COMPLETE cleanliness is most important to the wine-maker; all his vessels, bottles and equipment must be not only visually clean but chemically clean. Airborne yeasts and vinegar bacteria (see: The Vinegar Fly) can only be kept at bay by constant vigilance, and the simplest answer to the problem is to make up a sterilising solution.
Dissolve two Campden tablets (ordinary fruit-preserving tablets, which are sodium metabisulphite and will give you the sulphur dioxide you need) and a saltspoon of citric acid in a pint of water.
Make up a quantity of this: use it to sterilise your bottles and equipment, but note that it must be kept in tightly-corked bottles or it will deteriorate. Use it to rinse all your equipment before and after use, and also to sterilise your fermenting vessels. A small quantity can be used to do many jars and bottles by pouring it from one to the other, corking, rolling and shaking each one in turn so that all parts of the interior are moistened. Wipe round the neck of the bottle with cottonwool dipped in the solution.
This is a much quicker, simpler (and safer) method than using boiling water or "baking in the oven," as some books recommend.
One-gallon jars and Winchesters can safely be stored and kept sterile if half an inch of the solution is left in the bottom of each, and they are tightly corked.
If you cannot obtain Campden tablets, make up instead a stock solution of potassium (or sodium) metabisulphite (K2S2O2) by crushing 5 oz. of the crystals in warm water and making the quantity up to 1 gallon. Use as follows:—
For sterilising corks, barrels, bottles and apparatus:
8 Fluid oz. of stock solution, plus H oz. citric acid, made up to 1 gallon with water;
To purify the must before fermentation: V fl. oz. of stock solution per gallon of must;
To sterilise completely a most or Juice: 1 V fl. oz. per gallon of must.
To prevent fermentation in hot weather double that quantity might be needed.
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