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Thread: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

  1. #1
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    Default Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    A question for the collective hive...

    I made a citrus mead (my second) this weekend using fresh squeezed key lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, OB honey and 71B yeast. I decided to go ahead and add the juice to the primary vs. the secondary (which went against my normal judgement anyway). The initial pH was terribly low at 2.6! I was concerned about the pH being way to low for healthy fermentation, so I buffered it using calcium carbonate (CaCO3) for a pH of 3.2. The fermentation started slow (20-24hrs.) and seems a bit sluggish for my sensibilities. The question is... should I add more CaCO3 (or something else alkaline) to raise the pH even further or leave it well enough alone and just keep monitoring it? In addition, can I expect the pH to drasticly drop as the fermentation nears completion? I had some similar pH problems with my last citrus (orange) mead and simply gave up. I've got way too much time invested squeezing all those little limes to give up on this one! TIA

    CHEERS! Beertracker

    "Mead is the ancient liquor of Gods and men, the giver of knowledge and poetry, the healer of wounds, and the bestower of immortality." ~ Lt. Col. Robert Gayre - Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of Mead

  2. #2

    Default Re: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beertracker
    A question for the collective hive...

    I made a citrus mead (my second) this weekend using fresh squeezed key lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, OB honey and 71B yeast. I decided to go ahead and add the juice to the primary vs. the secondary (which went against my normal judgement anyway). The initial pH was terribly low at 2.6! I was concerned about the pH being way to low for healthy fermentation, so I buffered it using calcium carbonate (CaCO3) for a pH of 3.2. The fermentation started slow (20-24hrs.) and seems a bit sluggish for my sensibilities. The question is... should I add more CaCO3 (or something else alkaline) to raise the pH even further or leave it well enough alone and just keep monitoring it? In addition, can I expect the pH to drasticly drop as the fermentation nears completion? I had some similar pH problems with my last citrus (orange) mead and simply gave up. I've got way too much time invested squeezing all those little limes to give up on this one!
    It's hard to say without knowing gram amounts of the CaCO3 that used to get the pH to 3.2. Too much carbonate can impart off flavors to the mead. Sure, it wouldn't hurt to add a bit more and raise the pH, but it might be too much calcium carbonate altogether.

    What kind of honey did you use? If the honey is sufficiently dark, there might be enough mineral content to stablize the fermentation against the pH drop that is going to occur as the yeasties work away.

    Major pH drops can occur at the very start of the fermentation. Check the pH in a day and see where it is.

    Hope this is helpful, at least, for a start.
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    Dan McFeeley

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    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

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    Default Re: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    It's hard to say without knowing gram amounts of the CaCO3 that used to get the pH to 3.2. Too much carbonate can impart off flavors to the mead. Sure, it wouldn't hurt to add a bit more and raise the pH, but it might be too much calcium carbonate altogether.

    What kind of honey did you use? If the honey is sufficiently dark, there might be enough mineral content to stablize the fermentation against the pH drop that is going to occur as the yeasties work away.

    Major pH drops can occur at the very start of the fermentation. Check the pH in a day and see where it is.

    Hope this is helpful, at least, for a start.
    Dan,
    Thanks for the reply, I was hoping you might offer some meadly advice!

    Here's some more information about my citrus mead...

    I used approx. 16-18g. of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) added directly to a 3USG batch using spring water (hardness unknown) and approx. 7.5-8lbs. of Orange Blossom (OB) honey. This is the third day of fermentation and my pH is currently 3.1 (virtually unchanged). Worries? No worries? Thanks for any & all advice!




    CHEERS! Beertracker

    "Mead is the ancient liquor of Gods and men, the giver of knowledge and poetry, the healer of wounds, and the bestower of immortality." ~ Lt. Col. Robert Gayre - Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of Mead

  4. #4

    Default Re: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    I think it might be best to cross your fingers, spill a libation for Oskaar, and keep a close eye on it. Most wines finish out, I think (don't have access to notes at the moment) at about 3.1 or so. As long as the fermentation keeps chugging along it should pull through with out much difficulty. Check the pH every so often, but personally I'd feel uncomfortable adding any more calcium carbonate.

    Take a look here for some good info on acidity in winemaking:

    http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/acid.asp

    Looks like it would be a very good idea to bulk age for at least 6 months, probably longer (if you're not doing this already). Gluconic acid is the primary acid in honey, so what precipitates out might be called calcium gluconate?



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    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    I would just let it go for a while, last year I brewed a 5 gallon batch of lemon mead and a 5 gallon batch of lemon wine, had a lot of lemons off of a tree. The only difference between the two was sugar instead of honey for the wine. I didn't check the Ph but it was low, used 5 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice in both batches. Ended up neither really took off and had rapid fermentation but they both turned out fine, just took an extra month or so to complete fermentation. I had to repitch the yeast for the wine after racking to the secondary cause it had compleatly shut down. Give it some time, as long as you have fermentation going you are ok.

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    Default Re: Citrus Mead pH Worries?

    Thanks for encouragement and meadly advice! I'm not as worried now, as the yeast seems to have adjusted fine to the lower pH. My citrus mead is currently cranking away with a healthy fermentation and the pH has basically remained unchanged. I'll certainly monitor the pH closely and bulk age when the time comes. Maybe sacrificing one of my last bottles of a 5YO black currant melomel and spilling some for Oskaar really did work some mead magic?

    CHEERS! Beertracker

    "Mead is the ancient liquor of Gods and men, the giver of knowledge and poetry, the healer of wounds, and the bestower of immortality." ~ Lt. Col. Robert Gayre - Brewing Mead: Wassail! In Mazers of Mead

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