Mead Made Easy


You need to sterilize anything that's going to come in contact with the must (honey and water mixture) when it's not boiling. This includes your fermenter, your funnel, and the airlock for the fermenter. I sterilize this kind of stuff with bleach (note that bleach isn't the friendliest household disinfectant, but it's cheap and readily available – the US EPA has a list of registered household disinfectants you may want to look at), but B-Brite works fine, too. Iodophor is also typically used in brewing, but you will need to clean things thoroughly before using it.

Update for the Second Edition

Note that using bleach on stainless steel will remove the protective surface from the stainless, so don't do it. John Palmer, a metallurgist who regularly contributed to the Homebrew Digest had the following to say:

Let me re-interate how to care for stainless steel. Clean it thoroughly with a non-chlorinated cleanser if there are discolorations or deposits.

An oxalic based cleanser like Kleen King or Revereware or Bar Keeper's Friend work well. Bon Ami will work pretty well too.

Once the stainless is clean and rinsed, dry it and let it stand exposed to normal indoor air for a week. The stainless steel will repassivate itself by reforming the protective surface oxides. You may then store mead or beer in it with impunity. Do not use bleach to sanitize, it removes the oxides, use iodophor or boiling water or something else.

About a teaspoon of bleach in 5 gallons of water in the fermenter works. I fill the fermenter with water, add the bleach and let it sit. If there's any crud left from the last batch, this is the time to soak it loose and get everything nice and clean. If you're using a plastic fermenter, you can just toss the lid, the funnel and the airlock into it. This doesn't need to soak long, as bleach will kill any bugs on contact. I usually get the fermenter soaking with the bleach solution and then go start the water heating. It'll take the water a while to come to a boil, during which time I'm finishing the cleaning.

Okay, time to dump out the bleach/water mixture. If you've got a plastic fermenter, just let the funnel and airlock rattle around in your wash-tub or bathtub for now. If you're using a carboy, dump the bleach/water mixture over the parts that haven't yet been sanitized. Rinse everything thoroughly with cold water until you can't smell bleach on anything. Two rinses does the job for me—your mileage may vary. Assemble up the fermenter with a little water in the airlock (most of 'em have a `fill' line on 'em). If you've got a plastic fermenter, you can put the funnel inside it for now. If you've got a carboy, just keep the funnel somewhere clean and away from breezes that might have airborne baddies. You'll be pouring boiling must through the funnel later, so it's not as critical to keep that clean (but when you're not boiling things, you'll want it sanitized, and it's a good habit to get into now).

#howTo #sanitation

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