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  1. Default HELP! rosehip hairs and brain strain

    Please help!

    My son had a recipe for mead in the "Elder Scrolls Official Cookbook" (Online game, also known as Skyrim) and the process looked easy enough, so as complete newbies we embarked on the making of some Black-Briar Mead.

    This involved putting honey and hot water and a load of blackberries (+ blackcurrants) and rosehips and a cinnamon stick into the demijohn and then ale yeast and leaving for 2 weeks, at which point we were to "strain" it and start tasting etc.

    (They didn't tell us to stir the yeast in, so it's probably failed anyway, but oh the other hand it has been bubbling quite nicely.)

    We had a load of rosehips in our garden, but the recipe required dried rosehips. So we had a go at drying the rosehips but we didn't really know what we were doing and we seemed to dry them beyond the point it was possible to get all the little hairs out, which are apparently irritating so mustn't be ingested. (?)

    But we decided that since the recipe said we should "strain" the mead at the 2 week point anyway, it wouldn't matter because presumably the rosehip hairs would all be strained out along with the seeds etc. So we just put them in as they were.

    The problem is that in my ignorance, I imagined the "straining" would be a nice simple process of pouring the whole lot through a fine muslin bag as used for grape jelly.

    But today is the day we have to do the straining and tasting, and to my horror I have not been able to google a single useful video or instruction about STRAINING mead, wine or beer. It's all done with fancy tubes and filtering equipment and/or simply racking off from the centre of the demijohn to avoid the sediment/ must (?)

    So I don't know how to proceed.

    We have to do it today, and we don't have access to any kind of winemaking equipment shop. I do have a length of plastic tube, though I'm not sure how to sterilise that.

    So ... do you think it would be okay to pour the whole thing through my jelly bag? I would sterilise it first, or at least put it in boiling water for a while. I would sterilise the pan it would strain into, sterilise the demijohn afterwards and then put the mead back into it again? Replacing the bubbler (once re-sterilised)

    Or do you think it would be better to try to sterilise the plastic tube and then try to syphon just from the centre of the demijohn, avoiding the muck at top and bottom, and hope that all the rosehip hairs are not in the central part? Or syphon off that way and then put that through a muslin afterwards? Or syphon it into a muslin bag over a pan?

    Also, how do you start the syphoning without sucking on the end of the pipe? I've seen instructions saying "move it up and down", but surely that's the last thing you want to do when avoiding the floating debris?

    Any thoughts or advice would be gratefully received.

    (Please remember that I cannot get my hands on any specific equipment as there are no suitable shops around here and I really want to do this today with stuff I have already.)

    Also, do you think it's safe to taste the unfiltered mead? (The concern is the hairs)

    THANK YOU

  2. #2
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    Hi Clarification - and welcome. Sorry , but cannot speak to your concerns about rose hips except to say that I have heard that you do need to be careful with those hairs and that you do need to be sure to remove them all before you bottle. How you do that I cannot say. But I can say something about using a self priming siphon.
    There are siphons you can buy relatively inexpensively that have both an outer and an inner tube. The siphon is attached to the inner tube and when you pump the inner tube a couple of times inside the outer tube that action causes the inner tube to fill and presumably forces out some air which then acts with gravity to pull the liquid through the tube to the end which sits inside the target vessel. These siphons are designed a) to avoid any need for you to suck on the end of the tube to create the vacuum that pulls in the liquid and b) they are also constructed with an end tip that keeps the end about half an inch or so from the bottom of the fermenter thus inhibiting the transfer of lees. Do you need such a siphon? Not really. Are they handy? Yes. Very.

  3. #3

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    I stopped buying those as I have had 6-8 that broke in a short while.

