View Full Version : A few Questions about my first recipe attempt

08-17-2012, 01:19 PM
Hi all, looking for some expert opinions on a batch I am about to attempt. I have made 4 batches of mead already and all have turned out good so far. It will be my first batch of with a recipe I have come up with on my own. I am looking at doing the following:

What I want:
A sweet strawberry mead. I am using D-47 yeast which should cap out about 14% alcohol. I have enough sugars to get to almost 15% alcohol so this should give me a nice residual sweetness. Also I really like cinnamon and think a subtle cinnamon taste may actually add some real quality to the mead.

The Ingredients:
16 pounds of clover honey(will use wildflower if can't get clover)
10 pounds of juiced strawberries(using juicer)
D-47 Yeast
2 Sticks Cinnamon
Yeast Nutrient

The Plan:
Add 500ml of water to the yeast with about 30g of dextrose to get the yeast started and let sit for a few hours. Next I will juice the rinsed strawberries and then heat the honey and strawberry juice to about 160 for 10-15 minutes to kill any baddies. After that I will let it cool to room temperature, add the started yeast and cinnamon and top it up to about 20L with demineralized water and yeast nutrient. Let it sit for until it clears or finishes fermenting and then rack it to clean carboy and let it age for as long as needed thiefing out samples and racking every month or two.

Questions I have are:
1. Is juicing strawberries a viable method of adding their flavor to the mead?
2. Should I boil and soak the remaining strawberry "Pulp" after juicing.
3. Should my ratio of honey to strawberries gonna produce a nice strawberry taste or will the honey overpower it in time(clover or wildflower)?
4. Will 2 sticks of cinnamon give it a subtle cinnamon taste without being over powering or am I safer to just stick with a straight strawberry batch?
5. Would adding say 5lbs of juiced strawberries after fermentation during the first racking be a viable method of adding flavor or should I just stick with the plan?
6. Is 1% alcohol over yeast tolerance enough to make it a sweet mead.
7. Should I remove the cinnamon after racking the first time or leave it in for longer? Maybe add it after the first racking? Any opions?

I have 50L of mead at my house at the moment. I only drink on weekends, but not every weekend. I also have another Carboy that I can make some quick mead if I run low (can have 20L of a decent tasting berry batch in about 3 months, using concentrated juices and dextrose). Meaning this batch can take a year or longer, I want quality over speed as I have my quantity now ;D

Thanks in advance for the input,

08-17-2012, 04:18 PM
Just a couple things,
I personally wouldn't heat the honey or the strawberry juice.
And, I would freeze the whole strawberries to kill any potential undesirable microorganisms and it also breaks up the fruit cell walls which will help release the juice into the must then thaw them and add them in.
Good luck.

Yo momma
08-17-2012, 06:17 PM
If you heat the Strawberry's it will set the pectin and give you a pectic haze when the mead is done. If your worried about baddies use some camden tabs. They will destroy anything that is in there.

How much water or how big is the batch? 4 gallons water plus honey and berries?

08-17-2012, 08:04 PM
Fruit additions often get yeast a bit past their listed tolerance. You may find you need to backsweeten to your taste.

And definitely avoid heat with those berries.

Chevette Girl
08-18-2012, 12:13 AM
Like everyone else said, I'd avoid heating the berries or the honey.

Juicing should work fine, I think Fatbloke uses a steam juicer for a lot of his melomels. And if your juicer doesn't crack open the seeds of the strawberries, including them in the must isn't a bad plan, I'm just not sure how much goodness you'll get out of them at that point. I'd make sure to keep them in a brew bag, strawberry gunk takes up a lot of room but it compacts quite nicely.

I would follow the directions on the package for your D47 yeast, which is to rehydrate it in a small amount of warm water (2 oz at 105F if I recall), and if you want to make a starter, let it rehydrate first before you start adding anything to it. And I'd add must rather than dextrose, since that's what you want to get it used to anyways.

If 1% isn't enough leeway and the D47 takes it dry, you can always add a little more afterwards. It might be easier to just aim for a particular % and ferment it dry, then stabilize it and backsweeten...

If you find your strawberry flavour isn't strong enough, topping up your carboy with more juice is not a bad idea.

