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  1. #1

    Question When should I remove fruit from primary?

    I started a dragon fruit mead 10 days ago. The recipe goes as so:

    3 ibs of honey
    water to fill the must to one gallon

    (The fruit's weight is an approximation because I weighed the numbers out at the store then cut some parts off of the fruit at home)
    3 ibs of dragon fruit (two with white flesh and one with red)
    2 ibs of Japanese pears
    1 ibs of kiwi fruit

    About a whole packet of Mangrove Jack's Mead Yeast M05 (had to repitch some yeast because I put the first yeast into shock and it was on a stuck fermentation)

    I've been reading that you're supposed to take fruit out during primary if they have seeds because it'll make the mead bitter. I have learned this first hand from another fruit mead I've made with blackberries. I know some people like the bitterness, I don't. Just throwing that out there in case people decide they need to tell me how my taste buds should work (and I know someone will because they always do).

    Yesterday I made the horrible mistake of eating a piece of the fermented fruit. Nasty. Never do it even out of curiosity. What I can say after trying the fruit is that the yeast definitely ate up the sugars in the fruit. I know you can keep your fruit in during primary all the way to suck out as much flavor as it can, but like I said, the seeds can't stay in there right? So with these factors considered, in general, when should fruit be taken out, when should it stay, and what is a good way to judge how long a fruit should stay in, seedless or not?

    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    I'm far from a flavor, or fermentation, expert... but I'm pretty sure I can anticipate what they would tell you. These types of questions are difficult to answer as we don't have your taste buds and, even worse, our taste buds are not present to evaluate your mead. When I have a doubt like this I taste daily and then remove the item in question when I'm happy with the flavor, or when the flavor is slightly intense. If the taste diminishes, as the primary continues, you then add the item in question again to the secondary and taste frequently again to get the flavor where you want it.
    Last edited by EricHartman; 10-30-2019 at 07:37 PM.

  3. #3

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    Hi - I've never heard, read, or experienced that any fruit with seeds should be taken out of primary, but I guess that may depend with how long you want to keep your must in primary. Actually, I've heard that seeds can be a good thing. That's not to say that it isn't possible to leave fruit in primary too long and end up with negative results. Some wine grapes have seeds, but I'm not sure if those somehow get taken out. My guess is they are likely a part of the crush and must in at least some way.

    EricHartman is right in tasting your mead as you go. The challenge is knowing what a primary fermentation should taste like and if you can leave it in longer, or take it out, etc., because the mead will be changing as you go.

    Personally, I feel pretty safe with fruit in primary for 2 weeks, and I've went a little over 3 weeks with fine results, but I'm generally racking off any additional fermentation ingredients pretty near when fermentation is done. This is because there's always bits of stuff I don't want spoiling in my must - even if I'm using mesh bags. If it's a traditional, I let it go a bit longer before racking of the rough lees. When adding fruit to secondary, I feel I get good fruit uptake within 3 weeks as well.

    I've never experienced bitterness when using fruit with seeds (besides my first JAOM attempt, and that was from the orange pith for sure). I'm not saying it wasn't seeds with your previous experience, but you may want to consider the possibility something else caused the bitterness.

  4. #4

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    Im not refuting your answer, I've read a bunch about the affects of seeds, but with your counsel I'll definitely have it noted about seeds and when to take out fruit. I think when I was doing research on seeds I was making a blackberry melomel and it was specifically blackberry seeds people were talking about. I can't really say anything at this point if you've had a different experiences so maybe it wasn't the seeds. But don't take my word as fact because it's basically infinite hearsay when it comes to getting info on the internet and I can't remember where I got the info from anyways. Thank you. Like I said, I'll keep it noted, but I'm going to practice your suggestion and see how it turns out and go from there.

  5. #5
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    Certainly no expert but here's a few things to think about: what is happening when we add fruit in the primary? Basically we are using water to extract the flavor. Water is a reasonably good solvent for this purpose but it can take many days to extract enough of the flavor. If you add heat (boiling water) then the extraction is faster. If you damage the cell walls of the fruit by freezing the water in the fruit then the extraction is faster. Alcohol is a better solvent than water, so if you add the fruit when the alcohol level is at say, 10 or 12% ABV extraction is better. It is certainly different and you get a brighter flavor from the fruit (in my opinion).

    Bottom line, you might remove the fruit after a few days in the primary if you think that most of the flavor has been extracted and is now in the mead or you might choose to add the fruit to the secondary to extract the flavors using the alcohol. But you have taste-buds. Taste the solution. When the flavors have the intensity you are looking for you can remove the fruit from the mead or the mead from the fruit.

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