Fruit additives - Whole, dice it, mash it, pulp it, juice it?

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patrick767

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I'm getting impatient while my first ever batch of mead (JOAM of course) clarifies. So reading through other threads here, I decided to do a couple more small, experimental (for me) batches. I bought a couple more 1 gallon carboys and a vial of White Labs sweet mead yeast.

I'm thinking I'll do 1 gallon with fruit in the primary fermentation and one gallon with the fruit added in secondary. Other than that the meads will be the same. I'll get a better feel for what I like and precisely how the flavors are different based on when you add the fruit (not just the obvious that the fruit flavor is more pronounced if you add it later). I'm thinking strawberries.

So... should I just throw in whole strawberries or should I mash them up or juice them or what? What do you usually recommend for fruit additives?

Also, this $6 vial of yeast is designed for a 5 gallon batch. I've got some nutrient too. Can I get away with just pouring part of the vial in each gallon batch and saving some in the fridge for later too?
 

summersolstice

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A couple of suggestions: Why not compromise and cut the strawberries in half (removing any green leafy material first)? Also, instead of using expensive liquid yeast made by a manufacturer of beer yeast strains, why not spend $1 and use dry wine yeast packets that most experienced mead makers prefer for mead? I know the liquid yeast strains for meads are popular among HBT forum members but they really aren't used that much by people who have been making mead for a while. You'll find far more variety, less expense, and more precise information with the dry wine yeasts.

Mead is, after all, far closer to wine than beer. I'm not criticizing your liquid mead yeasts, just suggesting you give the dry yeast a try sometime.
 
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patrick767

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A couple of suggestions: Why not compromise and cut the strawberries in half (removing any green leafy material first)? Also, instead of using expensive liquid yeast made by a manufacturer of beer yeast strains, why not spend $1 and use dry wine yeast packets that most experienced mead makers prefer for mead? I know the liquid yeast strains for meads are popular among HBT forum members but they really aren't used that much by people who have been making mead for a while. You'll find far more variety, less expense, and more precise information with the dry wine yeasts.

Mead is, after all, far closer to wine than beer. I'm not criticizing your liquid mead yeasts, just suggesting you give the dry yeast a try sometime.
Well I've already bought the yeast, so I'll be using it at least for now. It was just a strain I saw mentioned here that would leave some residual sugars so I don't have to back sweeten to have some sugars in the mead. I'm open to suggestions of dry yeast strains that will do that job too and I'll try them another time.
 

summersolstice

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Good commonly available yeast choices by Lalvin would include D47, K1V1116, EC1118, and RC212. Red Star yeasts would include Pasteur Red, Cotes des
Blancs,Premier Cuvee, and Montrachet.
 

CBBaron

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When I've used berries in mead or wine I mash them. Once cleaned strawberries should be pretty easy to crush.

As for the yeast. I would use atleast 1/2 a package for each gallon batch. I would not try to divide it more than that.

Dry yeast is much less expensive and as mentioned produces good results. Lalvin seems to be the most popular with Red Star also being used. I think D-47 is very popular and have heard good things about using RC212 with dark fruits.

Craig
 
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patrick767

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Good commonly available yeast choices by Lalvin would include D47, K1V1116, EC1118, and RC212. Red Star yeasts would include Pasteur Red, Cotes des
Blancs,Premier Cuvee, and Montrachet.
These will leave some residual sugars? When I mentioned mead at the local homebrew shop, the first thing the owner offered me was a champagne yeast that she specifically warned me would eat all the sugars. I'd have to back sweeten if I wanted any sweetness at all. That's obviously doable, but not my first choice. So when I read about the WLP720 here, I got some.

I'll take CBBaron's suggestion and just divide the yeast vial in half for the gallon batches. So yeah, especially if I'm going to do more such small batches, cheaper yeast would be nice. I do like the idea of the small batches since it'll allow me to experiment more. I'm very interested in taking a "what happens if I do this?" approach to it.
 

Freezeblade

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D47 will leave some sugars, and will also let the strawberry shine through. I use D47 for pretty much any of my "light fruit" meads such as strawberry, pear or anything with delicate flavors.
 

Tusch

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The key to figuring out how much sugar will be left is your starting gravity. If your starting gravity is 1.050, then just about any yeast will take it completely dry. But even strong wine yeasts will leave residual sugars if the must contains enough sugar. D47 can be taken to 12%, but treated right will go to 14%. I like it because it really lets the fruit characters stay strong. I also like 71b for similar reasons.
 
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patrick767

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Good to know...
So should I go with a less "delicate" fruit with the White Labs yeast? A friend I talked to with a little mead and fruit wine making experience thought my plan for a batch with strawberries added in primary would completely wipe out the strawberry flavor. He hasn't experimented with a variety of yeasts though, just a champagne yeast for his mead.

The key to figuring out how much sugar will be left is your starting gravity. If your starting gravity is 1.050, then just about any yeast will take it completely dry
oh, and I guess I should finally buy a hydrometer, hmm? I was going to use at least 3 lbs of honey per gallon though and I'm guessing that will give me a sufficiently high OG.
 

summersolstice

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You can always add more strawberries in the secondary to get the strawberry boost your looking for.

As for the hydrometer - yes, buy one before you do anything else! While it may be possible to make a decent mead without one you'd never be able to duplicate the recipe if you do get lucky.
 

