How do you get the maximum amount of sugar, flavor, etc. out of dried fruit? Boiling, infusing, pureeing, or a combination of several methods? I have some dried Apricots I would like to turn into a mead.
Although working with dried fruit often results in different flavors than if you used fresh, you can get some very pleasing results. When I work with dry fruit, I generally prefer to chop it into coarse chunks, then rehydrate it by placing the fruit in a pot that you can tightly cover, then I pour very hot (boiling hot is OK, but don't add more heat once you've added it to the fruit) water over the fruit until the fruit is covered by a layer of liquid. Then I cover the pot and wait for it to cool to room temperature. I then add a little pectinase (pectic enzyme), and add the fruit with its hydration water to my fermenter.
Note - if the apricots that you plan to work with are commercially dried, they may have been treated with sulphites to prevent them from spoiling or browning. In that case I'd wait a day after hydrating before I'd mix with the rest of the must and pitch yeast.
I understand that adding Pectic Enzyme extracts body and color from fruit. Chopping the fruit exposes more surface area. The boiling water helps rehydrate it more quickly, I think. Why should I not add more heat after the boiling water is poured over the top of the chopped apricots?
Pectinase actually helps break down the pectin, which is extracted from the fruit when it gets heated to a specific temperature (different for each type of fruit). Pectin is the substance that you add to jam / jelly etc to make it "thick", and will make your mead / beer / wine hazy and opaque.
If you heat up the fruit, not only does this release the pectin, but it also changes the taste (think about the difference between a fresh apple and stewed apple).
Edit: Here's something that I didn't realise until recently. If you click on the highlighted words in any posts, it will take you to a page that talks about that word. Quite useful!
But there are many "black or blue fruit" where heat is a good source for enhancing the flavour, think blue berries, black currants etc. On their own, they're pretty bland and/or a little acidic tasting, yet when they've been heated/stewed, damn the taste improves - think on the raw fruit taste, then the taste of the jam/jelly (the sugar helps a lot too.....)
here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
and don't forget
What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....
The winemaking book I use (Joy of Home Winemaking by Terry Garey) suggests soaking apricots and then tossing the soaking water to get rid of the sulphites they use to keep them from browning, adding fresh water, THEN chopping and pectinasing them.
I've also used raisins in large quantities, I do the hot water drench, soak till cool, then skim off the oil they use to keep the raisins from sticking together (shouldn't be a problem with apricots but might be for other fruits), then coarsely chop them in the blender. I only find I need to worry about the oils if I use more than a couple pounds per gallon.
"The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
"When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
"Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
"I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014