No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

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Nepenthe
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No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266043 Nepenthe
Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:31 pm

Hello.

This is a plea to anyone who knows the pain of putting in many precious hours getting scratched, stung, stained, scorched and soaked while lovingly gathering beautiful ingredients from the wild, getting gassed sterilising everything like mad, putting everything together exactly as the carefully chosen recipe dictates, to find, at the first racking, that it is BLOODY VINEGAR!!!!! :angryfire:

I have been SO careful sterilising EVERYTHING. I have read CJ Berry and Hamilton cover to cover and though I had understood.

I followed the recipes, except from adding about two thirds of the sugar at the start, with the intention of adding the rest later when the SG reduces. Most of the vinegars have been sickly sweet, but one was totally sour, so I guess that wasn't the key (and I didnt get the Kg muddled up with the Lb this time.,.!)

They have been in the front room of an unheated house, so not the hottest place in the world, but certainly not cold.

To add to the plot, there is one half a gallon that, for some reason hasn't turned to vinegar. It was the left over for topping up that I had, and I thought it would be the MOST likely to be vinegar as it is only half a jar, but it's lovely, bit sweet, but still fermenting. Great... So WHY the others, and not this one?

We were trying to make wine for our wedding - maybe it's a sign!!

ANY advice, or ideas as to what I could be doing wrong would be SO appreciated. I just don't understand :banghead:

A very demoralised Hannah x

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266044 MKG
Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:04 am

Not sure about this one, Hannah - but don't get too demoralised. At least you've set a real puzzle :iconbiggrin: . The one thing which rings big bells for me is your statement that most of the vinegars have been sickly sweet. Now that's a bit odd, to say the least. Vinegar results from the transformation of alcohol to acetic acid - if your liquid is sickly sweet (ie very little fermentation) where did the alcohol come from to make the acetic acid?

So tell us more about the recipes you used. Tell us about how you sterilised your vessels - did you, perhaps, overdo the metabisulphite (assuming you used that)? Are you SURE that what you're tasting (or is it only smell?) is acetic acid? You would be the unluckiest person in the world to get an accidental acetobacter infection in 11 individual gallons of wine, so maybe you're misinterpreting something (a fermenting wine smells awful - a lot of carbon dioxide up your nose makes you wince and certainly gives the impression of acidity).

Nil desperandum - not quite yet, at least.

Mike
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Nepenthe
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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266087 Nepenthe
Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:44 pm

Aah, thank you Mike for your reply. I have calmed down now, apologies for the rant! :) :oops:

Now I was thinking that as you suggested perhaps it isn't actually acetobacter infections as I feared, and perhaps that was just the way fermenting wine is. However, the 1/2 g of nice, unacidic fermenting wine made me think otherwise. The taste is very vinegary, it is sharp and, well, very much like vinegar. Not bad vinegar on the part of the cherry plum, but definitely not something I would like a glass of! I tried it as a cordial with tonic water and it wasn't hideous, just not really something you would drink over, say, water.

We sterilised with VWP, or whatever it is, and carefully washed it all off.

It wasn't 11 individual gallons of wine, but 2x 4g and 3x1g (and a .5g). The recipes were Hamilton's elderflower wine (very sweet and a bit vinegarry) Berry's elderflower wine (less sweet and more vinegary), Hamilton's five plum wine with just cherry plums and the SG at 1.040 because I wanted to try adding in sugar later (not at all sweet, very sour, and very vinegary) - makes sense with what you say about the sugar. Also Hamilton's elderberry and blackberry wine (made with 2/3rds sugar, and not very vinegarry, but it is definitely on it's way - I may be wrong but think it's quite a distinctive taste when compared to the other non-vinegary wine?

So could I stop the vinegar by stopping the alcohol - could I campden the elderberry and blackberry? and then re-start it by tipping in a yeast starter 24hrs later?

I think I may be leaving them too long on the first ferment also, what is the danger with too little time, if the jar is un-full enough to prevent overflow? I have been leaving them under muslin for 3-5 days, could I reduce this? If there was sufficient room to froth, would it be OK to airlock them after a couple of days? The plum wine was bad on the 5th day, but I didn't taste it before then so it could have happened any time. I also noticed a little bastard fly in one of the airlocks, but I had checked thhe airlock (but not tasted the must) 2 days before, no fly, and the water was at a level where it was far from the must. Could the whole 4g have gone to vinegar in 2 days from 1 fly?!

Also, if I use campden tablet to sterilise the must, do I really need to bother so much with sterilising everything else for the beginning phase, as the must is sterile? It bugs me to spend so much time doing the spoon, the airlock etc, when I can't sterilise inside the blackberry whatever I do...

