View Full Version : Prickly Pear Mead Accident

09-15-2014, 03:40 PM
I spent most of Sunday processing cactus prickly pear here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I ended up with 2 gallons of juice. I made jelly with a half gallon of the juice and added extra lemon juice from the green plastic bottle that you get from the store. It turned out great. My prickly pear mead batch from last year did not have the acid zip that it needed, so I thought I will just use this lemon juice. Last year I used a couple real lemons.

So I put in 2 cups of the juice then I looked at the bottle and guess what… Sodium Benzoate. I had it in my head that this was the ingredient Dragons Blood and Skeeter Pee talked about in their recipes. GROAN!!!!

Recovery plan… I put potassium metabisulfite into the prickly pear juice last night. This morning, I thought to make 2-one gallon batches of traditional mead with about 2.5 lbs of honey per gallon and KV1. The original plan was to turn 1.5 gallons of juice into 3 gallons of prickly pear mead. Now the plan is to combine the traditional mead with my prickly pear juice.

At what point should I join the two batches? Like at ½ sugar break or when it is finished?
I was hoping to put more than 5lbs of honey into my 3 gallon batch but not sure how to do that now. Should I step feed the one gallon guys? Should I add honey to my juice and hope I have enough live yeast to continue on?
Guess I should put the prickly pear juice in the fridge till I combine, right?


09-15-2014, 05:41 PM
After looking around it appears that I am overly worried. It seems Benzoate can be overcome by dilution or pitching a starter. I guess, I am going to do both of these. The 2 cups of lemon juice is diluted compared to the whole 3+ gallons of the batch and my 2 one gallon batches will have enough yeast when I combine them.
So the new plan will be to add about 2lbs of honey to the prickly pear juice and combine with my 2 one gallon batches.
Heck I may push it to a 4 gallon batch when all is said and done.

A friend of mine found this interesting bit.
"sodium benzoate will only work when the pH balance of foods is less than 3.6. Raise the ph of the soda and the benzoate won't matter"

09-15-2014, 07:38 PM
I thought your accident was going to involve cactus spines! I did these once and my hands itched for a couple of days. Looks like you got it figured out, good. Did you have to add pectin to your jelly or is there enough in the fruit? WVMJ

09-15-2014, 09:09 PM
My process was to use water and stir the tunas in the bucket. That bounces then off each other to get some needles off and rinses them. Then used a food processor and a tee-shirt to strain the juice.

My prickly pear cactus is right next to my lawn (it gets water) and the tuna are huge and juicy. The liquid I get is nice and clear and not mucusy that I have read some describe. So I do use pectin.

Chevette Girl
09-17-2014, 01:30 PM
Good call on the lemon juice, I've sneaked a bit of acid blend from the wine cupboard when I had a jelly or jam that was just missing something :)

Granted, you might not want to put the lemon juice into a mead before fermentation in the first place, it could result in the pH being too low for happy yeasties.

A big starter (not acclimated with the stuff containing sodium benzoate!) should get you all the yeast you need, and if for some reason it poops out early you can always pitch another starter.

The only thing I found sad when I made prickly pear mead was that the beautiful purple colour didn't stay. Next time I'm going to try scalding them and see if that sets the colour :)