Thursday, December 31, 2009

Make it up as I go Melomel 2...

So I've just finished sorting this out.

After sanitising the bucket, I put 1 litre of red grape juice in minus 100mls. Then I added the rest of the steamed juice that was in the earlier picture.

The 100mls of red grape had 1/4 teaspoon of the GoFerm rehydration nutrient stirred into it and it was then placed in a small bath of hot water and I put my digital thermometer in it. The normal temperature for rehydrating Lalvin yeasts is 40C, but I only let it get to about 38C before pitching the yeast and giving it a good stir.

The main part of the must in the bucket was sampled to check the starting gravity, which measured 1.120 so I should get about 14% ABV from that. At the same time, after a bit of messing about (new battery) I got a pH reading of 3.31 from the must. So it's not as acid as I thought it might be. I like to keep my musts in the region of 3.5 pH so I stirred a teaspoon of calcium carbonate into it - apparently, my friend in Oklahoma emailed me and said that it's better if I used Potassium carbonate as it's less likely to cause any "after taste", but the calcium carbonate a.k.a. precipitated chalk, is all that the home brew shop had. Also, apparently "Cream of Tartar" is also good for neutralising acids as well.

Normally when rehydrating yeasts, you're supposed to leave it for no longer than 15 minutes according to the packet, but there was a hell of a head of froth on it after 10 so it just got swirled back into suspension and pitched into the must.

As soon as I see any signs of fermentation, I'll be adding the main nutrients of the Fermaid-K and DAP. I've just got to work out how much, though I'm thinking of 1/2 teaspoon each at the moment....

Watch this space.....

"Make it up as I go" Melomel!

So, just before crimbo, I got the instruction from "erindoors" that I needed to do something with all the bits of fruit that I'd gathered up in the freezer.

In total, it was about 4kg of fruit, that was actually about 2kg of raspberries, 1.2kg of wild plums and 800 grammes of mixed strawberry, grapes and blueberries.

So I put the lot in my steam juice extractor and switched on the gas.

I didn't know how much it would yeild, so initially I started filling a largish jar, that had previously held 1.3kg of honey. Ha! fucked up there, because in the end, the master plan was to add it all together in a gallon "demi-john" jar, but when it came to trying to open the honey jar, I found that as it had cooled, the lid had vacuumed on. So I've just put the jar in the fridge with the intention of either adding the content to the secondary ferment or to use it for back sweetening. I'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, what you see in the picture, is the rest of the fruit juice (including an odd 1/2 litre of red grape juice that happened to be in the fridge), which had about 1.2kg of honey added to it, along with a campden tablet to provide sulphite and then it was left for a couple of days.

Yesterday, I managed to get to the HBS, for a tub of Pectolase and a tub of "Precipitated Chalk" a.k.a. calcium carbonate. The pectolase is to deal with any pectins released during the steaming of the fruit and the calcium carbonate to increase, what I suspect, will be revealed as quite an acid pH measurement.

I added 2 teaspoons of the pectolase (pectic enzyme) and after about 4 hours, the sediment shown in the picture started to drop out. I'm not really worried about the sediment, it's not been fermented yet. I'm guessing but I suspect it's fibre that was contained in the wild plums that has come out of the fruit into the juice during steaming.

I've yet to make any pH or gravity measurements, as I intend doing that when the juice/must is moved to a bucket for primary fermentation. I'm not worried if the gravity is a little on the high side, as I'm intending to aerate the must on a daily  basis until it gets to the 1.030/1.020 area, before it gets moved to a demi-john for secondary fermentation.

I'm also going to rehydrate the yeast (I've chosen to use Lalvin's 71B as it will metabolise some of the malic acid I suspect is present in the fruit juice element) with some red grape juice and some GoFerm (lalvins yeast rehydration nutrient), which isn't necessarily required but as there's a high level of fruit, and consequently fruit acids, I figure there's no harm giving the yeast every chance of success.

Then, once the ferment shows signs of having started, I'll add some Fermaid-K (lalvins fermentation nutrient) and some DAP (Diammonium Phosphate). Then I'll probably add a bit more Fermaid-K at the "half sugar break" (if the gravity was 1.100 and we take it that 1.000 is finished, then the half break will be 1.050).

That's about it for the moment so I'll leave it there...


Friday, December 11, 2009

Polish Mead ???

One of the members over at gotmead posted a link about Polish meads. I had to do a bit of messing around with my browser settings to view the linked document, to find that it was only available in Polish - which is a fucker as I don't speak any Polish.

