First mead batch- Very Active Fermentation?

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meanrock

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Some buds and I are brewing our first batches of mead, one gallon each.

Our starting recipes for each:

3 Lb's Orange Blossom Honey
3Lb's Oregon Canned Fruit Puree (one batch of blackberry, one batch raspberry, and one peach).
1/4 of a packet of White Labs WLP 720 liquid yeast (rated for up to 15% ABV)
20 raisins
Bottled filtered spring water to fill.

The batch of Raspberry also included ~25 mashed raspberries, and the blackberry gallon also received ~2 tablespoons of mashed Raspberries.

~30 hours into fermentation and the Peach batch overflowed its airlock. Tidied up, washed the airlock within a few minutes of overflow, then re-sanitized in diluted Star San. Airlock now in place, and the peach gallon now has a tub. May run an overflow hose/bottle setup if it continues.

Starting specific gravities are: 1.124 for the blackberry, 1.141 for the raspberry, and 1.111 for the peach.


I am still researching but hoping for any input and advice to keep from ruining the batch or blowing it up.

Primary fermentation should still take 3-5 weeks?

For the blackberry, assuming primary fermentation takes it above 13% or higher- was thinking of adding potassium sorbate to the first rack, then after several weeks- diluting with water/pom juice mix down to ~10%. Bad idea?


Thank you in advance for any helpful advice or input.
 

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For those gravities consider looking up TOSNA 2.0 or 3.0 - Total Organic Staggered Nutrient Addition.

Raisins are a relatively poor nutrient source. The TOSNA protocol will help keep the yeast from being too stressed. Stressed yeast will / can throw some off flavors.
 
Spent a little time reading your TOSNA recommendation. Using that calculator- you would recommend adding Fermaid-K in staggered intervals?

Will the large amount of added fruit and fruit puree offset any of those nutrient requirements? Each one gallon container had at least 3lb of fruit puree.

The top of all 3 has a large foamy head now, 48 hours after being initially pitched/sealed. The peach is no longer erupting like Mt. Vesuvius
 

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Yes - Still would add the Fermaid - O or K - Although as you noted the puree does bring some nutrients so not as big a concern as other meads without them.
 
Some buds and I are brewing our first batches of mead, one gallon each.

Our starting recipes for each:

3 Lb's Orange Blossom Honey
3Lb's Oregon Canned Fruit Puree (one batch of blackberry, one batch raspberry, and one peach).
1/4 of a packet of White Labs WLP 720 liquid yeast (rated for up to 15% ABV)
20 raisins
Bottled filtered spring water to fill.

Primary fermentation should still take 3-5 weeks?

For the blackberry, assuming primary fermentation takes it above 13% or higher- was thinking of adding potassium sorbate to the first rack, then after several weeks- diluting with water/pom juice mix down to ~10%. Bad idea?


Thank you in advance for any helpful advice or input.

Hi meanrock and welcome. Good for you that you and your friends are making your first batches of mead. Two quick thoughts from me. Not meant as a criticism but as something to think about.
1. Yeast is inexpensive compared to honey and fruit and if it's packaged for the home winemaker in packages designed for 1 -5 gallon batches (and the larger batch size assumes a moderately low ABV ) it's hard to imagine why you might use only a portion of the pack (or test-tube). The moment you open the yeast and expose it to air in a non sterile environment you have introduced all kinds of bacteria that will happily gorge on the yeast and (if liquid) any materials included to help preserve the fungi. Always better to use the whole pack AND frequently best to use more than one pack if your desired ABV is going to be high.
2. Distillers by virtue of their processes are forced to high proof spirits that they then dilute to make drinkable but when a distiller dilutes from say 80% ABV to 40% there is no dilution of flavor that damages the integrity of the spirit. When you make a wine at say 16% ABV and dilute this to 10 % you can damage the integrity of the wine.
Far better is to determine your starting gravity BEFORE you pitch the yeast and so you determine the amount of fruit and sugars (and what kind of sugars) you are fermenting and so before bottling all you are doing is determining how much (if any) sweetener you need to add to bring the fruit flavors forward. Wine making is , in fact, all about balance and you want to balance the intensity of the flavors with the alcohol with the acidity and tannins and perceived sweetness. And adding water to a wine to dilute it is a lot like adding water to a craft made beer because you want a session beer.
 
1. Purely our inexperience- The liquid yeast said "one pack for 5 gallons". Is there such a thing as too much yeast?
2. ......Honestly that is a perspective that makes a considerable amount of sense. Our process did not include as much planning and foresight. Just trying to make the best of it from here :)
 
Most packs of yeast suggest that a pack is good for between 1 - 5 gallons but a home wine maker cannot really over-pitch yeast. Sure, you can over-pitch if you dump a 1 kg block (about 2.2 lbs) of yeast into a gallon of must but home wine makers don't typically have access to commercial sized blocks of yeast. You CAN under-pitch and perhaps counter intuitively under-pitching can stress yeast.

Last thought: wine is very forgiving. It's not like baking a cake. There is an enormous amount of tolerances for actions we take and while we can do things that inhibit or stall the fermentation almost always there is a way to salvage errors and produce a drinkable beverage even if that wine is not great. But also, if this is your first wine (mead) know that the more you make the better your processes will be and I will speak for everyone on this forum and say that you should feel free to ask any questions BEFORE you take any action. Always easier to shift an approach before you have gone down the wrong road.
 
Interesting stuff. I have the ability to make a starter for my wine kits but not sure how to do this. Happy with making beer starters but the wine what is the fermentable? Last kit I pitched the yeast from the half done previous kit ( harvested from the conical ) and it went like a rocket. But that isn't always going to be an option. The kits do come with one small packet of yeast how would I build it for the wine kit?
 
Update:

Blackberry Started at 1.124
Racked today after 14 days-Measured at 1.021. Racked off ~ 28 fluid oz. of fruit pulp/raisins/Lees. Added ~14oz of Pom Wonderful brand pomegranate/Blueberry juice, and ~14oz of RW Knudson Just Blueberry juice. Added one quarter of a Madagascar vanilla bean. New measured Gravity is 1.034. Will age for several weeks/months from here and may rack once more before bottling. ( ~21.875% of contents replaced- should be at 10.52% ABV with no additional fermentation).

Raspberry started at 1.141
Racked today after measuring at 1.033. Lost ~ 32 Fluid oz. by volume of fruit pulp/raisins/lees. Friend decided to add Simply Raspberry Lemonade to replace ~30oz of volume. Measured at 1.036 gravity after addition- monitoring for PH changes to see if this will/can ferment further. (~25% of contents replaced- should be at 10.64% ABV).

Peach started at 1.111
Racked today after measuring at 1.029. Lost ~ 26 Fluid oz. by volume of fruit pulp/raisins/lees. Friend added Simply Peach to replace lost volume. Measured at 1.030 gravity after addition. Same deal with the PH- this added juice also contains some lemon juice, unknown if this will ferment further over the next month or two. (~20.31% of contents replaced- should be at 8.57% ABV).
 

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