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View Full Version : Blueberry Juice Melomel - Waaaaay too acidic



icedmetal
02-23-2011, 10:32 PM
Recipe/Procedure
14lbs 11oz Clover Honey
Store-bought Blueberry juice to 5.66 gallons
10g D47 yeast rehydrated in 12.5g GoFerm
4-step SNA for a total of 5tsp Fermaid K and 2tsp DAP

PH out the gate was 3.1, added 5tsp of Potassium Carbonate to get it up to 3.5. Tasted the juice... whoa, this stuff is pretty acidic. Oh well, already mixed up the must!

Fermentation started 5/15/10, ended at 1.004 by 6/12/10, when we racked to secondary. Gravity hasn't moved since, until we recently (2/19/11) added Potassium Sorbate and a campden tablet to stabilize, then 3lbs of honey. Even after the backsweetening (1.023 now), this stuff is just way too tart/acidic. When I took a sip of the sample, I swear it made my tongue curl up :eek: The roommate says he'll take it if I don't want it, so I guess that means it's drinkable, but I'm hoping for something a little better than that for this batch.

My understanding is that you can't get rid of acidity that's present, how about cover it up? Adding more honey is still an option, but based on my trials in a glassful, won't be very effective.

Any other ideas? That blueberry juice was $8 per gallon, so I'm willing to give just about anything a try...

Side note: by anything, I do mean anything. Buddy of mine suggested adding baking soda to a sample to neutralize the acidity. It did the trick alright, acidity went away... and it tasted absolutely awful!

wayneb
02-23-2011, 10:44 PM
You can try to buffer a bit more of the acidity with additional Potassium carbonate. It won't leave the "salty" aftertaste as readily as sodium bicarb does.

This might also be a good time to experiment with malolactic fermentation. Malic acid is the principal organic acid in blueberries, over twice the concentration of citric, the next most prominent acid in the juice. If you inoculate the batch with a MLF culture you might be able to get something far more drinkable as a result. MLF bacteria transform the sharp bite of malic acid to a much more soft tasting lactic acid, and they produce a bit of diacetyl in the process, which in small quantities can add roundness to the mouthfeel. However, too much diacetyl can result in "buttery" flavors, which can seem out of place in a berry mel. Still, a MLF culture such as Enoferm Beta might be just the ticket for this batch.

icedmetal
02-23-2011, 11:16 PM
Oh wow, Enoferm Beta is going for $33 for 2.5g over at MoreWine! Then ya gotta use a $6 bag of rehydration nutrient...

I think I'll try the potassium carbonate first. Thanks for the tips!

AToE
02-24-2011, 03:42 AM
Where the heck did you get BB juice for only 8 bucks a gallon?

icedmetal
02-24-2011, 04:14 AM
Costco :) I thought I paid too much... it costs more in your neck of the woods?

Medsen Fey
02-24-2011, 10:20 AM
You're not going to want to try MLF on this batch since you've added sorbate already. If the lactic acid bacteria are able to get started (with the sulfite present) they will metabolize the sorbate into a nasty geranium odor that you'll be stuck with.

Your choice are:

1) reduce acidity with calcium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate. Using a combination means less chance of ending up with chalky or salty flavors, but if you need to use a lot (which this batch would probably need) you can mess up flavor. One way to approach it is to heavily treat a portion of the batch (say 1 gallon) and then blend it back in gradually. You could measure TA here to get an idea how high it is even if it isn't terribly accurate.

2) Sweeten further. This will eventually balance the acidity, but by that point it my be very "thick" feeling.

3) Dilute with water. Obviously flavor, ABV, and other factors would be affected

4) Age it longer. Acidity tends to fade as acids bind with alcohol forming esters and other complex molecules. However this can take a very long time.

5) Blend it. This may be your best solution. Blend with a batch that needs acidity. This could be a traditional mead, or another berry batch that lack acidity (like elderberry, or some batches made with fruit wine bases), or another batch of blueberry that has had acid managed to keep it low. This way you give up nothing.

wayneb
02-24-2011, 11:43 AM
You're not going to want to try MLF on this batch since you've added sorbate already. If the lactic acid bacteria are able to get started (with the sulfite present) they will metabolize the sorbate into a nasty geranium odor that you'll be stuck with.



Good catch, Medsen! I missed that point in his narrative. :(

Mars Colonist
02-24-2011, 11:54 AM
You're not going to want to try MLF on this batch since you've added sorbate already. If the lactic acid bacteria are able to get started (with the sulfite present) they will metabolize the sorbate into a nasty geranium odor that you'll be stuck with.

