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View Full Version : How much is too much Camden/KMS?



Jim H
06-08-2013, 01:09 PM
Hi Meaders! I am a new member, although I have been lurking for a while. I am hoping to get some advice... I see similar posts about the topic, but I'd like to get some live responses on this (common) problem.

So, I made myself a small batch mead, 1 gallon. (2.6 pounds of greenmarket wild fall flower honey, D47 yeast and water) I let it sit for about a month and a half in the carboy, then racked it to secondary, and let it sit for another month with an ounce of dark toast oak chips. The ferment got very quiet, the three piece valve sat down, no longer floated and there were no bubbles.

Planning to bottle, I put the manufacturer advised 1 camden tablet and 1/2 tsp KMS per gal, crushing it, then slowly stirring it in. I let it sit for three days before I had the time to bottle. On that third day, I saw that the valve had plenty of bubbles, it obviously wasn't done yet. So, I let it sit more. It went over a week still producing bubbles in the lock. I am guessing that stirring it up woke up the yeast, as it was pretty lively for a couple days. Also there were some interesting cold and hot spikes in the weather here that may have affected fermentation.

My concerns are that I don't want glass grenades, and I don't have that much refrigerator room to store the whole batch at once after bottling. I am in a small NYC apartment.

My questions:
How many days/weeks of no bubbling would you let it sit before bottling?
After I let it sit for that amount, will another shot of camden and kms ruin the taste or give awful headaches?

Thanks!

danr
06-08-2013, 01:36 PM
On other posts you have probably seen recommendations to use a hydrometer to measure the progress of your fermentation. This is because airlock activity is not a accurate enough method to determine if the fermentation is complete and a hydrometer allows you to calculate the specific gravity (sweetness/dryness) and % alcohol in you mead.

Using the Mead Calculator, I estimate that your original S.G. was approximately 1.093 with a 12.34 potential %ABV. The D-47 should take the mead completely dry (below 1.000), since it has an alcohol tolerance of 14%. Someone else on this forum might be able to tell you more accurately how low (below 1.000) it should get, but a complete fermentation might be 0.990 with your recipe.

I strongly recommend that you invest in a hydrometer. Otherwise, as you already experienced, if the sugar is not completely depleted there will always be the potential for fermentation to restart in the bottles.

I will need to let someone else respond to to the question of how much KMS is too much, but I would also strongly recommend that you add sorbate as well. You will find many posts stating that sulfites and sorbates should be used together if you use the search tool. It is not recommended to use sulfites alone, and this could be part of the reason that your fermentation restarted.

Jim H
06-08-2013, 02:18 PM
Thanks, danr. I should have mentioned that the OG was 1.09, as best as I could measure by hydrometer. Generally, since I only have a gallon at a time, I don't want to take more than one reading if I can get away with it ... I don't really want to put the samples back in the carboy. What's your take on it?

Otherwise, yes, I should get some sorbate.

fatbloke
06-08-2013, 02:30 PM
Thanks, danr. I should have mentioned that the OG was 1.09, as best as I could measure by hydrometer. Generally, since I only have a gallon at a time, I don't want to take more than one reading if I can get away with it ... I don't really want to put the samples back in the carboy. What's your take on it?

Otherwise, yes, I should get some sorbate.
There is no problem putting samples back. Its not beer its mead. Honey has anti-fungal/bacterial properties that malt/grain worts don't possess. As long as you've sanitised the test jar/hydrometer/wine thief/baster etc then there's no problem.

Hence if you made a large batch then fine take a test and drink or bin it, but when you make 1 gallon batches a number of tests would reduce end product so inventiveness is the mother of necessity.

I make mostly 1 gallon (imp). I've never had any problems like this.....and no, I don't make beers........

Medsen Fey
06-08-2013, 02:30 PM
I strongly recommend that you invest in a hydrometer.


Ditto.

You can't be sure what's happening unless you check the gravity. If it is less than 1.000 you're probably done. If it is above 1.000 you need to let it clear, then finish stabilizing by adding potassium sorbate (1 gram per gallon)

You have already overdosed it with KMeta. You added probably around 2 grams to your gallon. Typically you don't need more than the equivalent of 1-1.5 Campden tablets (440-660 mg) for each gallon. This may not have harmed your mead, however, KMeta alone will not reliably do the job, even with the overdose. You need the combination with sorbate to insure the yeast stay quiet. There has been document of unstabilized batches waking up again 2 or 3 years after fermentation "apparently" stopped.

