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ComiteRiver
01-23-2015, 07:02 PM
I am fairly sold on waiting until secondary to add in fruits for melomels, or at least to add some additional fruit in secondary.... but WHEN is secondary fermentation?

Medsen Fey
01-23-2015, 07:58 PM
When you move your mead to the second container, typically at or near the end of fermentation.

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ComiteRiver
01-23-2015, 11:39 PM
I agree, that defines secondary. My problem is understanding when that "should" be. If fermentation is completely finished due to yeast dying for too much alcohol, then the fruit can't ferment. Is there a "rule of thumb" as to when to rack over to secondary?

JDWebb
01-23-2015, 11:43 PM
I watched an interview with the owner of a huge meadery recently on YouTube, granted it was several years old, but he suggests using primary for adding fruits. I also heard an interview by Ken Schramm where he says he no longer puts fruits in secondary which is in conflict with his book. The interview was after he wrote the book however. So what is the preferred method, experience and results?

WVMJack
01-24-2015, 06:07 AM
THere are those people who want their fruit wines to taste just like the fruit and then there are those people who want their fruit wines to taste like wines. A middle ground is to ferment most of the fruit in the primary and add some to the secondary to give it a more fruit forward flavor but not necessarily to taste like raw fruit. When you rack your wine from the primary into a secondary carboy it is still fermenting some. We typically rack over at 1.020 or lower, sometimes even at 1.00, but when you add extra fruit at this stage they yeast can usually eat the extra sugar you just provided in the fruit and will ferment it. The group that wants their fruit wines to taste like the raw fruit often add raw fruit juices when the fermentation is completed and stabalized, sweetening the wine and adding more raw fruit flavor. One thing that sets back making country wines back is that most people think fruit wines are supposed to be overly sweet and taste just like the fruit they were made from which is a legitimate style, but then if you make a dry blackberry or strawberry that is well balanced it throws people off, even if they like dry grape wines, and they think you made it wrong. This can also affect wine competition judging, if they are expecting a sweet country wine and you give them a bone dry one its outside the box they think it should HAVE to taste like. Anyway have any of us actually answered your question in a helpful way:):) WVMJ

JDWebb
01-24-2015, 01:51 PM
I get what your saying, but it then opens up the next obvious question, why put fruit in it at all? I would like to have hints of blueberry in my blueberry mead, however, I don't expect it to taste like blueberry juice. This is what I keep telling people who want a sip of my concoctions, and I let them know that my orange mead isn't going to taste anything like orange juice, and just because you saw me put 15 pounds of honey in the bucket doesn't mean its going to be sweet either. This is a wine, the method is older than fermenting grapes, not by much, but enough to classify itself as one of two oldest known fermented beverages. But, even in wine making, you can taste varietals. When I make my infusions, I have learned that 100 to 150 proof alcohol (vodka's and grain alcohols) will produce more of the fruit flavor it was married with than 80 proof alcohol. So in that respect, I would have to agree with the two individuals that primary, where massive fermentation is taking place, is the place you want your fruits. But on the other hand, like my infusions, the longer they sit on the fruit, the better they get, and that would be after fermentation in this case. Quite a quandary really, two schools of thought that make sense, yet two professionals say otherwise.

EJM3
01-24-2015, 05:27 PM
It really depends on how YOU want it to come out. Some want a very vinous & dry light fruit flavor/aftertaste: Add to primary. Others want a smack you in the nose flavor, aroma & bouquet bomb: Add to secondary. Or the middle of the road with some in primary some in secondary.

My best friends wife is getting 2 gallons of raspberry and 2 gallons of strawberry melomels from me as a wedding gift. She wants the smack you in the nose variety for a fruit bomb in a bottle, so I am adding it to secondary to accomplish this.

They are two slightly different methods to accomplish two distinctly different things.

WVMJack
01-24-2015, 05:58 PM
One of our favorite tricks if we want lots of aroma is to drop 10 pounds of frozen strawberries in the primary for the last 2 days before racking, really puts a boost in the bottle when you open it up. WVMJ

JDWebb
01-24-2015, 08:21 PM
Well, back to the original question, when is secondary? I've seen several schools of thought here too. Secondary is when the primary just poops out and can't give anymore. Or, when you decide to stop it based on your own desire. I have a 5 gallon batch, been in the bucket since 1/5, and has slowed to the point of dropping from 1.008 to 1.000 in 2 days. I'm not sure I want it to go any further in primary. But, I plan on backsweetening with a couple cups or 1 cup of honey when it hits the secondary, but need to make sure it's "dead" by then. I don't want it to eat the honey for a second course!

joemirando
01-24-2015, 08:49 PM
I agree, that defines secondary. My problem is understanding when that "should" be. If fermentation is completely finished due to yeast dying for too much alcohol, then the fruit can't ferment. Is there a "rule of thumb" as to when to rack over to secondary?

I haven't read all the responses to this yet, so somebody may have beaten me to it.

