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Old 07-17-2009, 12:02 AM   #1
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Why is it that pasteurization doesn't seem as critical for meads as for beers? For example, when adding fruit to a beer primary you need to heat it or add during the boil. But most people making meads here just seem to freeze the fruit, chop it up and add it.

I plan on starting my first mead soon. I bought a kit with 15 lbs. orange blossom honey, yeast, starters, nutrients, etc. It came with 2 packets of yeast, but I want to add a fruit at least to the primary. I'm thinking cherries or blackberries or possibly strawberries... whatever I can get fresh. Are you telling me that all I have to do is freeze them, mash them slightly and throw them in the primary as long as I'm reasonably careful with sanitation? And this will work with my standardized yeast packets and starter nutrients? My instructions say to simply add the honey to room temp water in a bucket... no heating or boiling or anything. Is this okay with fruit additions?

Thanks!

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Old 07-17-2009, 12:12 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by jonalexdeval View Post
Why is it that pasteurization doesn't seem as critical for meads as for beers? For example, when adding fruit to a beer primary you need to heat it or add during the boil. But most people making meads here just seem to freeze the fruit, chop it up and add it.

I plan on starting my first mead soon. I bought a kit with 15 lbs. orange blossom honey, yeast, starters, nutrients, etc. It came with 2 packets of yeast, but I want to add a fruit at least to the primary. I'm thinking cherries or blackberries or possibly strawberries... whatever I can get fresh. Are you telling me that all I have to do is freeze them, mash them slightly and throw them in the primary as long as I'm reasonably careful with sanitation? And this will work with my standardized yeast packets and starter nutrients? My instructions say to simply add the honey to room temp water in a bucket... no heating or boiling or anything. Is this okay with fruit additions?

Thanks!
I always use campden in my must to sanitize the fruits when adding them to primary. You don't have to pasteurize the honey, as it is naturally not hospitable to microbes. Still, if you're using fruit, some campden would take care of any wild yeast and/or bacteria that hitch a ride on the fruit.

I usually use campden when adding fruits to secondary, too, but it's not as critical because you generally have a 11-13% ABV liquid by then, and that makes it hard for bacteria to grow. Still, you could have some wild yeast, acterobacter, mold, etc, that could come in with the fruit additions.
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:12 AM   #3
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Honey is somewhat naturally antimicrobial and meads are higher alcohol so then the alcohol takes over.
Are you looking to get the flavor of the fruit in the mead? If so I would not add to the primary, I would add to the secondary. Unless you are using a low alcohol tolerant yeast, fermentation will kick off again from the sugars in the fruit and change the flavor. If you are looking for a deeper fruit flavor, you will need to stabilize the mead with something like potassium metasulphate to stop the yeast from trying to consume more sugar a few days before adding the fruit to the secondary. I'm sure yooper or hitest can give you better and more complete information, but this should get you started.

LOL I knew you would hear from her.

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Old 07-17-2009, 12:24 AM   #4
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Honey is somewhat naturally antimicrobial and meads are higher alcohol so then the alcohol takes over.
Are you looking to get the flavor of the fruit in the mead? If so I would not add to the primary, I would add to the secondary. Unless you are using a low alcohol tolerant yeast, fermentation will kick off again from the sugars in the fruit and change the flavor. If you are looking for a deeper fruit flavor, you will need to stabilize the mead with something like potassium metasulphate to stop the yeast from trying to consume more sugar a few days before adding the fruit to the secondary. I'm sure yooper or hitest can give you better and more complete information, but this should get you started.

LOL I knew you would hear from her.
Yes, I'm looking to make a fairly sweet (but not too sweet), deep fruit flavored mead. Nothing complex hopefully, I just thought I could jazz it up a little with fruit.

So it sounds like I should add fruit at secondary. Should I let it basically finish fermentation in primary, transfer to secondary and then gently dump the fruit in the secondary after adding the potassium metasulphate? Or can I just rack onto the fruit? Should I use the campden tablets in addition for sanitation of the fruit at that point? Also, how long should I let it sit on the fruit in secondary? The whole 3 months recommended by my instructions?? Or is tertiary required?

Any recommendations on fruit? I love cherries but may not be able to get sour cherries. I can easily get freshly picked blackberries and strawberries. How much should I add at secondary to get a robust fruit flavor to the finished product? 2 lbs. per gallon?

Thanks

Edit: one more question... does the variety of honey make a difference for the intended fruit addition? Will the orange blossom honey produce a certain flavor that conflicts with certain fruits or does that not really matter? Should I not even worry about fruit if the quality of varietal honey is good enough? I don't want to ruin my first batch!
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:39 AM   #5
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What I like to do is use the campden tablets (which IS potassium metabisulfite- don't use both! They're the same thing, but the tablets are in a convenient tablet instead of powder) and dissolve one in some boiling water. Put your fruit in the secondary and pour the sulfite solution over it. Let it sit a bit (up to 24 hours) and then rack the mead into the carboy with the sanitized fruit.

I usually don't have my meads/wines/ciders sit on the fruit for very long- maybe 5-7 days in primary, or two weeks in secondary. The fruit gets very mushy and almost greyish and I rack off of it then.

You may want to add 1 tsp pectic enzyme per gallon to your must, since fruit has alot of pectin in it. You don't want to get a pectin haze. Campden (sulfites) and pectic enzyme don't work well together, so I'd sulfite the fruit, and then add the mead to the fruit the next day with the pectic enzyme.

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Old 07-17-2009, 12:51 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info! It's coming together in my head now.

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Old 07-18-2009, 02:58 PM   #7
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I agree with Yoop on not leaving the fruit in too long, it can start to pick up a rotting flavor. That is one of the reason I think fruit should only be added to the secondary and in hi ABV meads, the alcohol seems to help preserve the flavor.
Different honeys do produce different flavors, I think any light colored honey will work fine for your mead. I would really like to make a straight mead out of blackberry honey sometime but it seems that the price of that honey is about double most other honeys.

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"I've got a fever... and the only prescription is, MORE CARBOYS!"
primary- Tangerine Dream, SWMBO slayer,
serving- amber ale hop experiment #6, Roggenbier, apfelwine
planning- Cru?
conditioning- 9/9/09 barleywine
Drink water?... Never, fish fornicate in it.--- W.C. Fields
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:19 PM   #8
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thanks everyone. I have a quick emergency question. Do I aerate the must after pitching the hydrated yeast like with beer? I assume I just shake the fermenter like crazy as I have to other means available right now. My instructions don't say anything about shaking the bucket for aeration.

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Old 07-19-2009, 12:28 AM   #9
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All fermentation needs O2 to make it healthy. After fermentation has begun you don't want to introduce O2 to it. Shaking is fine.

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Originally Posted by the_bird View Post
"I've got a fever... and the only prescription is, MORE CARBOYS!"
primary- Tangerine Dream, SWMBO slayer,
serving- amber ale hop experiment #6, Roggenbier, apfelwine
planning- Cru?
conditioning- 9/9/09 barleywine
Drink water?... Never, fish fornicate in it.--- W.C. Fields
Most problems can be solved with the proper application of force.
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