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Wrathwitch
12-08-2013, 03:32 PM
and when?

Here's my recipe just for fun:

SHANI’s VERY OWN : Holiday Cranberry Mead (1.5 Gal)

Recipe:

6+ cups (2kg) of Cranberry blossom Honey (I say + because it was about 6 1/4 ish.)
Rind from One orange (shredded)
EC-1118 yeast prepared according to pkg directions.
1 1/2 C cranberry juice unsweetened
Palm full of raisins (sultanas I believe)
3 whole cinnamon sticks
4 cloves whole
1/4 tsp nutmeg
454 g Fresh Cranberries frozen, thawed and smashed as well as I could
1 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 1/2 yeast energizer
Spring water to 1.5 Gallon

OG 1.110
SG after 1 week: 1.006 (3 lines under the 1.00 mark, into the green)
After 2 Weeks: 1.004-1.005

The only difficulties I have had so far with this recipe is that it is not as sweet as I want, but I understand I can back sweeten it, the second problem is the acidity level which I have been adjusting with chalk. Right now it is aging a bit and clearing but I know I will want to backsweeten it. I understand that I have to ensure fermentation has ceased by stabilizing it, that part I am clear on. What I am NOT clear on, is HOW exactly does one add the honey (which is what I want to use) to backsweeten it without stirring it or can you stir it without problem if you are going to let it sit for a while in the carboy before bottling?

So, how do I add it to the carboy and when should I add it? Will it harm anything if I backsweeten it now and just leave it to bulk age and further clear?

Thanks!

bernardsmith
12-08-2013, 04:43 PM
Speaking as a fruit wine maker and a very novice mead maker - so folk on this forum may very well disagree with me, I would argue that you wait until the gravity has fallen to below 1.000 and has not moved for about a week (three days minimum).

Personally , I would wait three or six months (actually twice that length of time) from now, because what you want is for THREE things to come together - your mead to contain no sugars for any yeast to feed on and for the colony of yeast to die off and for the dead yeasts to be removed from the mead. So you wait until your gravity is about .998 or 996. And two months later you rack the mead and two months later you rack again and so on.. You then want to stabilize the mead by adding a combo of K-meta (potassium metabisulfite) and K-sorb (potassium sorbate), Some folk add some citric acid. The combo works by preventing any yeast still in the mead from reproducing. It will NOT work effectively if you have a large colony of viral yeast still living in your mead.

There is no problem of "stirring" anything up because when you are ready to stabilize all you have is perfectly clear wine. There are no lees because you have racked the mead off the lees and there is no sediment falling because you have waited for all the sediment that will fall out to have fallen out. The addition of more honey may result in some more sediment falling out months later but stirring is not going to do anything detrimental to your mead when you add the honey to sweeten it
.
So you have stabilized the mead and then if I were you I would wait a week or two and then bench test to see how much sweetener you want to add.

You say that at a gravity of 1.005 the mead is not sweet enough for you. OK, so you take a number of samples (when it is below 1.000 and stable) and add enough sweetener to bring the gravity to 1.005, 1.0075, to 1.010, and you see which you prefer. If it is not yet sweet enough you repeat. If .0075 is not sweet enough but 1.010 is too sweet then you bench test between that range. And when you have determined the gravity that represents the sweetness you prefer you add the amount of sweetener to raise the entire batch to that level.
For me the secret of wine making is patience... so there is no rush. I would backsweeten shortly before I am ready to bottle but I would bottle after the mead has bulk aged , has expelled all the CO2, has cleared, and has stabilized.. But as I say that's what I think most wine makers might do.. mazers seem to try to rely on the alcohol killing the yeast with pounds of residual sugar still in the wine, and with the possibility that some viral yeasts simply won't succumb and will continue reproducing and fermenting...but their meads never reach below 1.000.

The need for backsweetening in this case may be due to the acidity coming from the cranberries, although you have used only about .5K of those berries. You don't say what the pH of the mead is but if you were to raise the pH (assuming that it is very low) you may find that you don't need to add as much sweetener as you do at this time

Wrathwitch
12-09-2013, 06:38 AM
Thank you for the reply. It seems very logical. I am in no rush with this one since I want it to be ready for next xmas. I will double check the ph as you recommend.

