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Thread: Levitating Blueberries Question

  1. #1

    Default Levitating Blueberries Question

    Hi,

    So this is a stupid question, but after I washed and dried fresh blueberries I just plunked them in whole to my empty sterilized one gallon carboy. Then I racked over a batch that has been in a secondary gallon carboy fermenting for the past 2 months (gravty reading at 1.001). Magically, overnight, all of the blueberries are floating at the top of the carboy. Is it safe for me to use a sterilized spoon or something to break through the cap and try to mash them up? I don't want any of the exposed surface area on them to potentially spoil/oxidize/whatever (if that's a thing?).

    Any advice is appreciated and yes, I will be mashing/pureeing any berries in the future to avoid this. Just trying to save this first time try at a melomel.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    It's very common to have fruit floating, especially if the ferment isn't over (or restarted), or if there is CO2 still in the must.
    They should gradually sink on their own, but absolutely feel free to push it down or swirl it to get them wet. I wouldn't go as far as trying to mash them, just make sure they get pushed down into the must once a day or so.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by dingurth View Post
    They should gradually sink on their own, but absolutely feel free to push it down or swirl it to get them wet. I wouldn't go as far as trying to mash them, just make sure they get pushed down into the must once a day or so.
    Okay, sweet! Thank you, I'll be diligently swirling them then haha.

  4. #4

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    Personally I would break the skin on them so the alcohol can get to the flavor. I usually freeze my fruit first as this breaks the cell walls due to the expansion.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Personally I would break the skin on them so the alcohol can get to the flavor. I usually freeze my fruit first as this breaks the cell walls due to the expansion.
    Makes sense! Do you just thaw them out in the refrigerator before using them?

    Also, I've noticed that there's a ring of presumable air bubbles around the neck of the carboy adjacent to the berries. There's no airlock activity that's noticeable. Is this a problem?

  6. #6

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    Yes. That is correct

    No. I suspect it will start back up unless you have already stabilized it. So, the O2 will be pushed away.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Yes. That is correct

    No. I suspect it will start back up unless you have already stabilized it. So, the O2 will be pushed away.
    Ah. I added a crushed campden tablet to it on 07/16/17 to stabilize it. Will the O2 be able to dissipate on its own without fermentation to essentially push it up and out through the airlock?

    (The campden tablet is a long story. The plastic screw-on lid for the carboy had a hair-line crack in it near the base of the air-lock that I caught a few days after I had racked it into a secondary fermentor/carboy --which made me panic and try to prevent any spoilage. This most recent racking with the berries in it is the third one for this batch. I wanted to use the berries to try to mask any potential off-notes. I tried a sample and it wasn't as complex/floral tasting as my first traditional batch.)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by max.barbarian View Post
    Ah. I added a crushed campden tablet to it on 07/16/17 to stabilize it. Will the O2 be able to dissipate on its own without fermentation to essentially push it up and out through the airlock?

    (The campden tablet is a long story. The plastic screw-on lid for the carboy had a hair-line crack in it near the base of the air-lock that I caught a few days after I had racked it into a secondary fermentor/carboy --which made me panic and try to prevent any spoilage. This most recent racking with the berries in it is the third one for this batch. I wanted to use the berries to try to mask any potential off-notes. I tried a sample and it wasn't as complex/floral tasting as my first traditional batch.)
    Im not sure if 1 campden tablet is/will be enough. Have you done the math and measured pH? I dont use campden tablets so i dont know how much that is but people tend to confuse "stabilizing" with "protecting". The second involves killing wild yeasts and microbes that can compromise your mead, the first is killing also the comercial yeast, much more resisten to sulphites than wild one, and takes more ammount of sulphites. IF you dont truly stabilize your ferment will restart.

