Using Sulphites

 

What They Are and How to Use Them

Commonly used by wine makers, sulphites are a powder that releases sulfur dioxide gas when dissolved in liquid. They are added directly to fresh juice 24 hours before pitching the yeast. The sulfur gas destroys any molds or bacteria that may have been on the fruit or in the juice, then dissipates so the wine yeast can do its job. Sulphites are available as either potassium metabisulphite or sodium metabisulphite. Potassium is used by wine makers with low sodium diets, and is slightly more expensive than sodium. Each product performs the same way with the same dosage.

Sulphites can also be used in stronger doses to make a sanitizing solution for equipment. You can use it to sanitize fermenting vessels, hydrometers, wine bottles, hoses or any other glass, metal, plastic or wood that comes into contact with your wine.

To purify juice: Add 1/4 teaspoon of sodium or potassium metabisulphite to 6 gallons of unfermented must and gently stir until it is dissolved. Allow the must to ventilate for 24 hours before pitching yeast.

To sanitize equipment: All equipment should be thoroughly cleaned before sanitizing. Dissolve 2 ounces of metabisulphite in 1 gallon clean water to create a sanitizing solution. 1/2 a teaspoon of citric acid can also be added to boost the effectiveness. This solution can be sprayed onto equipment or used to soak equipment to kill any bacteria that may be present. Allow a few minutes for the sulphite to do its work, then use the equipment as normal. no rinsing is necessary. You can also place a fresh batch of sulphite solution inside a sealed fermenter and allow the sulfur fumes to do the work. Give fermenters 20 minutes when applying sulphites this way.

At bottling time: Add 1/4 teaspoon of metabisulphite to 6 gallons of finished wine to preserve the wines color and flavor. It is also recommended to add potassium sorbate at this time to prevent renewed fermentation in the bottle. Bottle the wine immediately after adding.

Campden Tablets

Campden tablets are a pelletized form of metabisulphite that are easy to measure. Each tablet equals 1/16 teaspoon of sodium metabisulphite and will impart approximately 75 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur dioxide to each gallon of wine.

To purify juice: Add 1 campden tablet for each gallon of unfermented must. Crush the tablets first and gently stir them into a small amount of water until they are dissolved, then add this solution to the juice. Allow the must to ventilate for 24 hours before pitching yeast.

To sanitize equipment: All equipment should be thoroughly cleaned before sanitizing. Dissolve 16 crushed campden tablets in 1 gallon clean water to create a sanitizing solution. 1/2 a teaspoon of citric acid can also be added to boost the effectiveness. This solution can be sprayed onto equipment or used to soak equipment to kill any bacteria that may be present. Allow a few minutes for the sulphite to do its work, then use the equipment as normal. no rinsing is necessary. You can also place a fresh batch of sulphite solution inside a sealed fermenter and allow the sulfur fumes to do the work. Give fermenters 20 minutes when applying sulphites this way.

At bottling time: Add 1 crushed campden tablet for each gallon of finished wine to preserve the wines color and flavor. It is also recommended to add 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate for each gallon to prevent renewed fermentation in the bottle. Gently stir them into a small amount of wine before pouring back into the batch. Bottle the wine immediately after adding.

Chlorine

Sulphites can also be used in very small amounts to reduce chlorine and chloramine levels in brewing water. Use no more than 1 campden tablet in 20 gallons of water for this purpose.