I am attempting something with a quicker payoff to get back into the swing of enjoying it - planning an elderflower champagne made with bottlegreen cordial, someone recommended it. There are plenty of recipies of the 2 week variety that I could adapt, but what might the starting SG be, seeing as I am mucking up the amount of sugar in the recipe by replacing the flowers with cordial?

Or are there any other lovely, quick payoff recipes I could try?

Please feel free not to answer all my silly questions! Thank you again, I really do appreciate being able to ask the elders, as it were :sunny:

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266094 daz101
Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:00 am

Are you not boiling the must then adding yeast once cooled to the right temp? I've never heard of adding campden tablets to must. This may well kill brewing yeast added after it and if a stronger wild yeast gets in it will have a characteristically sour vinegary taste as is used in Geuze and Lambic beer. Using muslin is also risky I'd get the stuff under an airlock in demi-johns or plastic bottles as soon as poss. An open container covered in muslin will breathe in both directions which could explain the incursion of wild yeast.

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266101 Nepenthe
Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:39 am

Thanks for your reply daz1o1,

I got the adding campden tablets to the must at the start from various recipes (inc Andy Hamilton) and it seemed sensible as it's so hard to wash fruit properly, so have expanded to always doing it, but 24 hours before then adding the started yeast. None of the wine recipes I have used so far stipulated boiling the must. I assume you would advocate I do this wherever possible, which does make sense, but surely one can't boil flowers, so adding a campden there makes sense, and it is so much easier to add a couple of tablets than to boil 4 gallons of must, so is this not just as viable for the musts that might otherwise be boiled....?

What you say about muslin makes a lot of sense to me - If I can just get it under airlock straight away I feel like that would be safer. I have in my head (and possibly a book) that the first fermentation is aerobic, so needs the air for the yeast to get off to a good start? Maybe it doesn't need this (at all?!) if the yeast is already started before adding - you say 'get the stuff under an airlock in demi-johns or plastic bottles as soon as poss' - what is the deciding factor as to when it becomes possible please?

I'm sorry to be asking so many questions, I have done my reading, honestly, but there seem to be so many variables that are vague, undefined, or done differently in different recipes with no explanation why - it's a steep learning curve!

Thanks :)

Hannah

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266114 daz101
Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:35 pm

I have always boiled the must even if its for just long enough, say 5 min at 80 degrees to kill the baddies. Open fermentation is often used at the beginning as the first fermentation is so vigorous and can have the wine crawling out of the demi-john. I tend to half fill demi-johns until it calms down or whack it in a big old fermenting bin with a hole cut in it and plug the hole with the usual corked airlock. Yes you are right, i wouldn't boil flowers either but I would boil all the water thats poured onto them for them to steep in. The only time I've used campden tablets is to stop fermentation when a wine is strong enough and I want sugar to remain in there for flavour. A really good book for you, I've just realised my copy has not been returned so I'll be getting another of these too...cheap at half the price!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Steps-Win ... 373&sr=8-2
Keep at it, the rewards are well worth it.
All the Best
D

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266116 GeorgeSalt
Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:55 pm

Have you tried a WOW or turbo cider? something simple using bought juice that can hopefully rule in or out a problem at the must stage?
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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266136 Nepenthe
Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:57 pm

you people are amazing :)

I have that book D, it's fantastic and I love it. I hope I have understood you right in thinking that the yeast doesnt need access to air at the start at all, and I could boil a must, and split it into two DJs with airlocks straight away, then strain the pulp out and put them back into 1 when they have stopped being so vigorous? If that is right, it is what I shall do from now on - but I don't understand why the books wouldn't say to do that as it seems the prevention of many problems?

George I haven't tried those things, just looked them up and they look great. I'll certainly try the WOW (cider makes me fall over!) thanks :)

Hannah x

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266141 daz101
Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:02 pm

I'd boil and strain the must then ferment the extract. This is generally speaking, if recipes call for other methods then who am I to argue? But this way you've got a strained liquid that doesn't have to be exposed to the environment where it can be polluted really more than twice. Once to bring it together from half d-j's or bin and once more when or IF you get it into a bottle ;)

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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266153 GeorgeSalt
Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:36 pm

Nepenthe wrote:George I haven't tried those things, just looked them up and they look great. I'll certainly try the WOW (cider makes me fall over!) thanks :)


Try a weak turbo cider.. 3l of supermarket own brand apple juice, 1 sachet Youngs cider yeast, 1 cup stewed tea, juice of one lemon. All into one demijohn together, airlock on top. Allow the first ferment to die down (it will look very bready for a couple of days) then top-up with more apple juice and allow to ferment out. It works out about 4.5% if you don't add any sugar*. It's so simple to do.. and there's a big confidence boost to get something when things aren't going well.

