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View Full Version : Canning jars instead of wine bottles?



keepitlow
12-03-2009, 12:52 PM
I read that wine bottles need to be chemically treated to sterilize them before storing the brew. In not one for chemicals and I don't have many wine bottles anyway, so would have to buy them.

I was thinking of using canning jars and caning lids to store the brew. They can be steam sterilized easy, as I do for canning. I can also save on buying a corker and corks.

What do you think about this untraditional bottling method for mead?

AToE
12-03-2009, 01:00 PM
Sterilizing is sterilizing, if you can steam bottles then that would be fine too. Don't get hung up on the word chemical though, every single substance that is good for you is a chemical, mead is chemicals. The reason I say that is because the main sanitizer I use is Iodophor, which is mainly iodine, which is actually good for you in trace amounts.

You probably won't get a real air tight seal on those jars though, because as far as I know they work on the assumption that whatever is being put into them being hot, and then when the canned substance cools it creates suction, creating an airtight seal. I wouldn't trust them if not used in this way, and I don't think I'd want to cook my meads.

keepitlow
12-03-2009, 01:48 PM
Good point about everything is chemicals. I just prefer the chemicals we normally eat and try to cut back on the non edible stuff. And the wine bottle seem so hard to get at to clean. As opposed to can jars that have easy access.

Re: airtight? Was not thinking about heating as you said. I can say can jars and lids are 'liquid tight' without the vacuum. I was worried can jars and lids are too air tight and mead bottle have to be done in cork stoppers to let them breath.

I recall how some old bottles of Tokaj wine need to be topped up periodically since the wine evaporates with corks. Liquid never seems to evaporate in a can jar. I tested them with steam condensation one time for another project and no evaporation at all.

But those jars were vacuum / heat packed and only tested for a few months. I could test steam condensation in a can jar with no vacuum to see how it goes.

AToE
12-03-2009, 02:27 PM
If you felt up to a little bit more work, we do enjoy our experiments around here - so you could do some side by side comparisons. Just rent a corker and do a couple in bottles with corks (or, if you really want to avoid buying corks you could rent a capper and bottle a bunch with crown caps) and then the rest in jars, and test them side by side at 6 months, 1 year, etc, and post what your results were. Just do a blind tasting to see if there is a discernable difference.

Medsen Fey
12-03-2009, 02:40 PM
I believe that canning jars will work. I don't know if storing in them long term will allow some oxidation, but for traditional meads, it will probably be fine. I have read on other forums where people have done this and seemed happy with the outcome.

For myself, I like to make the bottles look more professional. When I give them as gifts people don't look at them as being odd. Presentation makes a huge impact on perceived quality.

You can clean wine bottles with soap and water and be just fine. The sanitizers are extra protection, and I personally prefer to use them. Most of the detergents and sanitizers aren't really that different from the detergents used to clean your pots and dishes, and that is what I'd liken the bottle sanitation process to.

If you have a big pot you can boil wine bottles as well, though I prefer the simpler approach. Grolsch style bottles or beer bottles with caps can also be used. I think the flip top bottles also can make a really nice presentation. Screw top bottles are another choice.

You have a lot options in bottling, and I wouldn't let concern about sanitizers (pro or con) prevent me selecting the ones that suit me best.

Medsen

wildoates
12-03-2009, 05:50 PM
Interesting that I'm on a low-iodine diet at the moment and cannot use iodophor at all--and one of the reasons I'm supposed to stay away from storebought foods is that it's often used as a sanitizer in food-processing plants and might be on the food I eat. For most people this is fine because they need traces of iodine in their diets (and often don't get enough), but not for me!

If you wait long enough and rack a few times you ought to be able to bottle without chemicals, shouldn't you?

Arcanum
12-04-2009, 11:47 AM
If you wait long enough and rack a few times you ought to be able to bottle without chemicals, shouldn't you?

