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Old 10-06-2013, 06:42 PM   #1
chronlord
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Default 7 Gallons of Nectarine and Strawberry Mead - Local Orange Blossom Honey

Pics: http://imgur.com/a/7pZde

Recipe:
24 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey
5 gallons water
15 grams Lalvin 71B - Rehydrated with Go-Ferm at 104F
Staggered Nutrient additions per Ken Schramm - Yeast Nutrient and Diammonium Phosphate.
OG = 1.125
FG = 1.020
2.5 - 3 lbs. Fruit per gallon in Secondary.

I've made 3 fruit-heavy melomels in the past and fermented all the fruit in Primary. I'm trying out a different technique this time by only adding fruit to Secondary. It'll be harder to rack/bottle since I couldn't put the fruit in a muslin bag. This batch of honey was exceptionally fruity (orange candy!) so I wanted to make 1 gallon of pure honey mead ... then hit the remainder with different fruits.

I'll post an update upon tasting/bottling/backsweetening.

Cheers!

Update 1: Ok, so I woke up this morning at 3am to find that three of the meads had expanded juice up into the airlocks (see new pic in gallery). I figured there'd be a chance of this. Might take a wine thief's worth of mead from each gallon to make some head room. Lesson learned ...

Update 2: 9:30amPST: Wine-thief idea didn't work, so I just poured off a portion of each gallon into the non-fruited gallon. Easy fix ... if a little messy. (see new pic in gallery)

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Old 10-07-2013, 02:47 AM   #2
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Ah, well I would have thought you'd have been better placed using buckets for the fruit additions. Because the shape of the jars shows what happens i.e. the shape makes a ready made constrictor jet and while the 71B only has a little juice left in it, its still got enough space in its tolerance to do a bit of fermentation and push the liquid up.....

Its why buckets are better at this stage, they give a greater surface area for the fruit and liquid to move. Hence you give it 3 or 4 weeks on the fruit which will usually produce enough CO2 to blanket the batch (or sulphites of course), then once the colour and flavour extraction is done it can be racked off the fruit to the jugs to clear......

Oh and did you add any pectic enzyme ? It not only sorts any pectin hazes issue but also helps with colour and flavour extraction....

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Old 10-08-2013, 12:38 PM   #3
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I figured buckets would have been easier, but I was (overly?) concerned about oxidation and figured the jars would be my best option. And, I didn't have any buckets. ha

In hindsight, I realize I could have even used carboys, too. But, I think you're right; buckets might be best/easiest idea for fruiting in secondary. I'd probably pump a bit of CO2 in the bucket before racking to eliminate oxidation issues.

I did not add any pectic enzyme, but that's a good idea. I had no idea it helped with flavor and color extraction! I have some pectic enzyme on hand. Going to add some today.

You always have very helpful advice for me when I've posted here, fatbloke ... "ALWAYS!" (said in Ron Burgandy's voice).

Much thanks for taking the time, ol' chap. Cheers!

Edit: Words. Syntax.

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Old 10-08-2013, 07:02 PM   #4
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Well Chap, my ways (suggestions/idea's/ramblings) aren't always the best or perfect, but I do try to keep things straightforward.

Like using buckets - if you move the brews to buckets while there's still some slight fermentation happening then add the fruit, there should be enough CO2 produced to blanket the brew and when "punching the cap down" as long as you're gentle and don't do that in a breeze then there should be enough CO2 off gassing to protect the batch too.....

After all its a heavier than air gas.....

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Old 10-10-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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Not a bad idea. If I run into any overflow issues, I'll definitely rack it back into the big buckets I have and maybe give it a small shot of CO2 as a precaution.

I'll post pics and an update in a couple weeks. Thanks again.

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Old 11-16-2013, 03:08 PM   #6
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Added pics of racking from 1 gallon jugs to tertiary: http://imgur.com/a/7pZde

The mead has been sitting on fruit in secondary for a month. I tasted some a couple days ago and the fruit character is absolutely mouth watering. For some reason, this mead tastes amazing for being so young. It tastes better (no fusel alcohols or off flavors whatsoever) than a couple of my year-old meads.

The orange blossom honey used in the Strawberry and Nectarine meads took a month to fully ferment, whereas my other melomels (with fruit in primary) have taken around 2 weeks. Maybe that accounts for the clean flavor at a young age?
Adding the fruit to gallon jugs in secondary was a mistake. Bottling buckets and large muslin bags are the way to go if adding fruit in secondary. It was kind of a pain to rack out of the jugs and strain into a bottling bucket. Lesson learned.

I'll try to bottle in a few weeks if it clears well. Might carb up a couple gallons of the strawberry before bottling in champagne bottles. Worried that it might not be "dry" enough, as it finished at 1.018. Might also add a jalapeno or chipotle pepper to a gallon. I took a couple samples last night and (cold) steeped in a chamomile teabag for a minute or two, which really complimented the strawberry and nectarine nicely with some floral/citrus notes and tannins.

Question: Is there a better method of infusing with chamomile tea ... beside adding a teabag to tertiary?

Good learning experience overall. I think I'll be adding fruit to secondary (instead of primary) from now on. The Super Berry Melomel (fruit in Primary) I made a year ago is delicious, but it's very tart and more red wine like and took about a year to mellow. The strawberry melomel (fruit in Secondary) tastes amazing after 2 months -- very strong fresh fruit flavor/aromas. Although racking was a pain in the ass, it's been absolutely worth the extra hassle.

TL;DR: I might be a "Fruit in Secondary" convert.

Cheers!

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Old 11-16-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
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Well it looks from the pics that all the effort was worth it. The strawb having retained plenty of colour etc and not going straw coloured like when all the fruit is fermented in primary.....

But you mention the difference that a lot don't get, i.e. that the taste is completely different by just moving the fruiting to secondary.

I'd have thought that if you could have done the fruit in appropriate sized buckets, then you could have just added the fruit and left it until it'd all dropped naturally.......

Still, good effort......

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Old 11-17-2013, 12:36 PM   #8
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Yea, next time I'm definitely taking your advice and using buckets for secondary. Much easier and less hassle/risk.

Would have been nice to experiment with the Strawberries in primary VS. secondary, with all variables being equal ... to really get a sense for the different characteristics each method imparts.

I was thinking about carb'ing some of the Strawberry to champagne levels, but it finished at 1.020. I'm concerned it may be too sweet. Any thoughts on a semi-sweet sparkling mead? Thanks!

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