After stabilization, you should recheck the gravity in a few weeks to insure that it isn't slowly dropping before you bottle. The biggest mistake you can make is to be in a hurry.

Medsen

P.S. 1 oz. of oak is often enough for 5 gallons. You may want to get it off that oak quickly or may find it tastes like you're sipping sawdust. :)

Jim H
06-08-2013, 03:44 PM
Thanks, gents. I've learned four things:

Gotta get sorbate.
Gotta check the gravity (want it less than 1.000)
It's alright to put a sample back, as long as I've sanitized.
I probably used too much wood.

Medsen -- regarding the wood - how much dark toast per gal, and for how much time would you use to mellow out the flavor? I made one batch before that had about an ounce for 3 weeks, and it tasted pretty good.

danr
06-08-2013, 08:24 PM
Gotta check the gravity (want it less than 1.000)

. . . and stable at that gravity for a few weeks. However, I believe if you get consistent readings of 0.990 in a shorter period of time, you can be confident that the sugars are all gone.

Also, I just came across the following explanation from wayneb regarding the use of sorbate with sulfite that I though might help:
The reason that most stabilization protocols call for both sulfites and potassium sorbate to be used post-fermentation, is that you are never 100% sure that all of your commercial yeast have been dispatched by the later sulfite addition, and they may "wake up" some time down the road to re-start the fermentation, if additional fementables are present. Sorbate keeps those hardy yeast stragglers in check by preventing them from reproducing - and in doing so keeps those few remaining viable cells capable of doing little to that remaining sugar until they naturally die off.

Jim H
06-09-2013, 09:07 AM
. . . and stable at that gravity for a few weeks. However, I believe if you get consistent readings of 0.990 in a shorter period of time, you can be confident that the sugars are all gone.

Also, I just came across the following explanation from wayneb regarding the use of sorbate with sulfite that I though might help:
The reason that most stabilization protocols call for both sulfites and potassium sorbate to be used post-fermentation, is that you are never 100% sure that all of your commercial yeast have been dispatched by the later sulfite addition, and they may "wake up" some time down the road to re-start the fermentation, if additional fementables are present. Sorbate keeps those hardy yeast stragglers in check by preventing them from reproducing - and in doing so keeps those few remaining viable cells capable of doing little to that remaining sugar until they naturally die off.
danr, thanks.

Last night I racked it off the oak. Checked the gravity, it was 0.996.

I have ordered sorbate. When established that the gravity is stable below 1.0, do you recommend that I add more camden. I am guessing that since I added a double dose already, I don't need more with the sorbate, correct?

By the way, it tasted great, not woody at all even after a month on the chips. Maybe because the wood was heavy toast?

danr
06-09-2013, 11:29 AM
When established that the gravity is stable below 1.0, do you recommend that I add more camden. I am guessing that since I added a double dose already, I don't need more with the sorbate, correct?


Jim, I believe that you are correct that only need to add the sorbate since you added the sulphites recently and they should not have dissipated yet, but hopefully someone more experienced than me will answer. On my first batch, I initially added sorbate without sulfite, following the directions on a kit. I was told that this can cause an unintentional maolactic fermentation and geraniols. The answers to my questions in this thread may help you: LINK (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20876)

I am glad that your mead is doing well.

Jim H
06-09-2013, 12:48 PM
Reading up on KMS dissipation online, mostly in winemakers forums, it seems like with a lot of stirring, it can dissipate within 24 hours, and airlock activity means it isn't done yet. It's dissipated when it goes quiet.

So, since I added KMS last week, racked it yesterday and the airlock is still active, by the time I receive my sorbate, I should be able to add KMS and the sorbate. The determining factor will be the hydrometer test.

I've learned a lot with this question. Thanks for the help.

Jim H
06-17-2013, 10:02 PM
I will wait until the weekend to check the gravity on this mead, but looking at the airlock over the past several days, it is clear that the yeast is still chugging along. In the three-piece, the floating piece (the "bob"?) is pushed right up against the top, and a new bubble forms about every minute and a half. The starsan fluid in it has many large bubbles near the top.

To think I was going to bottle that stuff. It clearly isn't done yet, after a double shot of KMS.

I purposefully did several readings, spinning the hydrometer between each reading, to verify. How could it have been 0.996?

I'm really surprised.

