A few months ago, I released a post about pectin haze in mead with some of my thoughts and theories about it. You can find that here, but the gist of the articles asks about what fruit treatments are causing pectin haze, and what ones aren’t (that probably should be). For example, several jam / jelly meads I’ve made without using any pectic enzyme came out perfectly clear despite the fact that most jellies use additional pectin on top of what is created during the heating process. Common sense would suggest that this would cause a pectin haze in mead, but I’ve experienced just the opposite. So I decided to ask the meadmaking community to find out what their experiences were.
Note: The results shown and discussed in this article are far from a scientific experiment as there is a lack of control, and way too many variables, and a small sample size. But it could serve as a jumping off point for future experimentation and research.
Fruits Most Likely to Cause Pectin Haze
This section looks at which fruits are more likely to cause a pectin haze than others without regard to how the fruit was treated.
The three most common fruits used when a pectin haze appears in mead are Apples, Raspberries, and Strawberries. These three were in 68.8% of respondent’s batches when a pectin haze developed. All other fruits combined for the remaining 31.2%. The other fruits making up the all other fruits category were:
In order of most instances:
Now what is interesting is this.
When doing research, I found a potential issue in mixing fruits. Every fruit has different levels of pectin naturally found inside. For example, jelly makers not interested adding pectin will mix different fruits together to get enough naturally occurring pectin to not use any. And, despite popular belief, strawberries are actually fairly low in pectin. Here’s a table of fruit’s naturally occurring pectin levels (source).
Strangely enough, I’ve experienced a haze in a heated mead with raspberries and strawberries. Both fruits have caused high amounts of respondents to also have pectin issues despite them both being low on pectin. In other cases, Heated strawberries have failed to create pectin issues.
Have you Ever NOT gotten a pectin haze when you thought that one would appear? If yes, explain:
“I cooked strawberries on several occasions and never got pectic haze in those brews.”
How Fruit Treatments Affect The Probability of Pectin Haze
With varying occurrences of haze in certain types of fruit, the other thing that needed to be looked at was how the fruit was treated. Pectin is found naturally in fruits, but heat is what sets it in solution, so combining a fruit that’s high in pectin with heat would most likely result in a haze. However, using heat with a low-level fruit would deliver a mixed result. In this case, fruit freshness plays a role in the pectin levels of fruit. Under-ripe fruit contains more pectin than very ripe fruit. (source)
Now let’s look at the data collected from the survey on fruit treatments.
Now the chart above doesn’t take into account the popularity of fruit treatments in general. Freezing fruit (31%), and simply chopping fruit (25%) and adding it to mead is one of the most popular methods, while blending fruit (3%) is not often recommended because it can split fruit some seeds which can create off flavors. That being said, we can take all three factors to determine risk.
Determining Risk for Pectin Haze
I’m going to state again, that a pectin haze is one of the easiest problems to solve in mead-making. Just add pectic enzyme. And it doesn’t need to be added prior to fermentation, you will just need to use more if it’s added post. (1 tsp per gallon instead of 1/10 tsp per gallon).
So to determine the risk of a haze, take into account these three data points:
- Type of Fruit and it’s level of pectin: Check either the table of fruits and their levels, or the results table from the survey.
- Determine the ripeness of the fruit: The riper the fruit, the less pectin will be present. This typically works in our favor, as over-ripe fruit is also known for having more desirable flavors when it comes to brewing
- Add in Fruit Treatment: See the chart above to see which treatments generated more haze. However, that data is also skewed by treatment popularity.
Once you have your 3 factors, you can determine the risk of developing a haze. Frozen, under-ripe fruits that have high base levels of pectin will create the greatest risk of developing a haze according to this set of data. Alternatively, using ripe whole fruit or puree of a low pectin fruit could mean oyu don’t have to worry at all.
And again, the results shown and discussed in this article are far from a scientific experiment as there is a lack of control, and way too many variables, and a small sample size.
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