Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mystery liquid & Steam extracted raspberry......update

Ok, so the post from last weekend (24th) where I showed pictures of the mystery liquid and the raspberries in the steam extractor..... the mystery liquid (1.3kg of Polish blended honey and 1 litre of red grape juice) was mixed with the extracted raspberry juice for a "Raspberry Melomel".

On either tuesday (or was it wednesday) evening, I checked to see how it was progressing. The initial gravity on the weekend (Sunday, I think) was about 1090, and allowing for a total drop to 1000 (a drop of 90 points), that would have given me a %ABV of about 12.2, but as it had dropped quite quickly to about 1045 in 2 or 3 days, I added about another 600 grammes of the honey (Polish blended honey - happened to have just under a half jar sitting there) to the ferment and also a teaspoon of FermaidK. What I didn't do, was take a gravity reading of the must after the extra ingredients were added.....

I've just been and checked how it's getting on and while I don't know how much the gravity might have been increased with the extra honey, the ferment is now showing that it's back down to 1035 and there's still a nice view of tiny bubbles showing on the surface, so I'll leave it be now to see where it stops.

It's very likely that it will finish with some residual sugar, which is sort of what I'm aiming for anyway - though whether or not I add tannin to the finished ferment will also depend on the finished taste. The residual sugar will mean that I don't need to think about back sweetening. Plus once I'm happy it has finished fermenting, it'll be sorbated and sulphited to allow it to then settle/clear naturally. I made this up in a bucket as I'd like to make sure that it produces the 6 bottles to the gallon that you don't normally get as you do get racking losses - which will be negated as it should through a reasonable sediment in the bucket. I won't bother moving it to a DJ just yet, as the ferment should produce enough CO2 to prevent any oxidation.

Hopefully that lot makes sense.

Oh, and I don't recall whether I mentioned that I used Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast in this batch, mainly because raspberry is a "malic" fruit and the 71B will metabolise some of that, which should prevent any malolactic fermentation (not always a bad thing of course).


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Further to Saturday 24th entry.....

This evening, I took the honey/grape juice/raspberry juice mix and made it up to a gallon (well 5 litres really) and then took a reading to see what needed doing to it.

I was surprised that it was "only" about 1090, so because I don't want it too acidic and that raspberry can often be quite overpowering on it's own, I've just pitched Lalvin's 71B yeast.

71B only has a 14% tolerance but I'm hoping that it should ferment dry, I'll have to check the numbers to see what I need in total gravity drop to attain 14%. If I have to feed it a little more honey, then that's not an issue. The 71B was used dry as I don't want it to kick in too quickly, but also 71B can metabolise some of the malic acid from the raspberries.

So I'm hoping that when I get home on tuesday, it should be showing some signs of fermentation........

More Treasure (4/7/10) - Mareks suggestion........

Thanks for the idea about making a Trójniak instead of the Czwórniak Marek, I'll look into that and try and understand what it entails.

It's just that from reading the descriptions for the Czwórniak, it looked easier for a first attempt than the Trójniak, but I'll certainly check to see what the difference is (apart from the honey/water ratio). I'd only be making a gallon batch as it, to me, is very much an experiment.

It may even come down to having to working within the contraints of how much honey is needed, because I was considering making a 5 gallon batch of a traditional recipe, which is feasible using about 3 and 1/2 lb of honey to the gallon with possible a pound or two for back sweetening - just to retain the full flavour of the buckwheat - and still have enough left over to be able to try a few other recipes as well that include some buckwheat in them.

I'm certainly not going to rush into this, as I don't want to waste a single gramme of this brilliant, if unusual (to me) honey. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn a bit about something that's normally out of my reach (the honey type that is).....

Yet again, I can't thank you enough for the assistance in getting it. Absolutely marvellous.......

Right, off to read up on the differences between the two mead types......

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Todays effort of finally removing the fruit!

Well, today, prompted by our picking of some raspberries, has been a bit "spur of the moment".

To start with, after we'd picked the fruit, I decided it was time to make a bit of space. The resulting picture is what's left of last years efforts of making sloe gin.

I started with picking the sloes, then dug round the net to find a recipe. The one I picked was 1lb of sloes, 1 pint of gin and 8oz of sugar - I was a little concerned about that much sugar, so after asking a few people, I decided to change it to 5oz of sugar - mainly on the basis that it's a piece of piss to add more sugar if it needed it but it's a bugger to remove it if it's too sweet.

