Read the Labels

December 23, 2009

I was poking though my freezer a few months ago and discovered several packages of peaches my mother has bought, cut up, and froze for me. I got out my copy of The Joy of Home Winemaking by Terry A Garey and looked up how to make a peach wine. Well, things didn’t go so well.

First off, I needed to put the peaches in a mesh bag, and put that in a primary fermenter and let them sit for a week with yeast. I didn’t have a primary fermenter, let alone a small one, so I used two juice pitchers and plugged the spouts with cotton balls to mimic something like an airlock, as sometimes the books say to use a cotton-wool bung. I have asked my local supply store for a cotton-wool bung, but sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye, and this is one of them. They didn’t have any.

Originally, I made up a batch and realized I over sugared it, but then I realized it wouldn’t fit into one pitcher, so I split it into two pitchers, added more water and peaches, and figured out the potential alcohol of each. Then I took the pH of both pitchers. My first batch of apple wine called for the juice of two lemons or some concentrate lemonade to lower the pH. This time, I went with lemonade, and got my pH to the desired level.

At the end of a week, I was suppose to remove the peaches and put the remaining liquid into a glass jug and fit it with an airlock. I went to test the potential alcohol at this time to make sure things were progressing as they should. I got the exact same number as when I started, which meant that the yeast did nothing for an entire week. Something was very wrong.

My hypothesis is that the lemonade I added to lower the pH contained some sort of preservative, which killed the yeast, and no amount of fussing with it would make it alive to start fermenting. When I bought the lemonade, I checked the ingredients on the label, but I’m not completely convinced there wasn’t any preservatives present. Since then, I have bought a powdered acid blend to lower the pH from my supply store, and any time I buy juice or processed fruit, I make sure it specifically says no preservatives.

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