Kousa Dogwood Fruit Mead
This is a Kousa Dogwood Berry Melomel that was started back in mid-December 2021. This batch proceeded in two stages (see notes) to ensure a strong fermentation with foraged fruit. A base batch of only honey and water was pitched, then a week later the fruit was added. The fruit had been frozen for a while, but was stabilized anyway.
You may be familiar with Kousa Dogwood as an ornamental shrub. The orange-to-red berries are notorious for staining cars and fattening squirrels. But yes, you can eat the berries! They taste half way between a peach and a persimmon. The theme for 2022's Valkyrie's Horn competition is "forage" and this will be my entry.
Kousa Dogwood Berry Mead Recipe
5 lbs (2.27kg) Stiles' Wildflower Honey, mostly from the Hudson Valley in NY state.
5g D47 rehydrated in GoFerm
0.6g FT Blanc Soft tannin powder
Four times 1.6 grams Fermaid-O following a TOSNA-ish schedule.
7.57lbs (3.44kg) Kousa Dogwood berries foraged in late summer, and frozen after being picked up.
The honey, tannin, and yeast were kicked off as a 2-gallon initial honey must with an OG of about 1.094. That was left to ferment for about a week at mid-50 degF ambient.
On day 6, the berries were thawed in a separate pot of with a gallon of boiled water, heat off. Pectic enzyme was added to help the fruit release flavor.
The berry must was also stabilized with Campden tablets.
On day 7, the berry must and the fermenting honey must were combined. The fruit cap was punched down at least daily.
The first racking and straining occurred on day 16.
The second racking was off of further lees (almost 3 liters worth!), and while I had planned the initial batch size to hopefully yield as close to three gallons as possible at second racking, the net remaining is now under that mark. I am not worried about head space.
The approach of long freezing, then thawing with boiled water, then also using Campden is very "belt-and-suspenders" and probably overly cautious. But since the fruit was foraged during the height of summer heat, it was seen as the least risky way to avoid any infection from the fruit.
The technique setting up your yeast to out-compete wild bugs by starting a base batch, waiting for active and strong fermentation, and then adding fruit is mentioned by Ken Schramm in his excellent 2005 Zymurgy article "Optimizing Honey Fermentation".
How'd It Do
This will be entered in the 2022 Valkyrie's Horn competition, in the special Forage-themed category.