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A few questions pertaining to brewing additives:

  • How would you sanitize orange zest, whole nutmegs, and cinnamon sticks for use in a brew?
  • When would you add the aforementioned items to the kettle/brew?
  • Is it safe to presume that it is best to crush the nutmeg, we have whole nutmegs, before adding?
  • Any suggestions on quantity of addition of each of the aforementioned items?

Many thanks

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4 Answers 4

As for when/how much to add, it depends on the recipe and what you're going for. In my ginger ale, for example, I add some ginger to the boil and some to the primary/secondary, so I get a combination of the ginger-y heat and bite, along with the aroma and flavor.

As for sanitation, adding at the last few minutes of the boil will effectively sanitize anything. When adding to the primary/secondary, I will use a variety of methods depending on what I'm sanitizing and my mood that day:

  • Boil the addition in some water for a few minutes
  • If it's something I don't want to boil (because it might bitter or ruin the flavor), hold them in some water at a high temperature (180ish) for some time - i.e. pasteurize them
  • Soak the item in high-proof spirits, then add the spirits and all to the fermenter. This is the route I usually take with oak chips/cubes. I find bourbon is great for this.

I'd probably go the pasteurization route for orange zest. For things like powdered spices and chocolate, I usually just toss them right in.

As for nutmeg, I would definitely grate it before adding.

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Papazian has the following to say about the amount to use for the spices in question:

Cinnamon - Two teaspoons of ground or 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) of a stick during the final 10-15 minutes of the boil. (Though with "small amounts, its flavor is not quite identifiable, yet its presence is noticed by all.")

Orange peel - "About 1/2 oz. (14g) will do for 5 gallons."

He doesn't mention nutmeg in the CJoHB, but my guess on it is that the same amounts would suffice for the nutmeg (2 teaspoons of ground, preferably freshly ground or shaved). I would not recommend using whole nuts(?) of nutmeg because I don't think they have enough surface area to impart enough flavor into your beer.

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I like to use a grater/zester for lemon and orange peel as well as whole spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It does a great job of making small pieces so that the surface area of the peel or spice is greater for a fast and even absorption of flavor. The small grated pieces will drop out of solution in time so you don't have to worry about them sticking around in your beer too.

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Boiling is a great way to sanitize. Adding any of these in the last 15 minutes of the boil will do it. And 10-15 minutes for spices is typical (I think) for these flavor additives, but 5 minutes shouldn't be a problem (you won't boil off as much aroma. Like with hops!). Too long, and the flavor may be unpleasant. Yes, crush the nutmeg.

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