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I often see recipes (usually for fruit mead or beer) warning against boiling fruit for fear that it will release pectin. I know that this is important for making jam, and bad for home brewing. What I don't quite know is why it's a bad thing. Does pectin have a negative impact on the fermentation process? Is it bad for yeast? Does it negatively affect flavour? Does it affect aging? Why is it so important to avoid pectin?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Pectin causes a really strong haze. Of course if you have a lot of pectin you can get some gummy residues or globs, but these settle out. Pectin haze tends to be tough to get rid of even with cold temps and aging.

All in all, if you are making a cloudy-style wheat beer that you want to add fruit to, worrying about the pectin haze is a but overkill.

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So it's really mostly a visual aesthetics issue? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 17 '11 at 13:59
3  
I think so, unless you get so much pectin in there you make beer jelly. But then again, beer jelly doesn't sound that bad either if you have enough toast. –  brewchez Sep 17 '11 at 20:07

Even the clarity issue isn't a big thing, given the methods that can be used to clarify your brew. I think that the maximum flavor extraction outweighs the relatively minor clarity issue, IMHO.

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There are mainly two issues when dealing with pectins:

  • The haze it can cause, and this is just cosmetics
  • Pectins being very large molecules make filtration very difficult

A rule of tumb is to use low to medium pectin content fruits:

  • High pectin content: tart apples, citrus fruits, cranberries, currants, gooseberries and sour plums.
  • Medium pectin content: Cherries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
  • Low pectin content: Strawberries, peaches, pear, pineapple, apricots and rhubarb.

Source: BYO

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Just how much difference is there between high pectin and low pectin? I once did a strawberry mead with fresh strawberries and it turned out as cloudy as the cysers that I've made (of course, I expected those to be cloudy). Delicious! ;) ...but still quite cloudy. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 7 at 21:08

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