Author Topic: Blueberries en masse  (Read 3171 times)

Offline jivetyrant

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Blueberries en masse
« on: June 27, 2012, 05:04:01 AM »
I have a beautiful tasting wheat that's just finished primary.  I plan to add 11lbs (eleven) of blueberries and am devising a plan to do so.  I see a few options, but am a little lost as I've never added this quantity of fruit to any previous batches!

I could cook it down, as you would when making a proper blueberry pie.  This would pasteurize it, but would probably necessitate adding some pectic enzyme to stave off excessive cloudiness.  (I already have some on-hand)

I could mash and chemically pasteurize it with sulfite or sorbate.  I've never done this before, my only experience with this was adding some campden tablets to a carboy before I dropped it off at a cider mill in town.  I have heard that the amount needed varies significantly with the pH of the fruit you are using.  I do not have a method to accurately determine pH.

I have heard that a hard freeze can take care of most of the offending little critters, but I don't know if that's true, or how long to freeze them for.  I have a chest freezer that sits at a comfortable -10F.

Or I could RDWHAHB and simply mash them up and rack on top. 

Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Blueberries en masse
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 06:00:23 AM »
Freezing blueberries (supposedly!) makes them sweeter. Could be interesting to freeze them into blocks and then drop those into the carboy.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Blueberries en masse
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 06:06:41 AM »
I definitely wouldn't cook them.  Like you mentioned, you'll have to deal with all those pectins if you do.
I'd just freeze them and add them.
Just curious, how'd you get to 11 lbs as the amount to add?  I'd think that you're gonna have a very berry beer at that level without much of your wheat character coming through.  But, I have nothing to base that on so maybe 11 lbs is the right amount. 

Offline erockrph

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Re: Blueberries en masse
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 09:03:19 AM »
Frankly, I wouldn't worry too much about pasteurization if they're going in the secondary. The alcohol in the beer should inhibit the nasties from taking off. Even if you get some minimal contamination, a blueberry wheat is something you're going to want to drink fresh so I doubt you'll have much left before any bugs from the berries can really take hold.

I'd just clean and freeze the berries in a ziploc bag (or better yet a vacuum-sealed bag). Let them thaw and come to room temp. The freezing action should break up the berries pretty well, and you can smash them a bit more by hand in the freezer bags.

I think 11 pounds for a typical 5.5 gallon batch sounds right. Blueberries don't really have a powerful flavor, so 2 pounds per gallon should give a pretty nice balance. I just did a blackberry weizen with 2lbs in a half-batch. It gave a nice color, but not as much flavor as I wanted. Blueberries are a bit milder in flavor than blackberries, so I don't think 2lb/gal will be that far out of balance.
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Offline denny

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Re: Blueberries en masse
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 10:02:20 AM »
We grow lots of blueberries and I've used them in beer a few times.  I've done nothing more than freezing and thawing to break down cell walls.  It takes a LOT of blueberries to get the flavor.  At least 1 lb./gal.  I used 50% more than that in a blueberry porter and it was barely detectable.  Worries about infection in finished beer are overblown IMO.  I make a wee heavy with chanterelle mushrooms and do nothing more than brush the dirt off and freeze and thaw them.  never had an infection from it.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Blueberries en masse
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 10:37:19 AM »
Pectic enzyme generally does not work post-fermentation; alcohol interferes with the pectic enzyme and the enyzmes of bacteria generally.  Freezing the fruit is sound advice.
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Offline jivetyrant

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Blueberries en masse
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 08:54:00 AM »
Thanks for all the tips!  I've decided to go with the majority and freeze then lightly mash them, then rack on top and have a Homebrew.  I'll post the results in a few weeks!