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Jmattioli
11-03-2003, 02:06 PM
I am now on my fifth book on Meads or Winemaking and I have repeatedly read such statements:
ref: Country Wines by Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling P14
"When you add a Campden tablet to your must, you'll eliminate all bacteria and yeasts from it, but the effect lasts for just 24 hours."
Surfing the MLD and responses here on the forum, my understanding is that the Campden tablet either just destroys certain wild yeasts that are not tolerant to sulfer dioxide for up to 24 hours. Yet many of the books including the one referenced above indicate that not only does it kill yeasts but all bacteria and in some books they call to mix it up in stronger doses and use it for a sanitizer. Come-on! ;D Whose giving the science and whose giving the fiction? And what is your source? ???

Dan McFeeley
11-04-2003, 04:07 AM
. . . Surfing the MLD and responses here on the forum, my understanding is that the Campden tablet either just destroys certain wild yeasts that are not tolerant to sulfer dioxide for up to 24 hours. Yet many of the books including the one referenced above indicate that not only does it kill yeasts but all bacteria and in some books they call to mix it up in stronger doses and use it for a sanitizer. Come-on! ;D Whose giving the science and whose giving the fiction? And what is your source? ???


You'll find a good web article on the use of sulfites at:

http://members.tripod.com/~BRotter/SO2.htm

This might be more helpful.

-- Dan M.

Jmattioli
11-05-2003, 07:56 AM
Dan Wrote

You'll find a good web article on the use of sulfites at:
http://members.tripod.com/~BRotter/SO2.htm
This might be more helpful.

Excellent modern article on sulfites! Answered more than I needed to know. Thanks for sharing. Hope everyone making mead takes the time to check it out. Even if they don't get past the properties table. :)

Oskaar
08-25-2004, 04:21 PM
I just saved that article down to disk for reading under leisure at a later time. GREAT LINK!

The discussion of SO2 and SO3 brings to mind a poem which tecnically should be in the poetry section but because it deals with . . . wel you'll see:

Ode to a Meadmaker

Alas my good friend Willie,
He'll not make mead no more,
for what he thought was H2O was H2SO4.

Oskaar

Christopher King
09-03-2004, 08:53 PM
Well the use of Camden tablets would be advised if you do not boil the living hell out of your equipment, and keep it sanitized. Personally I have had no bacteriological problems in any meades I have made with straight honey. and for those meades I have never used camden tablets of any sulfites. That being said I once tried to brew a watermellon wine w/o sulfites; the entire batch was tossed on account of the horribly bad smell that permeated my appartment upon opening the drum. Honey has anti-bacteriolgical properties and so meade does not usually need sulfites. However if you are going to try a fruit wine or fruit meade you may want to consider it as an extra precaution.

Lagerman64
04-06-2005, 01:44 AM
My 2 cents, it's both. You have to be careful with campden tablets, at least with my experience, I've found they can lose their potency rather quickly. Fresh tablets strong sulphite smell. Old, nothing, are old tablets safe to use? I don't know, I'm sure the acid of the must reacts with them to create SO2 gases, but is it enough? I don't chance it. I don't use them anymore. When I did, they worked as advertised.

Oskaar
04-06-2005, 02:32 AM
I generally do not use sulfites in any form, but when I do I use it in powdered form and measure it out on my scale. I'm sure that the tablets are fine, I just get a charge out of measuring it out myself.

Christopher, I don't boil my equipment and just give it a good sanitizing before I use it. Never ever used sulfites to sterilize/sanitize it. Mostly idophor, StarSan or bleach. Never had a problem.

Honey does have antibacterial properties, but when diluted it is just as vulnerable to infection as anything else.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Pewter_of_Deodar
04-06-2005, 11:32 AM
I think there are a lot of ghost stories running around about sterilization. When I went to Brew U in NY in December, I made a new friend who was almost paralized with fear of contamination because of all of the tales of woe he had been told. Every unexpected smell from every batch was a cause for alarm. The truth is that you need to be diligent about sterilization, not anal, and you will do just fine.

This may get a little long but I'd like to give all the newcomers an idea of what is required to get by using what I do as an example. There are certainly alternative chemicals or methods for every step, but I believe what I do is fairly simple, relatively cheap, and at least a good example for comparison.

