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Thread: 24 lbs of plums

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    Enfield,Ct.
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    Question 24 lbs of plums

    Last summer at EAS I had the pleasure of tasting a cherry melomel at a presentation given by Ken Schamm.The flavor was beyond words.His secret:1lb fruit per bottle.Excessive,yes.Worth it? definitely.Did I question him on his methods? Of course not.That would have been too easy

    Fast foward to now.
    I've got 24 lbs of purple American plums,de-pitted,thawing in my(wifes) kitchen sink.
    I'm trying to put together a recipe for a semi-sweet melomel.
    My original plan was to start a batch using Lalvin 71b-1122(alc.14%)with a starting gravity of between 1.105 and 1.110.Ferment.for a while and rack on to mashed fruit.
    My problem is figuring out the volume of water and honey to use in this initial batch so that when I add the fruit:
    #1-- it fits in my 7 gal primary
    #2--When I rack off the fruit,It will fit in a 5 gal carboy(plus a small reserve)
    #3--I hit my target of semi-sweet

    The only way I can think of is to juice the plums,separate the solids,find the volume of juice,find the gravity of the juice and work backwards to get the volume of water and starting gravity of my initial batch so that when I combine the 2 I'm somewhere close to where I should be--volume and gravity wise.

    Is there an easier way?

    Has anyone done any mega-fruit batches before?

    I prefer not to sulfiteAnd I prefer not to cook the fruit which is why I want a pretty good fermantation going before I rack on to the fruit.


    Thanks,Jack

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Jenison, MI
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    I'm no expert, but have done similar several times.

    I used whole mashed grapes recently. I figure that I'm going to end up with only a little less grapes after than what I started with, since there is a lot of liquid retained. I had about 6.5 - 7 gallons starting out, and racked into a 5 gallon + a little leftover. I might try to estimate your volume of fruite, start out with 7 gallons minus that volume, then when it is going add your fruit, and top it off with some water/honey if needed.

    I used a paint strainer to retain the fruit.

    One note...if you start it now, you will have it fermenting in 2-3 days if all goes well. That means you will have your thawed fruit around for that many days...you will need to protect it very well in the meantime.

    Rick

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    You're right on track. Read the intro thread for recipe formulation, but about 15.25 pounds honey plus water to make 5 gallons will be around 1.110. That plus some fruit sugars will leave a semi-sweet mead. Yum! (If you want to get technical, juice enough plum for a sample and measure the gravity. Usually it'll be something in the 1.030 ballpark but varies a good bit, then we can REALLY dial the sucker in).

    I can't picture 24 pounds of plums... how much volume does the fruit take up right now? Just eyeball it. If it's more than about 2+ gallons you can either juice the plums or just refreeze what won't fit. Note that skins and pulp DO lend a character to the mead, maybe you want it and maybe it's a bother. It'll be good either way.

    OR make up three or four gallons of must, ferment with the fruit, rack, and add another two gallons (or however much) of the same must and add it then.

    Or spring the $15 for another primary bucket . And good on you for not cooking the fruit. Let us know if we can rattle the calculator keys any more!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Newberg, OR USA
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    I Would Also Like To Help Out On This One.
    Let Me Know When It Is Tasting Time. I Will Tell You If It Is Good Or Not. It May Take A Few Gallons To Decide.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    Enfield,Ct.
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    Started a 2 gal batch; 2qts(6lbs aprox) honey,1tsp nutrient,1tsp energizer,2 packs yeast,water to 2 gal.SG 1.110

    Finally got semi frozen fruit into graduated bucket.About 3 gal.

    I will try and juice tomorrow with a Squeezo(I think I have a berry screen)then pour thru strainer bag to separate juice.I can take a gravity reading and adjust with honey to 1.110Then loosely tie off bag with pulp and drop in fermenter along with the juice when the initial batch has slowed down some.

    Good idea Ben.I can bring up the volume after racking off fruit.I was worried about too much volume in the primary.I still remember that oatmeal stout volcano!!!

    I've got a 6ft high snowbank outside the back door from plowing the driveway.I figured I'd bury the juice in a 5gal pail.Should keep it about 32*

    Thanks for all the help.

    Jack

  6. #6
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    Ben,
    I have been using the calculator.What a great tool.The only thing I would like to see changed is a conversion to liquid measure.I know a gal is 12 lbs so the conversion isn't that tough to figure out but I draw my honey out of a 5 gal pail so I have to convert to liquid measure.
    Jack

  7. #7
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    Feb 2001
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    Enfield,Ct.
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    Put plums thru Squeezo today.Very pulpy,wouldn't pass thru strainer bag.Got enough juice to take gravity. 1.058 The juice was syrupy looking so I believe it contained small solids.I don,t think the gravity reading is a true reading of sugar concentration.Buried pail in the snowbank.Present temp outside is 34*

    The volume of pulp is about 3 gal(including about 6 cups of skins in a hops bag)and has a lot of solids.I'm sure that when I rack off fruit I will be leaving a large portion of this in the pail.I think I will add another 2 gal of must to what is already fermenting.

  8. #8
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    It takes a lot of solids to affect hydrometer readings, enough to physically prevent the 'meter from settling. Suspended solids are OK. Seems counterintuitive, but there it is.

    Yeah, volumetric measures are handier. Since the values given are close approximations (since moisture content will vary), measuring by volume adds another layer of error. Though a mazer with a honey hydrometer could measure the honey's moisture and then use well-calibrated volumetric measurements with good accuracy.

    Or just measure the must and tweak by adding honey/water to increase/decrease gravity.

    And as a final point, I wonder if your 2-gallon batch had the full measure of the batch's yeast, nutrients and energizer from the amounts given? It's probably not overpitching, but occasionally very dense added nutrients can skew the flavor a bit. It'll likely be great, just a note for the next one .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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