CBBaron

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These will leave some residual sugars? When I mentioned mead at the local homebrew shop, the first thing the owner offered me was a champagne yeast that she specifically warned me would eat all the sugars. I'd have to back sweeten if I wanted any sweetness at all. That's obviously doable, but not my first choice. So when I read about the WLP720 here, I got some.

I'll take CBBaron's suggestion and just divide the yeast vial in half for the gallon batches. So yeah, especially if I'm going to do more such small batches, cheaper yeast would be nice. I do like the idea of the small batches since it'll allow me to experiment more. I'm very interested in taking a "what happens if I do this?" approach to it.
Different yeast have different tolerances. You need to be aware of those tolerances when designing a mead to finish sweet.

D-47 is a yeast commonly used for sweet meads. It will usually go to 14% ABV so you can start with a must rich enough to exceed that. I believe 7-1B and Cotes des Blanc has a similar tolerances. K1V, EC1118 and Premier Cuvee are to 18% or more. These are usually used to make a dry mead.

I either case once the mead has finished fermenting you can stabilize and back sweeten to taste if you find the mead too dry. Making a dry mead and back sweetening allows better control of the FG.

Craig
 

northcountry

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Also, this $6 vial of yeast is designed for a 5 gallon batch. I've got some nutrient too. Can I get away with just pouring part of the vial in each gallon batch and saving some in the fridge for later too?
What I do with those spendy vials, is buy a liter of "smart water" a brand of water that has some nutrients already added to it, I pour a quarter of it in a glass, drink that. Feel smarter?
With half of the remaining bottle (be sure to recap the bottle each time and reduce the time uncapped), I boil something similar to the must I am going to be fermenting, for mead, I just take some honey, and approximate something similar using the gotmead calculator, nothing to scientific, I dont break out the hydro for this. I boil the starter honey, add a few grams of nutrient. With my sanitized funnel, I add the boiled starter to the rest of the water back into the same "smart water" container, cap, and shake, water bath cool, inoculate, fix airlock and in a few days, your going to have plenty of yeast. Keep the vial, sanitize it thoroughly, at this point, I recap with sanitized cap, shake thoroughly, pour some back into the vial, recap, and down into the bottom of the fridge, then, I use about half of the starter for a five gallon batch, and recap, and it too goes into the bottom of the fridge properly labeled, you now have another starter for a big batch, and a archived vial for making another starter. I am sure there might be a point where you should start over with another 6 dollar vial, but I haven't reached it yet. I once made a starter from almost 4 year old kolsch yeast vial that hadn't been opened, aerated starter thoroughly, and viola, started. Beer turned out great.
Oh, btw, try out the fermentis us-05 dry yeast, I have a stock of that on hand always, best yeast evar!
 

beer_guy_dave

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I currently have 5 one gallon batches of fruit mead which I've been working on since September. I started with 5 gal of "mother mead" (about 12 pounds of honey with water and some nutrients). Used champaign yeast. When more or less done fermenting, I split it onto 5 different kinds of fruit all of which was frozen, then thawed, then mashed a bit. It sat on this for 2 weeks, then racked off the fruit. It's very clear now after some additional racking. Flavors are good. Some are not as dry as others, I'm sure due to the amount of residual sugar from the different fruits. I stabilized it prior to adding fruit.

I'll wait another 6 months or so before bottling. At that time I may or may not sweeten, depending on the taste.

Dave
 
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patrick767

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Different yeast have different tolerances. You need to be aware of those tolerances when designing a mead to finish sweet.

D-47 is a yeast commonly used for sweet meads. It will usually go to 14% ABV so you can start with a must rich enough to exceed that. I believe 7-1B and Cotes des Blanc has a similar tolerances. K1V, EC1118 and Premier Cuvee are to 18% or more. These are usually used to make a dry mead.

I either case once the mead has finished fermenting you can stabilize and back sweeten to taste if you find the mead too dry. Making a dry mead and back sweetening allows better control of the FG.

Craig
Interesting. I'm looking around and having trouble finding how you'd figure out your residual sugar level. Though it looks like 0% residual is between right at and just below an FG of 1.000.

Another thing I'm trying to figure out is the alcohol tolerance of a yeast versus its apparent attenuation rate. I downloaded promash and for the White labs sweet mead yeast, it lists apparent attentuation as 60-75%. So let's figure the most ideal conditions of 75%. Does that mean that even if the alcohol tolerance has not been reached, it will stop fermenting at 75% apparent attenuation? So it's always going to leave some sugars? But i can't find any yeasts on promash that indicate attenuation higher than 90%.

I did some rough calculations with the meadOG.pdf linked in this forum. Figured 3 lbs of honey and the rest water to nearly fill a 1 gallon carboy... I came up with an OG of 1.10849. Running some numbers in promash's ABV calculator... if attentuation hits the yeast max of 75%, that's an FG of 1.025 and an ABV of 11.17%. Residual extract SG is 1.041.

I'm having trouble finding how to convert that to % residual sugar though, which actually would be a bit useful as I recently bought a couple commercial bottles of honey wine that list their residual sugar percentage. So I'll know how sweet that percentage tastes.

And now my head shall explode. How can I make some sense of it all? I'm a bit of a math dork so I'd like to understand the numbers.
 
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