If you want a stronger taste of whatever fruit it is in your finished product, I'd add it to secondary... when your fermentation slows way down. I consider that one bubble through the airlock every 30-40 seconds (although that can be quite deceiving) or the SG has dropped to below 1.010 (which might not happen if you started with a high gravity must).

Think about how a wine tastes. Now think about how a grape tastes. Not a lot in common, right? That's because the yeast has eaten all the sugars and the chemicals that make a grape taste like a grape have been broken down to at least some degree.

Now if you put the fruit in secondary, when the fermentation is done or almost done, more of the 'flavor' stuff remains and can be leached out by the alcohol, so you get more of the flavor of the fruit. And yes, it will likely sweeten the mead some, but there's a trade-off with just about everything. Experimentation is key, and I haven't done a whole lot of it, but this is my understanding.

Medsen Fey
01-24-2015, 10:34 PM
If you plan to add honey, you'll need to stabilize if you don't want the yeast to eat it.

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JDWebb
01-24-2015, 10:58 PM
Yes, I have potassium sorbate, says 1/2 tsp per gallon.

EJM3
01-25-2015, 03:31 AM
OK, so maybe I'll change up my ferment to be 1/3 in primary from the start, 1/3 a few days before racking and the last 1/3 for secondary until it bleached. This will also take care of the problem of the fermentation restarting and totally wiping the sweetness on a batch with no K-Sorbate, only K-Meta (we just talked about the issues, she is for it if it means the mel will age well), as I can add honey as needed if needed to bring it to target SG range.

Thanks WVMJack!!

Medsen Fey
01-25-2015, 08:46 AM
Yes, I have potassium sorbate, says 1/2 tsp per gallon.
That should be plenty. One gram per gallon is the minimum.

You will also need KMeta - if you don't measure the free SO2, I suggest at least 1.5 Campden tablets (660 mg) per gallon.

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JDWebb
01-25-2015, 12:02 PM
I have campden, not sure what Kmeta is, if all I need is potassium bi-sulfate and potassium sorbate, then I'm set. I assume these should be added after racking to the glass carboy? Or before?
And ComiteRiver, I didn't mean to hijack you post, but from what I've learned, "when is secondary?" is pretty much up to you, either let it all ferment out in primary, or stop fermentation and rack it to secondary. If you don't add chemicals like I am, you can rack it to secondary and will will still ferment, just very s l o w l y for as long as its alive.

brentG
01-25-2015, 03:27 PM
Campden tablets and K-Meta are the same thing

JDWebb
01-25-2015, 04:34 PM
So, can I add my 2 cups of honey and the chems at the same time as racking? My gravity is at 1.000, the must tastes good, like an unfinished wine that needs aging.

Medsen Fey
01-25-2015, 08:13 PM
K+ is the symbol for potassium. Meta is for metabisulfite. Most Campden tablets are made of potassium metabisulfite. I prefer to use the powdered form - easier to dissolve.

Yes, you can add them at the time you are sweetening. You just want to make sure the gravity has stopped dropping before you do this as these stabilizers will not reliably stop and active fermentation.

JDWebb
01-25-2015, 08:27 PM
Thanks, I've been taking gravity readings, its been at 1.000 for almost 3 days now, and I really like it where it is. I think what I'll do is rack it into the glass carboy and sit on it for a few more days and take another reading, then do my chems and sweetening.

Medsen Fey
01-25-2015, 08:57 PM
The clearer the mead is before stabilizing, the more likely it is that the stabilizing agents will be successful as there are fewer yeast to have to inhibit.

ComiteRiver
01-25-2015, 09:42 PM
Great answers friends. I now continue down the newbee learning curve with a few more insights. This guy is doing multiple one-gallon batches and learning as I succeed and fail, and I've had both already. SG 0.990 is REALLY dry. Learning backsweetening now.

JDWebb
01-25-2015, 10:15 PM
I have the JAOM going, and two blueberry combination meads moving along, as well as 4 ciders (1 black currant, 3 apples), and the 5 gallon batch of orange mead. Thats the one I'm getting ready to rack into the glass carboy. We just bottled a cider this morning thats tastes awesome and so simple to make. I am learning, quite a bit actually, hopefully out of all this, I'll have something drinkable!

One thing I sort of get concerned about, as much as I have read about mead, it is for all intent, a wine. Now, the best of wines have age on them, and that is how I'm looking at my meads. I don't expect to drink them within 3 months or 6 months, I want some age on them. I don't particularly care for these one month wonders, I think it does a disservice to those who work hard at producing a good product. I've often heard the commercial meaderies don't put out as good a product as home brewers. Of course, I raised my own beef at one time, and to this day, hate the crap that they sell in the store. And as far as beef goes, how about that pound and a half chicken breast? Have you ever seen a 20 pound chicken? So anyway, I can my own stuff, make my own jams and jellies, in fact, can't wait to make a jelly out of this mead (I do Chardonnay Rosemary jelly as well as Cabernet Sauvignon jelly), and all of it is made with care, goodness and grace. Thats how I treat my meads too, I expect good things to come of them!

So I ask a lot of questions and hijack other peoples posts...LOL