Conducting your fermentation

NOW let us get on with the making of an orthodox country wine. If you are fermenting a juice, or a liquor with no solid ingredients left in it, it can well go straight into a fermenting jar which, however, should not be filled beyond the shoulder, and a fermentation trap fitted. (If you fill your jar the ferment, in its first vigour, will foam out through the trap.)

The yeast and yeast nutrient are added at the same time and the jar is placed in a warm place, about 70 deg. F. A warm kitchen is ideal, but do not stand the jar on a stove or anywhere it is likely to be over heated, or the yeast may be killed. After four or five days or so the ferment will quieten, and the jar should be "topped up" to the bottom of the neck either with some of the liquor which has been kept on one side in another smaller bottle with a cotton-wool plug or airlock, or with syrup of the same strength as the original liquor. The airlock, of course, is again fitted.

The jar is then best kept at a temperature of 60-65 deg. F. until fermentation is finished. Check it regularly, particularly if you are adding sugar by stages, and watch both specific gravity and the airlock action.

When the ferment appears to have finished, move it back into a warm room for a few days to see if it restarts.

If you are dealing with a must with a large quantity of solid ingredients you will probably find that, at least for the first ten days or so after the yeast has been added, because of the great bulk, it will probably be necessary to use a crock of some sort. This must be closely covered with several thicknesses of cloth or a sheet of polythene secured with elastic to keep vinegar flies at bay. Again . . . a temperature of 70 deg. F. Do not forget to stir the must from the bottom twice daily.

At the end of the soaking period strain off the liquor through a nylon sieve or two or three thicknesses of muslin—do it thoroughly and do not hurry it—into your fermenting jar and fit your trap, carrying on thereafter as above.

If you have used the right amount of sugar and fermentation has apparently ceased too soon (the wine will be oversweet and its specific gravity too high) the fermentation is said to have "stuck." Possible causes: Too high or too low a temperature; the yeast has reached its limit of alcohol tolerance (i.e. the wine is finished); the sugar has all been utilised (add more); too much sugar (dilute slightly); insufficient nutrient or acid (add more); insufficient oxygen (aerate by stirring and pouring); too much carbon dioxide (uncork and stir). If these and all other remedies fail make up a half pint starter with the juice of three oranges, water, 1 level dessertspoon sugar, yeast, and a pinch of nutrient. Get it going well, then add an equal quantity of the "stuck" wine. When all this is fermenting, again add an equal quantity of the wine and continue "doubling up" in this way until all is fermenting once more.

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The Miracle Of Vinegar

The Miracle Of Vinegar

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