Elderberry Wine, Green Goo, and pH meter

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Raptor99

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The title says it all. I just started a batch of Elderberry wine, and I need to adjust the pH. Today it was at 4.0, so I need more acid. But there are already traces of green goo on my pH meter (Apera PH60). I tried filtering the sample with a paper coffee filter, but that was not enough to keep goo off the pH meter. I am reluctant to test it again, but I need to adjust the pH.

Those of you who have made Elderberry wine, how have you dealt with this problem? I know that I can clean green goo off my equipment by rubbing it with cooking oil and then washing it with soap. But I am concerned that doing that might damage my pH meter probe. Any solutions to this?
 

BarrelMonkey

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Is this pre-fermentation? I'm not sure if the green goo is related to fermentation or not. When I made my (first) elderberry last year, I did all my sugar and tartaric adjustments before pitching yeast. I did see a greenish ring on my primary fermenter after fermentation was complete, but not so bad that I considered it a problem.

I do agree that you should be careful washing your pH probe - in particular I would be careful not to touch the actual bulb itself. I don't know about Apera but my pH meter manufacturer (Milwaukee) has a cleaning solution available.
 

Raptor99

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I can clean my other equipment. I have an old cheap pH meter. Maybe I'll see if I can get it to calibrate, and use that for the Elderberry wine. Either that, or adjust the pH purely by taste.
 

Rice_Guy

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The pH probe works by having a slow leak of kalomel solution out of a small pore on one electrode, ,,, and an electrical potential on a very thin glass bulb for the other electrode.

The glass bulb is fragile but can be cleaned as gently brushing with a brush and solvent. For green goo I would try orange cleaner/ degreaser,,, latex paint solvent also would work. The small pore is a bigger problem, if you get goo in the pore your choice is limited as soaking in a solvent. (the food lab soaks probes in a protease enzyme to remove residue) Here a wax solvent as latex paint solvent or 100% chloroform.

I have not experimented with elderberry goo (waxes?). My first guess would be to chill a test tube with sample in an ice bath for half an hour, ,, hoping to crystallize the waxes out of solution. Then warm the sample back up to room temp. 20 C and run the pH reading.
Option two would be to take a test tub of sample > add two drops of chloroform (wax solvent) > stopper and vigorously shake the sample > let it sit half an hour > hope to see a wax layer dissolved into the chloroform.

and I need to adjust the pH. Today it was at 4.0, so I need more acid. But there are already traces of green goo on my pH meter (Apera PH60).
the cheap answer is guess the pH with pH paper, you don’t need 0.01 accuracy in a must.
 

Raptor99

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@Rice_Guy you are always a great source of knowledge. Thanks for your suggestions.

For cleanup of green goo, I found something like this:
or this: ZEP 24 oz. Heavy-Duty Citrus Degreaser ZUCIT24
Is that what you recommend?

@BarrelMonkey Thanks for sharing the link. I also wondered about alcohol. I wonder if vodka or everclear would work.
 

Raptor99

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The fermentation is not quite finished yet, but today I removed the pulp bag and racked into a bucket. For those who have not done elderberry, here is what the green goo looks like:

20220418_164735.jpg

Most of it was left behind in the bucket. As you can see, most of it is near the top. It floats on the wine, so my siphon didn't draw up very much:

20220418_165647.jpg

It looks much better in the new bucket. I think that about 95% was left behind. Once I get rid of the goo I can rack it into a carboy for clearing and aging.

20220418_165654.jpg

I was able to clean my auto siphon with cooking oil followed by dish soap. The bucket has a thick layer of goo, so I'll wait to clean that when I can pick up some orange cleaner.

I got some more KCL solution, so I will leave my old, cheap pH meter in that overnight and then see if I can calibrate it. Then I can use it to test the pH of the wine.

Elderberry wine is a bit of work, but it is so good that I think that it is worth it.
 

Rice_Guy

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my favorite on goo is Pam (cooking spray with soy lecithin/ ie natural solvent), ,,, I like suppliers that start with food grade ingredients.
I was able to clean my auto siphon with cooking oil followed by dish soap. The bucket has a thick layer of goo, so I'll wait to clean that when I can pick up some orange cleaner.
 

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