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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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby distiller_dresden » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:48 am

Why not make a hydrosol of banana for diluting your liquor down to your desired proof? Do the cheesecloth method, but have the bananas in a mix of water and apple juice or sweet wine, your choice, and just pot still it, it will work differently than an alcohol distillation. You'll get flavor coming out pretty much as soon as the worm drips, and save this liquid, this is your hydrosol - banana flavored water (plus whatever else - if anything - you chose to mix with your water to 'add' flavor). Think I don't know how much banana you'd need maybe go with a few pounds in cheesecloth. The expert on this stuff is Alchemist75 - you could drop a question in here viewtopic.php?f=4&t=57286&start=30 about this and he'd surely respond as he helped me hammer out a recipe for something I'll be working on in about a month with lots of hydrosols.

But hydrosol sounds close/very much like what you're talking about, and your process in general is something I would talk to Alchemist about because he is super knowledgeable about flavors and extracting them, a real wealth to tap.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby Copperhead road » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:16 pm

I have heard that flavour carryover can be difficult with the yellow monkeys food....
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby panikry83 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:01 pm

From what I've read - most fruit flavors are in the heads, something we're taught to eliminate. You have to change you're mindset when it comes to fruit. I tired an apple juice brandy a few years ago and I completely bypassed the apple flavor due to me being still new enough that my process was not "outside the box" so to say. I've also watched some winery videos on fruit wines. Banana wine looks like gray water when you're making it - ie, chop up bananas and add them to your strike water and boil like normal. Not at all appetizing but apparently tastes good once it's finished. Check out Cranky's thread on Fruity Goodness. One of the best threads on the site for fruit info. I think Jimbo (more apples but the idea is there) and Rakenmash (spelling?) have some fruit threads as well. Read up, and don't be afraid to experiment and fail - it's all in the learning process.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby CatCrap » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:10 am

Yep. Those are some great threads and sources.

I did add bananas in cheesecloth to the boiler when doing the spirit run. I got some very nice flavor carryover, and it was actually mostly in the hearts. If you opened a bottle of this, even the part i have aging on a small, once used in whiskey, SD American Oak domino, you would have no trouble picking out the banana flavor. It is absolutely clear and present, and quite nice. I would, however, say that it's a kind of "cooked" banana flavor. More roasty toasty, banana bread like banana flavor, obviously from cooking. There is a nice backround fruitiness also, from the wash being made with un-cooked bananas. Most of the sugar for fermenting came from the banana. I added 1/2 # of sugar to each 25L ferment, so not much. Abv came out right for me, its sitting and aging at 50%, from doing a 1.5X Run i got a nice abv level. Overall i'm pretty happy with it. It was a fair amount of work, but that's alright as the result was good. I would do it again, trying some other types of fruit wrapped in cheesecloth and putting them in the boiler on the spirit run seemed to work fairly well.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby Copperhead road » Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:32 am

CatCrap wrote:Yep. Those are some great threads and sources.

I did add bananas in cheesecloth to the boiler when doing the spirit run. I got some very nice flavor carryover, and it was actually mostly in the hearts. If you opened a bottle of this, even the part i have aging on a small, once used in whiskey, SD American Oak domino, you would have no trouble picking out the banana flavor. It is absolutely clear and present, and quite nice. I would, however, say that it's a kind of "cooked" banana flavor. More roasty toasty, banana bread like banana flavor, obviously from cooking. There is a nice backround fruitiness also, from the wash being made with un-cooked bananas. Most of the sugar for fermenting came from the banana. I added 1/2 # of sugar to each 25L ferment, so not much. Abv came out right for me, its sitting and aging at 50%, from doing a 1.5X Run i got a nice abv level. Overall i'm pretty happy with it. It was a fair amount of work, but that's alright as the result was good. I would do it again, trying some other types of fruit wrapped in cheesecloth and putting them in the boiler on the spirit run seemed to work fairly well.

How is your fruit salad fermenter going? Think is was you from memory fermenting all them different fruits together.....
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby CatCrap » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:25 pm

Nah.. that was Distiller Dresden. The "juicy fruit" ferment. I've only done single fruit ferments. Haven't had enough time to do a mash day, so no AG at the moment. Doing 2 fermenters full of UJ instead of one, as one was freed up from neutral. Did a 6 gal LW neutral run. It can be fun to pull out all the reflux/CM run gear and set it up, but it's also an all day affair. But.. well.. what can i say.. i was out of Vodka, and out of Kahlua, so i needed both. Really loving the white russians these days. Adjusted my Kahlua recipe slightly this time, by adding just a little spiced rum and banana brandy. A little more complex flavor. The banana likker can add a nice touch to cocktails and liqueurs.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby distiller_dresden » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:31 am

:raises hand: I'm the mad alchemist lol. Juicyfruit brandy just got proofed down to 82 proof using a just a little bit of pear juice concentrate, majority spring water, and mango wine (lucky find, thanks Oliver wineries!). It was fruit - mango, blueberry, black cherry - and juices plus pear juice concentrate, so dominant flavors were pear, mango, blueberry/cherry (berry/cherry kind of blend I've found in the spirit phase). I yielded more since I mashed more, kind of by accident since I wasn't thinking of 'liquid' adding solid fruits that I'd stick blended... Final yield 124oz 82 proof. Since I previously found with the apple brandy that in a fifth/750ml a piece of fruit will take up about 5-6oz, that's 19-20oz per 'bottle' with a piece of macerated fruit.

Now I didn't/don't have to do that, but I really like the effect/presentation, and the affect it should have on the spirit/brandy. So 120 is 6 pieces of fruit, being 6 'bottles'. I did 2 Bosc pears, 1 Asian pear, 3 honey mangoes, and about 3/4 lbs of Ranier cherries de-stemmed into the finished. As with my apple brandy, this will be left alone until at least September, loose top, in a giant 2.5 gallon glass 'barrel' jar to relax, macerate, flavor, and smooth as the angels get their share. By then the mangoes, pears, they'll all pretty much be the same, so it doesn't matter what goes in which jar, and each jar will get a split of cherries, I picked Ranier because I didn't want to darken/lose the beautiful amber colored brandy. I did add 4oz. of mixed and filtered blueberry/black cherry juice which just barely darkened some. You should check my apple brandy thread! I am cutting and into a gallon glass barrel today papaya/lychee/pear brandy which the full flavors got over into it, at least as of last night/about 30 hours airing... Used 1122, and I'll never use anything else for brandy again.
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Re: Fruit in the Boiler

Postby VLAGAVULVIN » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:10 am

CatCrap wrote:I would, however, say that it's a kind of "cooked" banana flavor. More roasty toasty, banana bread like banana flavor, obviously from cooking.


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