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Joshua W
03-28-2011, 02:06 PM
Hello,

Just wondering about the likely hood of fermentation starting back up after first racking. (Details below)


23Liters or Aprox 5 gallons?
Recipe:
~16 lbs Honey
12 Lbs strawberries (greens removed, chopped)
Champagne yeast (forgive me, I have misplaced the package and cannot specify the exact yeast.
4 cups orange juice
2 vanilla beans halved and split (seeds not scraped)
1/2 teaspoon wine tannin
pectic enzyme
2 teaspoon acid blend
1 tbs yeast nutrient
5 Campden tab's

Boiled the honey and water - removed scum,
filled primary container with addition of strawberries and orange juice for acidity + Macro/Micro Nutrients for the yeasties

Added:
campden tablets to kill off any wild yeast
yeast nutrient
vanilla beans
wine tannin
teaspoon acid blend
added 2 teaspoons pectic enzyme to aid in the breakdown of the fruit.

Before I continue, I am new at this and would love further direction as to the amounts of the above typically added in a similar situation, as I was working with what little I know about this process.

Continuing;

The next day I prepared the yeast according to package, pitched it, and waited.

within a few hours the fermentation was bubbling, a few days and it was apparent that the yeast was very happy :)

Maybe too happy I suppose as two weeks later the fermentation had nearly stopped, 2 bubbles out of the airlock every 45 seconds or so.

At this point there was about 2.5 inches if sediment at the bottom, (much of this was berry remains I imagine)

Of course it was after this two weeks that I read about putting fruit in a mesh sack, so not much I could do about this at that point.

Anyways, Racked this into a 23L glass carboy, after the loss of the fruit and sediment I was sitting fairly low in the carboy, so I topped up with 10 lbs worth of juiced strawberries and a bit of honey water to top up to a more comfortable level.

I decided to add the strawberry juice as the mead that formed was lacking in the raw fruit flavor I was hoping for.


***The Question***

It has been 36 hours or so since the racking and addition of strawberry juice and honey water.

As there was some signs of fermentation before I racked I expected it to pick up a bit with these additions, But it has not.

I am wondering if I should expect this to continue to ferment.
If not, should I re pitch or just let it do its thing?

Also, Since the addition of the strawberry juice, I realize there was a fair bit of pulp which has since settled into a 2 inch layer,
this new layer is just fruit pulp and not lees I should not be overly concerned about racking off of the pulp.. right?

Is there any length of time that is too long to leave the mead on the pulp?


Thanks in advance.
???

Josh

Chevette Girl
03-28-2011, 02:50 PM
Welcome to a fellow Canuck! Where are you?

Ok, looking over your recipe (and thanks for not making us ask for it!), the first thing that comes to mind is lack of specific gravity readings. Without a hydrometer, you won't be able to tell if fermentation's really done.

Now, to address your post...

Typically, we advise against boiling honey, it drives off a lot of aromatics and some of the flavour, and not much can live in it anyway. Don't worry, you haven't ruined it or anything, it'll still be a good mead. I still do it sometimes if I want to scald the fruit I'm pouring it over (either for germ reduction reasons or to set colour, but most others just use Campden tabs, which I usually avoid, personal choice).

The current theory also advises against adding a lot of acidity up front while using honey because it has some interesting properties that can cause heavy drops in pH to the point where your yeast can't take the acidity (for more info on that, check out the advanced search tool for "gluconolactone" with McFeeley as author and you'll find the threads that explain why).

For Campden tablets going into must, you generally want to wait till everything's cooled off and then add one tab per gallon and leave it 24 hours to kill everything and then dissipate so that it doesn't kill your yeasties when you pitch.

For pectic enzyme, most fruits are fine with about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per gallon of must, just make sure it's not too hot when you add it or it denatures the enzymes.

If it was a beige package with with a purple/dark red oval logo and white or dark red writing, it might have been Lalvin EC-1118 yeast, good choice.

And you've also discovered why some folks like to make the mead first and then add the fruit in secondary fermentation, a vigorous fermentation can blow off some of the more delicate fruit flavours, so adding more juice was a good plan.

And your final question...

My initial thought was that with the amount of honey you used for that size of batch, with two weeks of fermentation, it's probably done fermenting, and repitching won't have any effect because there's no more sugars left for the yeast to eat.

Then you added some more sugar to it by topping the carboy up with the fruit juice and honey addition (good idea, you don't want a lot of headspace at this point), and you're right, that probably should have kicked up a little bit of fermentation. But as you will hear time and time again, trust your hydrometer, not your airlock when it comes to gauging fermentation... so my theory is that if it is fermenting, it's very slow because of the amount of acidity in there now at the end of the fermentation, and you won't be able to tell for sure without a pH meter or test strips (titration will not work on mead), and re-pitching probably won't help either, there should have still been enough yeasties floating around in there to do the job if it can be done.

