View Full Version : Backsweetening a strawberry melomel?

12-30-2008, 11:25 AM
Hey all, I'm fairly new to meadmaking and have a quick question.

I made a 3-gallon batch of strawberry melomel in June (red star champagne yeast, wildflower honey), and it seems like it's all fermented out and everything, beautiful color, perfectly clear, smells spectacularly of strawberries, and I'd be bottling it now except that the taste is ridiculously dry and tart. I want to sweeten it up but am wondering- do I need to sulfite it to be absolutely sure it's done fermenting first? Will honey at this point make it cloudy or have some other negative effect? And how much should I use? I tend to like sweeter meads but would be happy if this one just didn't pucker my face like biting a lemon.

If anybody has any advice I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

12-30-2008, 12:31 PM
Hi Marcy,

Welcome to Got Mead?

OK, we'll need a little more information from you before we tackle your questions.

We need to see the recipe, how you made it and any gravity readings you have available now. I suspect that the original gravity was low, and using a champagne yeast will take most musts dry unless the recipe is specfically formulated to leave some residual sugar.

So, before everyone else starts jumping in with advice, we'd like to see the exact recipe along with how you made it, your original gravity readings and current gravity reading. Also need to know if it's still on the fruit (it sounds like it is) and if the mead is clear yet. If still on the fruit you'll need to rack off and allow to stand for at least another month in order to let any additional yeast and/or sediment from the fruit to precipitate out.

Welcome again, Oskaar

12-30-2008, 04:48 PM
Fair enough :) Here is the recipe I followed, in italics; the only difference is that I substituted the product of my own beehives for all 10 pounds of honey and the different yeast as noted after the recipe:

Strawberry Melomel

Source: Dick Dunn (rcd@raven.eklektix.com)
Mead Lovers Digest #171, 10 July 1993


6 lb clover honey
4 lb alfalfa honey
12 lb strawberries
Red Star Prise de Mousse yeast
4 oz dextrose (bottling)


Start the yeast in about a pint of water with a few tablespoons of
dextrose. Be sure the starter solution and jar are sterile, and at 70-
80F before adding yeast. This yeast should start quickly--a few hours
at most.

Clean and hull the strawberries; chop into a few pieces. (Don't crush
them or you'll have an impossible mess at racking.) Put them into a
sanitized plastic-pail primary.

Bring 4 gallons of water to a full boil. Remove from heat and
immediately add the honey; stir thoroughly. (This will sterilize the
honey without cooking the flavor out of it.) Cool to about 150-160F,
pour over the berries in the primary fermenter. Cool to pitching
temperature (below 80F) and add yeast starter. Stir thoroughly to mix
and aerate.

Every day or two, push the floating mass of strawberries down into the
fermenting mead (the equivalent of a winemaker's "punching down the

After the strawberries have become very pale--probably ten days or more-
- strain out as much of the strawberry mass as possible, then rack into
a glass carboy. Be prepared for the racking tube to clog.

Ferment to completion. If necessary, fine with gelatin.

I'll admit I used the champagne yeast because that was all I had on hand, and I was in a hurry because my fresh-picked strawberries were not dealing well with the heat. I couldn't get a decent gravity reading because of the fruit (which was removed as per the timetable in the recipe) but 10 days later on June 17 when I could get a reading it was 1.000. The thing fermented like crazy :) On September 3 it was .994 so I assume it's not changed TOO much between now and then, although I was going to check it again this evening. I wanted to have a game plan before I messed with it at all, though. Let's see, what else... been off the fruit for ages, and is perfectly clear although nicely strawberry-tinted.

12-30-2008, 05:19 PM
Hi Marci,

Welcome to gotMead?!

It appears you are done with fermentation, however, racking it and taking the FG again for the next 3 months, comparing them, then making sure it has stabilized, should make sure it is ready for back-sweetening.
If you opt for the tablets, just follow the instructions.
Add just 1/4 cup at a time when back-sweetening and then once you figure out where you like it, write it down so next time, you can compensate, add more honey (or not) and it should turn out where you want it.
As a former Red Star user, you could try 212, D-47 or even 71-B and compare.
Just my .02 worth.



12-30-2008, 06:16 PM
excellent :) thanks!

12-30-2008, 07:04 PM
taking the FG again for the next 3 months, comparing them, then making sure it has stabilized, should make sure it is ready for back-sweetening.

Does it really take 3 months to determine if fermentation is complete since it was @ .994 since September. ???


01-09-2009, 06:36 PM
to answer your question for backsweetening..it is BEST to use both K-meta and sorbate to make sure it stops any remaining fermentation..then you can backsweeten with anything you'd like. in my ciders (which I keg)..I backsweeten with cans of apple juice concentrate to taste, then carb for 4-5 days and enjoy.

For instance..my last hard cider (which was really more of an Apfelwein) finished at .998..I back sweetened with two cans of AJC and 1/4lb of wildflower honey to get the F.G. up to 1.014....it's just about perfect for my tastes.

Good luck

Yo momma
01-09-2009, 07:03 PM
Correct, it is best to sulfite and sorbate your must before backsweetening. Also it is best to take multiple readings over 2-3 months to be sure it is done. It will definetly not hurt the progress of the mead. As a great fan of Strawberry Mel's, I like mine at 1.030. You will probably need about 3-4 lbs. of honey to get there. Teuf. is correct in stating the cup measure thing, expetialy if you have never done it before. Record how much you put in and what the new SG is before sweetening it more. It is best to start at a higher OG to get a sweeter FG at the end. That way your yeast will die of and leave your mead sweeter. YMMV

Keep us informed on what you do>