Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kiwi Fruit - Melomel (plus a few other bits of info).

A good few months ago, Tesco's did an offer of a pack of 4 kiwi fruit for 50 pence, which is quite cheap. So I jumped at the chance and bought a load (a dozen packs I think it was).

I actually bothered to weigh them and bag them before chucking them in the freezer - I ended up with 4 bags that all contained almost exactly 2lb 10oz.

Time passed and I just happened to see a "steam juice extractor" on ebay, which, as it was listed at about £5 looked like a bargain. They're between £50 and £80 new, so I figured it was worth a punt and made an offer with a maximum bid of £20.

As it turned out, I got it for £11 which I was quite pleased with.

I didn't even bother to unpack it, so it also sat there.

My partner decided she wanted to defrost the fridge as it was getting to the point where we could hardly close the door. So I took the Kiwi's out of the freezer box, unwrapped the steam juicer, put the water in the bottom part, assembled the rest, filled the top part with the Kiwi's and turned the gas on.

It took about 2 hours, but I ended up with almost exactly a gallon of juice.

Now I'm fully aware that some fruit shouldn't be exposed to heat as you end up with a "cooked" flavour to it. Apples are a good example of that (oh, and the heating process can also cause greater formation/problems with pectin hazes - more of that later.

I didn't know that Kiwi's are also like that. They are. So when I tasted the juice, I was a little surprised to find that instead of that slightly sharp, yet hard to describe, taste of "raw" kiwi fruit, I had a gallon of juice that basically tasted like slightly sweet gooseberry. Not unpleasant at all.

I couldn't decide what to do from there, so I emailed my mate Keith. He's a damn good bloke to know - a "direct" person who will argue his corner if he feels he's correct (which has lead him to being banned from a few of the wine making forums etc). His wealth of knowledge has meant that I've started the kiwi juice as a "Melomel", which is basically a mead but made with fruit/juice as well as the honey.

So I'd mixed the kiwi juice with 3lb of cheapo supermarket honey, and made it up to just under 2 gallons with mineral water. This was all in a 2 gallon fermenting bucket. I also dug out some "Pectolase" (pectic enzyme) and instead of the 1 teaspoon per gallon normally used, doubled it up to 2 teaspoons per gallon as the kiwi juice had been heated by the steam extractor and probably contained more than it's fair share of pectin. This I left for 3 days to work it's magic (oh and I also understand that it can help with the flavour as well - either way, the regular use of pectolase isn't a bad thing as it doesn't do any harm even if there isn't much in the way of pectin in the juice/must).

Today, I decided to check how it was doing. There was a nice layer of sediment on the bottom of the bucket. So I decided to check the gravity to see if it needed any more honey. It registered 1060 - the recipe Keith had sent me had a starting gravity of about 1100. So I just went round the local Scummerfield and got another 3lb of honey. With that mixed in the must registered exactly 1100.

I've rehydrated a packet of Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast, in 200ml's of water with 2 teaspoons of Lalvins GoFerm yeast rehydration nutrient. The idea being that the GoFerm is supposed to help get a nice healthy rehydration of the yeast so the colony is lively enough to have only a short "lag phase" (that's where the yeast multiplies before it starts any fermentation).

The only strange thing being, that there's has yet to be any sign of the ferment starting. I know that the water temp was Ok - the packet says it should be about 40 degrees C, mine was at about 38/39 degrees C. So maybe I just used a little too much at 200ml's. Not to worry. I'll leave it a couple of days and if it's still not started fermenting I'll try to start it again (maybe with a different yeast, I don't know, I haven't decided).

The only other things in the must, is a hand full of raisins and 2 teaspoons of tannin (1 per gallon).

Oh and I checked the pH of the must, which was showing at 3.45 on my pH meter.

I mentioned before about my apple and blackberry that had "stuck". Well, I haven't tested it but I think it's probably finished now, because had been bubbling regularly after I restarted it and now I'm lucky if I hear 1 bubble per hour - probably less than 1 bubble every 3 hours. Which is probably it de-gassing naturally.

I'll post again when I've worked out whether the Kiwi melomel has started or not and how the apple and blackberry is looking, but that's probably not gonna be before the weekend.