There's another way to make the hedgerow wines that I've used at the beginning of the year that I've not seen described. It's possibly a more sterile way of doing things if you're running into difficulties with raw fruit. Use your fruit to make a syrup, boiling the fruit (with water for fruits that need it, such as elderberries) and make a syrup by adding 1lb of suger to every pint of juice. The syrup can be also used as a cordial (or follow a cordial recipe and just remember how much sugar each pint represents). Then when you come to make the wine use the syrup in place of the fruit and make-up the volume with supermarket grape juice, and add sugar to get the specific gravity for the finished ABV you want (or do what I did and look up the total sugar per gallon for the target ABV, deduct 1lb for every pint of syrup and make-up the difference - I used 75cl syrup as that was the bottle size I'd used) . I have an elderberry wine due for bottling that's been made this way and even at first racking it was pleasantly drinkable. Other fruit may need the addition of extra tannin (tea) or acid (lemon juice).


*for the proper "falling down water" variant, add a bottle of Lowicz syrup (raspberry, cherry or blackcurrant) and it will taste great (probably too good, it's very easy to drink) and hit something between 7.5% and 8% (but it doesn't taste strong which is the real danger with this one!).
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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266167 MKG
Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:23 am

Well, from your last comments, it does begin to sound more and more like an acetobacter infection - and you're still very unlucky. The only other thing (grasping at straws) is that VWP steriliser will taint your wine if it isn't rinsed out scrupulously - but it doesn't sound like that.

I wouldn't bother trying to recover it - you can kill the acetobacter with a massive dose of metabisulphite, but that won't get rid of the vinegar which has already formed. The best thing would be to allow at least some of the wine to go all the way, then you won't have to buy wine vinegar for another year or two. But keep it well away from your other wines.

Lots of good advice here, but I have a comment or two.

Campden tablets (which are just metabisulphite in a convenient form) can be used as a general purpose steriliser or used at the start of winemaking to keep bugs away from the fruit while it's soaking. But here's the point - metabisulphite dissipates after a day or two. That's when you add the yeast. You can also stop an active fermentation with metabisulphite (for instance, if you want residual sweetness) but - and here's the common error - it will restart when the metabisulphite has dissipated. During the delay period, you have to get the wine off the deposited yeast, which is not dead but only stunned. So - metabisulphite will NOT kill yeast and so stabilise your wine, although it gives you a window to remove most of the yeast.

On to boiling. Nothing sterilises like boiling. It's very handy. But you have to remember two things. The first is that you are cooking the fruit, and this can very often alter the taste (and not always for the better). If it does alter the taste, that's going to be the flavour of your wine. Far worse than that, though, is that boiling will extract any pectin from your fruit and stick it into your wine. The pectin, although completely harmless, will make your wine hazy. You can pre-empt this by adding pectic enzyme at the start of the fermentation (not until the must is cool, though). However, even pectic enzyme is pretty useless against massive amounts of pectin, so I would strongly advise you never to boil apples, plums, or any citrus fruit.

Mike

EDIT: Oh - I missed your bit about aerobic/anaerobic fermentation. The amount of yeast you add to a must is nowhere near enough to do what you want it to (well, it would get there in the end, but you don't want to wait that long). In the presence of oxygen, though, yeast cells divide rather than making alcohol, so a large colony is very soon built up. The oxygen, though, does not come from the air above the must (which is, in any case, very soon replaced by a layer of carbon dioxide). It comes from what's dissolved in the liquid. When that's used up, the yeast stops dividing, goes over to its anaerobic phase and starts producing alcohol. So yes, you can get it under an airlock as soon as you like. However, you still need to leave an airgap above a new must, as the initial fermentation can sometimes be extremely frothy. When that's died down, you can safely top up.
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Re: No use crying over 11G assorted vinegar, but ... :*(

Post: #266366 Nepenthe
Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:42 pm

You are all brilliant! Thank you for your amazingly kind and informative replies. (sorry for the delay btw, I was out of internet)

George I will certainly try the syrup method where viable, it seems like a particularly good way of storing fruit before getting around to using it for wine too, I imagine it freezes nicely and takes up less space also. As for the Turbo Cider I have a friend's leaving the country party coming up in a month or so - I will make either that or WOW and quite possibly prevent them from leaving *evil (and quite possibly rather tipsy) cackle* :drunken:

Thank you daz101 for educating me on the straight-to-demijohn method, and thank you Mike for explaining the background - you could see I couldn't quite get my head around it without that bit of theory, but that now all makes perfect sense and my liver will surely suffer quite merrily from it :D

I will use these methods from now on, and almost certainly be a much happier brewer. Happy everything. :cheers:

Cheers xxx


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