If you had a hydrometer, you would be able to check it after a week and see if the specific gravity has dropped, it's possible that if it is fermenting slowly it might take a few more days to build up enough CO2 in solution to have it start coming out of soution and manifesting as bubbles or airlock activity.

So that's my $.02. It sounds like you're off to a great start with meadmaking!

Joshua W
03-28-2011, 03:26 PM
Thanks for the input, felt like I waited years for a reply :P

I'm located in big cow town, Calgary AB.

I did a lot of research into the mead making process before I began, but I am quickly realizing that there is lots to learn.

Yes I must have been the Lalvin EC-1118 then. :)

I am also beginning to understand the importance of a hydrometer.


One More question for you:
Since the addition of the strawberry juice, I realize there was a fair bit of pulp which has since settled into a 2 inch layer,
since this new layer is just fruit pulp and not lees, should I be overly concerned about racking off of the pulp?

Is there any length of time that is too long to leave the mead on the pulp?

Thanks Again!

Josh

AToE
03-28-2011, 03:39 PM
Hey, I'm also in Cow-town, are you a member of the Yeast Wranglers brew club?

Joshua W
03-28-2011, 03:48 PM
Cant say I have ever heard of the Yeast Wranglers brew club,

Mind you 3 weeks ago I bought my first packet of yeast. :P



What does the Yeast Wranglers brew club entail?

What is the demographic of members?

Josh

AToE
03-28-2011, 03:52 PM
It's a beer homebrew club, has everything from people just interested in beer, to kit brewers, to all out brewers. It's meetings are held at the Wild Rose brewery the first wednesday of each month, try googling them see if it piques your interest.

wayneb
03-28-2011, 03:55 PM
Since the addition of the strawberry juice, I realize there was a fair bit of pulp which has since settled into a 2 inch layer,
since this new layer is just fruit pulp and not lees, should I be overly concerned about racking off of the pulp?

Is there any length of time that is too long to leave the mead on the pulp?



Generally you don't want to leave a mead that has finished fermenting very long on the "gross lees," which include bits of fruit pulp, spices, misc. bee parts, etc. Gross lees will start to autolyze (i.e. "rot") after a couple of weeks, and can result in some unpleasant smells and/or tastes. I generally recommend that folks rack off of the gross lees asap after primary fermentation has finished.

Fine lees, which are only residual yeast that have gone dormant after the fermentation (and which usually drop out of suspension for several weeks after racking out of the primary fermenter) are a different story, and extended time on fine lees using a "sur lie" protocol can add depth to your mead. But even then you need to be using a strain of yeast compatible with sur lie, or you can get some nasty off-flavors in your mead as a result.

Joshua W
03-28-2011, 03:58 PM
Looks good, Thanks for sharing that with me.

I will definitely need to stop by some time.


Where is it that you pick up your honey here in Calgary?

Joshua W
03-28-2011, 04:03 PM
Generally you don't want to leave a mead that has finished fermenting very long on the "gross lees," which include bits of fruit pulp, spices, misc. bee parts, etc. Gross lees will start to autolyze (i.e. "rot") after a couple of weeks, and can result in some unpleasant smells and/or tastes. I generally recommend that folks rack off of the gross lees asap after primary fermentation has finished.

Fine lees, which are only residual yeast that have gone dormant after the fermentation (and which usually drop out of suspension for several weeks after racking out of the primary fermenter) are a different story, and extended time on fine lees using a "sur lie" protocol can add depth to your mead. But even then you need to be using a strain of yeast compatible with sur lie, or you can get some nasty off-flavors in your mead as a result.

Thanks! Really good advice :)

AToE
03-28-2011, 04:05 PM
Looks good, Thanks for sharing that with me.

I will definitely need to stop by some time.


Where is it that you pick up your honey here in Calgary?

I think it's 10 bucks for a drop in at a meeting, (there are samples and sometimes snacks so drop in fees cover those). If you do show up I'll be the guy with a shaved head (unless I'm lazy that month) and a red beard, some tattoos.

I get honey from all over, I haven't really found a cheap source for good quality honey yet, but I have found reasonable prices for excellent honey from a local beekeeper that sets up at the dalhousie farmers market in the winter. I can get you contact info if you like, his honey is usually about $3.50 - $4.10 or so per pound, depending on how much you buy. He doesn't give anything special for really big bulk purchases though.

Joshua W
03-28-2011, 04:31 PM
I think it's 10 bucks for a drop in at a meeting, (there are samples and sometimes snacks so drop in fees cover those). If you do show up I'll be the guy with a shaved head (unless I'm lazy that month) and a red beard, some tattoos.

I get honey from all over, I haven't really found a cheap source for good quality honey yet, but I have found reasonable prices for excellent honey from a local beekeeper that sets up at the dalhousie farmers market in the winter. I can get you contact info if you like, his honey is usually about $3.50 - $4.10 or so per pound, depending on how much you buy. He doesn't give anything special for really big bulk purchases though.