So, the mix was made, though I didn't waste my time individually pricking the fruit with a pin, I just froze it for a couple of days and then defrosted it enough to be able to pour it into the jar (picture later) and then add the sugar and gin - I did actually add a little cinnamon bark as well to give it (hopefully) just a hint of the spices.

I'd had some out of the jar, but the picture is of what's left - me being quietly pleased as after about a month or so (possibly as long as 2) it was good IMO, though some might have thought it a little sharp/sherberty tasting/acid.

I can reassure any reader that the acid/sharpness has mellowed quite well, hence it's been moved to the 1 gallon jar/demi-john and the 3 bottles (plus there was about a further 1/2 a pint so I've drunk that mixed 50/50 with lemonade, and now have quite a buzz as I type this...

Remaining fruit after it's been drained.
Ok, so here's the remaining fruit. There was about 16lb in total before it went into the gin etc. I've tried taking a bite to see what it's like, as it's possible to make jam etc from it, what with the sloes/blackthorn plant being related to plums (same genus - prunus).

I've decided that I don't want to do that, so it's gonna end up in the steam juice extractor, to remove any further flavour/juice/colour. Which will then be preserved in a jar so it can go into something later......

Raspberries in the steam extractor.
Here's what happening to the raspberries, they're being steamed in the juice extractor, which is also the ultimate destination of the sloes above as well.

I'm extracting the juice, because we haven't got enough space in the freezer for the fruit at the moment, plus if I extract the juice, I can use it to make a batch of raspberry melomel.

Mystery liquid ?

Ok, so what's this ? Well as you can see from the picture above, the raspberries are going into a batch to be made as "Raspberry Melomel".

Now it's fair to point out, that raspberry can be quite over powering if just used as a flavouring on it's own. So as there's about 2 or 3 kg of fruit in the steamer, this picture shows 1.3 kg of honey (part of what's left of the 6 or was it 7 jars of honey that my friend Sebastian brought me back from Poland on a trip home.

The honey isn't really anything remarkable, other than the 1.3 kg (about 3lb) jars as that's a bit larger than we normally see here in the UK - our normal jars being 1lb/454g in weight. Plus I've added 1 litre of red grape juice, not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, and as I suspect that with the honey and grape juice, once I've added the extracted raspberry juice it'll be too high a gravity for a 1 gallon batch, so I'll have to make it up to 1.5 or 2 gallons - only time and the hydrometer will tell.

I've already added 2 tsp of "Pectolase" pectic enzyme, because it's got the red grape juice, and will eventually (after extraction/cooling) get the raspberry juice as well. It might as well have a couple of days to do it's thing to reduce the chance of a pectin haze.......

The ultimate plan, is, allowing for the raspberry juice being quite powerful and only having grape juice and honey in it, I expect to have to make this quite a high alcohol batch, so it's likely to come out as a bit "medicinal" to start with, and hopefully a strong raspberry flavour, so I'll have to back sweeten it. I don't want to make it a "dessert" melomel if I can help it, but if I can finish it so it tastes like an alcoholic raspberry cordial then that'd be brilliant.

This is the first time I've actually thought about how I want the end result to be, rather than just throwing the ingredients into a fermenter and letting them do their thing and see what comes out at the end........

Ok that's about it for the moment........


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Elderberry melomel...almost in season!

Elderberry season is almost here, so is one of my favorite meads, elderberry melomel. Employ the same backsweetening method as with concord pyment.

It is easy to pick 33 lbs wild elderberries in a day, we did in 2008. Dried elderberries at the health food store or wine shop are $20/lb, you do the math? I'm drinking elderberry melomel and grinning all the way to the bank...I mean cellar!

After 4 weeks ferment of a classic mead, toss into the carboy about 1 lb ripe elderberries per gallon of mead. Sweeten with chenin blanc for a honey/elderberry delight. As I convinced Fatbloke chenin blanc backsweetening will taste more like honey, than actually backsweeting with honey....FACT!

The elderberries pictured are not ready, as the berry heads will droop towards the ground when ripe. Destem them with a fork after freezing them overnight. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN FREEZER as I did...they will freezer burn easily. Elderberries are used to accent many different wines, besides making an excellent melomel alone.

All my mead recipes should age for 2 years, but rarely do they last that long. A 4 year old elderberry is to die for...TRUELY an exquisite desert melomel.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Apology to Steven

There was a comment posted by Steven, on the blog entry dated 13/2/10......