I know this may seem like a simple question but when I say how to backsweeten, I literally mean how! :D Do you mix some of the existing wine mix with honey and then pour it back in or do you pour the honey straight into the carboy?

Thanks in advance!

Shmafty
12-09-2013, 08:37 AM
I like to either thief out some of the mead to mix with the honey, or mix the honey with some spring water or juice. Typically I'll use equal parts honey and mead/water/juice, stir it up well (and gently if mead is used) before adding it back.

I usually backsweeten during a rack. Put your honey mixture into your new carboy first, and then the racking process will help stir it into the rest of the batch for you. After the rack is done, you can give it a little stir with the racking cane just to make sure it's good and mixed (no splashing).

If you absolutely can't rack when backsweetening, you can make your mixture as above and then gently pour it into the carboy with as little splashing as possible, and then use a racking cane to lightly stir it together (no splashing). Make sure that you have no lees or sediment at the bottom of your carboy if going this route, otherwise you'll just mix them back up and will have to wait that much longer for it to clear.

I would definitely avoid pouring the honey straight into the carboy full of mead. The amount of stirring you'd have to do to get it all mixed up would probably involve more oxidation that most would want to risk.

Ball Peen
12-09-2013, 09:09 AM
I would like to know what the pH is currently... sounds like a pretty acidic must to begin with.

joemirando
12-09-2013, 05:42 PM
...I know this may seem like a simple question but when I say how to backsweeten, I literally mean how! :D Do you mix some of the existing wine mix with honey and then pour it back in or do you pour the honey straight into the carboy?

What I do is to measure the honey into an empty honey bottle (mine are 3 lbs. or around a quart), siphon mead from the carboy into the bottle on top of the honey until I've got about an inch of headspace in it, cap it and shake the who-ha out of it, gently pour that back into the carboy, airlock it and rock it (if its a big carboy) or swirl it vigorously (if its a gallon jug). If I remember correctly, half a pound of honey will raise a gallon of must by 0.010 or so. I go in quarter pound increments per gallon so I don't overshoot the sweetness.

A minute of atmosphere isn't going to degrade your mead if you remove all the headspace you can when you're done. I've used sterilized marbles, non-porous stones, etc., and I haven't really been happy with any of them. If you degas your mead often after backsweetening, you'll purge most of the oxygen as you go. The CO2 will displace it.

Joe

bernardsmith
12-09-2013, 06:13 PM
What I do is to measure the honey into an empty honey bottle (mine are 3 lbs. or around a quart), siphon mead from the carboy into the bottle on top of the honey until I've got about an inch of headspace in it, cap it and shake the who-ha out of it, gently pour that back into the carboy, airlock it and rock it (if its a big carboy) or swirl it vigorously (if its a gallon jug). If I remember correctly, half a pound of honey will raise a gallon of must by 0.010 or so. I go in quarter pound increments per gallon so I don't overshoot the sweetness.

A minute of atmosphere isn't going to degrade your mead if you remove all the headspace you can when you're done. I've used sterilized marbles, non-porous stones, etc., and I haven't really been happy with any of them. If you degas your mead often after backsweetening, you'll purge most of the oxygen as you go. The CO2 will displace it.

Joe

Hi Joe, Curious about the last point you make. If I am backsweetening then I have removed all the yeast and have presumably degassed and clarified the wine (mead). When I add honey at that point to sweeten where is the CO2 coming from to displace the O2? Which is not to say that you should not mix the sugar (honey) and the mead but I think whipping air into it may not be "indicated" (as medical doctors are wont to say), which is why I tend to use a simple syrup when I back sweeten and gently warm the mead to dissolve the sugars (but then I am not a purist)

joemirando
12-09-2013, 10:09 PM
Hi Joe, Curious about the last point you make. If I am backsweetening then I have removed all the yeast and have presumably degassed and clarified the wine (mead). When I add honey at that point to sweeten where is the CO2 coming from to displace the O2? Which is not to say that you should not mix the sugar (honey) and the mead but I think whipping air into it may not be "indicated" (as medical doctors are wont to say), which is why I tend to use a simple syrup when I back sweeten and gently warm the mead to dissolve the sugars (but then I am not a purist)

I dont get all the CO2 out before backsweetening. I never clarify before backsweetening anymore. Its just going to need to be clarified again anyway. This leaves some CO2 in the mead, but I was talking about doing this right after racking and stabilizing. There is still CO2 in solution and it still needs to clear. Coaxing it out of the mead leaves it to dilute the nitrogen/oxygen mix in the headspace.

