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Old 07-31-2012, 02:06 AM   #1
BrotherInKrime
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Default Ideas wanted! Blueberries and Honey

Last year I purchased a 5 gallon pail of honey from a local beekeeper. I used up 1 gallon with my first go at mead. Just yesterday my father-in-law showed up with 17 gallons of freshly picked blueberries for free. He said all the source is asking in return is for 1 bottle of the finished product. I have never made blueberry wine before and I have only experimented with blackberry wine beside the mead so I would consider myself a beginner. I would like to play around with different recipes. Maybe some heavier, some lighter, some sweeter, some drier, etc.... Since I still have a ton of honey left I would like to use the honey in different combinations with the blueberries. The ideas I have are unlimited but I would like the wisdom of a veteran on how to best utilize these resources to produce the best possible product. Thanks alot!!!!

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Old 07-31-2012, 09:28 PM   #2
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first, a good way to precess the fruit to have ready for any recipe is just make sure it's clean, dust with some pectic enzyme and bag it up in 1-2 pound baggies and freeze them, even if you are planning on starting your experiment soon. the freezing and rethawing helps break down membranes as well as kill anything that could potentially be on them.

can always start with a big batch of traditional mead then after primary split it up on different amounts of blueberries in like 1 gallon sizes, maybe experiment with some herbs/spices/fruits like cinnamon, peach, or lavender, then decide what you like the best, since you froze the blueberries and the honey wont go bad, take your favorite of the experiment and ramp it up to a full sized batch, just follow the steps exactly and scale the ingredients.

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Old 07-31-2012, 09:56 PM   #3
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I got my 5lbs of fresh blueberries at Costco. I put them in the equivalent of a paint strainer bag.
I boiled my water an let it boule for 10 minutes or so. Turned the water off and then steeped the blueberries in the water.

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Old 07-31-2012, 11:25 PM   #4
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Faced with your horrible situation, I'd try 3 lbs of blueberries and 2 pounds of honey for a gallon of product. It will end up on the dry side, but the blueberries should come through.

Hopefully I will have a similar problem next year. My wife loves blueberries, so we have planted 14 of them. We got 6 in right after buying the house last year and harvested 4-5 lbs so far. I'll probably end up making wine, she's not a big fan of mead.

And ditto on freezing them asap.

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Old 07-31-2012, 11:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
Faced with your horrible situation, I'd try 3 lbs of blueberries and 2 pounds of honey for a gallon of product. It will end up on the dry side, but the blueberries should come through.

Hopefully I will have a similar problem next year. My wife loves blueberries, so we have planted 14 of them. We got 6 in right after buying the house last year and harvested 4-5 lbs so far. I'll probably end up making wine, she's not a big fan of mead.

And ditto on freezing them asap.


I would like to have different types to play with. Permutations of light, medium, full body with sweet, semi-sweet, and dry. Do you have recommendations for me?

I want to play around because my first try at mead and it was very dry and my first try at blackberry wine was very dry. I did not care for the dry mead but I very much liked the dry blackberry. Plus SWMBO likes sweeter wines so I would like to make something that she will enjoy too. Thanks for the input.
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Old 08-01-2012, 05:57 AM   #6
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If you would like your product sweeter then you have a few options.

1) Add more honey up front so that you have more sugar than the normal yeast you use can tolerate and they die out before the mead goes dry.
a) The Benefit is that this can be easy to do since there are few steps.
b) The drawback is that some times the high gravity must is harder to start and get going & there will be a higher alcohol content which increases the need to age this longer (1+ years) before it is really drinkable. This is where it may be important to use staggered nutrient additions and to aerate your must consistently for the first week. Also honey is not always cheap and you use more of it here.

2) Stabilize & stop the yeast before the sugar is all gone. The best way I have successfully done this is to measure the gravity of your must till it drops to just above the desired gravity, usually between 1.025 - 1.02. Throw the fermentation vessel in the fridge and cool it down as cold as you can get it without freezing. Let that sit for 24 - 48 hours. Then add in 1 camden tablet crushed per gallon and Potassium Sorbate at 1/2tsp per gallon. Let that sit in the fridge for another 12 hours and then can be brought back to room temp for racking.
a) The Benefit is that you are precisely controlling the sweetness of your mead. Also you reduce the amount of honey you use since you are not "Back sweetening". (See next option)
b) The drawback is that you have to watch your must like a hawk. If you don’t have a hydrometer to measure the gravity then you can still not hit your target and miss the whole point. Also if you are brewing more than a gallon it gets difficult to have enough room in the fridge for much else.

3) You can back sweeten the mead. Just let it ferment dry like you have in the past. Once the fermentation is done and you have racked at least once. Add in 1 camden tablet crushed per gallon and Potassium Sorbate at 1/2tsp per gallon. Within an hour you should be able to add in Honey and use a hydrometer to measure the gravity and stop it where you like it. You can do it by taste but with this being young mead you will want to over sweeten it by taste and 6 months down the road it may mature to be overly sweet.
a) The Benefit is that you are precisely controlling the sweetness of your mead. This is also an easy step because you can stabilize and back sweeten any time after fermentation has stopped.
b) The drawback is that unless you reduce your honey addition up front, you end up using more honey than normal and honey is not always cheap. Other than that this is a preferred method for a lot of brewers.

