I have heard mixed thoughts about fermenting fruit with honey. Some I have talked to suggest mixing the friut with sugar and fermenting separate from the mead. Others say blend and ferment the fruit with the honey together. What do you all think? What are the pros and cons?
Fruit mead is called melomel, and in my humble opinion, it absolutely blows fruit wine out of the water. GREAT stuff. [img]smile.gif[/img]
People differ in their techniques, but I've found that the best way to do it is to ferment your honey down most of the way, put your fruit in a different fermenter, and rack your mostly fermented mead onto the fruit. Adding the fruit too early can cause alot of the aromatic compounds to blow off during fermentation.
The fruit is sometimes crushed and sometimes whole, and the amount varies widely by the type of fruit and the desired level of flavor. Give me some details about what you want to do, and I'll try to give you some more specific guidance.
Hey scotts could the fruit be added after all is done and said without fermenting the fruit?
Not likely. If you were to ultra-filter the mead before adding fruit you could do it, but there will almost always be enough yeast left hanging around to start fermenting the fruit.
Or... if you ferment it out and then add potassium sorbate, that will prevent it from refermenting. You could then add fruit without a problem.
Second Scott's recommendation. Frozen fruit is cool as the freezing peirces the cells and makes the juice very available.
Well, I have always fermented with the fruit. My favorite and perhaps best so far is a red current mead. The latest, I'm trying fermenting the elderberry separate from the mead. Unfortunately, I have never done a side-by-side comparison using the two methods. I realize it might vary from fruit to fruit, but are there general results/characters that one might expect from each of the methods?
Both methods have made great meads. Some of the muckier fruits can result in serious blow-off in primary, when the fruit guts rise on the cap of the active ferment. The fruit also may not settle as compactly by the time of your first racking, causing increased losses to the lees. Another thing is that a fermenting (or fermented) mead, as opposed to one just starting out, is less likely to be vulnerable to contamination if you're using fruit you've harvested. The mead is more acidic, the yeast have a head start, and there's some alcohol to inhibit the forces of evil :D .
This is one area where I'll recommend frozen supermarket fruit, odd as that sounds. If you can find it without added sugar, it's actually very well-suited for mead: it's picked and usually frozen quickly in good shape, lightly sulfited to prevent oxidation and contamination so is virtually pre-sanitized (at that level it'll never make it into your mead), and the freezing makes a very thoroughly juiced fruit that'll give up its sugars to your yeast (messy, though).
OTOH, many folks use an open fermenter (bucket with lid) for the primary. A bucket is a lot easier to extract fruit guts from than the carboy, though it's really not than bad. Also easier to get the fruit in. Put some prickly pear into a carboy neck sometime and you'll see what we mean!
The scrubbing action in CO2 of the volatile aromatics can be easily demonstrated... sniff at the airlock of a fruit-laden primary (or just come home, really) and see what you smell. It's the same reason (to an extent) that a dry-hopped beer can really punch you in the nose where a similar hop addition at the end of the boil will smell great right when you drop it in, but be more subtle in the glass.
Do it in whatever manner is convenient or compelling for you. For an interesting twist, try adding liquers (Chocolate mead? Honeydew mead, anyone?) for fun or to get those fruits that just don't come out well or detectably. Heresy? Maybe, but being a purist is not among the many things of which I've been accused. Do it how you dig it I say.