I don't think I'd want to, particularly with low alcohol meads. There's no telling what bacteria and such are still on your corks or in your bottles when you bottle without sanitizing.

I personally use StarSan to sterilize all my hardware and bottles, and campden tablets to sterilize my corks.

Pewter_of_Deodar
12-04-2009, 11:59 AM
When I go to War, where the water is infamous for being truly full of nasty stuff, I use cheap vodka to sterilize. I take cases of "physically clean" bottles (visible gunk and debris removed from inside) and then soak them in the vodka before filling them with mead from our camps taps.

I also soak my corks in cheap vodka prior to bottling at home. It softens them and hopefully sterilizes them as well. Not that vodka is better than anything else for sterilization, but like you, I tend to want to avoid "chemical" use where it makes sense to avoid it.

Yo momma
12-04-2009, 11:59 AM
I usually do not sterilize my bottles before bottling nore do i my corks. When, or so I've heard, you initially cork your bottle you are compressing air in and need it to equallize out the pressure before setting it on its side. I have had corks push out when setting them on there side right after the cork goes in. So I set them upright for 3-4 days before setting them on there side. If they are wet then the air cannot excape. When we bottle at Bnektar, we dont strilize our cork . They go in dry. IMHO

I do sterilize my primary before starting. I have never had a mead infected after the primary cuz of the high ABV in my batches, 16%-18%. I have thought of doing the same thing with a dry mead and putting a little peice of comb honey in to carbonate it and sealing with new lids and rings, just to see what would happen.

Big Mac
12-05-2009, 05:15 PM
When we bottle at Bnektar, we dont strilize our cork .

Well, I guess that makes one brand of mead I won't try.

akueck
12-05-2009, 05:44 PM
Well, I guess that makes one brand of mead I won't try.

If you buy a bottle and something is wrong with it, every distributor I know of will take it back and replace it for free.

Medsen Fey
12-05-2009, 05:55 PM
Well, I guess that makes one brand of mead I won't try.

Virtually no wineries sterilize or sanitize corks. They come in large bags with SO2 from the the manufacturers and may have a coating to allow them to be more easily inserted so they do not need to be treated in any way before being put into a bottle.

If you don't want to try B. Nektar meads, your palate will be the poorer for it.

Big Mac
12-06-2009, 02:21 PM
Well, I stand corrected, then, and shall try B Nektar at the first available opportunity. Thanks for correcting my ignorance.

wildoates
12-06-2009, 08:34 PM
I personally use StarSan to sterilize all my hardware and bottles, and campden tablets to sterilize my corks.I do the same, I was referring to adding chemicals to the mead to stabilize it, not the necessary ones to sanitize.

keepitlow
12-07-2009, 07:45 PM
Thanks for ALL the replies.

Vodka use in interesting. I read that one mead maker takes a swig of vodka to sterilize some of the germs in their mouth when sucking the syphon. Seems unhygienic. But if that is the only affordable way to syphon, guess I will have to give it a try.

I used to have a nice corker and lots of high grade corks. I didn't make wine, but I used it when I had a big cellar that had some bottles that had poor corks and need re-corking.

Due to limited space, am trying to keep it simple as much as possible so that was where I was coming from with my can jar question. Have lots of can jars sitting, so trying to make due if possible, Will report on the results if and when the brew gets made.

Got lots of mead books from the library and am reading them now so I can keep questions to a min here.

akueck
12-07-2009, 07:56 PM
Vodka use in interesting. I read that one mead maker takes a swig of vodka to sterilize some of the germs in their mouth when sucking the syphon. Seems unhygienic. But if that is the only affordable way to syphon, guess I will have to give it a try.

Don't do that. Water priming is easier (fewer bubbles entrapped) and a million times (or more) sanitary. Water priming means filling the hose up with water--or better yet, sanitizer--to start the siphon. Just keep one or both ends plugged with a clean finger, let one--and only one--end go and drop it into the full container. Move the "out" end to the receiving vessel and let go. Instant siphon, no sucking.

