I’m a fan of infusing fruit and berries into meads, and making country wines (i.e., wines that don’t rely on grapes for their base sugars) with whatever fruits or berries – or a mixture thereof – are on hand. To me, it’s a way of capturing a season, using a quantity of standard white sugar and a quantity of fruit juices or, even better, whole, in-season fruit.
But how best to get the terrific flavor of, say, a peach or a pear, into the neck of a one gallon demijohn?
I have tried a number of methods by now, and by far the best approach is to keep the fruits or berries as whole as possible. If you put fruit through a juicer (which I have repeatedly done), the resulting juice will have a tremendous amount of pulp in it. It’s not something that you might necessarily notice if you just drank the glass of juice, but when you’re going through the process of clearing a wine, using juiced fruits tends to require more racking, and the sediments are wispier, lighter, and more easily agitated into suspension – meaning more racking down the road.
One of my favorite fruit adjuncts is blueberries. They’re small enough to fit into any vessel’s neck without damage, and they add a wonderful depth and richness to the flavor. Because they’re so easy to use intact, they result in a pretty no-fuss ferment/rack/clear process.
I find that a long simmer, as though you’re making a fruit stock, can give you a lot of good to work with if you have larger fruit. Twelve or twenty-four hours in a stock pot or crock pot, just covered by water (replenish as needed), usually results in a rich liquor (in the old school sense, not in the booze sense) to be mixed in with your other sugars.
I don’t have a lot of experience with fruit infusions in beers, but maybe this winter I’ll get something light started that can secondary on something weird, like a wheat beer infused with dates and a jalapeno.
Hey, it’s homebrew. Dream weird.