Wrathwitch
12-10-2013, 06:43 AM
Thanks for the tips and ideas.

As to the acidity, I will have to test it this weekend since I am curious now as well. I was just letting it sit for a bit, but it can't hurt to ensure good ph.

danr
12-11-2013, 12:00 AM
If I remember correctly, half a pound of honey will raise a gallon of must by 0.010 or so. I go in quarter pound increments per gallon so I don't overshoot the sweetness.

Joe, I believe that 3 lbs of honey per gallon gives a starting gravity around 1.110 and each quarter pound of honey would raise the gravity about 0.010. Of course, I am not very good at math. :confused:

If you get a chance to check your math, let me know what you think. Of course, a hydrometer is going to be more accurate than the mead calculator and taste is the best judge of all. I have read some comments before suggesting that after aging the perceived sweetness can increase so it is better not to overdo the backsweetening - unless you are going to drink the mead before it gets a chance to age. ;)

Dan

joemirando
12-11-2013, 01:12 AM
Joe, I believe that 3 lbs of honey per gallon gives a starting gravity around 1.110 and each quarter pound of honey would raise the gravity about 0.010. Of course, I am not very good at math. :confused:

If you get a chance to check your math, let me know what you think. Of course, a hydrometer is going to be more accurate than the mead calculator and taste is the best judge of all. I have read some comments before suggesting that after aging the perceived sweetness can increase so it is better not to overdo the backsweetening - unless you are going to drink the mead before it gets a chance to age. ;)

Dan

Dan, yes, your math is basically correct. A quarter pound of honey usually raises my SG by anywhere between 5 and 10 gravity points. I just figure a quarter pound and 5 gravity points for convenience.

And you're right about perceived sweetness being fickle. I've got a gallon batch of chipotle capsumel in secondary now, and at SG = 0.998, there is a definite sweetness about it, despite the low gravity reading. I don't have anywhere near the experience to explain why and what might go into making it so, but I hope to someday.

Joe

fuelish
12-11-2013, 02:37 AM
And you're right about perceived sweetness being fickle. I've got a gallon batch of chipotle capsumel in secondary now, and at SG = 0.998, there is a definite sweetness about it, despite the low gravity reading. I don't have anywhere near the experience to explain why and what might go into making it so, but I hope to someday.

Joe Not a bad "problem" to have....unless you wanted it to be percieved as dry :)

joemirando
12-11-2013, 03:19 AM
Not a bad "problem" to have....unless you wanted it to be percieved as dry :)

I wholeheartedly agree. Once its done and the chipotles have infused their little hearts out, I'll decide if I want to add a hanbanero or not, and after that, I'll decide if it needs a little more sweetness. I had INTENDED to backsweeten to give it some honey to balance the burn, but if I taste it and it 'works', I won't mess with it. Hey, a honey saved is a honey earned, right? ;)

The stuff is still 'winding down' and I wouldn't be surprised if it drops another gravity point or two. And I likewise wouldn't be surprised if that one or two points takes it from "a hint of sweetness" to "bone dry"... just to mess with me, of course. <Grin>

Might the amount of alcohol throw off the perceived sweetness? This one is about 16.5% ABV. I wouldn't think so, but some of the folks here have forgotten more about mazing than I know. Everyone else has only forgotten AS MUCH as I know. <grin>

Joe

GntlKnigt1
12-11-2013, 02:44 PM
Go to post #8 here, by Mars Colonist, dated Jan 11, 2012 and download the spreadsheet. http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?p=220643#post220643

The backsweeten calculator is towards the bottom, but it is an awesome spreadsheet for fermentation and nutrients. Mars Colonist deserves a lot more recognition for his work here too, so if you use it, send him a thank you.

