9
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Peach-Mango "cider": After 3 days carbing in the bottle, I chilled one and opened it. Slight pfft, pretty yummy, slight funky smell and flavor. Day 4 same thing. Day 5 same thing. Day 6, Saturday, I chilled it more than the others, opened it, nice pfft, more fizz, no funk... way yummy! Threw some ice cubes it in and gave it to swmbo... "OMG THAT'S GOOD!!!" Poured one for myself over ice. SUCCESS!, but now we only have 4 left out of a 9 bottle 1 gallon batch. Time to get going on another gallon.

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Old 06-05-2013, 12:22 AM   #10
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For anybody following this thread, results are posted above in Post #2!



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