You said you were using some of the grape concentrate to top up meads made a year ago. Couldn't this restart fermentation of perhaps change the flavor profile of the meads?

So, sorry mate, I didn't see it, and only spotted it today..... my bad!

In response to your question, Yes, it's entirely possible that using a flavouring like a grape concentrate could change the flavour profile. Though if you think about it, it depends entirely on the flavour of the top up liquid. This is an idea from Keith. He originally suggested the use of Chenin Blanc grape concentrate as it has distinct "honey like" qualities. It cost me nearly £70 to learn that he was absolutely spot on (the only way of getting Chenin Blanc easily here, it to get a kit and use the "juice" from that).

Sure it's grape juice/concentrate, but when I took a little taste it was very like tasting watered down honey. Of course, there's a few "pro's and con's" to everything. The pro's, to me, are that you're putting something in that tastes not unsimilar to how you'd expect a mead to taste. Also, if it's concentrate, it will add a little more body/mouth feel. There's also the possibility, that depending on what it is that you're topping up with, that you might also lighten/darken the colour as well.

Ok, so I think that makes sense.

The con/con's ? Well yes, it's possible that it could indeed restart a fermentation. Though if you've finished the fermentation stage and done the usual "sorbate/sulphite" stage as well, that should, pretty much, prevent that from happening. Also, if you've filtered the mead, that can (depending on the filter size/gauge) remove some yeast cells. I personally am happy to filter, but not using a "sterile"/ultra fine element - of the 0.25 micron size. I like to use either 1 or 0.5 micron sized elements - so I try to make sure that I don't forget the sorbate/sulphite stage.

A point in fact, is how much you're actually adding, as to the effect it will have on flavour. If, for example, you're in the habit of racking until you start to get some of the lees through the racking cane/syphon - then the last bit of liquid is poured off, into a tall, thin container, then refrigerate that. You'll find that in a couple of days, you can easily remove more clear, or relatively so, wine/mead. Thereby minimising any racking losses. For each gallon, you're gonna lose what, 1/4 of a pint, probably not even that. So if the flavour of the top up is even vaguely close, it's unlikely to affect the flavour of the wine/mead too much.

You might actually be doing something to deliberately change the flavour, like using brandy or whiskey to top it up, that will change the taste. It's also "fortifying" the wine/mead, so might then need time for the "new" flavour to develop.....
Of course, there's always gonna be exceptions to the rule, and in this case, you might intentionally want to restart fermentation, to produce a sparkling mead. So that being the case, then I'd just have cleared/racked it in the usual way, leaving out the sulphite/sorbate stage and then added the grape juice/concentrate.

I understand that Keith is a great believer, in just making a basic mead, getting the fermentation going and then working out how to add any other flavours you might want.

That might entail things like after primary fermentation has started and you've then moved to secondary (one of the good reasons for using a bucket for secondary ferment) then you want it to have a fruit flavour, so you can either ferment on the pulp and by that I mean add the fruit in a muslin/cheese cloth type bag and then putting it in the secondary ferment. Or just crushing/squashing the fruit and putting it in directly - if it's the sort of fruit that just goes to mush, I try to use a bag, otherwise you can easily end up with it being a complete PITA to rack off the lees/fruit pulp. Or you can extract the fruit juice in some way and add it at the same time.

I like to do that with my steam extractor for all fruit, except the ones that give a "cooked" taste if heat treated (the steam extractor is brilliant for "red" fruits - Apples and kiwi fruit are two examples that you can't used steam on, they both give a pronounced "cooked" flavour if you do).

I also like to hold some of the fruit flavour back, as I've learned and found that if it's added after the ferment has finished, you get more of a fruity taste that doesn't get diminished/reduced by the action of the yeast doing it's ferment thing - it can also help with making the mead ready to drink quicker........sugar/sweetness, can often cover "a multitude of sins"......

Hopefully that gives you a clear enough answer to the point I was trying (badly) to make.......


p.s. and sorry if that answer seems a bit "disjointed" I was trying to make it all clear but kept having other ideas/suggestions - so made extensive using of "cut 'n paste"....

Concord Pyment....backsweeten method.

Making your favorite pyments and melomels just got easier. Just make your mead and backsweeten with properly pasturized or frozen fruits or grapes.

