View Full Version : is pectin supposed to stay floating?

01-11-2009, 09:51 PM
So I recently made a cranberry apple cider and used pectic enzyme to help clear it up, it worked wonders. But now all the pectin is floating sludge at the top of my must, will it eventually sink? Should I wait to rack until it sinks?

01-12-2009, 01:28 PM
Well, you've been around here long enough to know the drill... recipe? process??

I'm kind of in the dark about what you're seeing, since pectic enzymes break down the polysaccharide chains that make up pectins into simpler starches and sugars, and you shouldn't end up with any sludge at the top as a result of the pectinase activity.

Tell us more about this particular batch, please.

01-12-2009, 02:34 PM
-1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
-4 gals apple cider from Trader Joe's
-1 gal cranberry juice from Trader Joe's
-roughly 2 lbs of cranberry honey (which is delicious by the way)
-one packet of S-33 yeast, I believe it said 11.5 grams, it certainly seemed like much more than the usual 5g packs I use
-2.5 tsp Fermax
-2 tsp energizer

I started out by just cleaning the crap out of everything w/ hot water and soap, then I slightly heated the apple juice b/c even though it was sitting in my living room for awhile it was still chilled from being in the refrigerated section in the store. I did this b/c I read that pectic enzyme works better in a warmer environment, also b/c it made it easier to mix in the honey. Then I poured all of the apple juice and cranberry juice into the primary, along w/ the honey. The cranberry juice was not heated at all. Then I swirled it around a bunch and then added the pectic enzyme. I let that sit in a covered primary for roughly 7.5 hours. I checked on it periodically and noticed that it was clearing out incredibly quickly, but when I mixed it it became cloudy again, which led me to believe that the pectin was all settled on the bottom. Later in the day I rehydrated the yeast for about 10 minutes in lukewarm water and mixed it around, and then I added a little bit of the must and mixed it around and I let that sit for about 10 minutes. When I came back, the faux-starter was incredibly foamy and active. I added the Fermax and energizer to the must and mixed vigorously for about 10 minutes, and then added the yeast and mixed vigorously, for about another ten minutes. Then I put it in the guest bedroom for the night and when I woke up the next morning, approximately 9 hours later, it was bubbling slowly. I opened it up later in the day to aerate it and that was when/where I saw the floating sludge, which I assumed to be the pectin. When I aerated the must foamed a lot, and the sludge went down below the surface. I have not opened it to check on it since so I do not know if it has resurfaced or not.

01-12-2009, 05:31 PM
I believe I may have figured out what this floating sludge is. While reading a short excerpt on bentonite, a process was described where the bentonite, if it was put in before/during fermentation, would constantly rise up and resettle and rise up and resettle, due to the CO2 bubbles forcing it up and then dropping back down because it was too heavy for the CO2 to support any longer. It also said that whatever the bentonite attached itself too would rise up and resettle with it as well. So maybe whatever is going on in my primary right now is what goes on with the bentonite. Perhaps the pectin had settled before, and then was just rising up, and is now interchangeably settling and rising.

Medsen Fey
01-12-2009, 09:44 PM
What color is the floating material? Can you give us any other description?

01-12-2009, 10:26 PM
Thanks for jumping in, Medsen! That was going to be my next question... along with is it mostly opaque, or does it appear to be translucent or almost clear (like gelatin)?

Sorry for the late follow-up -- things have been kinda messy around here -- we just had the first snowstorm of any significance this season.

01-12-2009, 10:40 PM
geez, thats a great question, i really don't know how I missed something so obvious when asking about it, lol. The sludge is the same color of the juice, a dark maroon color. It is completely opaque and not clear at all. It wasn't too solid, it broke apart quite easily when I stirred it with the giant spoon I use to aerate. Also, it was roughly an inch high above the surface of the must. However, today it seemed to have shrunk down. I can only assume this means that some of it must have sunk to the bottom. I will post back with whatever happens over the next few days. This batch is a bit troublesome though, even though there is constant bubbling from the airlock the hydrometer keeps reading 1.05, which was the OG. We'll see what happens with this in a few days.

