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I'm brewing a Belgian dubbel tomorrow and have a 3-lb can of pureed apricot. I don't know if I should add it into my primary after a few days of initial fermentation, or if I should wait a couple of weeks until I rack to secondary.

What are the advantage and trade-offs between those two options?

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The general consensus is to add in secondary, and you may want to review this post: homebrew.stackexchange.com/q/490/2518. That should give you details you need. – hartski Aug 3 '12 at 20:14
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The canned puree will be sterile, so the concern about having to wait until secondary to have the alcohol to help sanitize is a moot point.

To my mind, the tradeoff with adding late in primary or as part of secondary is really if there is enough yeast in secondary to consume the sugars in the fruit and clean up by-products from the primary ferment. When adding to secondary the fruit will stress what little yeast there is, producing esters. In a dubbel this might be desirable, but can be avoided if you deliberately rack some of the yeast into secondary. Alternatively, pitching the fruit halfway through primary, say after a week, will also be fine.

Personally, I'd go with adding it towards the end of primary, skipping secondary and going straight to bottle or keg to keep in all that aroma.

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Are you saying I'd be risking losing some of the apricot aroma if I added it to the secondary? I'd also considered adding some of the top layer live yeast from the cake in primary to the secondary to handle the new sugars. My reasoning for going to secondary was that I'm using a PET bottle for primary and didn't want to risk oxygen contamination (full fermentation is going to be 6+ weeks I think) and I didn't want it sitting on top of dead yeast and other undesirables in the trub that long. – Andrew Aug 4 '12 at 21:49
simple fact is that the longer a beer is exposed to the atmosphere the more aroma it loses. that's why adding fruit in primary is not recommended, since the continual purging releases aroma. in secondary or late primary, there is much less gas escaping so less aroma lost. – mdma Aug 4 '12 at 23:06
I'll disagree about the amount of yeast. There is plenty of yeast available to ferment out the simple sugars offered up by adding fruit in secondary. And that yeast is pretty healthy for more sugar additions. Most brewers and references I have read seem to prefer doing it in secondary. They see a restart of fermentation and none report stalled out ferments. I did't a wheat beer with puree in the primary and it tasted somewhat flabby. I rescued it by refruiting in the secondary. Made the beer again and only fruited in the secondary, got the same FG but better flavor. – brewchez Aug 5 '12 at 11:52
@mdma I misunderstood your original statement - I thought you were saying I'd risk more aroma loss with a fruit addition in secondary as opposed to late primary. – Andrew Aug 5 '12 at 14:14

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