Tips & Tidbits – Keep it Clean
A clean working area and good lab analysis will contribute to making a clean, well balanced wine, mead, cider or beer. If your work area or fermentation area is not clean or you skip the necessary tests and decide to “just wing it”, you’ll end up with a fermenting beverage. But, you could just as easily produce a product of great character and interest.
Hot water and elbow grease are the best cleaning tools. Clean your work area and equipment immediately after use. Once dried, juice or wort is much more difficult to remove. Avoid using detergents. They can leave a residue which can be absorbed by the must, wine, wort or beer.
Sanitize all equipment and your work area prior to use. You are not going to sterilize anything – sterile means the absence of any micro-organisms, which is practically impossible at the home level. You simply want to reduce the population level. Tip: Sanitizing the work area can easily be done by making a solution of 2 oz Sulphite and 1 teaspoon of Tartaric Acid to a gallon of water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray you work surfaces prior to use.
Don’t skip the tests. Use your hydrometer to check the sugar level prior to pitching yeast and as fermentation progress so you’ll know when it is time to rack and when fermentation is complete before finishing your beverage.
Wine, mead and cider makers also need to check acid levels before fermentation and again once it is complete. Acid levels can change during and after fermentation. Just following a recipe may result and a product with too much or too little acid causing it to be sour or flabby. Wine makers need to be concerned about the sulfur dioxide levels (campden tablets) during aging to insure a stable wine.