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Any Tips on Adding Fruit to a Batch?

I’m allowing my roommate to use my equipment to brew a batch of American Wheat (his first time, I’m very new as well). This didn’t take much arm twisting, but I thought adding some fruit would be cool. I don’t like the idea of fruit flavorings very much, so fresh is the only option I see. So what are some techniques to making this a sanitary process? When should I add it? How much is too much? And does it increase the alcohol content and watch for a more active fermentation process?

  • Looking forward to this one and learning something new, thank you in advance,

Matt

Adding fresh fruit to beer is an inherently unstable thing to do. Canned or frozen fruit is a little better, it will referment but at least it is fairly sterile.

That said, you add the fresh fruit to the secondary and let it ferment cool. Add a lot of fruit, it takes a lot for the flavor to remain. Frozen fruit is good to use because the freezing pops cells and lets more of the juices out easily. Plan to drink the beer quickly, the flavors are often fleeting.

What are you thinking of using? Raspberry, strawberry, blueberry? Those all go well in an American wheat.

I thought fresh fruit would pose many problems, but for this batch I was thinking orange peels to keep it simple enough. Would it be okay to freeze orange peels then add them in when ready? If I can get some dark cherries, I’m also thinking of adding them to a winter porter I’m starting next week as well.

Would you say freezing then doing a secondary fermentation works best? Would I have to ferment longer, because the wheat only needs two weeks?

Orange peel is a little different, I don’t think it is covered with wild yeast. I add my orange peel right at the end of the boil. I’ve also “dry-hopped” my wheat with orange peels in a hop sock for a few days in the keg. No need to freeze the peels.

I would freeze the cherries first, and you could probably add them at about day ten and figure on things going for between two and three weeks.

Dry hopping the peels is an interesting idea. I don’t know if you heard of Bell’s Oberon in MO, but it’s the beer to wait for in the summer. I believe they dry hop with the peels as well. With cherries, should I add them as is? Or peel the skins off maybe, or pit them? I really don’t want to ruin my batch, biggest fear!

No just freeze them whole, then thaw and pitch them in the fermentor. Or you might pit them if you have a cherry pitter, that would mash them up a little better. I’ve addede frozen cherries to beer and they really don’t fall apart that much.

I freeze my fruit as well but I steep them in 150f water for 20 min before adding them to the secondary. How much water depends on how much fruit. You don’t want to use that much unless you want to dilute your beer.

I’d worry about cooking fruit because you run the risk of setting the pectins. Plus the fresh flavor changes to a jammy one with cooking.

By the way, cherries in a porter gives it a slightly cough medicine flavor. I think I’d use a sour pie chery before I’d use a sweet Bing. But that is personal preference. I have a pie cherry tree (North Star) and I use those in my krieks. Now thats a beer that will show off a red fruit.

For a 5 gal. batch I may just add 1/2lbs of dark Michigan cherries to the secondary. Freeze them before hand, thaw, then pit. I want to avoid a cough syrup flavor, but I also have someone nudging me on the side telling me she wants cherries. Thanks for the advice, now to for experimentation.

Brew on Brewers,

  • Matt

You could split the batch and experiment with the fruit. I did this with a batch and transferred one gallon to add peaches to. It turned out bad and luckily I hadn’t ruined 5 gallons. Also, I don’t think 1/2 pound of any fresh fruit would be enough. For a full 5 gallon batch, I’d GUESS that you would need from 3-6 pounds of fruit.

+1 it takes a lot of fruit and pitting the cherries is going to lose 1/3 of your weight.

I like the idea of splitting the batch and certainly adding an extra pound or so of fruit to the one that requires it. Thanks for the input.

You not being into artificial flavors I understand, but I brew certain base beers and my wife has several flavors of the Da Vinci syrups that she spikes with to give her whatever flavor she feels like that day. Definitely give the fruit a try though, its worth the experience.

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