hist-brewing: sulphites/freezing/mead clarity

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Tue Feb 8 12:38:57 PST 2000

A number of posters have said things like "add 50ppm of sulphites
to kill any wild yeast."  Actually, sulphites aren't guaranteed to
kill any yeast, although they will kill a large number of yeast
cells.  Sulphites are actually *inhibitors* and, not only that,
but they require an acidic environment to work.  That's why many
winemaking books recommend increasing dosages of metabisulphites
with increasing pH.  The purpose of the sulphites is to stun the
wild yeasts so that your cultured, pitched yeast can outcompete
them for nutrients and sugars.


Eylat writes:
>1.    Freezing is an option.  I have not used it before.
>2.    Total sulfite should be 50ppm. That translates to 1 campdem tablet per
>gallon.    this is only to kill wild yeast.  If you freeze, that will kill the
>yeast partially.  Then concentration should be 25ppm total sulfite.

By saying "kill the yeast partially" I think you mean it will kill some of
the yeast fully and not kill the rest.  I don't think that freezing of fruit
is for sanitation purposes... I believe that it is meant to help release
the juice and make it more easily accessable to the yeast, as PBLoomis said.

Let's not lose sight of the purpose of this list... even freezing the fruit
is probably not very historical.  Sulphites aren't any period besides 20th
century (and forward, of course).

Terafan writes:
>Many, many fruits will have pectins problems if you boil them.  The only
>exception to this I have found (so far...) is bananas.  Several years ago I

Correct me if I'm wrong... I believe that "set the pectins" which is often
what is said to heppen if you boil fruit has nothing to do with directly
changing the pectins themselves.  I've read (forget where) that boiling
kills the natural pectinase (enzyme) that would normally break down the
pectins.  Can anyone confirm this?

Scott writes:
>the taste.  Like Al I also have an AHA Gold medal for a 
>traditional mead and I did not boil the honey.  Unlike Al's 
>mead mine was crystal clear (I assume Al's was not because he 
>says the judges overlooked the cloudiness in favor of the aroma).


>promoting crystallization.  All of these extras in honey can 
>cause a mead to be cloudy under various conditions but in my 
>experience the biggest cause of cloudy meads appears to have 
>been suspended yeast that will eventually settle out. 

>To my mind I have never had a lot trouble getting my meads to 
>clear.  If your mead isn't clear just give it time and 
>eventually it will clear.  Think like a winemaker who is 
>looking for a product to be ready in a year or two not like a 
>brewer wanting to serve in three weeks or even three months.  
>Better yet, as Al said don't worry about the haze and just 
>enjoy the aroma and flavor.

My winning mead was 6 months old at judging and the clarity
improved very slightly over the next two years.  When I say
cloudy, I don't mean murky, mind you...  After 6 months it
was just a touch hazier than the Anchor Liberty Ale we get
here in bottles in the Midwest (it might be clearer when
fresher).  After two years it was about as clear as Liberty

I think that the type of honey and (as Scott says) the level
to which it has been refined have a lot to do with the finsl
clarity of the mead.  Mine was made with raw Basswood honey.
I think it had only been screened and that's it.  Some honeys
are cloudy even before you add water and yeast.

There is no doubt that yeast strain also plays a role.  Right
now, in the cellar, I have five meads going.  Three are with
Premier Cuvee yeast (still fermenting *actively* after several
weeks and murky, like Hefe-Weizen).  The other two are made
with Montrachet and Cotes de Blanc (I believe) and they are
almost crystal clear after only three weeks (but by no means
are they ready to drink!)  The honey is from berry blossoms.


Al Korzonas, Lockport, Illinois, USA
korz at brewinfo.org

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