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Old 07-04-2012, 04:32 PM   #1
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Default When to fruit the Mead

I've been making wine and mead for years now have never studied the art of mead making specifically. I've had good results adapting my wine techniques to mead making. But now I'd like to perfect my skills.

So I have a question about adding fruit, cherries specifically but I assume this will apply to all fruit addition. I've seen many recipes that call for adding cherries directly to the primary fermenter. I've also read that there is a preference toward waiting until primary fermentation is finished and adding the cherries to the secondary. So what are the opinions of folks here in regards to these two different techniques ?

Also do you generally crush the cherries before addition ? some suggest puree and others seem to just drop them in with no mention of a masticating step.

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Old 07-04-2012, 04:53 PM   #2
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You'll get opinions for all of the above that you mentioned. While trending now seems to be more towards adding all flavoring components into secondary, or at least waiting until fermentation is done then adding them late into the primary. the execptions being cysers, pyments, braggots and acergylns ofcourse.

Personally I now start everything as a traditional mead, I try to be diligent in yeast managment (temp control, aeration, nutrients) and make a simple mead that is all about the honey used first, something I could sit down and enjoy a glass of if nothing more was done to it, then I add my fruits, spices, oak, etc. etc. depending on the end product I want.

I have also been racking into a secondary a gallon smaller than primary, so a 5 gallon primary goes into a 4 gallon secondary onto whatever additions I want and the remainder goes untouched into a 1 gallon carboy. This leaves me some of the original base mead for topping off anytime needed or if I go a little strong on a flavoring I can "thin" it out some without diluting with water or plain honey water. Worst case scenario, I have a gallon a good traditional mead win/win.


With all fruits a little pectic enzyme dusting prior to adding to your mead is helpful for extraction of flavor and color but nothing further is really needed, with cherries or any pitted fruit It's best to remove the pits as they can make some bitter flavors that are unappealing. And instead of crushing or pureeing which can hinder the removal and clearing process later, pit your cherries, dust with pectic enzyme if you have it then freeze/thaw them, once is good, many prefer to freeze them twice, this causes the membrains to be broken down by the crystalization of juices during the freezing, it ensures getting the most ouf of your fruit and also removes any chance of any wild yeast or other bad stuff of sneaking in.

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Old 07-04-2012, 04:58 PM   #3
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Go listen to last week's Basic Brewing radio about mead + fruit: http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio

MC

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Old 07-04-2012, 05:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Misplaced_Canuck View Post
Go listen to last week's Basic Brewing radio about mead + fruit: http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio

MC
This is a great podcast, hard numbers and opinions
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:47 AM   #5
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That podcast seemed to confirm that the mead tastes better when the fruit (or at least raspberries) is added while in the secondary. They seemed to then suggest that the individuals preference toward sweetness or dryness could decide what technique to use. The guy who did the test doesn't sound like he's made his mind up, he's fruiting it half and half now. But since there are other ways to control the level of sweetness (yeast strain, O.G., amount of fruit, backsweeten ect) doesn't it seem like the secondary fruiting would be superior with a properly suited recipe ?

Did he mention at any point how long the mead had been aged in bulk and then in bottle ? It would be interesting to see how these sample bottles matured in a few years.

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Old 07-06-2012, 12:06 PM   #6
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I like to add cherries (and most other fruit types) to both primary & secondary. The reasoning behind this is to get the fermented fruit flavours WITH the unfermented fruit flavours. I like the depth that adding to both can give a melomel. As for fruit processing, I always pit my cherries, but there are many who don't. I've heard that there is a sort of "woody" flavour that the pits can add, but I've never tried it. I also do a freeze/thaw, freeze/thaw cycle with the fruit. Freezing helps to break down the cell walls & results in better juice/flavour extraction; pectic enzyme helps too & also helps with clearing later. Pitting opens up the fruit for the yeast to get at it & the freezing makes it almost fall apart, so I don't really need to crush cherries.
Regards, GF.

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