When life gives you lemons.. make beer?

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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When life gives you lemons.. make beer?

Postby xxxx » Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:43 pm

Ok, I have been doing some research in how to incorporate lemons when making beer. There was another post on this subject, but it still left me with some questions.

What is the difference between using real lemon, and just lemon juice I buy from the store?

How would I use a real lemon? Some people say to grate the rinds. So I need to take a grater to the outside skin of the lemon? How much of the rind can you use? Does the rind really contribute flavor? This is something I would not have thought of. Initially, I imagined one would squeeze out the lemon juice from the lemon itself. You don't use any of the "interior" of the lemon?

Right now I can only do extract beers. So assuming using rinds of the lemon is the way to go, I have read that boiling fruits is never good. Do I steep the rinds in a seperate pot, at say, 150 F for 20 mins, and add that directly to the primary fermenter once the wort has cooled in there? What about sanitation concerns?

Lots of questions, I know. However, the third beer I ever made I thought I was good enough to incorporate grapefruits rinds. Out of 12 beers, that was the only one to fail. I had spider webs of bacteria strands in my bottles. I am getting ready to try a similar recipe for a contest, and can't afford another disaster :) Any details would be much appreciated!
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Postby Hacky2447 » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:45 am

I am very new to brewing too, but i have been doing a lot of research and a majority of the recipes that i have been seeing have stated to use fruit at the end of the boil, and at the end means the last 5 mins. Or the best time to use fruit is the secondary, or "rack". They also stated for citrus to never use the pith only the wrind of the citrus fruit, they state that the pith or the white part of the fruit is very bitter and will give a foul taste off to the wort. And boiling takes away the fuits goodness to the beer or something like that lol. well i hope that i am some sort of help if not i appologize but i have been doin a lot of reading recently and this is what they say happy brewing.
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fruit pectins

Postby akueck » Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:38 pm

The reason you're not supposed to boil fruit is the pectins in fruit will set at high temperatures. Pectin is what makes jelly turn from juice to gel. The end result for your beer will be a nasty haze. Pectic enzyme can be added if you want to boil fruit and this should get rid of haze problems.

I would think you could boil the zest (rind) of a lemon without any ill side effects. The zest does have nice flavor (try it in cookies or cake too). Do avoid the pith, unless you want to bitter your beer that way. Though I have no idea what that would end up tasting like.

I would suggest steeping the zest separately rather than boiling it. Holding it at 150 F for 30 mins should more than kill anything living on it, but make extra sure to scrub the fruit well first. Many fruits have a waxy layer on them to preserve them during storage. It's edible, but you should scrub it off to let the hot water kill anything living underneath it.

If the zest doesn't give you the flavor you want, you can rack onto some lemon guts for secondary fermentation (or just use lemon juice). Just use the segments and not the pith; you can add extra zest too. I would also try and get rid of the seeds, they might add bitter flavors too. Adding fruit later in the fermenation is generally recommended because the vigorous first stages can cause delicate (i.e. volatile) flavors to be lost.

Good luck.
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