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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

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    I'd like to make a sweet elderberry mead.

    I plan on using Shramm's sweet show mead recipe:
    15 lbs honey
    2 tsp nutrient
    2 tsp energizer
    water to 5 gal
    Instead of Lalvin d-47 I have White Labs WLP720 and will make a 1 liter starter

    I will ferment until bubbles slow and then rack on to fruit

    Here's where I need some Help.

    I have about 10 lbs frozen elderberries,de-stemmed.How much should I use?

    I have heard about the "elderberry scum" that is imposible to remove.Some say caused by unripe fruit,others claim its from the bits of stem left on the berries.Any comments?

    And that leads to the next question:
    What form should the fruit be in? At first I was thinking mashed in a strainer bag but I do have a squeezo juicer with a berry screen.If I used just the juice,would that be better?I have used this method with raspberries with good results.

    Is this enough honey to make a sweet mead?Original recipe calls for 15-18 lbs.Alcohol tolerence of WLP720 is 15%I think. I do not plan on using any sulphites.I would like some sweetness but still be able to appreciate the tartness of the elderberry.I am on unfamiliar ground here.

    With this much honey,the OG will be quite high,off the scale of my brewwing hydrometer.Will I have a problem getting the fermentation going if I put all the honey in at once or should I start with less honey and then add more as fermentation slows?

    This is kind of an afterthought:
    In CT we have 2 flows.Late spring-early summer,a lighter honey and fall,Goldenrod and aster,a dark and flavorful honey.I could use either.

    Thanks,Jack

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Post

    I estimate a starting gravity about 1.108, not that big at all. Beer hydrometer?

    I have about 10 lbs frozen elderberries,de-stemmed.How much should I use?
    You can always add more later, but I'm a go-big-or-go-home guy. I haven't made elderberry mead though, and they are pretty assertive. Someone else?

    What form should the fruit be in?
    I like whole frozen. Easy enough to rack off the debris after aging, and you do get more flavor than with just juice. Juice is easier to deal with though.

    I have heard about the "elderberry scum" that is imposible to remove.
    Haven't met a scum I couldn't remove (or live with) yet [img]smile.gif[/img] . Unripe fruits will be higher in pectin which can cause haze, but can be addressed easily with pectinase. Many hazes will eventually drop on their own without finings if you wait long enough. If it's something large like hairs or stem bits, it'll rack right off.

    Is this enough honey to make a sweet mead?
    Maybe a little sweet. Off the cuff I think 1.108's about 14% potential alcohol. With a 15% strain and decent yeast health, that'll be dry, perhaps very dry tasting with the tannins from the elderberries. Consider a less aggressive yeast (like the D-47, actualy a good choice for a red mead) or upping the honey by a pound or so.

    With this much honey,the OG will be quite high,off the scale of my brewing hydrometer.Will I have a problem getting the fermentation going if I put all the honey in at once or should I start with less honey and then add more as fermentation slows?
    Shouldn't be a problem at all, wine yeasts can handle that kind of gravity routinely. A liter starter is great... what medium will you use? If you're a brewer and have it around, use some DME to make up a 1.020 wort, aerate, ferment it out and pour off the spent beer. Rouse and pitch. If you're absolutely bent on making a mini-mead starter (and recall that this does little for the yeast), use a lower gravity than your must. As Dr. Clayton Cone (microbiologist of Lallemand, makers of Lalvin wine yeasts) says, "your yeast should be healthy but hungry"!

    Lastly, and opinions vary on this, but I'd cut the nutrient and energizer additions to half what the packages direct . NEVER just add what a recipe says, since manufacturers have different formulations and you could end up with a fraction or many times what the yeast want, seriously harming your mead. It's like reading the milligrams on a medication.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Moravian Falls, NC
    Posts
    67

    Post

    The scum is something else! If you use plastic as a primary fermenter you might have to chuck it after. I use all glass and was able to get the carboys clean with long soakings.

    I made a elderberry mead 2 years ago and they are assertive. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how much in the way of elderberry I added. My mother burned out on making jam and gave me some juice and berries.

    I think what you have laid out will taste great when it is all done. As usual, IF you can age it, it gets very good.

    cheers,
    Shane
    Brushy Mtn Bee Farm
    www.brushymountainbeefarm.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Post

    Thanks for the comments.

