View Full Version : Citric Acid & Gypsum in a grocery store?

12-04-2004, 09:33 AM
Hi. I live on a small island in Alaska. We have grocery and hardware stores, but no wine/beer making store. My fiance and I have brewed quite a bit of beer, and on a little impules we thought we might make mead this weekend- we haven't made mead in years, and even then it was only once or twice each (in our previous separate lives). We have everything our recipe (papazian's barkshack gingermead) calls for except for gypsum and citric acid.

Does anyone know if these are sold under any other name in say the spices section of the average grocery store? Or for some other purpose in the hardware store?

Alternately, can I just use lemon juice instead of the citric acid? Anyone know how much? I have ascorbic acid, too- someone lower in this forum likes using it for acid balance, but I've read elsewhere it's not so good to use. Substitutions for the gypsum? We have very, very, very pure water- low mineral content. Thanks for any ideas you all have. =)s

12-04-2004, 04:35 PM
Buona sera BellaSarah! Que cosa?

My parents lived in Ketchikan, Alaska for several years while my Father was in the Coast Guard.

Could you post up the exact recipe for us to take a look at please? We may be able to find some suitable substitutes, or some work-arounds if we can see the ingredient list.

Lacking that there are several websites that have all of the things you'll need for meadmaking, especially in the area of additives. You should be able to get some very good honey up there too. I've heard my Mother talk about the wildflowers blooming like crazy up there when the sun comes out.



12-04-2004, 08:17 PM
Yes you can substitute lemon juice for Citric acid but as Oskaar said, we need exact recipe showing batch size and all.
Gypsum is calcium sulfate for harding the water. I would think your spring water in Alaska is plenty hard enough and rich in minerals already and would not need it.

12-04-2004, 11:23 PM
Thanks! I'm in Sitka, and we are in temperate rainforest, so our tap water is pretty much rainfall via a mountain lake. I'm a science teacher, and we've done water quality tests on it- nada, no detectable minerals of any sort. Though we do have an artesian well you can go get water from, I don't remember what minerals if any are in that water.

The Recipe (for a 5 gal batch):
7 lbs light honey
1.5 lbs corn sugar
1-6 oz freshly grated ginger root
1.5 tsp gypsum
1 tsp citric acid
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp irish moss
3 oz lemongrass
1-2 pkgs champagne yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar (for bottling)

oh, also, I was digging around in some acquired brew stuff and I found gypsum last night. So now it's just the acid bit. Oh, and I can't find the ascorbic acid, I might have used it up.

And hey, what's the deal with open fermentation? As a science gal, I'm kind of a freak about sterility, and this recipe says to do primary fermentation in an open fermenter. It doesn't really discuss it, though, it just sort of mentions it in passng, ""pour the 'wort' into a plastic open fermenter, add cold water and pitch the yeast when it's blah blah blah." That doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

And while you're at it, I suppose, any suggestions for boosting old yeast? Mine's unopened/sealed in a foil packet and has been refrigerated for the past 3 or 4 years. I hear you can use ale yeast for the lower-alcohol varieties... I have newer ale yeast (the older stuff is champagne).

Thanks a gajillion... =)Sarah

12-05-2004, 06:09 AM

looks like this recipe has Brewing or Wine-making roots. Irish Moss is a standard brewing technique to assist in clarifying the "wort" ("must" in wine & meadmaking terminology).

The open fermenter is a standard wine-making technique - the yeast wants oxygen to multiply initially, so they often cover the bucket with cheese-cloth to keep nasties out and ferment for a week so it can let the CO2 escape easily and get Oxygen, then transfer to a carboy with an air-lock to complete the fermentation.

RE the recipe:

I'd skip the 1.5 lbs corn sugar and use full honey -> 12 lbs for dry, but I shoot for sweet mead, so closer to 15 lbs with a yeast like D-47 (non-champagne yeast).

I'd skip the Irish Moss, and use a handful of raisins like Joe likes to use - it adds nutrients for the yeast, and adds a slight "vinous" quality to the mead.

I'd skip the gypsum, but you might need it with such "good" water.

Using lemon juice rather than citric acid will be good with the lemon grass - you can even add some lemon zest as well if you like - depends on how much ginger you add and whether you want to balance the ginger with some more lemon.

Finally, the last corn sugar is for carbonating your mead - don't add prior to bottling if you want a still mead.

Boosting old yeast:
Have a search on the forum for yeast starters.
Basically you hydrate the yeast - sprinkle into 2 cups of warm water. Let sit for 15 mins covered, then stir up vigorously to aerate.
Add a teaspoon of honey or sugar, stir and let sit an hour. It should be starting to foam a bit if the temperature is warm enough.
If it is active (foaming or giving off gas), then it is active and can be pitched into the must. You can add water and honey a couple of times a day to get a bigger active starter. Ideally, the starter should be the same gravity (same amount of honey) as the must you will be pitching the starter into - in other words use some of your must to make the starter once the yeast is hydrated.

12-05-2004, 07:30 AM
Unless you are locked on the recipe, I would forget it and search for one more appropriate to mead. If not, I would use JamesP suggestions as I also think it is too light on honey for a mead. Its more like a beer or mead ale. It will be so dry with the yeast that not much of the honey taste will come through.
As far as water goes, your spring water should be fine with mead. You can always add 1/2 t of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and some calcium which are 2 of the main things in the water that contribute to healthy yeasts but I also don't think you will need it with the yeast nutrients added. With a higher gravity mead , it will also keep better longer.

12-05-2004, 10:26 AM
Thanks for your suggestions! It is definitely a brewer's mead- but alas, we are brewers first. We did sally forth and throw it together today, so we'll see what happens... =)Sarah

12-05-2004, 11:14 AM
Why not celebrate your brewing roots, and try making a braggot as well 8).