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Cranberry Melomel

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Mud

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I've been kicking around making a wine that will have a long life span and finally settled on honey wine. A cranberry melomel specifically.

Ingredients:
15 lbs orange blossom honey
675 grams thawed cranberries
3.5 gallons water
.5 gallons water
Lalvin ICV-D47 yeast
yeast nutrient including DAP
pectic enzyme

Day 1 - Mix the honey into room temp 3.5 gallons water and stir until completely dissolved. It will take a while at room temperature, but there is no harm done to the nose this way. once it's done draw off 1 liter must for a starter. Rehydrate and add to starter.

Smash the cranberries. Boil the 1/2 gallon water and pour over the thawed cranberries to sanitize and soften them. Place fruit in primary inside straining bag. Add pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient per package instructions.

Day 2 - in the morning begin acclimating the yeast so they can overcome the benzoate in the cranberries. Add 1 cup must to the starter every 2 hours until you have 3 liters of starter. Add to primary. Ferment between 59*F and 68*F.

Watch the pH on this. Should be kept low, around 3.2-3.5. Might try to oak some of this, but maybe not. Double dose of sulfites at bottling. Expect to age at least 2 yrs.

Anybody see anything wrong with this? The fruit is low on purpose. I'm looking for an orange blossom mead with cranberry behind. If the cranberry is too much I'll blend with orange blossom show mead until it's right.

-aspiring mazer Mud
 
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Mud

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The melomel is working off slowly. It's a nice dark blush color, and it smells really good. But the fruit addition was way too low. cranberry was supposed to be a background note, but the honey is just overwhelming it. So I've added 2 lbs (900 grams) of crushed & sanitized cranberries to a sperate bucket with a generous amount of already fermenting must. Once it's off to a good start it'll all go back together.
 

Mud

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The ferment is stuck. The starting gravity was 1.09, and it had worked off down to 1.08 when I added the additional cranberries. It slowed and finally stuck at 1.072.

I've tried to make new starters twice since by rehydrating and pitching yeast into a liter of honey-only must. It works as expected until the addition of the cranberry must from the main batch. Both times the second cup (added 2 hrs after the first) has stopped it fermenting.

Not sure what to do. The amount of cranberries in this recipe is pretty low, so it seems unlikely the naturally occurring benzoate is the culprit. It's not listed on the ingredients, but I wonder if there's an added preservative on the berries. They were Big valley brand. Customer service isn't open on the weekend.

If this doesn't kick soon it's bound to get an infection. Originally the must wasn't sulfited, but I did so yesterday because of the problems. I'm off to the brew shop to get more yeast. Am going to try a 1 gallon starter with sugar as I'm out of honey.

-frustrated Mud

edit to add: bucket primary with loose lid, 64* ferm temp
 
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Wade E

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Sorry, Ive been so busy lately I havent seen as many threads as I usually do. I would work with a stronger yeast like EC1118 or Premier Cuvee for this since its giving you lots of trouble. Do a huge starter and keep adding a little must at a time until its at least tripled in size, I would add some energizer to both the must and the starter also. i use nutrient and energizer in all my wines and meads and have never had any problems fermenting dry since doing so and never taste any off flavors from doing so either. Usually with meads I add al the energizer up front and 1/3rd the nutrient up front and do the trest of the nutrient in stages so as to keep it fermenting nice and strong and so the nutrient doesnt get buried under the lees on the bottom. Meads are good candidates for stirring also as they take longer which lets some active yeast cells get bured under dead cells and other sediment on the bottom of the carboy. Aerate this mead and get all the yeast into the must. My fingers are crossed for ya cause theres nothing worse then loosing some good honey. I wouldnt play around with any bakers yeast on this, dont worry about the time exposoed so much on this as its honey and is a damn good preservative by itself with out refridgration.
 

Mud

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Thanks Wade. No problem. I'm just happy somebody replied.

I started a 1/2 gallon with the ICV-D47 late last night. If that dies I'll switch off to EC-1118 as you suggest. As far as the nutrient and energizer I've added half the recommended dose of each to the main must, and the full amount of each to every starter. Was waiting to add the rest for the reason you said, but I'll add the rest of the energizer to the main must before pitching the new starter.
Also aerated everything by mis-using a de-gassing stirrer. Worked great.

