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Daddywags
01-31-2011, 02:25 AM
Hello,

I started a 6 gallon batch of orange blossom honey this evening. Everything was going well, until I saw a fruit fly taking a bath in my starter! I poured out the starter and sealed the must up tightly, but I'm completely out of yeast and Go-Ferm. I've got a couple of questions:

1. How likely is my must to go bad/start fermenting with wild yeasts in the time it takes me to visit my LHBS and get some more yeast and nutrients? It's a high gravity must (OG = 1.132) and about 26 hours ago I added 6 crushed up campden tablets to it. I hadn't aerated it yet.

2. I had the lid off my must for a time, and it's entirely possible the fruit fly got in there, too. If there is no alcohol, is there any way for acetobacter, etc. to gain hold?

I'm open to any thoughts and suggestions you guys have.

Thanks in advance!

TDMooney
01-31-2011, 11:05 AM
I wouldnt get yourself to worked up over it, especially if you added the campden tablets, just seal the fermentor up tightly until you get around to pitching the yeast, honey has a very strong self-preserving ability.

wayneb
01-31-2011, 04:37 PM
While undiluted honey is self-preserving, that's primarily due to the high sugar content. The resulting osmotic shock pretty much kills off any spoilage organisms that might happen to land on it. The same is NOT true of a must that has been diluted to a gravity that will support fermentation. If you don't have a strong yeast colony actively working in there, wild yeasts can take root and start munching on those sugars instead. While acetobacter won't be a problem at the outset, molds and wild yeast spores can still do nasty things to your must.

That said, I don't mean to scare you. ;) I'm merely giving you the worst case scenario. Most likely, if you handled everything with sanitized equipment and you added clean, sanitary water to your honey, it will keep just fine in a closed container for a couple of days before you pitch new yeast. However, as TDMooney suggests, if you want to be sure that it will remain clean until you pitch you can always dose it with metabisulphite to bring the free SO2 level up to about 25 - 50 ppm. Your 6 campden tab addition will likely take your must up to the 50 - 75 ppm total SO2 range for 25-37 ppm free, give or take, so you're probably fine with the must left in a closed container until you can pitch.

fong song
02-01-2011, 02:07 AM
I had a similar thing where I noticed dead weavels (or some kind of insect) in the bag of cinnamon sticks that I'd just poured 2 into the must. Lo and behold a few had fallen into the must. I added campden tablets to it. Later I asked my friend who was a professional winemaker for many years (just recently sold his vineyard) He said that the ferment would have killed anything on the insects and the campden tablets weren't necessary. He said when he was working in the states making wine, there was a chalkboard up of all the things they had found in the fermenters. The list included dead rats, as well as el cato (there were lots of Mexicans working there). So it seems that even dead cats wouldn't ruin the wine. He expressed more concern about the campden tablets, saying 30ppm could be borderline too high for mead without the grape skins to absorb(?) the S02. He thought there was the possibility of the Sulphite flavour still being there later on so I added some raisens to it for the grape skins.
So basically, I think you probably could have added the starter without any worries.

Medsen Fey
02-01-2011, 05:11 PM
Everything was going well, until I saw a fruit fly taking a bath in my starter! I poured out the starter ...

Daddywags, your must should be fine while you wait, but tossing out the starter was a bit of overkill. One fruit fly is not going to ruin a starter - the yeast are very, very competitive. As noted above, fermentations can survive all sorts of unwanted additions. Had it been me, I would have used that start and not given it a second thought.


He expressed more concern about the campden tablets, saying 30ppm could be borderline too high for mead without the grape skins to absorb(?) the S02. He thought there was the possibility of the Sulphite flavour still being there later on so I added some raisens to it for the grape skins.


No need to worry about the SO2. The wine yeast are more than able to ferment despite 30 ppm SO2, and beyond that, honey musts bind as much or more SO2 than grape juice/skins. Things like gluconolactone and some of the sugars can bind up an awful lot.

fong song
02-02-2011, 04:22 AM
Thanking your wisdom again Medsen. Great to know about the honey binding more S02 than grapes.

Daddywags
02-02-2011, 01:36 PM
Thank you all for your useful responses! This is all really good information to know for future pitching.

Chevette Girl
02-02-2011, 03:26 PM
I had fruit flies breed in an airlock once, and some hatched and crawled up on the wine side in a 3-gal batch that was aging... as it turns out, they're pink when they drown in wild grape wine, I think there was about a dozen of them. About a month later, I filtered it and stabilized it and it's one of the better wines I've made (the delay was because I had to come up with the money to buy the jet filter).