When we've done our weekly shop, any soft fruit left over is washed, trimmed, picked over and then bagged/frozen.
This means that over the last 6 to 9 months, I ended up with 4kg of Strawberries, eating grapes, raspberries, black berries and a few blue berries.
I'd already decided to make it into a Mixed Fruit Melomel (a melomel being a mead that's made with fruit).
As this seasons fruit is starting to be ready for picking, I decided to get it out the freezer and put it through the steam juice extractor (see earlier posts about that).
Anyway, I ended up with about 4 litres of juice, which tasted mainly of strawberry (which was the bulk of the frozen fruit). I couldn't decide on the method I would use..... so a little consultation with a friend in the US who's made a number of melomels, I decided that I'd make up a must with honey (3lb of cheap supermarket honey initially), about 1.5 litres of the juice and make up the rest to 1 gallon with distilled water. I did remember to add a campden tablet to the juice about a week before as I was concerned that the juice would start to go off or maybe ferment naturally - though that wasn't so much of a consideration as it's pretty sterile/pasteurised when it comes out the steam juicer.
I put that into a 10 litre bucket, and then added 1 teaspoon of Tronozymol yeast nutrient and 1 teaspoon of "mead acid mix" (the mix is 2 parts malic acid to 1 part tartaric acid - the idea taken from Ashton and Duncans book "Making Mead").
The gravity reading was 1.100 (which some of the bod's at WAH would have said "too high" - but this is a mead, not a "normal" fruit wine).
I'd looked at what yeast I had in stock and decided on Lalvin's D47 - don't ask why, as it probably wouldn't make sense.....
I rehydrated it as per the instructions but was a bit concerned as all it did was absorb some water, no bubbling or anything like that at all. I thought "fuck it" and pitched that into the must.
Now I'd used a 10 litre bucket as it would allow for some foaming that sometimes occurs when a ferment starts, by Monday morning, the small piece of cotton wool I'd put into the airlock grommet in the bucket lid had been blown out. So I quickly sanitised a stirrer and stirred/aerated the must. Replaced the cotton wool and went to work.
By Monday evening, the must had blown the cotton wool back out of the grommet and had foamed out into the top of the bucket - I've never had a must that has foamed so much.... amazing.
This morning, I sanitised the stirrer again and aerated the must. Oh I forgot, I'd changed the cotton wool for an airlock on Monday evening.
This evening, I decided it was time to see how the must was getting on. I took a sample and checked.........."fuck my old boots" went straight through my mind when I saw that the hydrometer was sitting at about 1.015 - that's a drop of 85 points in 2 and a half days. Talk about fast and furious ferments.......
Anyway, it's been stirred again, plus I've added another 1/4 teaspoon of Fermaid-K yeast nutrient. I also decided to add another 1lb of honey which as been warmed up to pour easily and put it in. The idea behind that being to bring the gravity back up, so that tomorrow morning, I can stir the must and then rack it into a demi-john - I've got a couple of 1 pint milk bottles on hand just in case it's a bit more than a gallon (due to the size of the top, 1 pint milk bottles make ideal emergency fermenter a bung/airlock fits perfectly).
Once it's fermented dry, I'll sulphite it and stabilise it because I will back sweeten it with the rest of the juice.
The idea of making it that way, is because the fermenting process can be quite hard on the fruit flavours and as I don't want the honey to be the main flavour, it should (in theory) taste mainly of the fruit juice.
It's all a bit experimental as I haven't made much melomel. I'll see how it turns out. Oh, and because I'm hoping that the fruit flavour is the predominant one, it doesn't matter that the honey is cheap blended crap. Nothing of a good varietal honey will come through in the flavour anyway - or that's what I intend.