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I'm planning to brew the Winter Wassail from The Homebrewer's Garden. The recipe calls for adding 4 pounds of mashed cranberries and 2 pounds of ground apples at flameout, steeping them for 15-20 minutes, cooling, and then putting the wort and fruit together into the fermenter. The recipe also calls for racking the beer off the fruit into a carboy after 2-4 weeks in the primary.

I've had success with leaving simpler recipes in the primary for extra time instead of transferring it to a secondary. This will be my first time working with fruit, though. Are there any hazards to leaving the beer on the fruit in the primary for an extra week or 2 (or maybe more)?

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No. If you wait an extended period of time you can get autolysis from yeast and get some off flavors. But it would be a lot longer.

If I were you I would add the fruit to secondary. Boiling will only take away from the aroma and flavor of the fruit. They probably suggest this to avoid contamination. As long as you have good sanitation I wouldn't worry about it. Soak the fruit in starsan or vodka first to kill off any other microbes. Plenty of good reading about adding fruit to beer out there.

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  • I'm aware of the risk of autolysis on much longer timescales, but I wanted to make sure the fruit wouldn't be a problem for the extra time, too. I'm hoping that steeping at near-boiling temperatures doesn't harm the fruit flavor as much as proper boiling. If it turns out this batch doesn't have enough fruit taste, I'll try them in secondary another batch. Thanks! – Simon Nov 5 '14 at 16:28
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Depends on the fruit. In The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz lists some fruits that will tend to go bad if they're left in the ferment for very long--soft fruits, like cantaloupe, watermelon, papayas, and bananas are the examples he gave.

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  • Sandor Katz is awesome. – Graham Nov 12 '14 at 12:48

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