    What you presume to be air bubbles might very well be CO2 from the ferment restarting. Or not, but if you didnt satabilize correctly my money is on that. If they are not, the O2 will obviously not "dissipate" without fermentation restarting (nothing to actually push it...), but i cant see why it matters. It will just flow into the must and bind but dont even worry about such small ammounts (maybe you count that as "dissipating", but anyway mead is pretty hard to oxidize compared to other brews). Im sure your mead will be fine. Worst case scenario the ferment will restart and eat the sugars from the blueberries. Maybe not what you wanted but not necesarily bad. You can stabilize correctly later and add more or leave it as is.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dadux View Post
    Im not sure if 1 campden tablet is/will be enough. Have you done the math and measured pH? I dont use campden tablets so i dont know how much that is but people tend to confuse "stabilizing" with "protecting". The second involves killing wild yeasts and microbes that can compromise your mead, the first is killing also the comercial yeast, much more resisten to sulphites than wild one, and takes more ammount of sulphites. IF you dont truly stabilize your ferment will restart.

    Im sure your mead will be fine. Worst case scenario the ferment will restart and eat the sugars from the blueberries. Maybe not what you wanted but not necesarily bad. You can stabilize correctly later and add more or leave it as is.
    I definitely didn't do any math and don't have anything to measure pH with haha. All I went off of was Schramm's brief section on sulfiting in the Compleat Meadmaker where he suggests 1 Campden tablet for a one gallon batch (about 50ppm). You're probably correct in Not Stabilizing the mead, and instead just (hopefully) preventing biological spoilage via microbes and wild yeasts. Thank you for the reassurance that the mead will be fine with the unanticipated bubbles!

  10. #10
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    Well you should get some pH strips. They are cheap, and work for this. If you want sweet meads you'll want to actually stabilize at some point, maybe not on this mead but... Anyway, The mead will be fine, just different, more wine-like

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  11. #11

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    Good suggestion, I'll definitely pick up a pack of them to have on hand in the event something like this pops up again.

  12. #12

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    You can get a cheap pH meter for 15 bucks. I have not had good success with strips
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dadux View Post
    Anyway, The mead will be fine, just different, more wine-like
    You mean because the fruit will ferment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by darigoni View Post
    You mean because the fruit will ferment?
    Yes, fermented fruit has/adds a different flavour
    And im assuming it will, but it might not i guess

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    You can get a cheap pH meter for 15 bucks. I have not had good success with strips
    I find that strips don't work very well, once you start using dark fruit and juices, as they actually stain the strips.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by darigoni View Post
    I find that strips don't work very well, once you start using dark fruit and juices, as they actually stain the strips.
    Yep. That's exactly why they are junk. Plus. You're supposed to let them dry before you try to match up the color and no one does that either. The only time you really need to know the pH is when you are adjusting for free SO2. And to do that you need to have a better/more accurate measure than the strips can provide any way.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Yep. That's exactly why they are junk. Plus. You're supposed to let them dry before you try to match up the color and no one does that either. The only time you really need to know the pH is when you are adjusting for free SO2. And to do that you need to have a better/more accurate measure than the strips can provide any way.
    Right on. Sounds like the meter is the way to go!

  18. #18

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    So, to resurrect this question again regarding the same batch: This one gallon batch has been sitting with the blueberries happily dwelling at the bottom for the past couple of months. Starting yesterday, the blueberries started floating back up to the top of the carboy. I just got home from work to find just about all of them floating at the top. What is this indicative of? I put the berries into the mead fresh, unfrozen, and whole-- I would have thought that any O2 in them would've dissipated during the past two months?

    Thoughts on whether I should I just bottle this batch and get the mead off the berries at this point?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by max.barbarian View Post
    So, to resurrect this question again regarding the same batch: This one gallon batch has been sitting with the blueberries happily dwelling at the bottom for the past couple of months. Starting yesterday, the blueberries started floating back up to the top of the carboy. I just got home from work to find just about all of them floating at the top. What is this indicative of? I put the berries into the mead fresh, unfrozen, and whole-- I would have thought that any O2 in them would've dissipated during the past two months?

    Thoughts on whether I should I just bottle this batch and get the mead off the berries at this point?
    I would get it off. Either by racking again so you can continue to bulk age or bottling. I don't like to leave fruit in there as it starts to break down (which could be a reason why they started floating again. Another being if the temperature has changed at all.).

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by dingurth View Post
    I would get it off. Either by racking again so you can continue to bulk age or bottling. I don't like to leave fruit in there as it starts to break down (which could be a reason why they started floating again. Another being if the temperature has changed at all.).
    Right on, thanks! Temperature has been nearly constant (between 65-68F) in my basement, so it seems it may be the fruit starting to break down.

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