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Old 08-31-2009, 11:34 PM   #1
patrick767
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Default When to rack onto fruit?

I'm finally getting to making some more mead/honey wine and had some questions.

I plan to make at least two one gallon batches. One will be with strawberries and one with heather tips (or maybe just plain honey). I'll probably pitch tomorrow.

1) I remembered I'm leaving town in 11 days for over a week. That I'm guessing won't be enough time to be ready to rack onto fruit. If I pitch the yeast tomorrow, it'll be three weeks before I get back. Do I risk that being too late? I'd read somewhere that you want to rack to the fruit when fermentation is slow but not stopped entirely.

edit: Ok, stumbled on a post in another thread that suggests my time frame is fine. I should still have fermentation going on after three weeks.

2) Particularly since these are small batches, is topping off with some more honey/water after racking a good idea? Or just water? It won't be an issue for primary to secondary on the strawberry one as I'll need room for the fruit.

3) Heather tips - Found a recipe talking about adding them to the boil. I hadn't planned on doing a boil and I see just using warm/hot water is the preferred method here. Should I put heather tips in primary or secondary? Any clue what quantity to use?

4) Do I need a must bag for the fruit? The heather tips?

I made my yeast starter yesterday to revive my four months beyond the best by date White Labs sweet mead yeast. It had me worried as overnight there was no noticeable activity, but when I got home this evening it was definitely going. Obvious because I didn't have a fermentation lock that fits on old beer bomber, so I stuck a balloon on it.

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Old 09-02-2009, 05:23 AM   #2
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Meh. Well, I haven't decided whether to use the heather tips, but I started three batches tonight.

The honey is clover honey from a local farmer. All batches are 1-gallon. Yeast is White Labs sweet mead yeast. I mixed up a 22oz starter a couple days ago to use.

Batch 1 - 3 lb honey, this will be a plain mead or possibly have heather tips added at some point.

Batch 2 - 3 lb honey. Strawberries will be added in secondary.

Batch 3 - 2.5 lb honey, 2 lb fresh strawberries, partially frozen, then mashed and added to primary. May do another lb in secondary.

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Old 09-02-2009, 11:33 AM   #3
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It's so much easier with the straining bag but it isn't necessary.

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Old 09-02-2009, 02:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summersolstice View Post
It's so much easier with the straining bag but it isn't necessary.
For the strawberries in primary, I see I'm going to lose quite a bit for a little 1 gallon batch when I rack. I suppose a straining bag would help minimize that. I think that batch is going to be really sweet though so I may just top it off with water after racking. I can do that, right?

Turns out strawberries must have good nutrients. I could have done without the yeast nutrient. Got up this morning seven hours after starting it and the strawberries were hitting the airlock already. I cleaned it up, poured some out to create more space, re-locked, and left it in the sink because I had to leave for work. Hopefully I don't have a mess when I get home.
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Old 09-02-2009, 02:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrick767 View Post
For the strawberries in primary, I see I'm going to lose quite a bit for a little 1 gallon batch when I rack. I suppose a straining bag would help minimize that. I think that batch is going to be really sweet though so I may just top it off with water after racking. I can do that, right?

Turns out strawberries must have good nutrients. I could have done without the yeast nutrient. Got up this morning seven hours after starting it and the strawberries were hitting the airlock already. I cleaned it up, poured some out to create more space, re-locked, and left it in the sink because I had to leave for work. Hopefully I don't have a mess when I get home.
Heh, I had to clean the ceiling of my closet last week when my strawberry mead popped the airlock and shot all but two of my strawberries out of the fermenter.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
Heh, I had to clean the ceiling of my closet last week when my strawberry mead popped the airlock and shot all but two of my strawberries out of the fermenter.
lol... now that's a mess. I looked up the chocolate mead thread here yesterday and saw again the pictures of a chocolate splat on the ceiling.

Good news. I got home today and the strawberry mead was fine. There were no strawberries on the ceiling, floor, etc. Making room by pouring some out in the morning was enough.

I am sort of wondering what to do with the thick mass of pink, mashed up strawberries floating on the surface though. Should I shake it every now and then to dunk that mess or just not worry about it?

Also, and I know I ask about everything, but what would you expect to smell on the first day of active fermentation? I don't remember from my only other batch of mead that I did last winter. I expected to smell honey and strawberries and all I'm getting is an almost chemical, gassy smell. Yes, everything was sanitized. Maybe all I'm getting is the gas expelled by the fermentation right now? As CO2 is odorless, I'm curious. Think I'll avoid breathing the CO2 for long.
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Old 09-04-2009, 04:45 PM   #7
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From a thread about a bandage smell/taste in someone's mead:

Quote:
Did you use the same type/brand of honey for all your batches? I've gotten "rubber stopper" tastes & aromas from several batches
That's it. That's the smell I started getting quite strongly as soon as fermentation got going in all three current batches. Obviously I don't know about taste yet as I just started these on Tuesday night. The honey tasted and smelled fine by itself though. What is going on?
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