I have a plastic bucket I use to sterilize in. At the start of making a batch, I set it on the counter on one side of the sink, put 2 gallons of lukewarm water into it, add 2 tablespoons of "Easy Clean Sanitizer" (available from Leeners, it is basically a one step, no rinse sanitizer), and stir. Then everything that is going to touch the batch (siphon, funnels, steeping bags, etc.) or touch something that is going into the batch (measuring spoons, cups, etc.) goes into the bucket to be rinsed. I also throw the traps and stoppers in as well.

I take the carboy I am going to use, place it on the floor beneath the bucket and siphon the two gallons of sterilized solution into the carboy. I swirl the mixture in the carboy to get a good coating and then pour it back into the bucket. I set the carboy aside for 5 minutes, which is the time the sanitizer needs to work. I place a large tupperware container into one side of the sink and fill with scalding water and use the siphon to draw water out of the tupperware and into the carboy twice, swirling and rinsing with the water. I set the carboy upside down in a carboy drainer to dry. I set the siphon on a clean dish towel on the table. This sterilizes the siphon and the carboy.

I throw all of the items from the bucket into the tupperware and rinse them and set them on the towel to dry as well. Any time anything is used, it is tossed into the sanitizer, rinsed, and allowed to dry again.

I heat two gallons of the water for the batch to 170F in a stainless steel 5 gallon pot and add whatever spices and citrus will be in the batch. I generally allow this to set overnight or at least long enough to be able to fish out items (like cinnamon sticks) from the water without burning myself. I reheat the mixture to 170F, remove from the heat, and add the honey, which typically knocks the temperature down to 140F. I whisk/stir for about 20 minutes and remove the scum but this 20 minutes at 140F is also long enough to achieve pasteurization.

I rack the must into the carboy and top off with bottled water and trap. If I power stir with the drill, the stirring attachment undergoes the same rinse in sanitizer, allow to set 5 minutes, then rinse twice in scalding water procedure as everything else. In fact, everything gets sanitized and cleaned at the end as if I am starting another batch right then.

The only area where I feel my must is at risk involves the addition of fruits. I use purees, Oregon Fruit, currently which I assume are sterile but I am also adding them in the secondary when the amount of alcohol already present in the must will do some amount of sterilizing on it's own. Not exactly sure how I would handle fresh fruit yet, especially if I decide to add them to the primary.

Sorry for the long post but for about a year I would have given my right arm to have someone sit down and go through something like this with me since I like to be shown or told prior to attempting something. The only thing I would point out is that I am trying for a "no chemical" approach and so I use pasteurization rather than chemicals (like Camden) for the inital must. Heating is optional and several others here use no heat methods and have great success.

Best of luck to everyone and don't let fear paralize your efforts.
Pewter

jab
04-08-2005, 12:17 AM
Great post Pewter! I am far from 'old hat' but even for myself it is easy to forget how hard this info was to come by when I started.

Oskaar
04-08-2005, 12:46 AM
Good info Pewter, especially for newbies.

I'm including links to my corny keg sterilization and racking posts that I made last year since we're on the sterilzation subject.

http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,33.msg1166.html#msg1166

http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,33.msg1167.html#msg1167

http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,33.msg1168.html#msg1168

Cheers,

Oskaar

Brewbear
06-18-2005, 12:54 AM
Great info Pewter, thanks.
I work with molecular DNA probes and DNA extraction so after 15 years sterile technique is in my blood, but your post re-affirms my conviction that a good mead can be brewed without Campden Tablets.
Thanks again,
Ted

byathread
07-05-2005, 07:12 PM
Thanks to Joe for posting the question and Dan, Pewter and everyone else for contributing. I found it to be very informative.

And I agree that there seems to be an unreasonable "fear" of infection among brewers. This is not to say that infection doesn't happen, but though I follow a procedure identical to Pewter's (except using bleach or iodophor) I have never heated my must and have also added *raw* fruit directly to the secondary on 3 occasions without any problems noted (not yet anyway).

We live in an overly germophobic society. Wild yeasts and bacteria exist *everywhere* and your equipment is being seeded with these very micro-organisms in the moments between sterilization and use (from the air, our hands, etc). However, honey is unique in preventing bacterial infection due to the production of hydrogen peroxide, which Schramm suggests increases in diluted honey (p.68). In addition, pitching the billions and billions of cells of healthy yeast decrease the chance of infection by foreign organisms.

I've only been brewing for a year, but I've been fermenting various vegetables, dairy products and beverages for several and if there's one thing I've learned its that each culture tends to create conditions that are both favorable for their kind and unfavorable for invaders.

The point is: relax, don't worry, have a homebrew! ;D