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Fermentation Failed- low level Sodium Benzoate

Posted by kjclark (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 7, 06 at 0:07

Hi all,

I have started some wine using apples and not wanting them to oxidize during cutting I quickly dipped them in lemon juice (from a bottle) and washed them before shredding them in a food processor.

My first yeast pitch failed to start, and I repeated tonight. I looked at the lemon juice and noticed sulphites as well as sodium benzoate. I know that sodium benzoate is used to halt fermentation in nearly finished or sweet wines, but I wouldn't think that very much lemon juice made it into my must. And what did make it in should be very dilute compared to what is in the lemon juice (or maybe the cheap lemon juice in a bottle is more preservative than juice;).

At any rate, is there any way to drive off or remove any contaminating sodium benzoate? Or does anyone know how dilute it can be to cause a problem?



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Fermentation Failed- low level Sodium Benzoate

I made about 40 litres of Apple wine last year from the Apples from my tree and some froma local orchard. The wine is a a year old now and drinking very well. It started off like a very sharp sauvignon blanc but is now closer to a Chardonay, with a rich, complex flavour and a heavy body.
My advice to you would be dont use lemon juice, as the fruit will oxidise anyway. My apple wine has the colour of an old barrel aged chardonay.

I think if you get your yeast very active in a cup or two of untreated apple juice an extra sugar and the add it to the rest of teh juice, it will probably be fine. I think you would need quite a bit of the preservatives from the lemon juice to actually halt fermentation permenantly.

Apple wine [as opposed to cider, which I detest] is highly underrated, and is perhaps the only fruit wine that compares to a good white grape based wine.
Good luck.

RE: Fermentation Failed- low level Sodium Benzoate

I actually got the fermentation to go.

As I mentioned, I repitched yeast (Lalvin 71B-1122) on Monday night (after 2 days with no fermentation). I still didn't see anything by Wednesday, so I repitched again (Wed) with Lalvin K1-V1116 and it finally took off. Not sure if it was the change of yeast (the K1-V1116 is supposed to be a little hardier) or just my initial impatience.

After that I decided to double the batch to 2 gallons and prepared another set of apples and coated with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 cup water with a Campden tablet. That kept them from turning brown and I just poured the previous 1 gallon "starter" in and presto instant fermentation.

It is actually a pomegranate cyser (apple-mead), and after a couple of rackings is looking quite beautiful. I look forward to patiently waiting to taste this one.

Thanks for your input.

RE: Fermentation Failed- low level Sodium Benzoate

I want to make cider or apple wine but don't have a cider press to extract the apple juice. If I get the juice out by boiling or simmering or steaming the cut up apples, the pectin will set and the juice will be permanently cloudy. Can I still ferment it into wine after this happens?

RE: Fermentation Failed- low level Sodium Benzoate


I have made several batches of excellent apple wine without a press. I generally use a food processor to mince the apples (often with the skin on). I have found that if I use a little fresh lemon juice (not from a bottle, which I had done here) it helps to keep the apples from oxidizing, and you need to add acid to the mix anyhow. I then sterilize the fruit with campden tablets and treat with pectic enyzme (both available from wine making supply stores). You will need to add sugar or honey, acid blend, yeast nutrient, grape tannin to the "must". Then add a wine yeast (there are many good choices, but I would avoid a "bread" yeast) to the must the following day (allowing the sulphur from the Campden tablets to dissipate). It is a good idea to measure the sugar content (by specific gravity) and the acid content (by pH or better yet acid titration). And make sure your equipment is sterile.

After fermenting on the fruit for a week or so, you can transfer the wine to a secondary fermentor.

If you have not made wine before and a lot of this seems strange I would recommend "The Joy of Home Winemaking" by Terry Garey or some other reference.

Good luck.


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