I don't find one cinnamon stick per gallon to be overpowering, so two in 4-5 gallons should be subtle. And if it's too subtle, you can always add another one in secondary. I think a couple weeks will draw whatever you're going to get out of your cinnamon sticks, but if you don't think they're done you can always transfer them over to secondary after you rack, just make sure whatever you grab it with is sanitized if you're putting it back in the must.

Looks like a pretty decent recipe!

08-23-2012, 01:21 AM
Sorry for the delay in responding...it appears that my thread tracking got turned off after the first post notified me. I am aiming at a 5g batch. I have modified it to this if anyone wishes to comment. I adjusted the recipe so I should have about 3% alcohol to spare with the D-47 yeast.

The Ingredients:
18 pounds of pure/raw/unpasturized clover honey(found some)
12 pounds of strawberries juiced(using juicer)
D-47 Yeast
3 Sticks Cinnamon
Yeast Nutrient

The Modified Plan:
Rinse and Freeze Strawberries for a few days.
Take Strawberries and thaw.
Rehydrate yeast.
Juice the thawed strawberries.
Heat the honey in 1 gallon of water at 140 degrees for 22 minutes to kill any baddies(I'm a noob and think freezing the strawberries and lightly heating the honey is easier than mixing campden, unless anyone has any advice on how to do so).
Allow must to cool to room temperature,
Add the rehdrated yeast, strawberry juice and cinnamon & top it up to about 20L with demineralized water and yeast nutrient.
Let it sit for a few weeks until fermentation is about 2/3 done and rack it removing the cinnamon.
Let fermentation finish and rack it again once it clears.
Age it for as long as needed thiefing out samples and racking every month or two possibly adding more strawberry juice afterwards.

Sound much better?

08-23-2012, 09:00 AM
A couple of things here to consider.
1.Do what you want with the strawberries just know that freezing them will not kill off microorganisms as was mentioned earlier. In fact, it preserves a lot of them quite nicely. You wouldn't eat raw meat out of the freezer would you?

2.A number of people here have had good success over-pitching their yeast to give them a strong start instead of using campden in melomels. This worked well for me recently when I did it for the first time on a strawberry melomel.

2.I wouldn't use demineralized water as the yeast need the minerals. Also, I would bet that demineralized water would cause a serious osmosis problem for the yeasts' innards. Just use drinking water that tastes good to you.

Good Luck.

Chevette Girl
08-23-2012, 10:42 AM
Like Ettels says, freezing will not kill anything in your strawberries. All freezing fruit does is break down the cellular structure a little so the juice comes out more easily... although when I use strawberries I just mash them up and put them in a brew bag, after a week, they've completely disintegrated and once I let it drain, all I've got is a bag of spent pulp, it releases its juice very easily anyway.

So if you notice a difference in yield from your juicer depending on whether you use frozen and thawed or fresh fruit, go for it, but with strawberries it might not be needed since they're such a soft fruit to start with. But you're not killing anything by freezing it.

Honey's pretty sterile the way it is, most of us never bother heating it at all. Some folks use campden tabs with each batch but a lot of us never do that either (it's simple, take one tablet, put it in a spoon, take another spoon, mash togehter, sprinkle resulting powder into must, repeat with one tablet for for each gallon, stir well, wait 24 hours before pitching yeast.

I never boil my honey anymore and I only ever use campden when working with very ripe pears because they spoil so quickly that I need something to hold off the baddies while the pectinase does its thing, and I haven't had a problem yet. A good vigorous fermentation will kill the baddies just as effectively, even without over-pitching.

Oh, and if you're not waiting for your fermentation to complete before you rack it, stir it thoroughly about an hour before you rack to make sure that you transfer enough yeast to finish the job. The yeast will still be suspended but an hour gives the gross lees plenty of time to settle out.

And keep an eye on your SG, this batch may get to 2/3 complete well before "a few weeks" have elapsed.

Good luck! :)

08-23-2012, 07:38 PM
Like Ettels says, freezing will not kill anything in your strawberries. All freezing fruit does is break down the cellular structure a little so the juice comes out more easily...

Is that right, won't kill ANYTHING??

08-23-2012, 08:46 PM
Freezing won't kill most single-cell organisms, at least in the 100% of them die sense. It should reduce the cell count...but not to zero.

Chevette Girl
08-24-2012, 01:07 PM
Some organisms are susceptible to lysing from ice crystal formation, but it's not going to be anything reliable...