View Full Version : sorbate and sulfite

03-15-2006, 04:56 PM
I'm maybe not such a newbie at mead, but I am at chemicals, plus this question might be a great help to newbies.

I have a cider that I've made. It's great, but needs to be backsweetened. 9% ABV right now, so the yeast are not nearly finished. I have to kill them and then backsweeten. My carboy is in the garage, so it is chilled for a few days.

My basic questions is how much sorbate do I need to use for my 5 gallon batch? And do I need to sulfite - if so - when and how much?

03-15-2006, 08:39 PM
Hmmm, the couple of times I have used sorbate, I've been disappointed in the aftertaste it leaves even in very small quantities. It turns out some individuals are more sensitive to sorbates than others... i can taste the sorbates in most of the sweet apple ciders that are here in the larger grocery stores.

If you use sorbate, sulphites are recommended with the sorbate as they work in concert with each other... sorry i can't help you on the (absolute) quantities. Proper quantity of Sulphite is partially based on pH, as a rule of thumb figure about 1/4 tsp/5 gallons.

Ben Rotter wrote up a really nice piece on SO2 here:

03-16-2006, 12:06 PM
1/4 tsp is WAY below the recommendation on my bottle of k-metabisulfite. And that illustrates why I am asking this question.

That writeup is very detailed and interesting, but I don't find it very useful - practically speaking. I'm still wondering how much of each to use to prevent restarting while bacvksweetening of a 5-gallon batch.

03-17-2006, 08:48 PM
Manufacturer's recommended amount of sorbate is .5 tsp/gallon. Sorbate does not kill yeast, it prevents "re-fermentation". What it actually does is keep the yeast's "on/off" switch in the off position once it has gotten there on its own. You will need for the yeast to either use up the available sugar or hit its ETOH tolerance, and shut down. Then sorbate, wait a day, and back sweeten.

I haven't used sulfites myself, since I have asthma and that's not a match, but 1/4 tsp is low. I'd expect at least 3-4 times that much. It is directed at a fairly limited selection of bacteria, tho, and not so much at yeast.


03-17-2006, 10:25 PM
Hi memento and Ken,

I wish I could find a definite answer on the metabisulphite addition... as the pervious link does mention, there is a correlation between quantity of k-meta added based on the pH of your mead. And, as Ken points out some individuals are alergic to the sulphites in wine, or mead :)

From "An analysis of Mead"

The use of Sulfites to produce quality meads has the advantage of ease and lack of heating (avoidance of driving off desirable aroma compounds, no color change). The minimum threshold for adequate sanitation is 70 ppm, which equates to 0.4 grams per gallon at pH 3.5.

03-17-2006, 10:40 PM
Here are a couple of links to previous discussions on K-sorbate and K-meta along with some dosage recommendations. I hope these help.




Hopefully these will give you an idea of what to dose with, and what you're up against if you don't use K-meta with the sorbate.