View Full Version : Berry problem

07-11-2009, 11:59 PM
I went to the store a couple days ago to get some oranges and some raisins for a batch of JAO. I have a friend who's just getting into brewing and I started him of with JAO. I thought I'd do one and to see how they both turn out.

Now for my problem..
as I wondered there produce area in search of Oranges. I came across a verity of berries. all sitting there singing, "Smash me Mash me make me Wine!" They are evil that way I'm telling ya. I got the bright idea of doing a 1 gal batch of each so picked up 2 pints of blueberries, 3 6ox tubs of raspberries and black berries and 2 things of strawberries. the berries have been in the freezer for 2 days so far so should be ready to go as soon as I am

My basic plan was to use 3.5 lbs of honey in each batch
I have 6 packs of Lavin 71b-1122 I picked up for $.50 a pack at the LHBS this week while I was there getting some corks and bottling wand. I remembered reading that the 71b was better for fruits than the D47 for some reason of another.
I also picked up some pectin enzime while I was there. Since this is my frist time working with berries I figured I'd need it.
I have fermaid K and Go ferm to get things going for the first couple days,

anything else I shoud be thinking of.

Plan a

3.5 lbs honey.
18 oz black berries.
Bottled Water to 1 gal
5 g Lalvin 71B
6.25g go ferm as per directions on the pack
1 g Fermaid K as per directions on the pack
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme as per directions on pack.

repeat with 18 oz black berries
repeat with 2 pints blue berries
repeat with 2 pints strawberries.

any sugjustions on prepping the berries.
I do not plan on heating the must more than just above room temp to get the honey to flow a little better.

07-12-2009, 03:08 PM
I've done a couple batches, where I started out with 5 gallons of straight mead and then racked onto different fruits for 1 gallon batches.

Medsen Fey
07-13-2009, 09:39 AM
71B is nice for berry meads because it tends to metabolize a bit more of the malic acid in the fruits making the results somewhat less tart and more drinkable early. The freezing-thawing works well for berries.

When using berries a couple of things to keep in mind are that yeast like them and you can get some Mead Eruption Accidents (MEAs) as a result. If you have bucket with plenty of headspace -no problem. If not, consider leaving plenty of headspace and/or antifoam drops.

Also, with berries you need to manage the cap. This means swirling/stirring several times each day to make sure that it doesn't dry out and become a home for spoilage organisms, and to insure you get all the color and flavor extracted.

If you leave it on the berries too long, it will likely pick up bitterness from the seeds, especially at room temp or warmer. I find 1 week or less is usually plenty.

I hope it turns out well.


07-13-2009, 04:59 PM
If you have a small grain bag, use it. The blackberries especially will have little bits that fall of and can be hard to rack out. If I remember, the strawberries can also be a little hard to rack out but nothing like the blackberries!

With mels, you'll need to remember to punch down the cap a few times daily, like Medson said. The temperature at the cap can get hot and the you don't want anything growing on the berries above the top of the must. Cap management is covered very well in the Oskaar in a Nutshell thread.

You might want to consider starting in a bucket. It will be easier to use the grain bag and the cap will be thinner.

07-15-2009, 02:32 AM
you guys rock. Looks like I'll be going back to the LHBS and picking up a couple 2 gal buckets or something close to that. I also saw that they carry ceramic balls that are used as weights for grain bags. I think I'll pick up a few of those too just in case I'm not around to shake things up when they need to be.

I'll give the fruit about 5-7 days to do what it's going to do then pitch it and rack to a 1 gal jug.

I'll see if I can't get that 5 gal batch bottled tonight so I can use the counter space any my new water pump to help keep things cool.

I'll do the 1 gal JOA when I'm done bottling

07-15-2009, 10:51 AM
Just so you know, I've done fruit both in grain bags (submerged as well as floating) and without, and my preference is to go without for all but the muckiest fruits. Most berries work just fine without, and generally provide more color & a cleaner fruit flavor when they aren't bound in a bag. Yes, this means more care must be used in racking and when removing the cap (if you do your berries in primary as I generally do most of the time) to avoid keeping an excessive number of the very tannic seeds, but it really isn't that hard to do. And loose fruit in primary, with proper cap management, gives me much more consistent results than when I've done fruit tied up in a bag. You just don't get the same degree of fruit-must contact, and in the worst case you might introduce a local pocket of contamination where a spoilage organism gets going in the mass of fruit before the yeast has a chance to work its way in there.

For secondary infusion, a weighted grain bag would certainly be an OK way to go, but these days I don't bother with one for most fruits there, either.

07-22-2009, 12:05 AM
Well, it's been 5 days since I made my first batch.
so far things seem to be going good.

Nothing growing on top. I've been giving the bucket a good sloshing around once or twice a day.

Next time I think I'll use more than 2 pints of blueberries. It just dosnt' seem like it was enough. I also left them whole. maybe next time I'll mash them up a bit and see how that works out.

Maybe also using a Glass carboy so I can watch whats going on in there.

Today I opened the bucket and had a look at what was going on. Blue berries flooting on top and a little foam just as I expected.

I've been doing my best to keep the temp down. I've been using the water tub trick and swapping out frozen 2 leter bottles as often as needed. I've managed to keep the temp between 65 and 70 most of the time but it gets up to almost 80 while I'm asleep. Gotta love summer in Arizona.

I plan to rack off the fruit on Thursday or Friday. That will be about 7 days in primary.

The store where I got the berries is having a sale on them this week. I think I'll go get a bit more if each . they also have Cherry's on sale. I might get a few lbs of them too.

Medsen Fey
07-22-2009, 12:09 AM
Hey, you can always add some to the secondary. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

07-22-2009, 02:15 AM
I thought about that.

I also wondered if I should mash things up a bit.
when I looked tonight the Blueberries looked about the same as they did when I put them in. Maybe a bit bigger. I kind of hoped that they'd look a little more like the yeast had been chewing on them a bet.
I guess they just stuck in a straw and sucked out all the berry goodness.

07-22-2009, 08:57 AM
I had that happen too. They all ballooned up and were floating on the top. When I took one out and tasted it, it was pretty much all skin.

07-23-2009, 06:36 PM
Hey Medsen:

Any reason not to crush fresh fruit?

A little more work and more mess, but I'm thinking one would get more bang for the buck that way.

07-23-2009, 11:24 PM
Medsen's offline, so let me chime in. I almost always crush, mash, freeze, or a combination of the above. The only fruits that I won't smoosh in some way are those that naturally break down into goo during fermentation (mangoes come to mind). I am using fruit to get the fruit essences, so whatever I can do to maximize extraction is what I'll generally do.

Medsen Fey
07-24-2009, 10:27 PM
Crushing, mashing and so forth all work and I usually do it. The one thing to be careful of is using a blender or food processor or other techniques that breaks up the seeds and causes excessive bitterness.

08-01-2009, 03:46 PM
So, after 1 more week in secondary with another 2 pints of blue berries, I racked to a fresh bottle. I guess I should have planed to make 1.5 gal instead of just 1 gal since I ended up with just over 1 and 1/3 gal. I will say this thought, it's got good color and seems to be a lot clearer than I thought it would be after only 2 weeks.