Concord Grape Recipe:

6 gallon carboy

1 gallon Oakiehoma wildflower honey
1 6 oz can of frozen lemonaid juice or 3 juice lemons
1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite or 4 campden tablets
1 packet 5g Pasteur Champagne yeast or Montrachet or Lavlin 1116
3.5 gallon filtered water 70F/21C - 80F/26C
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient/energizer, (yeast hull/DAP diammonium phosphate)
1 teaspoon acid blend

Prepare yeast starter in 1 litre or 1 quart of water and lemonaid or lemon juice.

Pasturize honey and water by heating to 140F/60C for 5 minutes or 170F/77C for 3 minutes.

Mix all these ingredients EXCEPT YEAST starter, let stand 24 hours, then add yeast starter to 70F/21C must, stir vigorously.

Stir lightly twice daily, after 4 weeks or when fermentation finishes rack into a new sterile carboy and add 1 gallon crushed concord grapes. It should start fermenting again, if not add more yeast; rehydrate yeast for 2 hours, then pitch into must and stir lightly.

After 4 more weeks second fermention, rack into new sterile carboy. Add and stir 1/2 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite to new carboy before last backsweetening to prohibit additional fermentation. Or 5 campden tablets and stir.

You may add concentrate juices and/or sugar to sweeten to taste. The high gravity/acids make for a pyment that will carry a very sweet taste.

Do not add potassium sobate as it will give concord an off flavor.

I just added 10 gallon crushed concord grapes to 30 gallon of mead. Additions of (3 to 1 water to juice concentrate) concord concentrate will be used to further sweeten after crushed concord grapes second fermention.

It will be a tawny/sweet (port style) pyment you will enjoy serving.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still trying......

Well, I have no idea whether this will work or not, because I thought I'd managed to suss the correct method of posting to the blog from a mobile device.

Ideally, it's working out how it's done so Keith can post to from his mobile/cell/PDA - being in very rural Oklahoma, he's limited by bandwidth/equipment issues and has to operate from a PDA - but it'd be good to work this out as I really believe he has some brilliant info/guidance/advice about home brewing of wines and meads....

Oh well, here goes

Ho ho ho!

Well, it seems that we're part of the way there.......

The "nuclear waste wines" post was from Keith, I hadn't even tried posting via email with images attached, but he's managed it.

I haven't worked out why it says that I've posted it but we both still have a few things to learn how to use blogger for anything above the most basic of functions...

So watch this space....... :-D

Nuclear waste wines...

We could resolve disposal of nuclear waste from nuclear power plants with Fatbloke's wine recipe. Puts some energy in your reactor!

Mobile devices.....

So what have mobile devices got to do with home brewing?

Well, you may or may not be aware that we all have different access to different kit, or levels of service, etc etc.

So I'm trying to set this blog up so that Keith can actually post to it. Being in rural Oklahoma, he is limited by bandwidth and has had to opt for using a PDA/smartphone for his phone and net access. It's proving a complete PITA as I'd like his input as he knows shitloads about home brewing of wines and meads.....

I just, apparently, managed to "register" this device, sent a message, but as yet, absolutely sod all has appeared.....

So here goes for a second time......

Sunday, July 04, 2010

More "treasure".......

Ha ha! The picture is what I'd given up as a bad job.

What is it? It's 14 kilo's of finest Polish buckwheat honey.

It's been a long time coming.

One of the chaps over at Gotmead was kind enough to offer to get some for me as it's proving damn near impossible to obtain any in the UK for anything that might resemble a reasonable price. Marek sorted the order for me and then I had to arrange with Sebastian, a former work colleague, so that Marek could get it sent to Sebastians home in Poland, who in turn would then bring it back with him on return from one of his regular visits to his family. I can't put into words how grateful I am to both of them for their assistance in getting this to me.

I'm still of 2 minds as to what I'll actually turn it into. Though I'm thinking along the lines of a gallon batch of a straight traditional mead, plus a batch of one of the "easier" Polish style meads.

Called "Czwórniak", it's basically 1 part honey to 3 parts water. With that ratio or honey/water, I'd guess that it would still work out as quite a high gravity, so I'll have to measure it out and then see how it's likely to measure up. There'd be no point in mixing it up and then hoping that it will work out Ok. It could easily end up killing the yeast if it's too high a gravity.

At this point, I'm not even sure how it'll work out. I've had a read around about meads like this and there's both EU and Polish Government regulations on how it should be made, so I'd like to stick to the rules if possible, but I might have to divert some to get it to work - I'll see and post back on the subject........