    You're going to need to pour your mead through some tightly woven cloth of some type. Just get a funnel and a screen saver. Place some fabric on the screen. Put the funnel in an empty carboy and place the screen with cloth on top of that and slowly pour through it.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  4. #4

    Default

    Hello - you can use a coffee filter in a funnel. It may be painfully slow though. Maybe straining in stages would help, or take the same amount of time What I mean is use more of a regular strainer to get some of the hairs and particles out, then do the coffee filter.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    Hi Clarification - and welcome. Sorry , but cannot speak to your concerns about rose hips except to say that I have heard that you do need to be careful with those hairs and that you do need to be sure to remove them all before you bottle. How you do that I cannot say. But I can say something about using a self priming siphon.
    There are siphons you can buy relatively inexpensively that have both an outer and an inner tube. The siphon is attached to the inner tube and when you pump the inner tube a couple of times inside the outer tube that action causes the inner tube to fill and presumably forces out some air which then acts with gravity to pull the liquid through the tube to the end which sits inside the target vessel. These siphons are designed a) to avoid any need for you to suck on the end of the tube to create the vacuum that pulls in the liquid and b) they are also constructed with an end tip that keeps the end about half an inch or so from the bottom of the fermenter thus inhibiting the transfer of lees. Do you need such a siphon? Not really. Are they handy? Yes. Very.
    Thanks for the welcome and for the tip -- that does sound useful.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I stopped buying those as I have had 6-8 that broke in a short while.

    You're going to need to pour your mead through some tightly woven cloth of some type. Just get a funnel and a screen saver. Place some fabric on the screen. Put the funnel in an empty carboy and place the screen with cloth on top of that and slowly pour through it.
    I've just boiled a tea towel and I'm going to strain it through that. Wasn't sure if I could boil the jelly strainer properly. (I'm not sure what you mean by "screen saver" -- to me that's a thing that floats about on your computer monitor to prevent screen burn!) I've poured boiling water all over an ordinary sieve and put the boiled tea towel over the sieve and I'm going to pour the mead out of the demijohn through that into a boiled saucepan. And then I will have to quickly clean the demijohn and put it back in there. I don't have another of that size. And I don't think I can put anything in bottles yet because it's still bubbling slightly. Fingers crossed.

  7. Default

    Sadly I don't have any coffee filters, though that would be something I could probably get from the local shop. I will see how I get on with the tea towel. Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Default

    'Tis done - the kitchen smelled of vinegar the whole way, and we started talking about how famous we would be for our Christmas salad dressings, but when we came to taste it we were very pleasantly surprised. It was actually alcohol -- it had a warming effect to it and so we have sealed it back into the demijohn and it seems to be pressing on the bubbler still - obviously it got very much exposed to air during the straining process so I don't know what that will do to it, but it's a whole lot more promising than we expected. It's the same colour as the picture in the book, but cloudier.

    The tea towel straining took an age, but appears to have dealt with the rosehip hairs, as far as we can tell.

  9. #9
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    I imagine that an old (clean) pillow case would work just as well - you can use pillow cases as "cheese cloth" when making cheese. And while you can pour boiling water over the cloth, I think to effectively sanitize them you would need in fact to steep it in boiling water for a few minutes - the temperature will drop far too rapidly for the boiling water to be effective. What you might do is simply soak the tea towel in some K-meta or in Starsan and the sulfur in the K-meta and acids and hydroxide in the Starsan will cling to the cloth long enough to effectively sanitize the material for your purposes. But that said, I would assume that if you are working with a small enough batch of mead (say 5 -6 gallons or less) with a low enough pH around 4.00 or lower and with a mead with high enough % of alcohol by volume that any microbes, mold or fungi, trapped in the cloth, won't be able to establish a toehold for long enough to allow them to cause you any concern

  10. #10
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    I'm very interested in your findings of the mead when it's done. As a big fan of Skyrim (still playing it, actually still played yesterday) I also downloaded those recipes a while ago, and would love to give them a shot. They're very crude though, so I intend on refining them a lot, to the point of using the ingredients well, using proper yeast, and also step feeding the yeast with Fermaid O according to the TOSNA protocols. Should make it better, sooner.

    PS: TES Online is online. Skyrim itself if just a single-player game, not online, but it's awesome.

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