Cal
12-12-2013, 08:17 PM
Everyone else has only forgotten AS MUCH as I know. <grin>Joe

Not everyone .....
Pssh, I learn from your posts all the time. Plus, I still can't work the mead calculator.??? Lol

GntlKnigt1
12-13-2013, 12:50 AM
If you look in the lower right under Current Volume, there is a Help Page button.

Here is the actual link to it. http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1988&Itemid=630

Wrathwitch
01-01-2014, 02:23 PM
Just as a belated follow up post. The ph was 3.2

I did some adjustments, and racked it into another carboy. I kind of messed with the purity of the recipe by replenishing lost volume with some of my fermenting blueberry mead. It changed the color for the better. Anyhow, I adjusted the ph level closer to where it should be and now it is just waiting game for a while.

Happy New Year all!!

schlapppy
01-05-2014, 12:20 AM
the longer you wait the better, IMO. I've backsweetened before and it was perfect for a year or so.. but as many know.. mead gets better with age! Many meads show their true colors after many years, and don't need sweetened. It stinks when you sweeten just enough.. then come back to a bottle a year or two later and it's too sweet because the other flavors have mellowed out and all you can taste is sweetness.

mannye
01-05-2014, 01:14 AM
the longer you wait the better, IMO. I've backsweetened before and it was perfect for a year or so.. but as many know.. mead gets better with age! Many meads show their true colors after many years, and don't need sweetened. It stinks when you sweeten just enough.. then come back to a bottle a year or two later and it's too sweet because the other flavors have mellowed out and all you can taste is sweetness.

I need to make more mead because all this coming back to things a year later... heck, I'm lucky if a gallon lasts a week!

GntlKnigt1
01-06-2014, 10:29 AM
I need to make more mead because all this coming back to things a year later... heck, I'm lucky if a gallon lasts a week!

Make bigger batches !!!! More mead.... more mead !!!!

mannye
01-06-2014, 10:59 AM
Ha! Absolutely! After my 5 gallon BOMM I made several 1 gal batches and this weekend will see about another 5 getting going. That one will have only one gallon taken out at 30 days to be consumed like a Conehead consumes a six pack and the rest laid down to age


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

Honeyhog
01-06-2014, 09:03 PM
That's my challenge right now. Making enough ready to drink fast mead that I have some left to lay down and enough to drink that I leave my 1 gal traditionals alone for a year. I've got a 5 gal batch of Black Cherry Melomel that went over big at Christmas that I'm drinking on now and should have some left to put away when my 5 gals of Blueberry Melomel is ready to sip on.

sdrilling
01-06-2014, 09:31 PM
And you're right about perceived sweetness being fickle. I've got a gallon batch of chipotle capsumel in secondary now, and at SG = 0.998, there is a definite sweetness about it, despite the low gravity reading. I don't have anywhere near the experience to explain why and what might go into making it so, but I hope to someday.

Joe[/QUOTE]

Hi Joe -- Our black currant / berry with wildflower and blueberry honey finished up at 14% and .998. Although the reading is dry it definitely has a sweet nose and fruity taste. We will probably backsweeten but will let it bulk age a month or two before we do. We went ahead and added sulfites and stablelizers.

---question about headspace though. The latest racking to a new 5 gal carboy leaves us about a quart short. We do not have any marbles and do not want to dilute the batch. What do you think -- will that amount of headspace cause spoilage?

thanks

antonioh
01-08-2014, 05:52 AM
There are some other things that can give a perception of sweetness.

I recall spirits that are distillated in copper alembic stills, have a sweet taste, very different from those from stainless steel stills.

GntlKnigt1
01-08-2014, 11:41 AM
Ha! Absolutely! After my 5 gallon BOMM I made several 1 gal batches and this weekend will see about another 5 getting going. That one will have only one gallon taken out at 30 days to be consumed like a Conehead consumes a six pack and the rest laid down to age

Or like Zaphod drinks a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster ??

mannye
01-09-2014, 01:00 PM
Or like Zaphod drinks a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster ??


Exactly. And when it doesn't report back, send a squad of them to find out what happened to it.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

moridin
04-21-2014, 11:53 PM
Exactly. And when it doesn't report back, send a squad of them to find out what happened to it.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

Lol that's awesome