any way to counteract sodium benzoate before fermentation?

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I normally make sweet red wine from grape juice for daily drinking with dinner, but the fun I have with wine making is from making different kinds of wines. using frozen fruit and juices, I've made lots of different kinds. Blueberry, cherry, mango, tropical passion fruit blend, cranberry raspberry, pomegranate plum, even coffee and kilju (Finnish fermented sugar water - which i wasn't fond of, had a very off aftertaste; even with a few koolaid packets added to it, it was still nasty)

I'd really like to make something strange and exotic like using sno cone syrup or sodastream syrup or something like that. (the thought of mountain dew or cotton candy flavored wine to surprise friends with sounds amazing) but alas, most of these have sodium benzoate as a preservative, which as we all know would not be very friendly to fermenting yeast.

is there anything I could add that would counteract the sodium benzoate so that something like these would be ferment-able?
 

BernardSmith

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You might try pitching four or five times the amount of yeast you normally pitch. My understanding is that the preservative binds to individual yeast cells and so there is a limited amount of benzoate that is available. If the cell count is larger then you MIGHT have a successful fermentation. But if I were you I would look for substrates that were preservative free to avoid the problem.
 
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Yeah, i thought of that, more yeast might do the job, or it might just be a waste of 4 or 5 or more packs of yeast. Finding flavor syrups by the gallon like that without preservatives doesn't have many results, at least on amazon. Found a couple organic ones that didn't seem to have any preservatives, but the flavors were basic like grape or cherry so there isn't much point since I could make those with fruit or fruit juice, or the bottles were so small it would be fairly expensive just to make a 1 gallon batch.
I was hoping there was something I could add that would give the yeast a better chance of success so I didn't end up wasting several packets of yeast.
 

BernardSmith

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ah... but you are going to dilute the syrup. The amount of preservative used (I believe) is to inhibit the spoilage of the volume of liquid. So, for example, lemon juice has sorbates but that does not prevent anyone from making "skeeter pee" (AKA alcoholic lemonade) from concentrated lemon juice. Diluting the syrups is going to also dilute the preservatives.
 
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Yes, I was thinking of doing a 1 to 1 mix, depending on the thickness of the syrup. Ultimately it would depend on the syrup. Also, I'm thinking this would be a good job for lalvin ec-1118 yeast. what do you think? That seems to work well on oddball brews (like coffee for example.)

I think it might just be worth a try. To me, experimenting like this is half the fun of brewing.
 

stickman

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If you are trying to ferment something unusual, be sure you check the pH before adding yeast. If the syrup is designed for a beverage that is very sweet, then the pH may be very low, the syrup may include phosphoric acid. Yeast already have a difficult time fermenting at very low pH's, and in addition, Sodium Benzoate is more effective preventing fermentation at lower pH's, so there may be a couple of things working against you.
 

ThunderFred

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Why not just buy already fermented alcohol like everclear of vodka, dilute it to wine like alcohol content and flavor with the syrup? You'll be adding sugar to make alcohol and back sweetening to get the flavor back to where it's at. Why not just skip the extra steps and make a cocktail?
 

ThunderFred

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I suppose the fun is in drinking it. You could adjust the mix and try it over and over in very short time. Or you could spend weeks trying to get to the same point. For me, the magic in making my own wine comes from the ingredients and process. Fermenting what is essentially prison hooch out of flavored syrup doesn't sound like all that much fun to me. More power to you, there's plenty of room for us all to enjoy this hobby in different ways. Good luck.
 
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most of my wine making is just sweet red table wine for daily drinking with dinner, so I like the fun of experimenting with new things, like the coffee wine. Everyone said "why?' but it's actually quite good if you like coffee (and I do) but the fun was doing what most people though was a waste of time and making something good in the process.
 

BernardSmith

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Coffee wine (or coffee mead) is a challenging wine to make. Most folk who try to ferment on coffee suggest that the wine (or mead) is very bitter and it does not really improve with age. But then most folk who make coffee wine tend to make coffee (hot or cold brewed) and then add the sugar and so make a wine with yeast. What was your approach?
In my opinion a better method is to treat the coffee a lot like one might treat nuts when making , say a hazelnut wine - and so you use perhaps an ounce or two of beans that you crack (not crush ) and you add those to the secondary rather than the primary , removing the beans when the flavor profile is what you want.
 
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i have a small 5 cup coffee pot. I took 4 pots of strong, double brewed coffee, added 5 cups sugar, 2 tsp nutrient, 1/2 tsp pectin, and the grounds from all 4 batches with ec-1118 yeast in a 1 gallon glass jug with airlock. brewed for a month to 10.5% abv. cleared with bentonite clay for 1 week then back-sweetened and added a bit of hazelnut syrup to taste, bottled and aged for 6 months. was good but will probably be better in another 6 months.

might try it your way next time.
 

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