Fruit in the Boiler

Information about fruit/vegetable type washes.

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Fruit in the Boiler

Postby CatCrap » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:04 pm

Hey, folks, so I'm doing a bit of an experiment using fruit. I'm making a banana likker. I've read every thread i could find about banana likker, and it sounds like there have been very very very mixed varied results. SOme folks had great success, some had no success. A couple people seemed to get a really cool, different and interesting likker out of this fruit. I think bananas can be a little tricky, because they aren't going to work for maceration. You simply can't successfully macerate bananas in neutral and end up with something appetizing. So, i made a ferment using bananas with a bit of white sugar and a yeast bomb, and (shit i forgot the name!! Damn it) I THINK SafAle-US 04 yeast.The wash smelled great, very strong banana aroma, out of the airlock while it was fermenting. It fermented successfully, quickly, and to dry. I didn't check Sg/Fg (stupid!), but judging by my strip results, i'd say my wash was between 8 and 10%. I yielded just shy of a gallon of 35% ABV Low wines from a 5 gallon strip. Foreshots came off at 57%. First quart was from 55%-about 50% ABV.
So, back to the ferment. As i said, the smell coming from the airlock while it was bubbling was great. Super banana ish. HOwever.. much to my dismay, ONce i strained it a week later, the wash seemed to have ZERO banana aroma and flavor to it. BUT all was not lost..Much to my surprise and delight.. i stripped half of the wash(10 G total, this strip was half of it, 5 Gallons) today, and, at least the first quart had an intense fruity banana aroma.When i tasted the first drops (after 50ml Fores) they had really nice intense fruity flavor.
My plan was, is, to do a 1.5X run. I stripped half the wash, i'm going to add it to the other 5 G of wash and do a spirit run, slower and lower heat than the strip. This was so that i would get some nice flavor from the straight wash, but a decent yield and ABV boost from the added .9 G of low wines. Hoping i get some nice banana aroma from it, and hoping that the keep cut will have a decent enough ABV, like 50-65% ideally, so i can age it on some lightly toasted oak staves. I think 55% might be the sweet spot, so i can get the Caramel/Butterscotch flavors from the wood. Although 60-65% would be nice too, as that is a good range for pulling vanilla from oak.

On to my point..

So.. to me.. if i take a couple bunches of bananas, and cut them up, and throw them in a pot of water and boil it on the stove.. the steam from the pot is going to have some banana flavor and aroma. Hopefully a lot of aroma. Right? So... to get some more banana flavor in my spirit run i thought, i'd like to put some bananas in the boiler. I don't have a thumper, so that is not an option. One option WOULD be to try to tie up some bananas and hang them just over the charge in the still. Might be a bit tricky, but not a bad option. I've done some research, and it sounds like there is a stark, if perhaps subtle, depending on fruit, difference between VAPOR infusion and Maceration. Anyways, from my research, sounds like Vapor infusion gives a lighter, more delicate addition of aroma. Maceration tends to be heavier, more intense, and perhaps a bit more of a "cooked" fruit aroma. A lot of this is from some posts by der Wo. I don't fully understand everything he said about it, but that's what i took away. Also he mentioned that some fruits worked better by each method, IIRC, apples were a good example of a fruit that had a stark, large difference in result from Vapor vs. Maceration. Anyways.. my immediate thought, is that, i use 2 internal elements in my boiler, and that pieces of banana in the wash is nearly guaranteed to burn onto the elements which could A. ruin/damage them B. be a gigantic PITA to clean, and C. create yukky scorched aromas i do not not not want.
So.. my solution? Make a cheesecloth bundle (big sachet)with chopped up bananas (skin on half) in it. This should prevent the sugary banana flesh and skins from making any contact with metal, be it the walls or elements, and i think the cheesecloth should protect it, without sustaining any damage, while allowing the bananas to release that sweet banana aroma.
I'm thinking ripe, or just over ripe bananas are the way to go. For the ferment i used a mix of very ripe (about 50% yellow, with lots of brown spots on the skin. Strong aroma and sweet taste, but the flesh wasn't soft of mushy completely or throughout. YOu could still eat them as bananas) and over ripe (skins full brown, mushy, dark brown flesh. Not bananas you'd eat straight, but IDEAL for banana bread). I also added about 1/3 of the total skin from all the bananas in the ferment. So.. my thought is to use the type of bananas that are very ripe, but not to the point of totally broken down, chop them up, skin on 50% of them, chop them pretty small maybe 1/2", and put them into a cotton cheesecloth, roll it up, tie it with cotton kitchen twine, and put this in my boiler for the spirit run.

Would it be wise, or make any difference, if i do a slow heat up, or heat my wash without the lid until warm, then add the bundle of bananas, attach the lid and column and then do the run? Or just add the bundle to the cold wash and heat it all together?
Is cheesecloth and twine going to be ok in the boiler/wash?
Could i have puking issues? SHould i add butter/oil/fermcap? Any chance for a catastrophic puke and clog of the column with the banana bundle?

Any and all comments, criticism, questions, and suggestions are very welcome!

Thanks, HD Team!
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby Bushman » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:25 am

Looks like you have done a lot of research on the subject. Everybody's tastes are different so one man's opinion may not be another's. My suggestion is to experiment with different methods in small amounts and decide what works best for you. I have not done bananas but have done a lot of what you are suggesting with apples. On one of the experiments I would boil the bananas in water and let cool. This will give you a flavored water that you can use when you are proofing your alcohol.

I am not home at the moment but there is a great book I use all the time for liqueurs called Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby VLAGAVULVIN » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:54 am

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