My first attempt at mead (fairly basic, lots of honey) hasn't yet finished and is 2 - 3 weeks in and almost ready to be racked to it's second demijohn, but having searched the internet for all sorts of creations I felt I had to try and make something more difficult. So I chose to have a go at doing one with bananas!
I know a couple of people on here have already tried this and I've seen a number of recipes for both Banana based wines, beers and meads. But none of them seemed to ever come back with the final results or cover what they did in much depth. As such I thought I'd document what I did so anyone hoping to follow the banana mead path will at least be able to avoid my mistakes!
--- Day 1 -- 14/04/2011 ---
Orange Blossom honey - 3lb
Bananas - ~5lb
Sun dried bananas - 1 packet
Bottled water - 3 litres
Yeast, Lalvin D-47 - 1 pack
Pectolase - 2 teaspoons(ish)
Nutrient/Energise (combined) - 2 and a bit teaspoons(ish)
Cinnamon - tiny amount
Ok first up was the standard cleaning everything and attempting to steralise stuff, as I'm new too all this I'm not sure how well i did it, but I made a solution with campden tablets that I swished around the demijohn as well as letting all my spoons, bungs, funnel etc sit in it for a bit.
Next I started chopping bananas and putting them into a muslin bag.
Most of the bananas were ripe but a bit overly soft, still eatable though, a few were overripe and looked nasty and brown once opened. I chopped them up, as thin as I could without trying too hard, roughly half had the skins left on, and half with them off. I didn't freeze the bananas first, mostly because I only had this afternoon free and I wanted to get it done!
Most people seem to advise letting them all go overripe and then freeze them, but I didn't manage to do that.
Next up I warmed my honey in the sink before pouring it straight into the demijohn using my funnel. Nice and simple. Placed bung on top to stop nasties getting in.
I then bought 1.5 pints of bottled water up to a boil/simmer in a pan before moving my bag of bananas into it (carefully!). As there was so much banana in there, the water line came pretty close to the top, I kept an eye on it while letting it simmer for 20 minutes (ish) while i slowely stirred and mashed it, whien not stirring/mashing I placed a lid over to stop it drying out and/or letting out any niceness we might want. Once done I moved the bag over to a second pan and took it off the heat. After pouring back as much residue from the second pan as I could I then cooled the liquid and placed the funnel in the demijohn ready to add the fruity water.
At this point I actually added about an inch of banana water without the filter in the funnel, this was by accident, but maybe it will be a good thing, the rest of the juice however I put through the filter, and once all through, sqeezed what i could out of the bag.
Next I started adding water, pouring it over the bag sat in the funnel and kneeding it like bread to wash out as much banana as possible. And continued to do this untill the demijohn was over half fillled. At which point I bunged it up and gave it a shake for a few minutes to mix the honey and banana together.
Then, 2 teaspoons of nutrient/energiser(mixed) and 2 teaspoons of pectolase went in (mixed into a cup of water, then poured in). Before continuing with the banana-bag/water combo untill fairly full. And added a tiny amount of cinnamon before giving it another shake. I'm not sure how much cinnamon I put in, I can only discribe it as 5 of the smalles pinches I could that would give a worthwhile amount.
Heated up some water and allowed to cool and added a tiny bit of nutrient/energiser to it before adding the packet of yeast. Left for 15 minutes (could just see small bubbles forming), before carefully stirring and adding to the demijohn.
I then topped up with water untill about 3/4 of an inch below the 5l line. I plan to top this up in a couple of days to reduce the air space, but I heard the addition of banana can cause a lot of foam so felt the extra space might be needed!
I then bunged it up, and carefully shook it again to airate it for 5 minutes, opening it to release any pressure each minute.
Once done I placed a bung and airlock combo on it and placed it in a cupboard (on a plastic mat and in a washing up bowl, just in case! Realy don't want banana all over my carpet if it gets messy!)
---- 18/04/2011 ----
Main fast fermentation appears to have finished, bubbles have slowed to one every 3 seconds or so and about 2" of banana have dropped out of suspension.
Going to wait a while longer before racking though incase theres any more banana to drop and I don't want to stall the yeast yet.
---- 22/04/2011 ----
Bubbles had dropped to one every 30 seconds or so and layer of banana hasn't got any thicker so decided to rack to secondary.
Opened pack of sun-dried bananas and sprinkled them into the bottom of the new, cleaned, demijohn. They don't smell as nice as the fresh bananas I put in the primary, but I really want to taste banana in this so am sticking to the plan!
I then syphoned the mead from the primary using my newly arrived AutoSyphon (so much easier, definatly recommended!). There was obviously a lot of space left (even with the bananas) so I topped up with fresh bottled water.
I was unable to get an SG reading due to the amount of banana residue around the neck of the primary blocking my view! I wasn't so bothered by this as I don't have an OG to compare against anyway but from pearing down the neck it had clearly fermentated pretty completely as it sank low and I could make out that the yellow part was at least partly above water, so somewhere between 1.000 and 1.010.
---- 23/04/2011 ----
Today the bananas in the secondary have all floated up to the top and fermentation apears to have started up again. (though I guess it could be released gass form the new bananas...), it's now giving a bubble once every 5 seconds or so.
---- 07/05/2011 ----
Racked off from the last of the yeast/banana pulp and from underneath the floading banana chunks and topped up with fresh water. Putting the syphon in moved the bananas at the top slightly so it's actually less clear than it was but at least all the gunk is out of it now.
Can definatly smell the banana coming off it, but also getting the "hot" alcohol taste, though its not as bad at my plain mead (which has a similar taste still). Can still see why people said it would take a while to age!
---- 10/05/2011 ----
Placed in the fridge (~5 degrees c) to cold crash.
---- 13/05/2011 ----
Final racking from fridge on top of 1/2 tsp sorbate and 1 campden tablet disolved in a bit of water, topped up with fresh water to neck of the bottle again and put back in cupboard. Is now crystal clear.
---- 23/05/2011 ----
Racked on top of an extra 340g of orange blossom honey to introduce some more sweetness as it was fermented dry. Not sure if this will overpower the banana or not, hoping it will be ok!
Obviously adding honey displaces mead so took the extra sample and put it back in the almost empty honey jar, gave it a shake to disolve and am drinking it now.
When first poured i can taste the slightly nasty smell I keep getting (pretty sure now this is just because it is still fairly young), but after swilling it round the glass for a few seconds it goes away. Mostly tastes of honey, but with a nice banana after taste. Not sure how the honey addition compares to what is now in the carboy, but homefully with aging it will blend a bit more. Really looking forward to this now!
---- 24/05/2011 ----
Panicked that I had added too much so racked it off the honey this morning (topped up with water), about half had disolved.
It's now less clear so will leave it to clear again before attempting to bottle.
---- 8/06/2011 ----
Added some "Quick Clear", and put in fridge.
---- 14/06/2011 ----
Racked off the sediment, now buitifully clear again.
Will continue to update and progress as it happens!