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Wooden Fermenters - Cleaning/sanitizing


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#1 coho

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:31 PM

Hi all,

Just looking for some advice on cleaning/sanitizing my wooden fermenters.

I purchased a used 225L barrel from a local winery and did the following things:

1. cut in half
2. pressure wash
3. chiseled out the portions that looked nasty
4. sodium percarbonate solution (100g) for each half barrel for 24hrs
5. citric acid solution (125g) for 36hrs in each
6. 2% solution of potassium metabisulphide (~160g) + 1g/L citric acid mix (100g) for each half for ~2hrs
7. diluted the above 2% sol'n down to 1% as I won't be fermenting for another 4 days - was planning on leaving it in there as a short-term storage solution.

Am I ok with this, or should I drain and use in 4 days? Should I dilute further? Not sure how to proceed...


Thanks in advance!

Justin

#2 P Cuthbert

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:46 PM

Justin;

Rather than using the barrel halves as you describe, I would put a HDPE liner in the halves for the fermentation period.

As the barrel came from a winery, there will be very little benefit to using them as a wine container. The oak is spent, so there will be little or no benefit from the oak.

Of bigger concern would be how long the barrel was empty before it came into your possession. If it has been any appreciable time, you could well have one that leaks. This may not be immediately apparent, but should show after 4 days with liquid in the halves.

If you have intentions of doing a Malo-lactic fermentation on this wine, leaving the halves with your K-meta solution could result in excessive SO2 in the barrel that would prevent or inhibit the bacteria in the performance of their duty.

#3 coho

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 01:13 PM

Justin;

Rather than using the barrel halves as you describe, I would put a HDPE liner in the halves for the fermentation period.

As the barrel came from a winery, there will be very little benefit to using them as a wine container. The oak is spent, so there will be little or no benefit from the oak.

Of bigger concern would be how long the barrel was empty before it came into your possession. If it has been any appreciable time, you could well have one that leaks. This may not be immediately apparent, but should show after 4 days with liquid in the halves.

If you have intentions of doing a Malo-lactic fermentation on this wine, leaving the halves with your K-meta solution could result in excessive SO2 in the barrel that would prevent or inhibit the bacteria in the performance of their duty.



Ok, what you say makes good sense.

btw - I was using the wooden fermenter as that's what my grandparents used and it worked well for them. BUT, I'm a first time wine-maker, so I'm a realist about sentimental stuff like that. HDPE liner it is!

More questions though! :)

Would coating the fermenter in paraffin wax do the same thing as a HDPE liner?

My plan was to ferment only for 5-7 days in the wooden fermenter and then transfer to my new oak barrels (purchased this year). Does that still affect the malolactic fermentation?


Thanks for all the info!

#4 P Cuthbert

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

While the wax may prevent leaking, I would use a liner as described above. (this can be a heavy poly on a roll)

Any addition of sulphur at or before crush and during fermentation needs to be taken into account when planning MLF. If you are adding anything close to tolerance, any leaching from your barrel half may put you over the limit.

Enjoy your stay with us. We hope to see much more of you as time passes, and it won't be long before you start sharing your knowledge and experience.

Cheers;

Pat

#5 Hammered

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:01 PM

If it were me, I'd get some Rubbermaid Brutes and forget about using the barrel halves for fermentation. They will dry out and then leak profusely and will take several days of running water into them to rehydrate and swell them up. Parafin will do little to seal the gaps that will form between the staves.

I'd break them down and cut them up, toast the wood and use it for flavoring the wine during aging.

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#6 coho

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:17 PM

If it were me, I'd get some Rubbermaid Brutes and forget about using the barrel halves for fermentation. They will dry out and then leak profusely and will take several days of running water into them to rehydrate and swell them up. Parafin will do little to seal the gaps that will form between the staves.

I'd break them down and cut them up, toast the wood and use it for flavoring the wine during aging.



Hmmm...I can assure you that the barrel halves are, amazingly, not leaking! I've had water in them for just over 48 hours and they're probably losing more to evaporation than leakage!

With that said, I do see the difficulties in pursuing the use of wooden fermenters, there is simply better available today. My grandparents probably used them since that's all they had, not to mention they were dirt-poor!

Thanks for all the input!!

#7 Hammered

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:09 PM



Hmmm...I can assure you that the barrel halves are, amazingly, not leaking! I've had water in them for just over 48 hours and they're probably losing more to evaporation than leakage!

With that said, I do see the difficulties in pursuing the use of wooden fermenters, there is simply better available today. My grandparents probably used them since that's all they had, not to mention they were dirt-poor!

Thanks for all the input!!

After I posted, I thought that maybe they could have been still swollen from the winery. I use a barrel head for my press pan and every year I need to soak it in a tank of water for about 4 days before pressing to swell it up to contain the press wine as it flows into it. Without that it will pretty much fall apart and not contain much wine at all.

I may not be dirt poor but I'm pretty frugal, so I like to find lots of ways to reduce the cost per bottle and any advantage you can muster to keep your costs down are well considered. Just remember if you use them next year for a fermenter after a year of being empty to allow time to rehydrate them (and sanitize them!)

Steve, Garagiste

Manufacturer of IntelliTanks at
www.Catalyst-Manufacturing.com

Author of The Homebuilt Winery 

 

 




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