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2004 Cranberry-Apple Pucker-Puss

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Chevette Girl

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I think that's what I'm going to put on the labels when I bottle this in a couple more years.

Recipe:
5 lbs highbush cranberries
1 can apple juice (1.5 litres)
7 lbs sugar
juice from 2 lemons
1 cup strong tetley decaf
Lalvin 1116 yeast
2 tsp pectic enzyme
2 tsp yeast nutrient
2-1/4 gallons water + 1/4 gal water

Method (keep in mind this was exactly the tenth time I'd fermented anything and I was still of the "dump it all in together and let it fight itself out" mentality, which has given me some pretty good wines):
Boil berries with 1/4 gallon water, pour into mesh bag with lemon juice (I wanted to boil them because 1) there were so many bugs in my berry-bucket that I gor creeped out about all those little bug feet walking all over my berries - I'm sure I played catch-ahd-release with half a dozen baby preying mantises and 2) they're small enough to avoid my potato masher so I hoped boiling would pop them).
Boil sugar with 2-1/4 gallons water, pour over bag.
When cool, add nutrient and pectic enzyme.
36 hours later, pitch yeast (intended to be 24 h but life happens)

Initial PA = 1.092
After a week it didn't seem to be fermenting so I added some mead overage from racking another recipe and some violently active day 2 pear must from SG test of my first pear wine recipe, both using Lalvin 1118 yeast.

Then it took off, removed fruit after a week, racked around 2 months later SG = 1.005 and bitter as all hell, topped off with excess from primary fermentation that I kept in a honey jar with the lid on loosely.

Racked it a couple of times, approximately once a year thereafter, topping it off with more canned apple juice and spitting it out each time I tasted it. The smell was (still is) soooo nice that I couldn't bear to just toss it down the drain...

It's now been almost six years in the carboy, it's not at all oxidized (so at least I did that much correctly), and I think the tannins are finally starting to drop out (leaving a very thin brownish-red film on all carboy surfaces), because when I racked it today, it was almost drinkable, SG = .990. Just finished the last of the excess (apparently not all 3 gallon carboys hold exactly 3 gallons) and the aftertaste isn't bad either, some of the lovely aroma is finally coming through in the taste.

Lessons learned then:
1) When a must won't take off, feed it something active.
2) Highbush cranberries (they grow on a large bush, are about the size of red currants and have a single flat stone like a wild raisin rather than small edible seeds) are NOT AT ALL like regular cranberries. DO NOT follow a cranberry wine recipe with them, do not add tannin or acid.

Lessons learned now:
1) Use a yeast starter if it doesn't catch the first time.
2) Figure out how to check pH... add acid based on that.
3) Apparently patience DOES pay off. Eventually.
Corollory to 3): there is hope yet for the recently bottled rowanberry and soon to be bottled wild cherry wines that are also very bitter right now.

 

Tannin Boy

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Chevette Girl,

Thanks for this and other posts.
I especially enjoyed the retrospective ideas of this post.
Really helps us new people better understand the craft!
 

Chevette Girl

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Hehe, there will probably be more posts like this.... as I finally crack open something that was blah when I bottled it years ago and has aged into something surprisingly good... :) (did I mention I've made over 80 recipes...)

A lot of what I've learned now has been recent, thanks to the wonderful folks here who already know the science so I don't have to look it up if my own reference books have been lacking... and also showing me real-life examples of how aeration and nutrient management can matter, instead of going with the thought that I didn't bother and it turned out ok last time... There will be more stabilizing and backsweetening in my future...
 

Tannin Boy

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Hehe, there will probably be more posts like this.... as I finally crack open something that was blah when I bottled it years ago and has aged into something surprisingly good... :) (did I mention I've made over 80 recipes...)

A lot of what I've learned now has been recent, thanks to the wonderful folks here who already know the science so I don't have to look it up if my own reference books have been lacking... and also showing me real-life examples of how aeration and nutrient management can matter, instead of going with the thought that I didn't bother and it turned out ok last time... There will be more stabilizing and backsweetening in my future...
Indeed, The folks here are a fantastic source of knowledge and kindness to questions. So many questions I have had were located in the newbie section and other areas as well.

I too have made a cranberry melomel this winter and more variations are on the way. The residual sweetness is a source or curiosity and an interesting problem to overcome. I am now into the 3rd. batch this time using Wyeast sweet mead yeast. I had hoped that I could retain residual sweetness to bottle with the mead with out having to add back sweetening? Doesn't seem like my plan will work as the fermentation and 2nd ferment is extremely strong and will consume all honey that I used.

I guess i will just have to keep trying and drinking the stuff untill I get it right...8)
 

storm1969

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I too have made a cranberry melomel this winter and more variations are on the way. The residual sweetness is a source or curiosity and an interesting problem to overcome. I am now into the 3rd. batch this time using Wyeast sweet mead yeast. I had hoped that I could retain residual sweetness to bottle with the mead with out having to add back sweetening? Doesn't seem like my plan will work as the fermentation and 2nd ferment is extremely strong and will consume all honey that I used.

I guess i will just have to keep trying and drinking the stuff untill I get it right...8)
The best way to retain sweetness at the end without back sweetening is add more up front and use a yeast that won't ferment it all out. Pick one of the yeasts that tops out at 14%...
 

