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paulh
09-01-2008, 11:47 PM
The current batch is the first one to have fruit added right from day one. I put the berries in a mesh bag to make the first racking easier. Only 4 days in and punching down the cap 2-3x a day is getting old fast.

I'm wondering if when I hit a certain point, perhaps 50% sugar, if I could/should weigh the bag down with marbles to keep it submerged. First, I dislike opening the bucket mulitple times a day. And when I do push the bag under, it drags down a lot of air with it causing lots of bubbling (not just foaming, but big air bubbles).

I'm thinking that keeping the bag weighed down will negate the cap puching and minimize oxidation from the air being pushed in with the bag. I'll open it once every two or three days to gently stir to degass and check the progression of fermentation.

Sound like a plan, or does anyone see problems with this?

Oskaar
09-02-2008, 01:49 AM
Paul,

Do you have a recipe posted? If not, we'll need an exact recipe along with the process used to make the mead, along with original gravity, current gravity, and any treatments made to the batch thus far. It's tough to really dial in advise with a recipe in absentia.

Thanks,

Oskaar

Pewter_of_Deodar
09-02-2008, 01:17 PM
I am moving towards putting all of my fruit into steeping bags, not just because of cap management, but because of racking issues as well. I have found that the batch I made with 2 1/2 gallons of grapes ended up losing about 1/3rd volume when I racked because the "fruit" had not settled or compacted. So instead of 6.5 gallons, I ended up with around 4...

If you weigh down the bags as you suggest, then the bagging should have little or no effect on the end result and should be easier for you to manage. Anyway, that's the direction that I am moving with my own batches...

The question might be asked of the pros around here as to whether you want to wring out the contents of the bag(s) back into the batch when you rack or not. What do people think?

Good luck,
Pewter

paulh
09-02-2008, 11:13 PM
we'll need an exact recipe along with the process used to make the mead, along with original gravity, current gravity, and any treatments made to the batch thus far.


sure.

8/26/08 3:00 pm
3.5 gallons spring water
20# wildflower honey
3# red raspberries (store bought,frozen, and thawed)
3# cherries (the rest is hand picked, local gown,vacuum sealed frozen and thawed)
4# blackraspberries
2.5# blueberries
5.5# strawberries
100 ppmSO2
3 tsp pectic enzyme

1 gallon water warmed on stove to dissolve honey. the rest mixed in the bucket. thawed fruit placed in mesh bag, elastic top around rim. Stirred well. Just over 7 gallons at 1.130ish. Lid/airlock on and moved to cellar at 65f.

8/27/08 11:45 pm
Must stirred well for several minutes
added:
5 g Superfood
5 g DAP
5 g KHCO3
2-3 minute pure o2
10 G D47, rehydrated with Go-Ferm
mixed well and put back in cellar. Must at 64f.

8/28/08 11:30pm
no activity. bucket moved upstairs and swirled to mix up contents.

8/29/08 7 am
must at 68-70f. Airlock bubbling once evey 15 seconds. I started puching down the cap 2 or 3 times a day at this point. Moved the bucket back to the cellar and have kept it at 65-66f.

8/30/08 9 am
3 g Superfood
3 g DAP
stirred well
no gravity taken

9/1/08 3 pm
2 g Superfood
2 g DAP
stirred well
gravity at 1.086

9/2/08 3pm
104 hours in since active fermentation, its at 1.072 and appears to be going strong. holding right aound 65-66f. The only other thing I did was to tie the bag closed with (plain, unwaxed, sanitized) dental floss. Capillary action from the bag over the rim was causing seepage under the lid and drawing fruit flies.

Sooo....
My question is...

can I weigh down the bag and keep the fruit submerged? I'm not good at getting to this two or three times a day to puch down the cap. Plus, when I do, the bag brings a lot of air into the mead.

paulh
09-03-2008, 12:28 AM
I am moving towards putting all of my fruit into steeping bags, not just because of cap management, but because of racking issues as well. I have found that the batch I made with 2 1/2 gallons of grapes ended up losing about 1/3rd volume when I racked because the "fruit" had not settled or compacted. So instead of 6.5 gallons, I ended up with around 4...

