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Thread: Proper process for making melomels

  1. #1
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    Default Proper process for making melomels

    Making melomels seemed so easy after reading compleat meadmaker. Now, after browsing this forum is seems much more complicated. And reading homewinemaking sites sure doesn’t help.

    What I had thought I would do was start a traditional mead. Then I would either just add the thawed fruit to the must when adding the yeast or after 6-8 hours when adding the first nutrient addition. Then letting it ferment as I would a traditional mead – expect for punching the fruitcap down a 3-4 times a day. Then after 5-7 day I would get the fruit out of the fermenter letting it finish before racking to secondary. And then treat it as a traditional from there on.

    Now I see pectinase to the left of me, campden tablets to the right and what not. I once thought that not heating the fruit would take care of the pectin problem. And pitching a fair amount of yeast in a must that would reach 12 abv and ferment out dry would reduce issues with wild yeast and bacteria on the fruit.

    Please somebody give me a couple of hints on what is a reasonable process for melomels. It’s not that I mind it being complicated. But I have a strong tendency to overthink things and with all these different process aspects chances are that I won’t get anything done anytime soon unless somebody tells: “just do like this!”.

  2. #2
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    The best teacher is experience...so my advice is to just go for it!

    To address some of your specific concerns though, here is what I've learned.

    Sanitizing fruit: You've got a couple of options, and it mostly boils down to your preferences. You can add the fruit to your must before adding yeast, then add campden tablets to sterilize the fruit. This approach requires that you wait for 24 hours before pitching your yeast to allow the excess SO2 to dissipate. You could also rinse your fruit with distilled vinegar. This eliminates the need to wait for 24 hours, but adds additional costs for the distilled vinegar. Another option is to just toss the fruit in and say "Screw it!".

    When to add fruit: This is entirely up to you. Adding the fruit during primary allows the yeast to interact with the fruit and produce new and different compounds. The downside is that the fruit character is sacrificed a bit. Adding the fruit during secondary gives you more fruit character, but less complexity from the yeast. I personally like doing a little in both primary and secondary to get the best of both worlds.

    Granted this is an extremely abbreviated explanation, but hopefully it helps spur you into action. Plus, being a patron, you have access to some really awesome brewlogs in the patron section. Look at a few other recipes to get a better idea of what has worked for others and what didn't. You'll learn a lot from reading through them.

    Hope that helps!
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy mead!

  3. #3
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    Being simple and lazy, I took this path into melomels. I am fermenting traditionals until they are mostly dry but still passing C02 thru the airlock. Then I rack this mead off the gunk in the brew bucket into a carboy for temporary storage. I clean the brewbucket and then place the fruit in a well tied bag with a ten pound sanitized granite river cobble. I then syphon the mead back into the brew bucket splashing as little as possible to keep 02 infusion at a minimum. Then I put the lid back on and let the mead work over the sugars in the fruit. I relied on other folks observation that the fruit would pretty well be used up in ten days to two weeks. I checked peaches at 12 days and decided close enough as the outer surface of the sliced peach was starting to get pretty loose and funky. I racked off this fruit and lees and actually lost very little compared to what I would have if the fruit were loose. I also racked on to unpitted cherries loose in the carboy. They went pretty white by 12 days and were starting to really produce some woody tannin flavor. Some of it is going away. I am currently waiting for pectin enzyme to do it's magic before bagging and racking onto a gooey mass of wild plums that I sincerely hope stay in the bag. Read peoples brew logs for melomels. It will be worth the $25 patron donation if you haven't already paid it. Good luck.
    Mac An Breatannuich

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    ...... then place the fruit in a well tied bag with a ten pound sanitized granite river cobble......
    that sounds like a great way to ferment fruit without having the work of punching the cap down.

    one BIG advantage of brewing the honey and fruit combined is the fruit adds nutrients and can help buffer the acidity. however you loose a lot of the flavor but gain more subtle flavors.

  5. #5
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    Another quick and dirty way is to take the still mostly frozen fruit and pour some boiling water over it, then add the rest of the water and honey to the mix, and then use pectinaze - as per instructions - because you heated the fruit and it well help extract some of the flavor from the fruit.
    Bees stole my signature file!

  6. #6
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    I've had success just throwing it in and saying "screw it". Did a big batch of peach melomel and when I added 13lbs of very ripe peaches I just sanitized my hands, cutting surface, and knife and as I added the pitted halves into a big bag I squeezed them in my hands to crush them. I did add a few gallons of hot must and let that sit for 15-25 minutes to do a half-hearted pasteurization, added all the rest of whatever I needed with cold water and pitched at the right temp. The thing is that most wine yeasts will likely outnumber and kill any wild yeasts, as for bacteria proper sanitation and pulling any undesirable fruit from what you intend to use (i.e. mold) solves the problem. For some more detailed info my brewlog for that particular batch is here.

    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20233

  7. #7
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    I'll use campden tablets if for some reason my fruit is a little questionable (I saw the dog licking the wild grapes where I was picking, or I misjudged the pears and they ripened faster than anticipated), but usually I just put the fruit in primary with the honey, add some pectinase, and pitch the yeast 24 hours later. I prefer the flavour of fermented fruit, others prefer not to ferment on the fruit and will make a traditional and stabilize it before racking onto fruit.

