Watermelon Fail

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Watermelon Fail

Postby BigDeal2213 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:48 pm

To start with, this is only my second spirit run on my rig. I am running a beer keg boiler with a pot head attachment and then running a thumper using a beer keg as my tumper as well. Here is a link to the setup https://www.olympicdistillers.com/moons ... parts-only

I have done a 50/50 vinegar cleaning run, followed by an alcohol sacrifice run. I then ran a basic sugar wash.

My recipe for my watermelon ferment was 5 gallons of watermelon juice, fresh watermelon blended and strained through cheese cloth. A pound of raisins and a pound of sugar. I boiled, cooled, then pitched a healthy dose of re-hydrated bread yeast. It fermented to below 1.000 in less then a week, I transferred to a secondary to allow to clarify for another week.

Ran the resulting wine through my pot still. The distillate was cool to the touch during the whole run and a nice slow thin stream.

The entire run had a very funky smell. Could not make any discern any difference through the process, not able to make cuts. The initial flavor was pleasant, but there was a off putting aftertaste. Distilled down to 30% abv before shutting down, and collected just shy of 4 liters.

I collected in 1 liter containers and covered with papertowels and allowed to breathe for a week. Still has an off smell.

Where did I go wrong?
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby ga flatwoods » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:02 am

No fruit wine I have ever made was blessed with the benefit of having used bread yeast instead of a wine yeast. I can tell you every time which had bread yeast and which does not. Not using smaller collections did you no favors for such a small run. There was a difference, you didnt pick it up. Brandies are not good starters for a beginner. You would do better to try UJSM, Sweet feed, or Birdwatchers for a first run. Drink you wine as wine for now. Watermelon is hard to get right as a wine anyway.
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby Pikey » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:31 pm

The guy who I was in contact with from Georgia, when I first started - had not the knowledge which many here have - but without his input I'd be now making wine to drink, so RESPECT old fella 8)

Even he said watermellon turned out crap !

So try to change history, or move on :wink:
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby MDH » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:20 pm

Watermelon and grapes is a challenging environment in which baker's yeast could live. Next time, try a low-nitrogen requiring yeast, acidify the mash using acid blend or pure malic acid.

It may be that the yeast produced a number of sulfur compounds during fermentation due to the adverse environment.

Try pouring some of this faulty spirit over a fine piece of copper mesh, and leave it for several hours. Nose it again and tell us if it still smells wrong.
The still is always a translator, but never a liar. Mash and ferment quality is 99% of your performance.
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby VerucaSalt » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:28 pm

I've done several watermelon runs. The first 1turned out like you've described. Bad smell and a vomity aftertaste after being distilled. I think I waited too long after cooking the juice/pulp to pitch yeast - I let it cool down on it's own overnight and by morning it had already started to ferment on it's own and smelled funny. After a year sitting in glass, though - it was delicious. I did not use bakers yeast - used DADY. I would think bakers yeast would make it super funky, in a bad way.

All my other attempts were successful. I brought the juice/pulp up to 185, cooled it with a wort chiller to 85-90 and then pitched yeast right away. Twice as much as I would normally use to make sure it took hold instead of whatever wild stuff might be in there. I have 10 gallons clearing now and will probably distill it today or tomorrow. Watermelon is one of my favorites now that I've figured out how to do it.

Picture below - watermelon in the carboys. Fermenters in front are the All-Bran recipe.
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby esxman » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:08 am

I have had success with mulberries ,grapes,apricot/rice combo , but like the author my watermelon attempt was identical .
we bought 2 huge red watermelons , scooped the flesh out down to the white rind with potato scoops, used a motorised blade to smash the pulp up fine , had everything sanitised and got 2 x10 litres of must .Used a white wine yeast , bubbled air thru the must first , and then trapped the fermenters .Sniffing the bubblers ,early on in the ferment on both the containers ,off smelling that should have told me I was wasting time , the must at the bottom was almost clear , with a pink top , stirred it once a day , the smell was still off .I Today I stilled 10 L , low abv , first bottle 65% and the off smell carried thru to the product ....I feel now I could either play with a carbon tower to try and purge it , or store it in glass with a charred stick of oak or carob .. shall never try watermelon again !
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby MDH » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:29 pm

I confess that I have no experience with watermelons (other melons, I have lots), but I'd like to see this experiment repeated with a large sized pitch of a non-aggressive, very neutral strain (e.g. Epernay) and for the mash to be properly acidified to a pH of 4.2 or less before fermentation.

Additionally, some fruit spirits are very disappointing as newmake but age gracefully. I'd like to see a watermelon brandy after two years in glass.
The still is always a translator, but never a liar. Mash and ferment quality is 99% of your performance.
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Re: Watermelon Fail

Postby ga flatwoods » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:46 pm

The hardest item to add to a bottle of shine is patience!
I am, and have been, a site donor that chooses not to advertise it. What's your excuse?
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