I tried making cherry mead again (the first time I tried this it got infected). I tried again yesterday, and it looks like I've got some sort of contamination ("infection").
This time I thought that everything was OK, at first. The foam that I usually see from yeast fermentation appeared within 30 minutes of pitching the yeast, but when I got home tonight, it was the much more vigorous bubbling that I saw along the surface. Specific gravity went from 1.076 to 1.028 in a little more than 24 hours. The taste is a bit off - not as bad as last time, but not as good as it should be.
Things I did differently from last time:
- No fresh cherries, just pasteurized cherry juice.
- The juice bottle was only opened moments before adding it to the must.
- Added two cinnamon sticks with the cherry juice (for supposed antibacterial properties)
- I brought everything up to the boiling point for a few minutes before letting it cool and pitching the yeast.
- Sealed a plastic bag over the top of the fermentation jar (to keep out fruit flies).
This is the second time it's happened... I'm guessing now that it's either the cherry juice itself (supposed to be pasteurized, but who knows), the equipment (it's all glass and stainless steel, but one food-safe plastic piece - maybe that one needs to go?), something in the air?, ...maybe the yeast is bad?
Anyway, I'm going to throw a few campden tablets in there and then put it in the fridge to chill. Does anything think this can be saved? I know I'd have to re-pasteurize it and add more honey or sugar - or is infected must not even salvageable?
I saw that it was still slightly bubbling in the fridge this morning. That's after I put in 3 campden tablets (The guy at the wine store said 2 is usually enough for under 5 litres) and left it in the fridge overnight. It's either very hardy yeast or a very hardy infection. I'm not going to give up hope yet, I'll test it again when I get home tonight.
Just tested it again. Specific Gravity is only down to 1.026 so not much fermentation has happened in the last 24 hours, I guess the bubbling this morning (and even this evening) was just gas that was already there being released. The surface is still clear (save for small clusters of bubbles) and the taste is not as bad as yesterday. The smell is like sour cherries though (and I used sweet black cherry juice!).
So guess I most of the panic was due to my inexperience with fruit meads, and not knowing what to expect. I'm guessing the cherry juice was a very good yeast nutrient - I'm used to pitching dry yeast without adding nutrients or energizers, so I guess I was just surprised by the vigorous and intense reaction I got here, as well as the sudden and strange change in taste and smell.
So I finally had one of these bottles yesterday. It was nice but the cherry flavour was very mild, much more so that I thought it would. Next time, I think I will use at least 50-50 blend of sour cherry and black cherry juices (or all sour cherry), and use much more juice and much less water.