May 4, 2013: May The 4th Be With You

It’s been a busy day, and quite the busy end to the week!

Starting Thursday evening, I began a pomegranate wine based off of fresh-pressed, not from concentrate (so it says) juice. Thursday was building the must, then Thursday to Friday waiting for the potassium metabisulfite to work, then Friday to Saturday night (tonight) waiting for the added pectic enzyme to do its thing. F0r 1G that was 2 33 fl oz jars of Smart Juice 100% Pomegranate Juice, 2 lb sugar, a tsp of yeast nutrient and 1/4 tsp of yeast energizer (both added at must preparation). I added water to make up the gallon, just over another 33 fl oz. Thursday evening I added a mere 1/16 tsp of the potassium metabisulfite (back-calculating from the 1/4 tsp recommended for 5G). Then Friday evening added the 1/2 tsp of the pectic enzyme.

Tonight I pitched the yeast for it, a half packet of Red Star Pasteur Champagne. Then I covered to keep from the light; it is a stunning dark, dark purple-red, way darker than I expected, and I’d love to keep it that way. Now we wait!

Let’s see…what else? Rather, where to begin?

Tuesday afternoon I remembered I had primed braggot that was possibly ready (author said priming took 2-4 weeks, and I was at 2.7), so I pulled it out and tested it. Words fail. It was delightful. It was pretty. I poured out of the bottle to get a look at the head: a steadily dissipating tan foam on a reddish-brown sea of braggot. I enjoyed most of it, then went out and did yard work over my lunch break (instead of eating lunch) while finishing it off. To paint a picture here: Empty-stomach-hot-sun-doing-yard-work-sipping-braggot-that-is-so-sweet-and-yummy-it-hides-the-fact-that-it-is-likely-near-twelve-percent-ABV. Okay?

Thursday afternoon I also checked the pH of a must for the first time. The recipe for the sweet mead suggested that I needed to make sure the pH stayed above 3.7 for the yeast’s sake. Since it has visibly relaxed in vigor, I checked it with a pH test strip to make sure everything was in order, and found a solid 4.0. Now, the test strips are not known for accuracy, they even have written on the package a +/- 1.0. So hopefully I’m good…

This morning I checked the SG on my lavender metheglin, and found it down from last measurement of 1.004 to 1.002. It was the first time I used my wine-thief, and I made an incredible mess, so had to top up with some water. In any case, I was able to taste a (quite) small amount. The flavor is rather strong, so strong that it is hard to pick up the honey behind. I imagine that will mellow during aging. I wasn’t expecting quite so powerful a flavor, as I only used half of my documentation’s “recommended” dosage. The aftertaste, though still quite strong, was actually delightful, floral and “lifting”. I’ve been trying to think of a better way to describe it. The picture in my mind is a strong flavor, so I shudder to call it “light”. Maybe the way to think of it is relaxing or freeing. The remnant flavor is also long-lasting!

I then checked the SG on my sweet mead. It has moved from its starting gravity of 1.130 to 1.042. Not quite ready for racking, but not far off. And the target SG on that is an expected 1.025. Thought I’d check out gotmead.com’s calculator, and was surprised. Only two weeks and it’s already at a 11.7% ABV. If it reaches the target it will be a quite healthy 13.7%. It still has months to go, I believe. But all this is tiny compared to the lavender metheglin, which calculates right now at 15.3% ABV!

I also looked at the strawberry melomel, which is still bubbling, but very slowly. I left it be, though I considered checking its SG as well.

This afternoon I took my son strawberry picking at Hunter Farms in Easley, and we had a good time, though it was a little premature. It was their “opening day” of the strawberry season. It was a little barren. I had an image in my head of gathering gallons of strawberries for use in jams, jellies, wine, smoothies, etc. We gathered just under a gallon. Actually, there were quite a lot of strawberries; they were just green still. Next weekend should be great picking, though!

Well, I’m typing all this out as I wait for the sanitize cycle on my dishwasher to complete. I have 5 cups of crushed strawberries combined with about a cup of prosecco, waiting to be put on the heat, a canning pot already at boil, and another pot hot-but-not-boiling for the lids. Ready to go with canning about 4 pints of strawberry jam. I’m using/starting with a recipe which calls for 4 cups of sugar, and about 1 1/2 packages of pectin. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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