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Adding fruit to your organic beers is easy. The main consideration is how to kill unwanted organanisms in the fresh fruit without overcooking the fruit or adding unwanted chemicals. The easiest way to do this is by pasteurizing. Berries (all types), apples, plums, apricots, cherries, grapes, and kiwi fruit are all great fruits to use.

To add fruit in the primary fermentor:

The fruit will be added to the brew pot after the boil is complete and before the wort has been chilled. Wash and pit the fruit, and mash with a potato masher, or use a food processor. When your beer has reached the end of the boil, turn the heat off and wait until the wort has cooled to about 200 oF. Once it has cooled, add the fruit pulp and replace the lid on the brew pot. It is important that the fruit is not boiled- this will release the pectins in the fruit which could cause haze problems in the finished beer. Allow the wort to stand for a full twenty minutes. If adding a large amount of fruit you may want to check the temperature: if it falls below 160 oF you will need to carefully add heat. If you do this, watch the pot carefully to make sure the heat is not raised above 180 oF. Use a sanitized spoon to stir the mixture- this will help to distribute the heat more evenly. After 20 minutes proceed with chilling the wort as you usually do. To get the most out of the fruit it is a good idea to leave the pulp in the beer during the primary fermentation, and then rack the beer off the fruit into a secondary fermenter after the primary fermentation.

To add fruit to the secondary fermentor:

If you add fruit in the second stage of the fermentation, the fruit flavors are usually more pronounced. To do this, prepare the fruit as described above. If you do not want to transfer the beer after the secondary fermenter, you may want to strain the pulp after you mash it. You may want to add a small amount of water if the juices from the fruit are not sufficient to make a consistancy that is easily stirred. On a low flame, carefully raise the temperature of the fruit pulp to 180 oF, stirring frequently. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Cool it down and add the pulp to your secondary fermenter. Allow the beer or mead to ferment for an additional 1 to two weeks.

Another option is to add the fruit without pasteurization. This can be done successfully in the secondary fermenter if the beer is relatively high in alcohol (over 5% by volume), and if you take great care in cleaning the fruit and all utensils use in pulping it. This method can introduce wild yeast or unwanted bacteria to the beer, especially if the skins of the fruits are added with the pulp. As a further precaution, campden tablets (sodium or potassium metabisulfite) can be used, but these add sulfites to the beer or mead.

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