    When I am winemaking, I always boil my sugar in half the water and pour the boiling sugar water over the fruit, I think it may help with colour extraction and maybe colour retention (I'll be experimenting later, will share results). Then I cool it down with the rest of the water I wanted to add. But since I don't boil my honey anymore, I don't bother boiling any of the water either.

    Generally, if you put your fruit into a vigorously fermenting must, you don't have to worry about anything else hitching a ride in to spoil your must, once it gets going, it's making too much CO2 for the oxygen-loving bugs and it's eating all the sugar long before any bacteria or wild yeast can set up housekeeping, plus some yeasts don't play well with others and will cause wild yeasts to give up and die. K1V is one of these.
    "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
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  8. #8
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    Dogs licking don't pose a problem as their saliva is basically antibacterial - worry about the other end!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas53 View Post
    Dogs licking don't pose a problem as their saliva is basically antibacterial - worry about the other end!
    Whether that's true or not, most dogs generally spend a good part of their day licking their other end, which I do not want in anything I plan to ingest... and I do generally try to keep any saliva out of anything I make with intent to give to others.
    "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

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the feedback. It’s really helpful.

    Trying to summarize the main options seems to be:

    • Smash up fruit well with some water and either 1) add yeast and ferment, 2) add pectinase wait a day before adding yeast and ferment, 3) add Kmeta and – perhaps – pectinase wait a day before adding yeast and ferment, or 4) add boiling water or boil, cool and – definitely – add pectinase, wait a day and ferment.
    • Honey can be mixed in either at the beginning or just before adding yeast in any of the options above.

    I think this is probably what I am going to do (much inspired by wayneb’s filleul de la nuit).

    For a 15 L batch (4 gallon)
    1.5 kg elderberries (about 3 lbs)
    1.5 kg blueberries
    3.0 kg blackberries
    1.5 kg black currants
    6 kg (about 12-13 lbs.) wildflower honey (forrestflowers)
    10g lalvin RC212
    30 g French hard toast oak chips
    1 tsk. Fermaid K & 2 tsk. DAP
    Bring elderberries to boil, add cold water. Add remaining berries smash up and add water to 10 L (about 2.5 gallon). Add about 100 ppm SO2 (probably I will do this by making a liquid solution for ease of measurement – have to read up on this part) and about 5 g pectinase. Do something else for the following 24 hours. Then rehydrate yeast. Mix honey and remaining water. Mix with fruit. Oxygenate. Add oak and yeast. Proceed as usual – but remember to manage cap.

  11. #11
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    There are so many ways to manage fruit for a melomel that I can't count them all. You can use fruit that is fresh, frozen, dried, jellied, canned, juiced, cooked, or otherwise processed. You can add the fruit before, during, or after the fermentation, and before or after stabilization. You can use flavor extracts. You can use more than one way in the same batch. The possibilities are literally endless.

    With your batch, I like to freeze and thaw berries so I release all the juice with crushing and damaging seeds which produces bitter tannins. Plan on removing the fruit within about 7 days or you may overdo the tannins, and when you remove the elderberries, resist the urge to squeeze them to get all of the goody out.

    I hope you get a great result. Wayne's recipe is delicious.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  12. Default

    Brilliant! I've been trying every which way from hell to get the flavor I wanted, our Redhaven peaches are spectacular fresh but my results have been less than impressive. The fresh stuff at bottling smells and tastes wonderful, then after a couple months in the bottle it all but disappears. I find that you lose very little racking right off the fruit if you go carefully. Or using a wok strainer and letting as much as you can drain back. I start with 6 gal. to get down to a stuffed 5 gal. carboy. I've just sealed and airlocked the lids (I do SNA) and will probably do your method in a week or so. I held off on adding the fruit until I got un-lazy and looked for a better way. I find that 2 weeks in the bucket gets me ~90% of sugars depleted. Got 4 batches going, we had more raspberries blackcaps and pie cherries than we have in many years. How long do in total you leave it on the fruit and do you rack right into a carboy from there?

  13. Default

    After a dozen or so batches using fresh hand picked, then frozen, fruit I've made either all contaminated, or all uncontaminated melomels. You have to freeze it in order to break down the cell walls and let the goodness out. Some split between the primary and first rackoff, some in the primary, and right now will do 4 batches only after the first rack. So at least for peaches, blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, blackcap raspberries, strawberries (yes really) and pie cherries I don't think it matters one bit. Just don't be an idiot about it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orerockon View Post
    After a dozen or so batches using fresh hand picked, then frozen, fruit I've made either all contaminated, or all uncontaminated melomels. You have to freeze it in order to break down the cell walls and let the goodness out. Some split between the primary and first rackoff, some in the primary, and right now will do 4 batches only after the first rack. So at least for peaches, blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, blackcap raspberries, strawberries (yes really) and pie cherries I don't think it matters one bit. Just don't be an idiot about it.
    You do realize that this is a thread from almost 5 years ago, right? Most of the people who commented haven't been active for a couple of years. The originator, of the thread, hasn't been active since 2014.

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