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john0

viscous blueberry wash and oxygen worries

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Hi Guys,

I've got a very small quantity of blueberries fermenting in a 3 gallon carboy. The initial puree was thicker than any other fruit I;ve experienced, almost like pudding. I mixed in yeast, some nutrient and a proportion of enzyme to thin out the mixture. It started bubbling after about an hour and has been going steadily for about 3 days now.

Here's what I'm worried about: The mixture developed a solid mass that is gradually breaking down. That is, you can see pure blueberry juice at the bottom of the mass increasing in volume, but the contents are still mostly solid. I wonder if there might be oxygen trapped inside that mass and therefore danger of evil bacteria growing inside it.

I would like to add a little more enzyme and agitate the solid part to try and break it down a little, but I fear exposing the wash to air and ruining it. I could do it relatively quickly but I wonder if it's worth the risk. I could just be patient and hope it breaks down over the next fortnight.

Any advice? Thanks!

-j

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Sounds like a pectin gel. Could try a pectinase, or just rack off. That may slow your fermentation, depending on how long it's been and your temperatures.

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Your effectively making blueberry wine for distilling, right? And its in a carboy? How does it smell?

Do you have a press?

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Hi Patrick - that's correct. The aroma is decent - definitely a sulphury fermented scent but strong blueberry essence. I did not use a press; instead I pureed the blueberries and put all the contents into the carboy. We have had success with stone fruits but this is my first try with blueberries.

-j

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I'm curious to know how this turned out. What enzymes and nutrient did you use? What was your yield? How did it behave in the still? And of course, what did it taste like? :)

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I used a pectin enzyme and some yeast nutrient that I pitched in at the same time I pitched in the yeast. I ended up racking the mash and discovered that the "solid" material was not solid after all. The yield was about 1.2 gallons of blueberry juice without the solids, which I threw away.

I have yet to do the second distillation - so far the yield is about 375 ml of raw brandy and it smells fantastic. I got 7 more flats of blueberries and am going to do another first distillation in the next couple of days, after which I will distill both raw brandies together. This time around though, I have been agitating the mash regularly and will use it in its entirety. I think it was a mistake to throw away the solids in the first batch. This is the first time I've used glass carboys and I think I panicked because I could see the process, whereas with previous mashes I only saw what was in the plastic bucket and I've always distilled the entire contents. Can't let you know how it tastes for a month or so...

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Oh hey, update: second distillation yielded 375 Ml of head. I was a bit stingy with the cuts because I'm still learning how to judge when to cut, so I always err on the side of caution. This was my best effort yet - nice even burn, strong blueberry essence and no clouding. Can't wait for strawberry season :)

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Did you have a big yield difference between the racked run and run with solids in?

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With wine you need to push down the cap that forms and becomes a source of trapped sulfur. By keeping the skins submerged and broken up it will gas off. Do this 1-2x daily or more. You can read up on wine, it's done every 4-6 hours, it's called punch down.

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Hey Robert - kind of a math problem regarding the racked vs. non-racked. I did not record the volume after racking, so therein lies the rub. I fermented about twice as much blueberry the second time and ended up with about 2.5 gallons of unracked mash. In any event I will definitely not rack next time.

-j

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