Elderberries as Yeast Energizer?


I've made a lot of batches containing elderberries over the years. While I haven't made any scientific tests or calibrations, it seems to me that when there's a significant amount of elderberries in the mix, the fermentation is very strong and long. Has anyone else noticed this? Is there some secret ingredient in elderberries that jazzes up the yeast?
Paul
Reply to
Pavel314

Hi Paul, I can't answer your question, although I've made beer for years, I am a complete nube' to wine. A couple of weeks ago, my first attempt was from white grape juice that the local s/mkt had on offer.
My next door nabe makes a great elderberry port. I pinched her recipe, from a 'Farmers Weekly' publication. It's certainly alcoholic, but I was amazed to see that no yeast was involved. The recipe is 3lb berries, 3.5 lb sugar, 1 gallon water, half pound raisins.
I picked enough fruit on Sunday, to double up on this recipe, although I reduced the sugar by 30%. After 36 hours, the airlock is just showing some activity. The recipe requires that you boil the fruit for 15 minutes then add the sugar and seal up. Well, good luck with your search Paul. All I can confirm, is the fact that elderberry yeast, is nigh on indestructible.
I googled up some recipes and the first half dozen, all required the addition of a yeast, GP or Burgundy etc. Most of the recipes also required the use of Camden tablets. So why would they want to kill the EB yeast with Camden!! the sample from next-door (12 months old) was fantastic and was the best homemade 'Port' I've tasted. Good luck.
Bertie
Reply to
Bertie Doe

You will not kill a wine yeast with Camben. You WILL discourgage and prevent wild yeast, which for the most part will not produce a high alcohol wine from taking over your fermentation.
Cultured wine yeast is cheap and can tolerate SO2. I see no reason to do a crap shoot on letting wild yeast do their thing. Some may work in certain circumstances but others can create low alcohol wines or wines that have off flavors.
Louis Pasteur became famous by studying this subject. His task was to figure out why some wines were great and other wines were bad. In certain areas of Europe where viticulture has been practiced for centuries, there has built up a good population of the "good" yeast in the vineyard and in the wine cellar and they can and do in certain vineyards use the "wild yeast" but you are taking a big gamble by doing this yourself and in a different environment.
Reply to
Paul E. Lehmann

"Paul E. Lehmann" wrote in message
I agree, most of the research has been concentrated on grape yeast, wild or surface bloom. I would always use a cultured yeast if fermenting grape.
Next-door has been using this no (added) yeast recipe for 20+ years and the quality has been good, with port-like characteristics. I'm inclined to agree with the OP that elderberry yeast may have some special characteristics (apart from surviving boiling). The answer is probably beyond the scope of amateur apparatus.
Bertie
Reply to
Bertie Doe

I wonder if there's some sort of natural selection going on here. The elderberries come pre-yeasted with wild yeast that lives on their skins, so I would assume that an elderberry-specific yeast variety would thrive and out-reproduce other wild yeast strains that happened to land on the same berries. If you've ever tasted raw elderberries, they aren't very sweet, so this yeast strain would have to be able to get along on minimal sugar.
When I make an elderberry batch, this wild yeast strain is in the batch and acts along with the cultured wine yeast in the ferment. Since it's now in a sugar-enriched environment, as opposed to sitting on the skin of an elderberry, it goes wild. Sort of like putting a mouse in a bell jar full of pure oxygen.
Paul
Reply to
Pavel314

sort of natural selection going on here. The elderberries come pre-yeasted with wild yeast that lives on their skins, so I would assume that an elderberry-specific yeast variety would thrive and out-reproduce other wild yeast strains that happened to land on the same berries. If you've ever tasted raw elderberries, they aren't very sweet, so this yeast strain would have to be able to get along on minimal sugar.
When I make an elderberry batch, this wild yeast strain is in the batch and acts along with the cultured wine yeast in the ferment. Since it's now in a sugar-enriched environment, as opposed to sitting on the skin of an elderberry, it goes wild. Sort of like putting a mouse in a bell jar full of pure oxygen.
Paul
Most of the natural yeast on grape and fruit, is found on the surface 'bloom'. As you say, there are wild ones there too and as Paul E.L. states, there are risks involved in going natural.
Someone I know, when a student, worked on a Muscat vineyard, near Perpignan. They used only the natural yeast from the surface bloom and stopped picking if it started to rain. I don't know whether they still do this, or have opted for the safer cultured Muscat yeast.
OT but years ago, I made 5 gallons of Asti from a Muscat concentrate. What I didn't realise, was that commercial Asti Spumante is made from CO2 injection and not secondary ferment. 25 of my 30 (genuine) Asti bottles exploded, during the secondary, while I was at work. I like the taste of both Muscat and elderberry, so maybe next year, I'll combine the two.
I suspect, what you're experiencing with a powerful fermentation, is the presence of natural EB yeast, rather than wild. When I boil the fruit for 15 minutes, I believe it's the natural yeast that survives - this would explain the consistent taste that my neighbor is experiencing, year on year. I'm sure there's loads more info ref your question on the internet. If I get the time this Winter ........
.
Reply to
Bertie Doe

I agree completely.
I will add that about every 50 batches I brew I get a weird infection in my beer that I have come to attribute to a "house yeast." It drops the final gravity a half dozen points more than expected and gives a sort of licorice flavor to the beer. I don't like it at all but my wife doesn't mind it, so if that batch is suitably hoppy she is content to drink it. In any case I feel my time, effort, and ingredients are not worth risking for something that may or may not turn out well, so I stick to commercial yeast for my beer, mead, and cider. (Well, except for the time I did a "natural" sour mash beer... it was interesting enough that I may do it again someday. ;-)
--
Joel Plutchak

"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any
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Reply to
Joel

For any yeast to survive 15 minutes of boiling runs against everything I have read. But, if it's true, I certainly like someone to explain it to me.
Dick
Reply to
Dick Adams

After 15 minutes of boiling, it's then strained onto the sugar. You stir until sugar dissolved and then seal fermentation bin and fit airlock. Evidence of fermentation starts after about 48 hours. The liquid is still very warm when the lid is sealed. Although I accept there's not any cell division at high temperatures, I don't believe the elderberry yeast is killed by boiling.
In the Country Wines section of the book, this recipe is called Elderberry Port and I can confirm it does taste like Port. My neighbor assures me that the quality is consistent every year. I don't think you would get taste repeatability with wild yeast. Also, how does the wild yeast get introduced?
I guess there's something special about EB yeast. It may be worth going thru google and see if any tests have been documented. It would be interesting to collect some wild yeast, make up a starter bottle and introduce it to some EB must, that has had it's natural yeast killed by Camden. I bet the wine produced would be very poor quality.
Reply to
Bertie Doe

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