Your choice are:

1) reduce acidity with calcium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate. Using a combination means less chance of ending up with chalky or salty flavors, but if you need to use a lot (which this batch would probably need) you can mess up flavor. One way to approach it is to heavily treat a portion of the batch (say 1 gallon) and then blend it back in gradually. You could measure TA here to get an idea how high it is even if it isn't terribly accurate.

2) Sweeten further. This will eventually balance the acidity, but by that point it my be very "thick" feeling.

3) Dilute with water. Obviously flavor, ABV, and other factors would be affected

4) Age it longer. Acidity tends to fade as acids bind with alcohol forming esters and other complex molecules. However this can take a very long time.

5) Blend it. This may be your best solution. Blend with a batch that needs acidity. This could be a traditional mead, or another berry batch that lack acidity (like elderberry, or some batches made with fruit wine bases), or another batch of blueberry that has had acid managed to keep it low. This way you give up nothing.

Im going to guess these would be the same recommendations for a mead with high citric acid acidity (FWIW, 100% pineapple juice as the base, no water)?

Chevette Girl
02-24-2011, 12:49 PM
Costco :) I thought I paid too much... it costs more in your neck of the woods?

Off-season, I'll be paying about that much for a gallon of apple cider :P

mccann51
02-24-2011, 12:53 PM
This isn't super helpful for the moment, since Medsen recommended you don't use MLF bacteria, but for future reference, Wyeast sells it in the 10$ range (I've been wanting to give it a try for the exact same reason, btw).

Chevette Girl
02-24-2011, 01:07 PM
Im going to guess these would be the same recommendations for a mead with high citric acid acidity (FWIW, 100% pineapple juice as the base, no water)?

It really depends on how acidic your pineapple really is/was, how you like the result, or whether your fermentation sticks because of the pH. Is this started, finished or still in planning? If it's not a finished product it might be worth its own thread.

icedmetal
02-24-2011, 02:05 PM
Jack Keller's site (http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/acid.asp) has a pretty good writeup regarding the various acids and what you can do with/about them. Interestingly, he lists citric as the primary acid in blueberries. At any rate, I'll be going the potassium carbonate route with this batch. For this purpose, are potassium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate interchangeable?

I'll try and get my hands on calcium carbonate as well; don't have any now as I'd heard previously it'll leave a chalky taste in your mead.

Chevette Girl
02-24-2011, 02:22 PM
If I recall my chemistry, it's the carbonate ion that reacts with hydrogen ions to make water and carbon dioxide to decrease the acidity, so bicarbonate has two carbonates to react with, although as intuitive as it seems, it won't be doubly effective by weight, you'd have to figure it out by moles and I'm too lazy to look up a periodic table and do the math.

Mars Colonist
02-24-2011, 02:40 PM
It really depends on how acidic your pineapple really is/was, how you like the result, or whether your fermentation sticks because of the pH. Is this started, finished or still in planning? If it's not a finished product it might be worth its own thread.

5 months, finished, not stabilized; cleared with finings several months ago. Very acidic. Dont have the equipment to do TA.

Chevette Girl
02-24-2011, 02:52 PM
5 months, finished, not stabilized; cleared with finings several months ago. Very acidic. Dont have the equipment to do TA.

Then yeah, this'll all be applicable... has it changed much over time?

Mars Colonist
02-24-2011, 04:00 PM
... has it changed much over time?

Im not very descriptive with my wine/mead tasting notes yet... I wrote "very acidic" a couple of months ago, now it is still very acidic; quantifiable would be better. Some flavors have changed, but not the acidity.

wayneb
02-24-2011, 04:03 PM
Jack Keller's site (http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/acid.asp) has a pretty good writeup regarding the various acids and what you can do with/about them. Interestingly, he lists citric as the primary acid in blueberries. At any rate, I'll be going the potassium carbonate route with this batch. For this purpose, are potassium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate interchangeable?



I got my data on blueberries from this site:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=84

They show malic acid greater than citric. I tend to trust sites with numbers, especially when they reference their data sources. But, they could be wrong....

Anyway, the potassium bicarbonate and carbonate are interchangeable in this application. As CG noted, the bicarbonate does provide more H+ ion neutralization than the carbonate, but it isn't a huge difference by weight. Moreover, potassium bicarb is relatively unstable in a water solution. At temperatures between 100 and 120C, potassium bicarb dissolved in water will break down into potassium carbonate, water, and CO2.

Mars Colonist
02-24-2011, 04:13 PM
TIL that pineapple (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=27) has a ton of malic acid vs citric (~10:1)

AToE
02-24-2011, 04:25 PM
Costco :) I thought I paid too much... it costs more in your neck of the woods?

Way more, pure blueberry juice is only sold in small containers anywhere I've ever seen it, maybe 500ml/pint, and those range in price from 6 bucks to 13 bucks.

I've seen other juices blended with blueberry for far cheaper, sometimes at Costco, but never pure.