Medsen Fey
06-18-2013, 08:00 AM
You can get some bubbling from de-gassing, especially if the temp is warming up without continued fermentation. But if fermentation is ongoing, the gravity will drop gradually.

If you are planning to leave this batch dry, you really don't need sorbate. If you plan to backsweeten then you'll need it.

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Jim H
06-22-2013, 10:23 PM
Well, I took another gravity reading, and it is down to 0.993, bringing the ABV to 12.821% according to the calculator.

And, by the way, this is a tasty batch. It's dry, but not tannic dry (just honey, water, yeast, and nutrients). I don't think I'd want to backsweeten it.

I am thinking that I would like to spike it with sorbate and kms this coming Thursday and bottle on Saturday. It's taste is just about perfect, and I like it as it is. Five days ago it was 0.996, now it is 0.993. Is it stable enough, or am I asking for trouble? ... after all, D-47 can go to 14%.

Medsen Fey
06-23-2013, 07:40 AM
Let the gravity stop. It probably won't go farther but let it remain stable for a couple of weeks to be sure. You don't need sorbate for a dry batch and you've given it more KMeta than it needs.. Also, you may want to give it time to let it clear or you'll end up with a lot of sediment in your bottles.

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jkane
06-24-2013, 10:42 AM
Sulfates don't dissipate on their own ... ever! You will smell and taste it for many years. The carbonation of fermentation, air lock activity, will not take it out either. Only oxygen will bond with it and come out of solution. That is risky too. Oxidizing changes the flavor.

Be careful over using sulfites.

Jim H
06-24-2013, 07:34 PM
Alrighty. Sitting and finishing is in order.

Question -- on the wine forums where I read about sulfites, it made it pretty clear that they do dissipate. A similar link from homebrewtalk here (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f32/too-much-potassium-metabisulfite-279365/) illustrates the point.

So, what's the consensus? Do they dissipate? Or do they always leave salts behind or something?

kuri
06-24-2013, 10:55 PM
I believe they only dissipate if they have a path for escaping into the atmosphere. If you bottle while you can still smell them they won't have anywhere to dissipate to, but with an airlock in place and given adequate time you should be fine.

jkane
06-25-2013, 12:48 PM
The sulfate molecule needs an oxygen molecule to become evaporative. That is why corked bottles will never loose it. An open carboy has a limited amount of oxygen and at some point the air space will be saturated with sulferic smelling gas, but there may still be plenty left in solution.

I moved a decimal point once and added 10 times too much to 30 gallons of wine. :-( I let it sit for 3 years. Never got better. Took an aquarium pump and stone and pumped air into it. It took 3 days for 15 gallons of it to stop releasing sulfer aroma. I then did the other half of it for another 3 days. Blended it all together and added some fruit for a few days. Bottled it and drank within a couple months. Took a bottle everywhere we went. ;) It won an award in the first month, but in the second month, it was getting kind of vegatable flavored and had hints of sewage starting.

I am very careful about using sulfates. A little goes a long ways! :eek:

Medsen Fey
06-25-2013, 01:01 PM
SO2 will dissipate over time. Much of it will bind to other compounds in mead like acetaldehyde, gluconlactone and sugars. Some of it will bubble out the airlock entrained with CO2. Some of it will be permanently consumed by compounds created by O2 exposure. Backsweetening can consume a lot of SO2. Normal racking will gradually reduce SO2. It will slowly dissipate even after bottling.

However, once you've given a large overdose, you probably don't need to add more, at least not without measuring the level of free SO2.

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Jim H
06-25-2013, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Since I last hit it with KMS, I racked it once into a separate carboy, but then I didn't disturb it at all after that, except for a gravity reading. No stirring or degassing.

After I let it sit for another couple of weeks, it will hopefully be stable. I am going to assume that it doesn't need any more KMS... I hope the flavor is good and it doesn't need backsweetening.

Jim H
06-30-2013, 11:26 AM
Just checked the gravity: 0.992. It is still dropping, put to 12.94% ABV. The weather is nice and warm. I hope the D-47 can handle it.

Also, no matter how hard I try to return the reading sample to the carboy gently... it always cavitates a bit and creates bubbles. I am afraid of oxidizing it further. Anyone have a good technique for neatly putting a sample back in a 1 gallon carboy?

fatbloke
06-30-2013, 03:28 PM
Just checked the gravity: 0.992. It is still dropping, put to 12.94% ABV. The weather is nice and warm. I hope the D-47 can handle it.

