Mead Made Easy: Before You Start - Clean Up

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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, but B-Brite works fine, too. Also, Electrosol dishwashing detergent is sodium phosphates, which are good for sanitizing, but try and get the stuff without the lemon scent, if you can. 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).

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:09:08.