If you weight down the bags as you suggest, then the bagging should have little or no effect on the end result and should be easier for you to manage. Anyway, that's the direction that I am moving with m6y own batches...

The question might be asked of the pros around here as to whether you want to wring out the contents of the bag(s) back into the batch when you rack or not. What do people think?

Good luck,
Pewter


This is a take on Ken Schramms Multi-Berry Melomel. I followed his recipe last year, and, like you, lost a LOT when racking. Autosiphon hates fruit pulp and berry seeds. Mesh bag was a thought to overcome this PITA. After reading Curt Stocks Melomel recipes in this summers BYO, I decided to bump up the gravity and scale it up to 6 gallons. Or 7. Going for a semi-sweet finish this time.

I won't be squeezing my berry-bag to get the juice out ;D.
If anything I'll hang it and let it drip-dry. I remember my Grandma making grape jelly this way.

Oskaar
09-03-2008, 08:38 AM
Squeezing/pressing the fruit is an essential step in both winemaking (and in my opinion) good melomel and pyment making. The whole idea is to get as much of the fruit extract as possible. This is why you see so many different types of grape presses out there in the market. This is especially true for dark fruit (blueberry, currants, grapes, cherries, etc.) It gives you that last bit if character from the fruit, the tannin from the skins, the antioxidants from the skins (important for long term aging and color retention) and both soluble and insoluble solids that build body, character and mouthfeel in the finished mead. Over time the solids and other trub will settle out during long term aging.

I'm not a fan of bagging fruit, I don't feel that it allows for maximum extraction of color, tannin, fruit character or efficient fermentation kinetics since the fruit is not dispersed throughout the vessel. Mostly I don't like the idea of making the yeast work harder to get to the fruit sugars in the center of the fruit bag. Sloshing and swirling it around help, but it's still inefficient, and moreover the fruit cap does not get to form if the bag is submerged.

An alternative to sinking a fruit bag into a bucket is to get enough netting to cover the entire inside of the bucket and weight down the netting around the bottom/sides along the bottom of the bucket, then lay the netting over the rim of the bucket and hold it in place with a few large heavy rubber bands or tie it down securely with some waxed thread or cord. Add your fruit and stir slowly so as not to knock your weights all over the place on the bottom. Once you have had about four days worth of exposure (color extraction is done by this point) you can make a meadmaker's decision on whether to let the fruit sit longer, or take it out then and squeeze out as much as you can get into your fermenter and allow fermentation to complete. This way, you still get good fruit exposure in the must, you contain the fruit, and provide a simple way of extracting the fruit when you pull the netting out of the fermenter. Just an old winemaker's trick for those who don't have a chunky pump, but it applies well to melomels, meths or anything that may have some chunkies floating around in it!

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

paulh
09-03-2008, 10:02 AM
and moreover the fruit cap does not get to form if the bag is submerged.



Why would this be bad?

Oskaar
09-03-2008, 01:27 PM
Cap formation facilitates the rapid and thorough diffusion of pigments, tannic complexes, and some of the skin and pulp polysaccharides, without having to triturate. It is also important to the stabilization of the mead/wine's polyphenolic system and its aromatic profile.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

paulh
09-03-2008, 03:00 PM
Cap formation facilitates the rapid and thorough diffusion of pigments, tannic complexes, and some of the skin and pulp polysaccharides, without having to triturate. It is also important to the stabilization of the mead/wine's polyphenolic system and its aromatic profile.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar



ohhh... now I understand. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

liff
09-03-2008, 04:47 PM
I bag the fruit, for the racking reasons. A compromise is to buy the LD Carlson "Jumbo, Coarse" (18 by 32 inch size) bags, leave as much room in the bag as possible, and still do the cap management/good fermentation techniques as required. For larger amounts of fruit I just use 2 of the bags, but the fruit is always 'loose' in the bag during fermentation.