I'll keep you posted. Oh, yeah. I'll be bottling the elderberry soon. When it's done you can expect a bottle of that and my orange blossom mead in the mail. And maybe some other stuff, too.
 

Wade E

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Im ready to bottle my Elder also, I sweetened it back last wekend and my wife now loves this wine the most and welcomes me planting a shitload of these in the yard!:db:r:sm:br
 

Mud

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This is how massive fruit gardens start, Wade. Just one more fruit...:)

Things are looking up with the melomel. The starter was bubbling every few seconds until I added the cranberry must. Then it picked up speed. Hooray! after doubling it to almost a gallon with no bad signs I added it to the main must.

<Runs off to look for signs of life in bucket>
 

Mud

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ICV-D47 was apparently not the right yeast for this. The 3rd starter died on impact. So I rehydrated some EC-1118 and pitched it into the main must. It's chugging away now. I'm a little disappointed I had to switch yeasts, but at least it's working now. Thanks Wade.

-cautiously optimistic Mud
 

Wade E

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Glad its going for you Mud. I have had trouble with Lalvin yeasts before with stuff like this and switched to Red Star and have never had a problem since.
 

Mud

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Racked and tasted this yesterday. It's hot on the tongue, which is a little surprising. Off to degas again...
 

Mud

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Racked this a 3rd time today, sorbated possibly for the second time (oops), and backsweetened with 2 lbs orange blossom honey. Then added super-kleer. This was my first time with a clearing agent and the results were surpsrinsing. Within 2 hours it had dropped another 1/2" of sediment and the color changed to a beautiful rose instead of the pale pink it was.

Wade advises waiting 2 weeks before bottling, so that's the plan. But what a long 2 weeks it will be.
 

MonB4V

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Question

I'm fairly new to all this but I have done some reading and was wondering if you considered getting the must started with out the cranberries and then slowly adding them once fermentation was going. I heard of some people getting things like skeeter piss like this with a lot of success. Like I said Im very new and can't wait to hear what you think of this idea. the cranberry sounds good though might have to give it a try.
 
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Mud

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Hadn't thought of that. Seems like you might end up with a slow or stuck ferment that way, though. Yeast reproduce for a few days until they peak, then hold steady until they start to starve. Adding cranberry might kill off the weaker cells, leaving only a partial colony.

Doing it the other way, where you acclimate the starter, will winnow the weak ones first. Then the strong ones can reproduce like normal once pitched.

That's just my initial thought. Might be off base. Maybe someone else knows better.

-still learning Mud
 

Mud

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Bottled this today. It was a nice rose color in the carboy and is gold in the bottles. The flavor is a little harsh right now. It tastes hot and tannin-y with the honey flavor up front and the cranberry far behind. Seems like it's right on track for a mead that will age well.
 
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fatbloke

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Bottled this today. It was a nice rose color in the carboy and is gold in the bottles. The flavor is a little harsh right now. It tastes hot and tannin-y with the honey flavor up front and the cranberry far behind. Seems like it's right on track for a mead that will age well.
I'm just trying to understand why it decided to cause problems with the D47.......

with a starting gravity of 1.090 (which isn't high) and presuming that a finished gravity of 1.000 is achieved, that only gives an alcohol content of about 12% or so, hell even using the EC-1118, it would have probably finished at 0.990 so that still only suggests a 13.5% ABV.....

Hence I'm thinking that the "stuckies" where to do with either the pH levels dropping like hell, or a nutrient (lack of) type issue....

I mean, in truth I'd have considered either something like 71B, D21 or K1V-1116 for the yeast.

I'd also have started the batch with just the honey etc and not put the fruit in until secondary, possibly some into secondary and then steep the rest of the fruit into the finished ferment. Late addition of fruit/juice can often give a much deeper/stronger fruit flavour (EC-1118 has a habit of blowing a lot of the flavour/aroma straight out the airlock), and the meads are often drinkable sooner.

Additionally, I'd have used a stronger tasting honey as well, because Orange blossom is quite light, cranberry can be quite sharp/acidic.....


Still, it doesn't matter really does it. Hopefully, the ageing will sort out a few of the things that Mud has pointed out.