Medsen Fey
12-07-2009, 07:58 PM
Vodka use in interesting. I read that one mead maker takes a swig of vodka to sterilize some of the germs in their mouth when sucking the syphon. Seems unhygienic. But if that is the only affordable way to syphon, guess I will have to give it a try.




Fermtech Auto-Siphon (http://www.fermtech.ca/)!

AToE
12-07-2009, 07:59 PM
I do water priming myself, with a sanitizer solution (iodophor). Very easy to do and less stress about contamination.

That must have been quite the wine/mead/etc collection to require a corker simply for upkeep!:eek:

Someday... someday.:)

shmoab
12-08-2009, 03:09 AM
I read that wine bottles need to be chemically treated to sterilize them before storing the brew. In not one for chemicals and I don't have many wine bottles anyway, so would have to buy them.

I was thinking of using canning jars and caning lids to store the brew. They can be steam sterilized easy, as I do for canning. I can also save on buying a corker and corks.

What do you think about this untraditional bottling method for mead?


My friend who turned me on to mead and mead making, and this site for that matter, uses canning jars. He would always send me on my way, after a visit, with a few canning jars full of mead. I loved sharing them with my family, we'd drink it right out of the jar as if it was moonshine. haha Good memories!
That's how I plan to keep my own supply, only using bottles for gifts and such.

First post as a patron. Woot woot.

fatbloke
12-08-2009, 04:57 AM
Glass, is glass, is glass........

The canning jar thing, shouldn't be an issue. The only thing that I'd watch our for, is that if the jars use metal lids, then I'd only fill them enough so that when they're standing and ageing, then the liquid doesn't touch the metal.

The alcohol can sometimes extract a metallic/tinny sort of taste, though I don't know specifically, whether that's because of the nature of alcohol or maybe the acidic nature of wines.......

Apart from that, I can't think of any reason not to go for it...... use what's available (and cheap...)

akueck
12-08-2009, 02:15 PM
Usually those lids are coated with a polymer to prevent that metallic taste from transferring. Lids that have been used a lot (and washed a lot) might not have the coating anymore, but new ones should. The same kind of coating is used in aluminum beverage cans, for the same reason.

fatbloke
12-09-2009, 07:23 AM
Usually those lids are coated with a polymer to prevent that metallic taste from transferring. Lids that have been used a lot (and washed a lot) might not have the coating anymore, but new ones should. The same kind of coating is used in aluminum beverage cans, for the same reason.
Again, for the same reason, I'd still only fill them so the mead doesn't touch the lid.

It should be remembered, that one of the biggest reasons why even industry only uses plastic to contain alcoholic bases drinks, is because it is a solvent.

Of course, it does depend on the strength, ABV-wise, as to how much solvent action occurs. Here, it's mainly beers and ciders (hard cider, I think you'd probably call it) that is sometimes sold in PET, but the very nature of the drinks is relatively low ABV%, and that does reduce the solvent action/extraction of plasticisers etc. The "wine in a box" stuff? well that's also meant for reasonably quick turn around, reducing the possibility of off flavours or other forms of plastics contamination.

Hence, the "real" producers, use glass, for long(er) term storage as it's inert in the presence of alcohol. Allowing for long term contact etc.

So if the OP is considering longer term storage, I'd keep the mead etc, away from the resin on the metal and/or metal.......

Just my 2 pence worth.....

regards

fatbloke

Sasper
12-09-2009, 02:09 PM
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Fisher kel Tath
12-09-2009, 09:04 PM
This is the greatest purchase I have ever made!

mine has grown a tinge of iodine to it this week after having to be sterilized almost every day since sunday (today wednesday)

right now keeping some spare erm...when does must turn to mead?...siphon off from transfering from primary to secondary in a canning jar with aluminum foil replacing the lead (with a scratch in it to act as a blow off valve if it builds pressure) for topping off...