Medsen Fey
01-12-2009, 11:19 PM
In my cysers I usually get some reddish brown globs of sediment in the krausen (for want of a better word - what do you call it in mead?) that settles on the sides of the fermenter and on top. It causes no problems and settles with swirling or gets left on the sides when racking.

01-12-2009, 11:21 PM
Well it sounds to me as if you might just have some fruit solids in the mix, which floated to the surface in the way that small bits of fruit rise to form a "cap" in a fermentation using fresh fruit.

I wouldn't worry about it too much at this point, unless the batch starts to smell funky.

Interesting that you apparently got lots of foam when you stirred the batch, but the SG hasn't changed any. Perhaps some of the CO2 being produced stuck to the sides of your hydrometer -- which could cause an artificially high SG reading. Did you spin your hydrometer to knock free any sticking bubbles when you took your latest SG reading?

01-12-2009, 11:54 PM
The hydrometer probably didn't get spun, I'm not at the house so my dad actually took the SG reading, which may have been why it was wrong in the first place... I didn't know that that was the reason for spinning it though, that's so cool! God I love homebrewing! lol

Thanks a lot for your help on the subject.

01-13-2009, 12:17 AM
Hey capoerista sista,

I had the same weird reddish ooze stuff in a recent batch and kinda freaked out about it. The log is here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13437) and from what I gather it's something that happens with apple cider, though I'm still in the dark about the actual cause. All the pulp and pectins maybe? I would think that the pectic enzymes would have fixed that. ??? They're not causing it though. Cus I didn't use pectic enzymes and had the same stuff and like wayne said they're supposed to break up the polysaccharide chains and turn things into fermentable goodness, sugars and things. I wonder what that sludgy ooze stuff really is?

*wandring aloooouud willllll the years treat us well?~

01-13-2009, 12:57 AM
I'm a guy...capoeirista is just a term used to describe someone who plays capoeira, it isn't feminine or masculine.

At any rate, seeing that your brew turned sour has got me a bit worried. I am hoping the sludge is harmless and sinks back down into the brew to be smothered in alcohol.

01-13-2009, 01:22 AM
SOrry dude!!! I had it in my head for some reason you were a sista, my bad!

And I think the sludge is [mostly] harmless!?! The sours thing was an over-reaction. I didn't post again on that but I went home that night and tried it out and I'm pretty sure it's just fine, just needs some time to mellow out and maybe a little backsweetening.

you shouldn't worry. But I don't think I would push it down and incorporate it into the mead, the stuff might bring contamination. Seems like we don't know what it is or does! My reaction was to rack it from under that stuff. It didn't show up again in secondary.

Medsen Fey
01-13-2009, 10:23 AM
I am not certain what the stuff is. I suspect that is is related the the stuff in apples that browns when exposed to air. I don't think it is pectin. It may be some polymerized phenolic compounds that oxidation produces. In any event, it seems to cause no harm.

01-13-2009, 12:10 PM
Remember that there are more than pectins in most fruits -- pectin is just the "glue" that holds the plant cells to the other cellulosic structures that are also built up within the fruit. Pectinases only work on those simpler pectins -- not on the cellulose.

01-13-2009, 12:13 PM
so should I skim it out? rack from under it? or maybe just keep mixing it around with aeration?

01-15-2009, 11:15 AM
If it doesn't smell funky, just keep mixing it in (aka "punching down the cap") when you aerate.

01-15-2009, 01:34 PM
sounds good, I haven't been home to see/smell it (busy w/ school) but I have been told it smells great and the sludge has lessened. Going home to see it in a bit.

01-18-2009, 09:24 PM
this batch is done fermenting now, and WOW, tons of stuff settled out, like the most I've seen so far, several inches, just wow, so much sludge