    I will up the honey to 17 lbs and check for the recommended amounts of energizer and nutrients.

    I think I will try to juice the berries(hoping to avoid the scum).I will add most of the juice and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray.I can always add more later>

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

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    Might consider freezing in a ziploc or something... freezers are terribly unsanitary (you'd think they'd not be) and open ingredients can be a problem when added later. In a ziploc, just thaw, sanitize and pour.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Post

    Sorry I wasn't more clear.I'm a lazy typist.After freezing in an ice cube tray,next day pop into a ziplock.Great way to store small portions of herbs,juices etc.Just thaw what you need. Jack

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Borden, In
    Posts
    98

    Post

    I use a gallon of fruit for a gallon of wine, except elderberry I cut in in 1/2. The Elderberrys are just to strong for 1 to 1.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Post

    Update;

    I followed the recipe pretty much as planned but upped the honey to 16 1/2 lbs(plus 1 lb in the starter).

    I put the berries through a Foley Food Mill and added after 6 days(6 cups of very berry flavored,almost nasty, juice)

    SG off the scale of my beer hydrometer(only 1.080)

    Racked from plastic to glass after 2 weeks,not much scum but a very difficult clean up.Soap doesn't cut it.

    Stored in 55-65deg cellar.

    Racked again in about 2 months.Very murky but good aroma.Forgot to get a sample for SG.Oh well

    Racked again yesterday.Crystal clear,a beautiful ruby red.SG 1.004.I tasted the sample in the hydrometer tube.Slightly sweet,a nice berry flavor,with a bit of an after burn.But,amazingly,by the time I finished the sample,the burn had disapeared.

    I plan on aging in the cellar for about a year before I bottle.

    Next batch will be peaches.Same recipe I think.I've got 11 lbs,frozen but not cooked,skinned and de-pitted.The Foley Food mill makes a nice puree that releases a lot of flavor but the solids will soon settle out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Default Update----07

    Bottled in July,couldn't wait.Nice flavor,mildly sweet.

    Entered in EAS honey show in Aug. Blue ribbon!! OK,there were only 5 entries in the class and 2 were disqualified.

    Judges comments:

    Score Criteria Remarks
    20 clarity Excellent
    10 color excellent
    14 taste poor finish
    6 body lost during process
    6 bouquet lost during process
    10 bottles
    10 bottle closure

    -----
    76 Total Score not that great(my comment,not the Judge)

    Any suggestions on what I could have done to improve my low scores?

    Would adding an acid blend at bottling have helped?

    Or how about acid in the beginning? Juice of a lemon or a couple of tea bags?

    I'm sure aging would have helped but I'm not sure how much.


    At the same conference,I met Ken Schramm.He gave 2 presentations on Mead and Melomel.

    Nice guy.Very patient with beginners questions.Tasted one of his Melomels,made with sweet,dark cherries. WOW!!! 1lb fruit per bottle.

    When I picked up my entry at the end of the honey show,I caught Ken eying the bottle,so I offered him a taste of the elderberry.He said it tasted good. Honest answer. It definitly wasn't a WOW!!! mead.

    I would like to make meads that make people say WOW!!! and stick out their glass for a refill.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default

    Acids should only be added to meads that need acid to balance sweetness IMO. Really, you'll need to sit down with a clean palate and taste, with an eye towards "what would add a complimentary complexity?" or "what would have streamlined this flavor so the [whatever] came forward more?". Good questions to ask the judges. Try entering in more contests (same mead, you'll have to ship) to get more feedback.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Newberg, OR USA
    Posts
    146

    Default

    send some to me. I will help judge for you.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    1,998

    Default

    Sounds pretty scrummy.....congrats. A very good score. Try it again sometime with the D-47. This yeast gives a very thick, full body, but may leave your mead a bit sweet.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Elderberry Mead Recipe Help

    So do you still have any bottles of this batch setting around to try and see how well it aged? WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: Elderberry Mead Recipe Help

    We can get wild elderberry around here, as for clean up- try vegetable oil. It's a pain to clean up, but is a neat addition to some wines, and give a nice color.
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Elderberry Mead Recipe Help

    After the vegetable oil, the green goo does not dissolve in water or alcohol, just wash the vegetalbe oil off with warm soapy water. We have a bunch of elderberry stuff like how to pick and sort and how to tell if the berries are ripe and wine recipes on our website in the sig below. WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

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