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View Full Version : Racking into secondary on top of blueberries - problem with oxygenation?



Alien1099
05-21-2013, 12:43 PM
Let me preface this post by saying this is only my "second" attempt at making mead. My first time involved two batches of JAOM made a month apart. Each of those batches was made with three 1 gallon carboys. Both turned out great and family and friends loved it. Unfortunately it's all gone now. :( As we all know though, JAOM is a simple recipe and I am trying something a little more advanced now so to speak.

Right to the point: I'm making a sweet vanilla blueberry melomel. Will racking onto crushed or pureed (in a blender) blueberries a month into fermentation using Lavlin 71B result in any adverse effects because of oxygenation?

Would it be better to just give the berries a couple of crushes with a potato masher or even leave the berries solid to avoid adding oxygen at this point?

What about adverse affects from decomposition of the berries in the secondary?

Can anybody give me an idea for about how long I should leave the mead in the secondary with the fruit? I was going to leave it in the secondary for one month to get it off the remaining lees again.

I'm assuming that I should be adding more water to fill the volume of the carboy because of the decrease in volume that will result from leaving behind some of the mead in the primary due to the lees and berry remnants? I also assume that this will result in a little further fermentation due to the dilution of the mead with the water and addition of more berries?

Background: I started three 1 gallon batches (I only have 1 gallon carboys at the moment) of blueberry melomel four weeks ago using Lavlin 71B yeast. I did a little light reading about the benefits of adding fruit to the primary vs secondary and decided to do both. My plan was to add one pound of blueberries to the must of the primary at the start of fermentation (which I did) and an additional pound in the secondary after racking the mead after one month's time.

The first pound of blueberries for each carboy was prepared by simply crushing the berries with a potato masher and then adding the mush to the must in the carboy and then I shook it all up very well. I degassed as best I could over the first week and then after that I let it do its thing.

I deduced from reading various various posts here that 4-6 weeks max was about how long you want to wait to rack the mead off the lees of 71B and into a secondary because of adversely affected flavor. It's been four weeks now and I think I'm ready to transfer the mead to secondary carboys. I will also be adding a split vanilla bean to at least two of the secondaries (maybe even all of them) because I LOVE vanilla. I plan to add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of pectic enzyme to the secondary as well.

I apologize for the questions due to ignorance and thank you for any insight!

Ingredients per gallon:
3.5 pounds clover honey
2 pounds of Private Selection brand frozen blueberries (1 pound crushed/mashed in primary and 1 pound planned to be added to secondary)
1 split vanilla bean (in secondary)
Two packs of Lavlin 71B rehydrated with Go-Ferm and split between three 1 gallon carboys
1 tsp Fermaid-K
1/2 tsp of DAP
1 campden tablet (crushed)
1 tsp of pectic enzyme (split evenly between primary and secondary)
Arrowhead mountain spring water (poured to fill carboy)

I staggered the Fermaid-K and DAP nutrient additions over the first 4 days and degassed, oxygenated, and punched down the cap as best I could for the first week. After that I let the carboys sit in the dark.

I've also got a 1 gallon batch of traditional mead using the same ingredients and process as above minus the pectic enzyme (and blueberries of course) that I started the following day using one packet of Lavlin 71B (also hydrated with Go-Ferm).

maxmurder
05-21-2013, 01:45 PM
I am still a novice, but I am planning on doing a 5 Gallon Melomel in the near future and plan on using pretty much the same methods you are.

I was planning on leaving the fruit in the secondary for about a month, but we'll let the veterans weigh in on that one.

Good luck, sounds deeee-lish:)

Alien1099
05-21-2013, 01:51 PM
I am still a novice, but I am planning on doing a 5 Gallon Melomel in the near future and plan on using pretty much the same methods you are.

I was planning on leaving the fruit in the secondary for about a month, but we'll let the veterans weigh in on that one.

Good luck, sounds deeee-lish:)

Will you be using blueberries as well?

I am just always paranoid about screwing this up after all of this investment in time and money. I want it to turn out perfect, which I'm sure it will (but that doesn't stop me from worrying).

Marshmallow Blue
05-21-2013, 01:53 PM
Let's see what I can answer here. As long as you're using a racking cane and siphon tubes, adding oxygen to your batch shouldn't be a huge issue.

Since the berries were already frozen, the alcohol should be able to break down the skin and get to the goods without and blending or mashing really needed.

You can leave the berries in for quite a while once there is alcohol present. The alcohol will soak into the berries too, so no nasties should be growing. As far as how long the berries should be in there? until it tastes right, then maybe a bit longer as it will mellow out a bit with time.

Alien1099
05-21-2013, 01:56 PM
Let's see what I can answer here. As long as you're using a racking cane and siphon tubes, adding oxygen to your batch shouldn't be a huge issue.

Since the berries were already frozen, the alcohol should be able to break down the skin and get to the goods without and blending or mashing really needed.

You can leave the berries in for quite a while once there is alcohol present. The alcohol will soak into the berries too, so no nasties should be growing. As far as how long the berries should be in there? until it tastes right, then maybe a bit longer as it will mellow out a bit with time.

I will probably just leave them whole then. I do indeed have an auto siphon (and clip to fit it to the mouth of the carboy) and tubing for it.

smertz001
05-21-2013, 02:22 PM
The only problem I see, is blueberries, if they were washed before freezing, their skins get tougher. So you may want to do a quick mash on them just to make it easier. No need to puree, just take a potato masher (sanitized) and mash them up good with that.

I will be doing a peach melomel myself as soon as I can get a way to keep my fermentation temps below 75F. And I've done similar, mashed up the peaches, froze them and will rack a traditional onto them for a couple of weeks.

-- Steve

maxmurder
05-21-2013, 03:27 PM
Alien1099,
I was thinking blueberries, but I might do blackberries. Never tried that before.

Chevette Girl
05-31-2013, 11:35 AM
I usually do fruit in primary and not secondary, but typically unless it's a JAO I don't leave it longer than about two weeks, you're not going to get much out of it past that point anyway. However, as JAO has proved, a few months shouldn't be too big of an issue if everything was sanitary. The bigger issue would be if you still have much yeast suspended in there when you rack, as you have noted, the 71B is not good for leaving alone for a long time.

And I'd mash the berries rather than using the blender (that can break seeds and cause bitterness) or leaving them whole (I've even found frozen wild blueberries can stay pretty together, especially the less ripe ones, and you want to get the juice out into the must), I don't think mashing them will add much oxygen to the must.

There's my $.02 (+/- exchange rate!)

Womack
05-31-2013, 02:02 PM
I am sure it says something about this in the equipment guides But a refrigerator or freezer with an external thermostat is an excellent way to keep your temperatures down. the johnsons thermostat costs about 80$ and the fridge generally you can pick up used for $50. just ensure it works before you buy it at your neighbors garage sale.