Oskaar
09-04-2008, 02:30 AM
Cap formation facilitates the rapid and thorough diffusion of pigments, tannic complexes, and some of the skin and pulp polysaccharides, without having to triturate. It is also important to the stabilization of the mead/wine's polyphenolic system and its aromatic profile.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar



ohhh... now I understand. Thanks for clearing that up for me.


Happy to help.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Teufelhund
09-04-2008, 10:03 AM
Hi Paul,

Here's something I do when racking heavily-fruited mels: just tip the carboy or bucket over at a 45* angle so all the lees settles down to that end for a few hrs and then just rack from the top side. It eliminates alot of the lees getting sucked up into the racking cane.
What is left could be strained through a few layers of cheescloth inside a large funnel.
Just my .02 .

:cheers:

DD

capoeirista13
09-04-2008, 03:28 PM
How do you strain using a cheesecloth or funnel? I mean, when you rack you put the flexible tubing into the carboy right? So how do you bring any kind of strainer into this process :icon_scratch:?

paulh
09-04-2008, 10:15 PM
Due to a busy work schedule starting very soon, there is no way I'll have time for this mead for at least a week.

3# of marbles took the bagged fruit to the bottom. No more exposed fruit. No more worries. ;D

Teufelhund
09-05-2008, 12:09 AM
I have a large funnel 14" and use a very fine mesh cheesecloth folded 4 times for straining. Line the funnel with the cloth and then dump rest of lees. I only do that when there's massive lees and berries. 6 gals becomes 3 gals real quick if you don't try to get it all.

:cheers:

DD

capoeirista13 >>>How do you strain using a cheesecloth or funnel? I mean, when you rack you put the flexible tubing into the carboy right? So how do you bring any kind of strainer into this process :icon_scratch:?

Oskaar
09-05-2008, 01:56 AM
...SNIP...No more exposed fruit. No more worries. ;D


Um, don't know who gave you that impression but that's definitely not the case. You'll still need to agitate the bag of fruit in order ensure that no bacteria, molds or other spoilage yeast take root at the center of the fruit contained in the bag. Agitate doesn't mean that you'll kick the snot out of it, but it does mean that you need to get the fermenting must circulating in order to normalize or get a close approximation of the pH, and yeast content of the must outside of the fruit bag. The swirling, stirring, agitating, or whatever you want to call it will get the must moving through the bag and get that nice concentration of fruit character, sugar, acid and tannin into the rest of the must.

Cheers,

Oskaar

capoeirista13
09-05-2008, 02:59 PM
So you are saying that after you rack as much of the mead as you can from one container to another, you pour everything that is left through the strainer into some precleaned container, and then pour the rest of the liquid contents into the container you were originally racking into?

Teufelhund
09-08-2008, 09:39 AM
Cap,

Nooooooooo....strained lees goes into the same carboy as racked mead. Rack mead off lees into carboy, strain lees into carboy. Of course there will be alot of minute particles but as a fine lees, it will settle down in a month to a 1/2" of much easier rackable lees for next time.
I rack every month or 2 for the first 4-5 months, checking SG, etc... and by the time it's stabilized, it's usually very clear and lees-free.

:cheers:

DD

paulh
09-08-2008, 01:04 PM
I finally got a chance to check on this today. Day 10, 1.026, airlock still steadily bubbling. It's still quite sweet (and plenty fruity!), but very smooth despite being around 14% ,not "hot" at all. I was able to maintain a temperature around 65-66. I think this helped a lot. Part of the bag and fruit had surfaced, and since I won't see this again for 5 or 6 days, I pulled it out, hung it to drip for a while and poured the quart or so back into the bucket (I think this was a Jack Keller tip).

98% of the fruit, plup and seeds are out and I've still got over 6 gallons! :icon_thumright:



I am moving towards putting all of my fruit into steeping bags, not just because of cap management, but because of racking issues as well.

Good luck,
Pewter


Thanks! I can see me using this method again, too! :cheers: