Pectic enzyme needed for a base of pureed fruit?

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MilesBFree

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hi, I decided to make plum wine since the dandelions are not yet in full bloom here (which was going to be my project this weekend).

I have a boxed bag of commercial plum puree (pure plums) and it is basically a fairly thin liquid, not even as thick as say an apricot nectar. I mean they pureed the living daylights out of it.

Would pectic enzyme be needed? My understanding is it is normally used to help break down the solid part of the fruit so you get more juice out of it. But at a macro level this is nothing but juice. But at a micro level, does the pectic enzyme do anything to further transform it?

I also read it is used to help clear pectin haze you often get with some fruits, and plums seem to be one of the higher ones in terms of pectin. So maybe for that purpose alone? However, when I used pectic enzyme in last year's rhubarb wine it didn't clear well at all so after several months I hit it with bentonite and even that required 2 applications and it finally started to clear but not entirely until after another couple of months.

I started the plum wine in my primary fermenter last night and would pitch the yeast and add the pectic enzyme tonight and got to thinking about if the latter is really needed...
 
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MilesBFree

MilesBFree

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Another question: I am thinking Red Star Cote des Blancs as the yeast - what are people using in plum wine? I also have some Lalvin EC-1118 on hand. (And a couple of yeasts that I usually use in red-ish type wines but definitely thinking a white-type yeast for this.)
 
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MilesBFree

MilesBFree

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I decided to add pectic enzyme. It may not help but it won't hurt.

Also decided to go with the Cote des Blancs yeast.
 
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MilesBFree

MilesBFree

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Update: The Cotes des Blancs yeast didn't want to start at all. I didn't see any activity after a week, so I added a new packet of yeast (heating a few oz of water to ~96 degrees F to rehydrate the yeast. Both times the yeast started in the water very well.) Nada.

So I siphoned off a half liter of the liquid on top (the solids in the puree had settled to the bottom 3" or so of the primary fermenter) into a glass container and diluted with about a quarter liter of water. The yeast loved this and the whole thing was covered in foam. After maybe 20 - 24 hours, the foaming seemed to be dying down a little so I added it back to the primary fermenter.

Nothing happened for another week, so I decided to rack the liquid off the plum solids, and add more yeast. Bingo! It seemed to be something about the solids from the puree that the yeast didn't like. No idea what.

Also, the Cote des Blancs yeast is not as fast or enthusiastic of a fermenter as say a champagne yeast and you don't see the bubbles rising up as you would with an EC1118. But the float in the airlock will stay at the top and if you burp a bit of air out of the carboy the float will go back to the top.

I don't think this was a case of the yeast being THAT slow but am leaning toward it being something in the plum solids.
 
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MilesBFree

MilesBFree

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Another update: it started bubbling away like crazy 2 weeks ago, to the point it had way more bubbles than champagne or soda. It pushed the foam out of the airlock. Now it has really slowed down and no bubbles visible, but if I burp the airlock it will push the float back to the top in a short while.

I may rack it again this weekend as I am wondering if the yeast is now cannibalizing the dead yeast in the lees? It won't hurt since now i am going to let it sit for a month or three and wait for it to clear
 
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MilesBFree

MilesBFree

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Final update: I cracked open the plum wine this weekend to see how it tasted (even though it wasn't entirely clear yet). I tasted awful so i threw it out - just plain nasty. This is the first batch out of maybe a dozen I have made that went South.

Postmortem: given the difficulty in getting the yeast to go, I am wondering if the company I bought the puree from had added any chemicals to preserve it, inhibit yeast, etc., even though none were listed on the label (was 100% plum puree).

Or maybe the yeast was bad?

One data point: my wife had a bad reaction to sampling the puree when we started, and thought it was just something with plums in general (she couldn't recall the last time she had them but does get a bit of a reaction to some fruit like persimmons). I did not but thought the puree wasn't all that flavorful.

It did finish fermenting; final specific gravity right before I threw it out was around 0.990.
 

Jacob_Marley

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From your posts ...

>> boxed bag of commercial plum puree ... Would pectic enzyme be needed?

With high-pectin fruit especially, pectic enzyme is generally needed if you want a wine that does not have pectin haze.

>> However, when I used pectic enzyme in last year's rhubarb wine it didn't clear well at all

The haze could be from other things ... rhubarb does not have a great deal of pectin.
fwiw - Pectic enzyme is generally used before your ferment. You can try and use it after you have problems but it is much less effective, you have to use more of it, and you have to use it at lower temps.
Pectic enzyme is denatured by temperature; its operating range is between 64.4°F and 104° F ... and ideal temp is at the lower end of that scale.
(and works best in a slightly acidic environment at pH 4.5 to 5.5.)

As well, the alcohol in already fermented juice denatures the enzyme which is why pectinase is allowed to do it's thing before fermentation is initiated.

>> The Cotes des Blancs yeast didn't want to start at all.

Cotes des Blancs is a slow fermenter and is also a slow starter. It is more sensitive to lack of nutrients, and does not ferment as well at the edge of it's desired operating range, and generally needs to be monitored for temperature during the ferment.
64°-86°F is its preferred fermenting range.
I'd definitely be using a proper, must-adjusted starter with any yeast that is a slower fermenter.

Cote des blancs is also a nutrient sensitive yeast ... for what it's worth ... here's a post I made about 10 years ago which outlines how to add nutrients ...in that case the post was about cider but wine is similar.
Much has to do with the progress of the yeast's fermentation and what yeast you are using.

Cote Des Blancs is also sulfite sensitive. If you treated the juice with sulfites (or the juice already had sulfites in it) prior to pitching the yeast *that alone likely caused the slow start.*

The plum solids at the bottom of your fermenter did not likely contribute to the fermentation delay (unless, as you say, there was an additive in it such as sulfite or sorbate). That the yeast started each time after you racked off the solids probably had to do with the oxygen you introduced by racking it.
As far as solids at the bottom of a fermenter being a problem in-and-of themselves: for what it's worth- actually Cote des Blancs is a low flocculation yeast that more easily remains in suspension which helps it do it's thing.

>> I am wondering if the yeast is now cannibalizing the dead yeast in the lees? ............ >> I tasted awful so i threw it out - just plain nasty.

As far as the bad taste, I would suspect the slow initial fermentation start, possibly allowing spoilage micro-organisms ........ residual nutrients if in fact you let it sit on a large amount of lees for too long .... and problematic fermentation conditions including possibly uncontrolled fermentation and temperature.


That this thread followed your batch, start-to-finish was good.
Thanks for following up with the final result.
 
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