So, after a visit to google, I managed to use their translator facility and ended up with the quoted text below (just for info, when copying translated text from google, I found that it returned the original text in Polish, followed by the translated sentence. Obviously, I don't have any Polish, so I deleted that part so it can all be understood in the context of this blog)

Editor: patricus
Mead is an alcoholic beverage resulting from the alcoholic fermentation of the wort (that honey diluted with water). Wort may be an additional dressing of herbs, hops, roots or fruit juice.
Division of mead
Depending on how the preparation of the wort or the additives used meads can be divided in many different ways.
1) The division, depending on the preparation of the wort:
• Honey saturated, that is, those whose wort boil,
• Honey niesycone (natural), or those which do not boil.
Many of the old authorities (eg T. Ciesielski) for mead drinks accounted for just saturated. Also in our association can be found as some supporters and others drinks. Many sources give the saturated honey taste better, and niesycone have a better flavor. If we are at the disposal of high-quality honey, I propose to prepare wort niesyconą, having worse sorts of honey, honey, you can cook. Syceniu its decision on whether or not, may also be dependent on the type of honey which we prepare. Honey, fruit will be better niesycone, honey spicy taste better saturated.
2) The division, depending on the density of the wort.
• Półtorak: 1 part by volume of honey and 0.5 parts by volume of water. The density of the wort BLG 57-66. Maturation of about 10 years.
• Dwójniak: 1 part by volume of honey and 1 part by volume of water. The density of the wort BLG 45-53. Maturation of approximately 5 years.
• Trójniak: 1 part by volume of honey and 2 parts water by volume. The density of the wort BLG 32-37. Maturation of about 2-3 years.
• Czwórniak: 1 part by volume of honey and 3 parts by volume of water. The density of the wort BLG 25-29. Maturation about a year.
The above maturity periods are recommended as a minimum by well-known personalities. As experience shows, however, that a particular fruit honeys are ready to drink much sooner.
Given name is the only officially approved names for the honey trade. In practice, however, such as producing honey wort with a density of 40 BLG, we can use the name półdwójniak. Similarly, for the honey and the trójniak czwórniak - półtrójniak.
3) The division, depending on the additives used.
• Natural Honey: without using any additives.
• Honey Fruit: some of the water was replaced with fruit juice.
• Honey-Herb Korzenno: prepared with spices.
Some authors distinguish a category of honeys hop - which uses only hop.
For the curious below the statutory requirements placed on manufacturers of commercial meads (content of acids, sugars, alcohol, etc.).
According to the Regulation of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development dated 4 February 2003., Meads:
1) are:
a) miodowowinny flavor, harmonized with the flavors of juice used, free of foreign smell - in a honey meads and grape fruit,
b) miodowowinny flavor, harmonized with the taste of juice used, without foreign flavors - honey meads in grape and fruit
c) miodowowinny taste, enriched with the taste of typical spices that are used - in the honey meads and herbal spices, d) the total acidity expressed as malic acid in an amount from 3.5 to 8 grams per liter,
e) the volatile acidity expressed as acetic acid in an amount not greater than 1.4 grams per liter;
2) include:
a) reducing sugars after inversion:
From 35 to 90 grams per liter for Czwórniak,
From 65 to 120 grams per liter for trojniak,
From 175 to 230 grams per liter for dwójniak ',
More than 300 grams per liter in the case and half,
b) ethyl alcohol, multiplied by 18 and accumulated sugar content of not less than the following values:
- 240 - in the case Czwórniak,
- 323 - in the case trojniak,
- 490 - in the case dwójniak ',
- 600 - in the case and half,
c) ethyl alcohol in quantities:
- From 9 to 12% by volume in the case Czwórniak,
- From 12 to 15% by volume in the case trojniak,
- From 15 to 18% by volume in the case of 'dwójniak and and half,
d) the sugar extract in an amount not less than:
- 15 grams per liter for Czwórniak,
- 20 grams per liter for trojniak, Czwórniak grape and fruit
- 25 grams per liter in the case of 'dwójniak, Trójniak grape and fruit
- 30 grams per liter in the case and half, 'dwójniak grape and fruit
- 35 grams per liter and half in the case of grape and fruit
e) the ash content of not less than 1.3 grams per liter in the case of mead and grape fruit.

Now considering the translation facility is a free one, I'm pleased how it's turned out, but it does read as if the translation is very literal. I understand that the term "BLG" refers to Brix measurements for sugar content readings, so if you read this but use gravity readings, then it's probably gonna be necessary to convert Brix to gravity....

Either way, given that it seems Poland, among other European countries does seem to have an extensive history with meads, it's a bit unfortunate that more info about making meads this way, isn't available.

That doesn't mean I'll stop looking.........


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Additional to "Sloe Gin"...........

Further to Marek's comment about making a "Blackthorn" melomel......

Well that's a possibility already, as I still have 4lb (just under 2kg) of sloes in the freezer at the moment.

The only thing that's got me thinking, is that given that sloes are of the "prunus" family, according to Luc Volders blog, when making "Plum" wine, it's a good thing to soak the fruit in "Soda Ash" for 24 hours first, to remove the waxy/fungal looking "bloom" from the fruit as this can cause a haze that's hard to clear from the finished product.

I'm unsure whether sloes are closely enough related to plums that this might be an issue ? Either way, I'll probably just put the fruit through my "steam juice extractor" and then add most of the juice, but reserving a little for back sweetening/flavouring after fermentation is complete.

Also, as I understand that plums can be quite high in malic acid, what yeast to use ? 71B would be good as it will metabolise some of the malic acid during the ferment, but I don't want to loose any of the fruitiness of the sloes.....