View Full Version : Sorbate vs. Sulfite

08-14-2009, 01:52 AM
Well, my JOA is starting to clarify, which means I'm starting to try to plan out my bottling (I overthink things and tend to try to plan far in advance). As much as I'd like to bottle without using any chemical stabilizers, I'm much too paranoid about bottle bombs while I'm this inexperienced.

Looking at the newbee guide, it mentions potassium metabisulfite to inhibit bacteria/yeast growth, and potassium sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation. Which one do I use? Do I use both?

Medsen Fey
08-14-2009, 09:00 AM
When you stabilize, you typically use both. The sorbate prevents the yeast from dividing and multiplying. The sulfite inhibits yeast function, and prevents bacterial infection. When you use sorbate you definitely want to add sulfite to prevent malolactic bacteria (which are common) from metabolizing the sorbate which creates a geranium odor than cannot be cleared.

With JAO, if you've followed the recipe, you don't have to stabilize it. Having been fermented in a warm temperature until the yeast die on their own, there is very little risk of refermentation.

08-20-2009, 07:42 PM
I have a question related to this. Schramm's book says that sorbate is necessary when backsweetening and sulfite (campden) when adding fruit. Let's say I'm racking a plain mead into secondary on top of fruit or cider juice. Do I also need to sorbate? I'm thinking 'yes' because adding fruit is kind of like backsweetening, isn't it? And is it okay to add them at the same time (i.e. with the fruit before racking?).

08-20-2009, 08:53 PM
When I make a fruit mead, I generally rack the mead into the fruit in secondary. I do this without any sorbates or meta's. The yeast in the batch outnumbers and wild yeast.

I use the stabilizers at the end, using a tablespoon of sorbates with a 1/4 teaspoon of metabisulphate per five--six gallon batch. This essentially 'kills' the yeast. These stabilizers will not stop an active fermentation.