What do you consider "long life span" ??? How long are you thinking of ageing it for???

regards

fatbloke
 

Wade E

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I think I will try that fruit infusion next time I make a mead. I havent tried it as of yet and have won awards for my mead but think I can do better this way. I have a blueberry Melomel in clearing and mayy have to taste it and see if it needs improvement, its very similar ot the f-pac we do with the exception that we usually extract the juice from the fruit before adding to our wine.
 

fatbloke

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well as I understand it Wade, it's just a case of starting a mead like a traditional, but then move it over into secondary, with the fruit in a straining bag - to help prevent loads of sediment (some fruits stay whole but other fall apart don't they).

Or of course, you can extract the fruit somehow (I use a steam extractor for most things, except when the fruit is like apple or kiwi fruit and you get a "cooked" type taste) and then mix the juice into the ferment once it's finished. I believe I'm right in saying that if you add the fruit/juice/extract to secondary or tertiary, then you tend to get a batch that's drinkable much quicker.......

I suppose you just have to plan what it is that you actually want as an end result.....

regards

jtfb
 

Mud

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I didn't check pH as I didn't have a meter or accurate strips at the time. It tasted about right, though.

Nutrient was per manufacturer recommended dosage.

primary vs secondary fruit additions...That's a matter of preference. I use fruit bags and my secondaries are carboys. Getting fruit in and out will be a nuisance. I also don't like the idea of guessing at additional sugars & juice from the fruit. When you make a fruit wine with sugar do you add the fruit in the secondary? Why or why not?

The orange blossom my local apiary carries has a rather large percentage of tangerine. It's a stronger flavor and color than most from what I've been told. Never had any other. Either way, the honey is dominant so I think it did ok. Would be interesting to see what it was like with another flavor.

Long life span...Looking for a few bottles left at 20+ yrs. Don't know if it'll make it, but that's my hope. We'll see what happens.
 
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Wade E

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I havent directly added fruit in secondary but I know some have and its really called infusing. I like the idea but havent tried it yet, I guess its like what we do by making an f-pac tough but we take the volume out of the equation and also a lot of the mess.
 

fatbloke

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I didn't check pH as I didn't have a meter or accurate strips at the time. It tasted about right, though.

Nutrient was per manufacturer recommended dosage.

primary vs secondary fruit additions...That's a matter of preference. I use fruit bags and my secondaries are carboys. Getting fruit in and out will be a nuisance. I also don't like the idea of guessing at additional sugars & juice from the fruit. When you make a fruit wine with sugar do you add the fruit in the secondary? Why or why not?

The orange blossom my local apiary carries has a rather large percentage of tangerine. It's a stronger flavor and color than most from what I've been told. Never had any other. Either way, the honey is dominant so I think it did ok. Would be interesting to see what it was like with another flavor.

Long life span...Looking for a few bottles left at 20+ yrs. Don't know if it'll make it, but that's my hope. We'll see what happens.
I prefer to just check mead pH at the start and finish though it's handy to have a pen meter type tester as it can give you a clue if you go get a "stuckie" for no apparent reason - the pH in meads can swing wildly, I understand that this is due to the production/metabolisation of gluconic acids during the ferment, which can create "merry hell" with some yeasties. I've got some, but I'm not a big fan of D47 - especially for fruit based meads.

Plus as far as I understand in regard of longer term ageing, it would seem that higher alcohol, tannin and plenty of depth of colour is the way to go. I'm guessing that the stuff I've read about this (not got anything that's older than 3 years here), is alluding to grape wines and longer term ageing i.e. quite high acid, tannin and dark colour (plenty of fermentation on the grape skins to extract the colour.....)

In other words, maximising those elements that have know qualities when it comes to ageing....
I havent directly added fruit in secondary but I know some have and its really called infusing. I like the idea but havent tried it yet, I guess its like what we do by making an f-pac tough but we take the volume out of the equation and also a lot of the mess.
Well the issue of glass fermenters being a PITA with the fruit, can be managed.... if you have a look at the Brouwland website in the winemaking/bottles tanks flasks/demijohns section, you'll see wide topped fermenters which are idea for secondary fruit addition/fermentation. Either that, or you use a steam extractor to get the juice out and then just add the extracted juice incrementally to get the desired flavour......

regards
fatbloke
 

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