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  1. #1

    Question How do you reduce fruit sediment in mead?

    I was wondering if there is any trick to removing fruit sediment from mead. I have a couple gallons of dragonfruit mead I racked once into two separate gallons. I put in 6 ibs of fruit to one gallon and a lot of water got sucked out of the fruit to make about 1.5 gallons. My problem is that like almost half of one of the gallons is sediment from the fruit, and the other is almost straight up fruit sediment. I'm not worried about the dead yeast sediment. I'll get to that later on my own accord. My issue is the fruit sediment. There is so much mead product trapped in between all that fruit sediment and I didn't make a $60 batch to end up with only 3 quarts of mead, you know?

    I was thinking about mesh bags and cheese cloth. I know you can use mesh bags and weights to keep the fruit from hitting the surface of the must and reducing exposure. Yet mesh bags have a lot of open space for things to slip on through so I was thinking maybe cheese cloth could work.

    Example being: before adding fruit to the must, wrap the fruit in a couple big sheets of cheese cloth and tie it so nothing can get out. Don't squeeze the cheese cloth or anything unless you really want that excess fruit juice and such. Now the only potential hazards that I could think of by doing this (after sterilizing the cheese cloth) is how would it affect the taste? Is cheese cloth viable? Are there better methods than cheese cloth? Machines to filter that stuff out? I'm not looking for perfection here, just something that works well enough to avoid throwing out a HUGE chunk of the product.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2

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    Hi. How much water and honey did you start with? 6 pounds of fruit can take up a lot of space in a gallon. Have you cold crashed and/or used any fining agents yet? Without seeing what you're seeing, I'm not sure if it's pectic haze along with fruit sediment. Have you used any form of pectic enzyme when you started, or tried that post fermentation? Cold crashing can get a lot of things in suspension to drop.

    Muslin bags are sort of cheese cloth (I think), and those are used often by folks with good results. I wouldn't wrap fruit up so much that it inhibits the ability to get what you want out of it into the mead (e.g. no flow).

    Last resort - which I've done - is literally filter the mead through a coffee filter (placed it in a funnel and let it drain). Yes, I know it's not recommended for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was effective, and I didn't have any negative impact. It was a pain, and time consuming, but only for a couple small batches. I didn't want to use my 5 micron 'rough' filter for it as I figured it would seriously clog it up quick. I used that after the coffee filter.

    Based on what I'm envisioning, my goal at this point would be to see if I could get all the sediment to drop lower so I could rack off of that, and maybe coffee filter the rest; or keep cold crashing and racking. Either way is a bit more O2 exposure than desired, but hopefully you're also trying to manage SO2.

  3. #3

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    I'm not sure how much cheese cloth stretches. I use the Muslin bags & they control sediment reasonably well. I don't recommend adding a weight because of how much they stretch.

    The weight sinks, the fruit floats, and the bag stretches. So what you say?!? These make an annoyingly effective snag trap for your lees stirrer, and you still have to punch the fruit down to avoid rot. I'm sure the bag will snag on its own, but the weight really adds to the problem. Thankfully we don't have to stir all that often... but it is an annoyingly effective snag.

    I, in foolishness, refuse to use plastic in my process (outside of short contact like spoons etc). I suspect the nylon fruit bags work splendidly to keep things in their proper compartments, and have the added benefit that they wouldn't stretch. If you are not obsessed with avoiding plastic based products I would give them a try. One of my many ongoing projects is to make stainless steel mesh/screen "bags" to solve this very problem for myself.

    For your current situation I'd use 4give's coffee filter solution... probably the most effective, & cheapest, solution to minimizing the loss.

  4. #4
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    A beer brewer's BIAB bag will also work well. Basically a piece of voile curtaining sewn into a bag. Works very well for beer brewing (except for the finest of sediment), so it should do well for meads. You can also squeeze the crap out of the bag so you can get as much juice and mead out of it as possible. Many brewers place the bag in a pasta strainer and squeeze it from the top. Works well.

  5. #5

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    I would post a picture but I don't know if it's this website or this Mac computer that just won't let me. I've tried everything. But the specifications of the recipe is 3 ibs of honey (and water to fill a 1 gallon must), 3 ibs of dragonfruit, 2 ibs of Japanese pears, and a 1 ibs of kiwis. I'm using Mangrove Jack's Mead Yeast M05 which is a potential 18% ABV tolerance. I'm pretty sure I put in enough honey to make it 18% plus the sugars from the fruit so losing any alcohol content to oxidization isn't my concern at this point. Probably would do the flavor justice honestly.

    It's also not the sediment floating around that's my problem. Stuff is going to be floating around in there for a while since its only in its two week primary. The fruit sediment that has fallen to the bottom is my problem for racking.

    But if it looks like I'm potentially screwed with this one with what I want to do with it then call it. Lessons learned and all that for next time.

  6. #6

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    pictures are a problem... its not just you.

    One thing I have done to minimize losses is to rack off the mass quantity, in standard fashion. Then "sloppy rack" the remaining must into a different vessel...

    Once the primary racking is completed I'll prop the primary vessel on its side or up onto an edge to help separate the must from the gross lees. I try to minimize gross less, but I wont worry about lees getting back into suspension during this phase. I'll rack this into a 1/2 to 1 gallon mason jar and repeat the cold crash & racking process. You can retrieve a considerable amount of must this way so long as the gross lees don't go sloshing around...

    Also adding some bentonite to your primary can help "compact" the lees to some degree (wouldn't expect miracles); 3 oz bentonite per 5 gallons is the dose I've seen Squatchy uses. I'd get it all stirred around, add the bentonite, and stir some more, if you give this a try.

    Finally, sometimes, you just have to pay the angels their due. The cyser I'm working on had a substantial amount of apple sediment... it was painful pouring it down the drain but it was going to be more painful trying to extract the mead from the sediment. The angels got their cut, and I'll not begrudge them for it... after all I got the rest!

  7. #7

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    I got this idea after people suggested BIAB bags and after reading your reply.

    While racking, it wouldn't hurt to try racking into a bucket (or some other container) with a bag. Feed the tube into the bag and start racking, then when the mead gets pulled up as much as it can, pull the bag out and there will be a lot of reduced sediment (in theory). It wouldn't hurt to try and whatever is left trapped at the bottom of the original container, I'd say just repeat the same process but just pick up the container and dump the rest into a separate container, like you mentioned, but with a BIAB bag. cold crash it, let it all settle down to the bottom, rack that I guess, then have yourself a nice taste test.

    I'm confident that it might help to reduce but not eliminate all fruit sediment. With all great theories, however, they should be tested and tested it will be in a couple weeks. I should probably follow up on this to share the viability of doing this as a last resort. Or another result, proof that it's best to use BIAB bags in the beginning which it probably will end up proving.

    Thank you!

  8. #8

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    I use paint sprayer filter bags you can buy at Home Depot. I put my fruit in it. I also only let the fruit sit in my must for 2 weeks usually and three weeks at the most.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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