Reserving extra must for top-off

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Brandon M

Winemaking Newbie since 2022
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I'm trying my first simple mead, and I ended up with about a pint more than my gallon carboy could hold. Later, when racking and some of my must is inevitably lost to the lees, I hate topping off with some other liquid (some other wine, water, etc.). I want the entirety of my batch to be what I'm trying to make. (Yeah, maybe I'll grow out of this purist stage, but I want to stay a purist until I have things figured out.)

So I pasteurized it in a pint jar and put it in the fridge, but later I realized this would be unfermented and probably would be like backsweetening if I added it after racking - thus kicking off another round of fermentation, adding more sediment, etc. when the point of racking is getting rid of that sediment.

Should I just go ahead and ferment that little pint jar, too? Add a bit of yeast and let it do whatever it does, knowing it will be closer to my main batch than any other commercial wine or mead (or water) I could add? If I need it, then I have it; if not, I have something to enjoy sooner than the main batch.

Thoughts are invited.

BTW, here's my notes from the morning.
  • 2lb 12oz honey, Harris Teeter generic brand
  • Distilled water to reach 1.1 gallon, SG 1.100
  • 6 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp acid blend to reach pH 3.6
  • 1/4 tsp tannin powder
  • 1 tsp Fermaid powder
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 packet Lav 71B yeast, rehydrated
 
Nope. Which is why I'm thinking to just separately ferment this pint.
Are you going to backsweeten? If so, stabilize the mead and backsweeten with the extra. Otherwise, ferment it.

For future reference, ferment in an open container that is no more than 75% full to avoid boil-overs. Always make 10-15% more than your secondary storage can hold, to address volume losses due to sediment. If working with fruit (grape or other), you also need to allow for volume loss due to fruit solids.
 
For future reference, ferment in an open container that is no more than 75% full to avoid boil-overs.
I have done that for all my previous grape/fruit batches. I was specifically recommended by a local homebrew supply shop person, as well as numerous online recipes, to skip the open container and go straight to the carboy since honey has essentially no solids (not neglecting to aerate a few times during the first few days of yeast growth). Figured they knew more than me about making mead. We'll see how messy it gets. *grin*
 
I have done that for all my previous grape/fruit batches. I was specifically recommended by a local homebrew supply shop person, as well as numerous online recipes, to skip the open container and go straight to the carboy since honey has essentially no solids (not neglecting to aerate a few times during the first few days of yeast growth). Figured they knew more than me about making mead. We'll see how messy it gets. *grin*
Yeast requires O2 for reproduction, so fermenting in an open container produces faster results and IME, less stuck ferments. Happy yeast is good yeast. Plus it allows for extra volume, which avoids the situation where there isn't enough topup.

Wine fermentation is wine fermentation, regardless if it's grapes, juice, kits, fruit, or honey. Certain musts may require additional attention, e.g., honey needs more nutrient because honey is deficient from a winemaking POV, but once the yeast jump into action, it's all the same. [Beer fermentation has distinct differences from wine.]

Look at this as part of your learning process. If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you in winemaking, you're a fortunate person! ;)
 
Yeast requires O2 for reproduction, so fermenting in an open container produces faster results and IME, less stuck ferments. Happy yeast is good yeast. Plus it allows for extra volume, which avoids the situation where there isn't enough topup.
Okay... fine. (he said grudgingly LOL) I moved it into a 2-gallon bucket. It was already pretty heady with foam in the carboy, so probably a good thing.

I sincerely appreciate the advice each time I've posted something.
 
I always start with a greater volume than I plan to have at the end. So it is good that you have more than will fit in your 1-gal. jug.

After primary fermentation in a bucket, I put the extra in smaller containers with an airlock and let them finish fermenting and clear. Then at the next racking, I have some extra wine from the same batch for top off.

It is helpful to have a variety of smaller containers to use for this. I have1/2 gallon jugs, 1.5 L wine bottles, 750 ml wine bottles, and 375 ml wine bottles. If you get the right sized stopper (#2 I think), you can put an airlock on the wine bottles.
 
* you could pasteurize a pint of mist and use it to back sweeten/ top off. IF yeast are active alive you should expect additional fermentation.
* a liter isn’t a practical volume to add yeast to and ferment but if you wanted to go that direction I would have pulled a liter out of the primary which is active and added the pasteurized to the active fermentation.
* oxygen is needed for the first third of sugar consumption when the yeast are building cells. ex 1.100 to 1.050,, after that it serves no purpose. I try to get into a carboy by 1.020 or 1.030, while it is actively out gassing. Yup there are recipes that say oxygenate at start and at 1.06 and they can work.
* mead has protein which can make it cloudy. Boiling the honey is supposed to condense the protein, ,, tannin will also bind protein and let it settle.
* if you had alcohol in the pint pulled out, this can oxidize creating a sharp note when swallowing. ie saving a pint of early wine requires zero head space or bottling with a vacuum.
 
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I also like to sparge with oxygen at the beginning to help give the yeast what they need. I just happen to have the equipment, otherwise good and rigorous mixing at the beginning will infuse a good amount of oxygen that the yeast need. Absolutely more nutrients also.

* mead has protein which can make it cloudy. Boiling the honey is supposed to condense the protein, ,, tannin will also bind protein and let it settle.

@Rice_Guy I've heard the same, but also that boiling will affect other components of honey that we may want in there (other enzymes?). One mead-maker near me has even said (to the contrary of the previous sentence) that filtering the pollen and other components out makes for a smoother mead. I have absolutely no place to go with this other than to research it and find out more.
 
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