Also, no matter how hard I try to return the reading sample to the carboy gently... it always cavitates a bit and creates bubbles. I am afraid of oxidizing it further. Anyone have a good technique for neatly putting a sample back in a 1 gallon carboy?
I just took a quick look and didn't see that anyone mentioned the caveat that's carried by D47.

It's fermentation temperatures. If fermented above about 70F/21C, it, apparently, can produce fusels that can take a long time, if ever to mellow/age.

I think that Medsen knows more about this than me, my ferments rarely get that warm here.

Jim H
06-30-2013, 05:00 PM
I just took a quick look and didn't see that anyone mentioned the caveat that's carried by D47.

It's fermentation temperatures. If fermented above about 70F/21C, it, apparently, can produce fusels that can take a long time, if ever to mellow/age.

I think that Medsen knows more about this than me, my ferments rarely get that warm here.
Oy. It's been between 80 and 90 F here for the last several weeks.

Medsen Fey
06-30-2013, 06:18 PM
The temp isn't a problem at this point since the fermentation is essentially done. The temp control with D47 is critical during early fermentation if you don't want to make paint thinner.

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Jim H
06-30-2013, 06:51 PM
Alright, so all is not lost. And, according to my last taste, it hasn't gone over the edge yet.

I could just put in enough vodka to bring it to 14% and end fermentation. Is that an option?

Medsen Fey
06-30-2013, 10:42 PM
Just leave it alone and you will be happier with the result.

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Jim H
07-02-2013, 06:19 PM
I'll take your advice and leave it alone for a few weeks.

Jim H
07-07-2013, 08:20 PM
So, some humble, head hanging low moments for me....

In another thread, those more wise than me urged me to not be afraid of oxygenating the must while taking gravity readings of this mead. Ok. I did it.

The must is still slowly fermenting. It has gone down to 0.990.

Also, to those who advised me to get the mead off the oak (I had it going for too long with too much oak), I now detect an oak-y, woodsy flavor. I don't mind it at all, I don't think it's too strong. But, another taster felt that the flavor of the honey wasn't as prevalent as a prior batch with less oak time. This is duly noted -- I want the flavor of the honey to shine through, and this honey has great floral flavors that I'd rather preserve.

THawk
07-07-2013, 11:18 PM
Anyone have a good technique for neatly putting a sample back in a 1 gallon carboy?

Easy. Put your lips to the container of the sample, open your mouth as you tip your head back... ;D

They don't HAVE to be returned, you know... ;D

THawk
07-07-2013, 11:28 PM
I could just put in enough vodka to bring it to 14% and end fermentation. Is that an option?

http://www.winemakermag.com/stories/...313-fruit-port

Unless you're trying to make port, not advisable. Per that article above, under "Stop in the name of port" (halfway down), you'd have to add A LOT (about 0.66 gallon per gallon of mead -- their calculation has it at 3.3gal for a 5-gallon batch) of vodka to raise the alcohol content past the yeast's tolerance.

You'd probably have to backsweeten like crazy as you're gonna end up with dry jet fuel.

Medsen Fey
07-08-2013, 05:56 AM
So, some humble, head hanging low moments for me....


Chin up!
You've made mead! Now you just need to perfect your recipe.:)

The oakiness will mellow with age, and the honey will become more prominent.

Jim H
07-08-2013, 10:45 PM
http://www.winemakermag.com/stories/...313-fruit-port

Unless you're trying to make port, not advisable. Per that article above, under "Stop in the name of port" (halfway down), you'd have to add A LOT (about 0.66 gallon per gallon of mead -- their calculation has it at 3.3gal for a 5-gallon batch) of vodka to raise the alcohol content past the yeast's tolerance.

You'd probably have to backsweeten like crazy as you're gonna end up with dry jet fuel.

:eek:

I had no idea. I decided not to do it, due to prior suggestions. But... geez, now it's out of the question for future use, too. However, your link doesn't work. Could you re-post it?

The lesson here for me is to plan out my meads with a bit more care (I didn't know about the mead calculator here before I joined) and also to PAY ATTENTION to the names of my potassium additives to make sure that I am adding the right stuff at the right time (read: whacking my forehead with a cricket bat. I need the flat edge to make the proper dent.)

