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sanitizing blueberries?

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farrout

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Hey all, I want to make a blueberry beer, most likely a wheat. I have access to a lot of frozen wild blueberries. I have yet to brew with fruit like this, I was planning on adding them to the secondary. But I am confused on sanitizing the blueberries. What should I do? thanks.
 

newbeerpig

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Most people pasteurize the blueberries before adding to the secondary, I would suggest reading up further on using real fruit as it can bring new problems to the brewing especially if you don't process correctly. I am a big fan of extracts as I find most people can't really tell the difference and you pitch it in with your priming sugar so less of a worry for infection or other problems.
 

fastricky

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The technique I've read about (and am about to try with cherries) is to take the fruit and put it in a pot, add water so it just about comes to the same level as the top of the fruit. Heat at 160 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool and add to secondary for a week. Afterwards, you might consider going to a 3rd fermenter post the fruit fermentation...
 

lamarguy

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As others have stated, do pasteurize the blueberries at ~160F for 10 minutes.

There is no need to add water, just dump the frozen blueberries in a small pot and slowly heat to ~160F. The blueberries will naturally breakdown and become a paste which you can then dump into your beer warm (not hot).
 

cactusgarrett

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Most people pasteurize the blueberries before adding to the secondary...
I wouldn't say this, actually. There are MANY techniques used, and i'm sure all have worked for some at one time or another. All the fruit beer I've done, and have heard from many others, freezing is really minimally all you need to do (aside from washing the fruit prior to freezing, if fresh from the produces section).

In your case, i would just thaw and add to the secondary. Thawing frozen fruit bursts the cell walls, making the fruity goodness easily accessible to the beer. Adding to the secondary also skirts the issue of sanitization, as there should be enough alcohol already in the brew to quelch any bug growth.

If it's larger fruit, you could throw it in a blender prior to freezing, but i've had excellent success in just freezing alone. I, personally, shy away from heating fruit in any aspect.
 

lamarguy

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Adding to the secondary also skirts the issue of sanitization, as there should be enough alcohol already in the brew to quelch any bug growth.
It's a risk...And I wouldn't recommend people risk ruining a batch a beer because adding unpasteurized fruit should work most of the time.

Spend 10 minutes and pasteurize the fruit....
 

cactusgarrett

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It's a risk...And I wouldn't recommend people risk ruining a batch a beer because adding unpasteurized fruit should work most of the time.
One reason i stay away from pastuerization or boiling is because i've been advised on more than one occasion they usually promote loses of aromatic properties. Additionally, it can cause a flavor change from "fresh" to "cooked", as well as it sets pectins, causing a haze that you have to clear with pectinase enzyme. Not as important in a stout, but with something as subtle as blueberries, i don't want to lose one bit of aromatics.

To me, the potential for pectin haze and, more importantly for me, loss of fruity aromatics/flavors greatly outweighs the potential for infection of just tossing thawed into the secondary.

But like i said before, many people have used many techniques. And typically everyone's going to preach what's worked for them. Myself included.
 

lamarguy

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But like i said before, many people have used many techniques. And typically everyone's going to preach what's worked for them. Myself included.
Right, I understand what you're saying and I'm glad it's worked for you. :)

However, you're giving someone a recommendation to not pasteurize fruit which contains sufficient bacteria and wild yeast to infect a batch of beer. That's like saying, I've always eaten raw oysters and I've never gotten sick. Therefore, you'll be fine too.

Perhaps you should include a disclaimer - This technique has worked well for me, but caries a serious risk of infection due to the presence of bacteria and wild yeast on all fruit. Furthermore, freezing does not reduce the bacterial cell count. Good luck.

Just saying... :D
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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Just cause I don't like seeing a man beat down, I've never pasteurized fruit when adding to secondary. I've used the freezing method cactus mentioned...but nothing beyond that.
 

Yooper

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Right, I understand what you're saying and I'm glad it's worked for you. :)

However, you're giving someone a recommendation to not pasteurize fruit which contains sufficient bacteria and wild yeast to infect a batch of beer. That's like saying, I've always eaten raw oysters and I've never gotten sick. Therefore, you'll be fine too.

Perhaps you should include a disclaimer - This technique has worked well for me, but caries a serious risk of infection due to the presence of bacteria and wild yeast on all fruit. Furthermore, freezing does not reduce the bacterial cell count. Good luck.

Just saying... :D
I've never pasteurized fruit in winemaking or in meads or ciders (but never would put it in beer anyway).

If I was feeling very anal, though, I'd crush a campden tablet in 1/4 cup of water and pour that over the fruit and let it sit 24 hours before adding it to my beer. I wouldn't heat pasteurize.
 

gregorywbrown13

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I also do not pasteurize. Though I use a slightly different technique. I add to the primary after initial rigorous fermentation has finished (4-5 days) THis was you can leave all the fruit behind in primary, and still get the benefits of significant alcohol to fight infection
 

fastricky

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In my case (first time fruit adder here btw) I bought frozen cherries. So if I weren't to heat them, just thaw them (keeping them in their bags) then dump them into the secondary uncrushed? Seems to me it'd be beneficial to have them pureed to get at the good stuff, no? In which case, pureeing them (blender? potato masher?) exposed the fruit to all kinds of infection potential I'd think...

So, what to do? Heating them with water as I posted earlier skirts all these potential problems as they can be mashed while heating.

Confused!
 

cactusgarrett

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Just thaw and dump 'em in the secondary. If i were to blend them, i would do so BEFORE freezing. I've only blended when the fruit i was using (apples) was too large to fit through the opening of the carboy, though.