Chevette Girl

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What I've found myself is that's unreliable, sometimes I start something at 16% or 18% potential alcohol and it ferments right out, sometimes I start something at 14% potential and it sticks at too sweet... But if you don't want to stabilize for whatever reason, ferment it out and then just keep step-feeding it till it's done, that's what I've done with my "freezer" port.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
The best way to retain sweetness at the end without back sweetening is add more up front and use a yeast that won't ferment it all out. Pick one of the yeasts that tops out at 14%...
What I've found myself is that's unreliable, sometimes I start something at 16% or 18% potential alcohol and it ferments right out, sometimes I start something at 14% potential and it sticks at too sweet...
It isn't unreliable if you manage the fermentation well. If you choouse proper nutrients, aeration, temp control, pH management etc, you will ferment to completion (or a little beyond expected) almost invariably.
 

storm1969

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That's true, and some yeast tend to "creep" up more than others. I very rarely have a wine/mead stuck too sweet, mostly it's that they ferment out drier than expected. D47, a favorite yeast, tends to creep to the 16-17% range.... I've started to use some of the rarer yeasts, which seem to do a better job of stopping where you want them.

I always stabalize sweet meads, but by allowing them to chill down to about 50 for a month or two, racking then filtering....

I do three forms of Cranberry Wine. A dry one, mostly for my wife's cooking (it has become an integral part of some of her holiday recipes), a sweet dessert wine that is very good after a couple of years aging, and a sparkling wine that is very good, if you like traditional champagnes.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
The best way to retain sweetness at the end without back sweetening is add more up front and use a yeast that won't ferment it all out. Pick one of the yeasts that tops out at 14%...
What I've found myself is that's unreliable, sometimes I start something at 16% or 18% potential alcohol and it ferments right out, sometimes I start something at 14% potential and it sticks at too sweet...
It isn't unreliable if you manage the fermentation well. If you choose yeast carefully and use proper nutrients, aeration, temp control, pH management etc, you will ferment to completion (or a little beyond expected) almost invariably.
 

Chevette Girl

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It isn't unreliable if you manage the fermentation well. If you choose yeast carefully and use proper nutrients, aeration, temp control, pH management etc, you will ferment to completion (or a little beyond expected) almost invariably.
<grin> OK, it's been unreliable with my sketchy fermentation management.
 

Tannin Boy

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It isn't unreliable if you manage the fermentation well. If you choose yeast carefully and use proper nutrients, aeration, temp control, pH management etc, you will ferment to completion (or a little beyond expected) almost invariably.

Medsen,

You hit the nail on the head... I thought that with such a strong ferment that I had using wyeast sweet mead that I would end up with a dry finish. yet after 1-1/2 weeks of sitting motionless for primary ferment, low and behold the heating pad set at 84 deg's. did the trick during the early spring where the house temps were 66 +/-.... I had 5 weeks of strong fermenting as never before and then continued for 1-2 more weeks in secondary???? So I cold crashed after to remove haze and bottled off with a bit for tasting purposes and nice residual sweetness on the pallet and hefty alcohol to boot.
Well, it turned out to be a very nice batch and I am off to using oak cubes next to see the effects....I'll keep ya all posted...
 

triarchy

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Mar 28, 2010
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Chevette Girl, I had to chuckle a bit about the high bush cranberries. My uncle has a few bushes and I cant eat very many of those due to the tartness/bitterness. Its overwhelming. I give you a lot of credit for picking 5 lbs of those little guys. Your first taste must have been shocking :)

I also get a lot of wild cherries here and they are just a bit tart/bitter. The pit to fruit ratio is very unkind though. Did you really gather enough of those for a batch of mead or wine? That would be a lot of work as well.

Have you ever tried chokecherries? I make a syrup from them every year and it is awesome. Even right from the trees, its one of my favorites when ripe. They lose a lot of the tartness and actually become sweet. This year is going to be great for them with all the rain and Im thinking of a small batch of mead. Have you ever used these in mead or wine?
 

Chevette Girl

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Hey Triarchy. Sorry I never replied to this post, maybe it timexed while I was out of town, I only noticed it when I looked it up as a reference for another thread...

My mom had this HUGE highbush cranberry tree and I figured what the heck, real cranberries are bitter, right? So I got out the ladder and picked for a couple hours, not longer than it would have taken me for currants for an equivalent batch, really... My first (and subsequent reactions until recently) was to spit the stuff right back out... but it smelled SOOOO good...

I have made wild cherry wine (maybe they're chokecherries, I don't actually know, the tree has dark reddish bark that's reminiscent of birch but smells cherrylike, the cherries are about the size of a pea with a little stone inside) and a second-run melomel with the suckers. I picked a couple of cups (maybe a pound) of them while we were in Sudbury for our summer vacation, with the stepladder in the back of the pickup truck because I think my hubby and his dad were using the big ladder for real work, but the bulk of the 4 lbs for that gallon I made in 2007 was picked by my mother-in-law who went out with a bucket every couple days and picked and picked and picked, she had enough left over in her freezer from what she picked for making jelly (which was wonderful) and she sent them home with me at Christmas that year, I actually still have a pound or two in the freezer now. I couldn't get past the tartness when eating them off the tree (bleah, ptooie) but it's dropping out at a decent rate and I found it palatable this Christmas, another year and it should be pretty good. Sour, I like. But bitter, I have a limited tolerance...
 
Last edited:

wayneb

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I have made wild cherry wine (maybe they're chokecherries, I don't actually know, the tree has dark reddish bark that's reminiscent of birch but smells cherrylike, the cherries are about the size of a pea with a little stone inside)
Those are indeed chokecherries. I like working with them, when I can get 'em. They do grow up here at my altitude, but the deer and elk seem to prize them at least as much as I do.
 

Chevette Girl

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The carboy is now under the kitchen table, having been evicted from its home under the stupid waste of space in the corner of the kitchen... said waste of space has been removed and replaced with the pantry... anyway I replaced the airlock water with glycerine after noticing it had almost gone dry again, didn't taste it but boy does it ever smell nice. Hopefully I can clear out the basement wine area enough that it'll have a home down there soon before the airlock gets kicked off again... (thankfully, glycerine doesn't leak out immediately like sulphited water does!)
 
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