4) Finally you can use a yeast type that has a much lower alcohol tolerance. I rarely suggest this yeast but Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast #4184 has an alcohol tolerance at around 11%. The reason a lot of us around here don't like it is because it is famed for being "finicky" or hard to start and keep going all the way to that 11% range. There are ways to help this yeast out and make it work for you. Making a starter would be key for anything over 1 gallon. Wyeast sells this yeast as a smack pack. Meaning you have a large hard plastic baggy this comes in and there is an inner membrane with an activator in it. You "Smack the pack" to pop the membrane & wait 2 hours. The baggy will bloat out telling you the yeast is active. At the end of the 2 hours is where you make your starter. You should already have your must created so take 1/2 cup of must. Mix with 1 1/2 cups of boiled or distilled warm water. Mix in 1/2tsp of yeast nutrients like DAP or use GoFerm. Pitch the smack pack in there and wait another 2 hours. Watching the starter you should notice fermentation happening. Every two hours from the time you pitched the yeast for the following 6 hours add in 1/2 cup of must. 2 hours after the last must addition you can pitch the starter into the fermentation vessel. From there forward use the staggered nutrient additions as described in the sticky thread at the top of the mead forum. This should get that yeast running strong but it will still poop out at around 11% - 12% ABV. If you use 3# of honey and 2# of blueberries per gallon you should end with a gravity at around 1.03 - 1.02 which would be like a sweet wine.
a) The benefit is that you don’t use chemicals to stabilize your mead while still having some decent control over what the ABV and sweetness level will be.
b) The drawback is that you have to devote 8 – 10 hours babying a starter so that the yeast does what it is supposed to do.

These are all ways that would work to help you get a sweeter drink so check’em out and see what you like.

But +1 on freezing your berries, I would also suggest looking into using pectic enzyme when making your must. It will help break down the fruit to improve flavor and help it clear. Also if you are putting fruit in the primary, then save half of your fruit and put that in your secondary after first racking. That will greatly help with having fruitier tasting mead in the end.

These would be my recipe suggestions:

5 gallon Dry Blueberry mead
12# of Honey (about 1 gallon)
15# of blueberries (5# used in primary & 10# added after first racking)
Boiled/cooled water to top off to 5 gallons
2tsp of pectic enzyme (1 used in primary and 1 used when adding second batch of berries)
5tsp of yeast nutrients (DAP is the nutrient of choice for me)
Yeast: Lalvin 71b

5 gallon Sweet Blueberry mead (back sweetening)
12# of Honey to start (about 1 gallon)
15# of blueberries (5# used in primary & 10# added after first racking)
Boiled/cooled water to top off to 5 gallons
2tsp of pectic enzyme (1 used in primary and 1 used when adding second batch of berries)
5tsp of yeast nutrients (DAP is the nutrient of choice for me)
5 camden tablets crushed up (Add this after the second time you rack and all fermentation is complete)
2 ½ tsp of potassium sorbate (Add this after the second time you rack and all fermentation is complete)
2 – 3# of Honey (Add this an hour after adding camden and potassium sorbate)
Yeast: Lalvin 71b

5 gallon heavier body dry blueberry mead
12# of Honey (about 1 gallon)
15# of blueberries (Add this all in the secondary. Do not add to primary)
5 cups of strong Earl Grey black tea (Use 3 times the directions on the tea package when making the tea.)
Boiled/cooled water to top off to 5 gallons
2tsp of pectic enzyme (Place frozen/thawed berries & enzyme in secondary fermentation vessel 24 hours before racking mead)
5 Camden tablets crushed (Place frozen/thawed berries & camden in secondary fermentation vessel 24 hours before racking mead)
8tsp of yeast nutrients (DAP is the nutrient of choice for me, add 5 tsp at start and add 1 tsp every 24 hours after that)
Yeast: Lalvin 71b

So on and so forth. Good luck with it all and keep us all informed on your endevors.

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Old 08-01-2012, 06:35 AM   #7
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Thank you so much for your input! I really appreciate it! I definitely learned alot.

Out of curiosity, why add the black tea for body? My understanding was that to get a heavier body would be to add more fruit and consequently need less sugar (honey in this case). I have also seen recipe with raisins. Is it the same idea for both of them.

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Old 08-01-2012, 01:57 PM   #8
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Raisins add body because you get tannins from the grape skins. LHBS also sells tannin extract for this end as well. I like adding black tea personally and it is full of tannins. It is true in wine, less cane or corn sugar and more fruit has a heavier body. With meads the whole point of having a mead/melomel is that the honey adds a unique flavor profile. So we keep the honey & fruit as is usually and find other ways to add body like adding tannins.

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Old 10-13-2012, 03:48 AM   #9
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image-3812474399.jpg

(Sorry to post jack)

This is a bottle of blueberry mead that I made a couple of months ago.
It has been racked a couple of times. This was the last bit that was stirring up the yeast at the bottom so I bottled it to try to salvage it.
I put it in the fridge just in case.
This is about as clear as it was before I racked it.

Do you think it will get any clearer?
Do darker meads clear like lighter meads?
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:00 AM   #10
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???? I think it's worth leaving to see what happens. But I also think you need to top that up or it won't matter because it'll oxygenate....

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