You're not losing out if you don't/haven't blended. You'll be surprised when they thaw - they'll get all gooey and juicy, and after being in the secondary they'll soak up the beer pretty good.
 

Bob

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I've always had excellent results by putting the fruit through at least three freeze-thaw cycles.

Freezing not only has a deleterious effect on potentially-infectious microbes, it also breaks down the cell walls, releasing the juice and making smashing the fruit unnecessary. The more times you put the fruit through this process, the more cell walls are burst through expansion in the freezing process. When starting with whole fruit, I invariably end up with amorphous glop. :D

Cheers,

Bob
 

lamarguy

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Freezing not only has a deleterious effect on potentially-infectious microbes...
I probably sound like a broken record, but I figure I'll say it again just to humor myself. Freezing does not kill bacteria and yeasts, it simply inhibits their growth until thawed.

So, whatever is living on the fruit before freezing will be awakened once thawed....Good night and good luck. :D
 

rocketman768

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How come nobody has mentioned Campden tablets yet?

One way to minimize the risk of contamination from fresh fruits is to take a page from the winemakers’ handbook and sterilize the fruit with sulfur dioxide. Winemakers do not sterilize their “wort” by boiling it. They sterilize their “must” by treating it with SO2 (often in the form of Campden tablets). To sterilize a “mini-must,” mush your fruit into a slurry in a sanitized bucket. Add enough water so that it’s basically a thick liquid. Add one crushed Campden tablet for every gallon of your “mini-must” and let sit, loosely covered, overnight. During this time the SO2 will kill any microorganism in the “mini-must,” then diffuse away. The SO2 also acts as an antioxidant, preventing browning of the fruit. The next day, add the now-sanitized “mini-must” to your fermenter.
Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Recipes - Fruit Brew, Part 2: Techniques
 

Bob

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I probably sound like a broken record, but I figure I'll say it again just to humor myself. Freezing does not kill bacteria and yeasts, it simply inhibits their growth until thawed.

So, whatever is living on the fruit before freezing will be awakened once thawed....Good night and good luck.
Good point. I guess I was operating under the possibly ill-conceived logic that the same process whereby the fruit cell walls burst from water-ice expansion would in the same way impact single-celled organisms which are, after all, mostly water. Temperature isn't the sole mechanism involved; the physical characteristics of water's expansion during the freezing process is the mechanism with which I am more interested. Perhaps I am in error. I assure you it is neither the first nor the last time! :D

All that said, I don't worry overmuch about fruit additions. After all, fermented beer is an inhospitable environment for infecting microbes, due to pH, alcohol, etc. Also, my experience with the process I described, even though it's empirical and not laboratory-supported, tells me I needn't worry.

Good luck to you, too!

Bob
 

absolutbmc

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I am in the process of brewing a watermelon wheat. How would I ensure not to contaminate? I think heating the watermelon is out of the question as it would lose a lot of the flavoring. I was planning on pureeing the watermelon and straining it, so I would only have the juice. I would then add to secondary. I have been thinking of adding some Vodka to the watermelon juice, I have watermelon flavored Vodka.
 

lamarguy

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I am in the process of brewing a watermelon wheat. How would I ensure not to contaminate?
Cold or hot pasteurization will work, as discussed in this thread. I don't believe the diluted vodka will kill enough of the spoilage microbes and I'm not sure you want the fake watermelon taste in the final product.

Cold pasteurization:
  1. Campden tablets (sodium metabisulphite)
  2. Chlorine Dioxide (works in less than 10 minutes and has the same microbe effectiveness as sodium metabisulphite)

Hot pasteurization:
  1. Quickly heat solution to 161F for 15 seconds and quickly cool to room temperature. Despite what people seem to indicate, this short heating process has a minimal effect on the flavor. For example, canned fruit is pasteurized and the flavor/aroma profile is excellent.

Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to use one of the above techniques.
 

SumnerH

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Cold or hot pasteurization will work, as discussed in this thread. I don't believe the diluted vodka will kill enough of the spoilage microbes and I'm not sure you want the fake watermelon taste in the final product.

Cold pasteurization:
  1. Campden tablets (sodium metabisulphite)
  2. Chlorine Dioxide (works in less than 10 minutes and has the same microbe effectiveness as sodium metabisulphite)

Hot pasteurization:
  1. Quickly heat solution to 161F for 15 seconds and quickly cool to room temperature. Despite what people seem to indicate, this short heating process has a minimal effect on the flavor. For example, canned fruit is pasteurized and the flavor/aroma profile is excellent.

Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to use one of the above techniques.
Note that for UTST pasteurization, you need the fruit itself to reach 161 for 15 seconds (if you put cold fruit into 161 degree water, that's not going to pasteurize in 15 seconds).
 

ekjohns

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freezing does kill bacteria. It is standard procedure to make glycerol stocks when freezing both bacteria and yeast to protect from ice crystals that puncture cell walls. This is in no way a sterilization but freezing will kill most but not all.
 

william_shakes_beer

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From reading this entire thread, Its clear to me thare are several ways to REDUCE the bacteria in fruit before placing into the fermenting beer. Here is what I propose to do when I put blueberries in my first beer:

1. Soak fresh uncrushed blueberries in starsan 1-2 hours to neutralize microbes on the outside of the fruit
2. Place in ziplock bags and freeze
3. Thaw
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until berries are no longer whole
5. Ferment beer 2 weeks. Rack over blueberries
6. Complete fermentation, bottle as usual

Any thoughts?
 
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