Oh -- and to the prior post: I have been making a gallon of mead at a time, and that's too small a batch to drink many samples. Soooo... I switched to 3 gallon carboys, 'cause I'm a quick student. :)

Jim H
07-08-2013, 10:57 PM
Chin up!
You've made mead! Now you just need to perfect your recipe.:)

The oakiness will mellow with age, and the honey will become more prominent.

You're right, of course and, I don't mind the woodsy-ness. It certainly isn't ruined. It is exactly as you mention. For the mead that I just started recently, I will be sure to be gentler with the oak.

Mind you, I am new to mead, and the first meads that I am tasting are my own. To me, the scents and flavors are all new -- and all good. My fellow taster is also new to meads. The first she tasted was my first mead. We can only compare this mead to my first, and to white wines.

I am sure that by the winter holidays, it will taste mellower.

Jim H
07-30-2013, 10:39 PM
I think this batch may be finished. Took a gravity reading: 0.992.

Hmm... from 23 days ago, I wrote this--

...The must is still slowly fermenting. It has gone down to 0.990

Now, I am pretty sure that I spun that hydrometer good (its a habit I have gotten into), so the only reasons that it could have gone up are that
(a) with the temperature swings, twice the sanitizer solution (star san) in the airlock has gotten sucked down into the gallon of must, and may have diluted it a little bit, or
(b) bubbles on the side of the hydrometer messed up my prior reading.

In either case, the reading is not going down. And, I am at the maximum calculated ABV (or a bit beyond) of 12.34%

It has not cleared to be perfectly transparent. I have some bentonite on order, and I will be using it to clarify. It will be my first time using it. Hope to bottle this batch within the next couple of weeks.

I will NOT be adding any sorbate or KMS.

Jim H
08-04-2013, 09:35 AM
This batch is bottled. From losses, and due to only starting as a one-gallon batch, I only got 7 1/2 Grolsch 15 oz bottles from it.

I will let it sit a week before I put a bottle in the fridge and try it out. The rest... I will keep as long as I have room for the bottles -- my current batch may be ready in 3 months or so.

Jim H
08-09-2013, 11:42 PM
Had a good exchange with a manufacturing supplier. I asked: "I have noticed that many recipes online use camden/sorbate in fruit prior to pitching, and similar with grape wines. Why does it require it?" I am interested because I am preparing to make my first mel.

Sometimes it's good to ask "stupid" questions. I say "stupid" because I have read a lot about the skins of fruit bearing wild beasties, and I thought I knew the answer. But, I have learned that asking the question you thought you knew the answer to sometimes gives informative results.

Answer:
Sorbate should never be put in prior to fermentation. It's entire purpose is to prevent fermentation. You put it in later if you want to sweeten the wine to keep the yeast from starting up again. [Ok, I kinda knew this part already.]

Camden tablets are poor bacteria killers. Its main purpose is as an anti-oxidant. It's also best to use this post fermentation to keep the wine from oxidizing. They’re good enough to dampen a wild yeasts’ enthusiasm a bit, but if they were effective, they’d kill the regular yeast as well. Sulphites – whether sodium or potassium don’t really accomplish that very well anyway.

Most commercial red wine sits for 2-3 weeks in primary before being racked out – primary is big huge open containers with lots of exposure to air. Additionally, they’re getting stirred around by having he fruit cap punched down twice a day for at least the first week. It’s not really a big deal, but home winemakers are absolutely set on this idea that sulphites are there to kill bugs. But, that really, really isn’t why they’re used commercially. I’ll qualify – there’s some bacteriostatic properties to sulphites. But, it’s not the primary reason they’re used commercially.

(if he visits this site, I hope he doesn't mind me reposting some of his informative and helpful email to me)

I never really understood before that campden/kms was really used to prevent oxidation.

Jim H
08-11-2013, 10:37 PM
:cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

3 cheers to all those who gave me patient advice on this batch!

I had a chilled 15 oz bottle of this tonight -- still young, an infant, bottled just a week ago -- and it tastes dandy. Really, very lovely floral notes and yes, it's more oakey than the prior batch I made. The oak is not at all distracting. The flavor is just a bit more tannic than my first batch, and it has pretty good structure.

Actually, considering this was only Mead #2 for me, it came out great. I will certainly enjoy these few bottles. And, I will only be making larger batches from now on. (C'mon! Only 7 Grolsch bottles from a gallon batch, I need more than that!)

The most important things I learned as a result of this thread was that I should always plan on fermenting until gravity is nice and stable, and that I should really pay attention when I am putting stabilizers in (:BangHead:)

Thanks again!