I would love to grab that contact info from you, I am trying to get all my resources in line.

http://www.chinookhoney.com

The above is a link to a bee keeper near okotoks,
They are also the only commercial meadery in alberta, which is how I stubmled across them.

Do you have any experience with them? I have not stopped in yet, but its on my to do list for this weekend.


If I stop in I will definitly keep my eyes open for ya :)

Josh

AToE
03-28-2011, 04:40 PM
I would love to grab that contact info from you, I am trying to get all my resources in line.

http://www.chinookhoney.com

The above is a link to a bee keeper near okotoks,
They are also the only commercial meadery in alberta, which is how I stubmled across them.

Do you have any experience with them? I have not stopped in yet, but its on my to do list for this weekend.


If I stop in I will definitly keep my eyes open for ya :)

Josh

I'll PM the contact info to you right now.

Yes I've spoken with those folks, haven't tried their mead yet unfortunately but plan to soon.

Their honey sounds like good quality and good variety, but seriously expensive from what I remember. It'll cost you an arm and a leg to ferment anything (maybe they can offer more reasonable bulk prices though).

Chevette Girl
03-28-2011, 05:02 PM
One More question for you:
Since the addition of the strawberry juice, I realize there was a fair bit of pulp which has since settled into a 2 inch layer,
since this new layer is just fruit pulp and not lees, should I be overly concerned about racking off of the pulp?

Is there any length of time that is too long to leave the mead on the pulp?


Pooh, why are there no meadmakers in Ottawa coming out... :)

Hey Wayne, considering that most of this pulp settling out now is from fruit juice added in secondary rather than stuff sucked up the racking hose from primary, how long is fruit generally "safe" in secondary? I do most of my fermenting in primary and haven't researched fruit additions in secondary much, so my inclination would be to leave it in about as long as I'd leave fruit in primary (about 2 weeks is my upper limit no matter whether the SG's down far enough or not) before racking it again for maximum flavour extraction (maybe not as important here since he used juice and not mashed fruit) and settling/compaction of the pulp. Am I on the right track?

wayneb
03-28-2011, 05:59 PM
Hey Wayne, considering that most of this pulp settling out now is from fruit juice added in secondary rather than stuff sucked up the racking hose from primary, how long is fruit generally "safe" in secondary? I do most of my fermenting in primary and haven't researched fruit additions in secondary much, so my inclination would be to leave it in about as long as I'd leave fruit in primary (about 2 weeks is my upper limit no matter whether the SG's down far enough or not) before racking it again for maximum flavour extraction (maybe not as important here since he used juice and not mashed fruit) and settling/compaction of the pulp. Am I on the right track?

Two weeks max is what I do for fruit, regardless of where in the fermentation cycle my mead is. Usually I'll have it in there for 10 days or less. Oskaar has cited studies in the past showing that maximum color extraction occurs for most red fruits in 4 to 5 days, and in my experience you've extracted all the aromatic and flavor components you're likely to get out of the fruit after 7 to 10 days. More than that and you start to get bits of denatured plant protein in the mix, when the plant cells begin to autolyse. At first the breakdown will primarily be from complex polysaccharides (think cellulose) to simpler sugars, which could both provide food for yeast and render the result sweeter tasting. But eventually the plant cell's proteins will begin to deteriorate both from the action of enzymes in the plant cells themselves, and from enzymes left over from your spent yeast. The results can be "interesting," adding nut-like flavors at times, or simply "bleccch," from most fruits.

randrick
03-28-2011, 09:01 PM
Thanks Wayne. This actually explains how the "bleccch" got into a cherry cyser that I made. Is there anyway to get it out once it's in there?

Joshua W
03-29-2011, 02:44 PM
Hey Guys,

Thanks for all your help in this regard.

I will post an update in a few weeks :)

I have another thread I just started that I was looking for input for,

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?p=163127#post163127

Thanks again.

Josh

wayneb
03-29-2011, 03:22 PM
Thanks Wayne. This actually explains how the "bleccch" got into a cherry cyser that I made. Is there anyway to get it out once it's in there?

That one's hard to call. It might age out, given enough time, but unless we know exactly what components caused the "bleccch," it is hard to venture a guess as to the likelihood that it will mellow.

randrick
03-29-2011, 11:04 PM
That one's hard to call. It might age out, given enough time, but unless we know exactly what components caused the "bleccch," it is hard to venture a guess as to the likelihood that it will mellow.

It was two cups of decomposed sweet cherries from Argentina that I left in a one gallon ferment way too long.

wayneb
03-30-2011, 01:08 PM
Dark sweet cherries have a variety of chemical compounds in them that, when fermented, provide a somewhat chemical, somewhat bitter, phenolic flavor that many people associate with commercially produced "cherry flavored" cough syrup. If that is the "bleccch" you are referring to, it will mellow with age - but those phenolics can take a very long time to age out.