Fermentation not starting- 1st time using campden tablets

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Goatherd

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Hi all:)!

So my yeast hasn't started and I'm worrying I might have killed it. Usually I see yeast activity right away, it's been 12 hours without ANY sign at all.

I used Campden tablets to sterilize the must, I've never done that before. I used 7 tabs to 32 litres of must.

After I'd waited 24 hours and pitched the yeast, I read online that I should have left the must open for that time for the S02 to dissipate.

Other sources said this was not necessary. I'm confused, what do I do now?

I've always airlocked right from the get go, we have vinegar flies, fungus gnats, coffin flies and other pests en masse.

I have 32 litres of must split between two 30l drums, so there's a lot of headspace. I stirred the must thoroughly to oxygenate before adding the yeast, and again this morning.

My must is mostly Table grapes, with some Elderberry and a little Blackberry.
Specific gravity started 1.0443.
The wine yeast is a CR51.
The temperature is about 18C.

Any tips and thoughts?
 

Michael T

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There is an extra digit in your specific gravity, 1.0443. Did you mean 1.044 or 1.443 ?
Did you check to see if your yeast was good?
 

Goatherd

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1.044 ... which is pretty typical compared to my diary of previous batches ... I haven't added any sugar yet.

Not sure what you mean by 'check the yeast'?

The yeast was a fresh packet I just bought from the store 3 days ago, best before Oct 2021 and kept refrigerated.

The directions (to my surprise) specifically said not to rehydrate it, but to sprinkle it straight into the must and stir well ... so that's exactly what I did.
 

tradowsk

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Did you use just a single standard 5 gram packet of yeast?

Usually 5 grams gets you up to 6 gallons. With you having over 8 gallons, you might have underpitched and it's taking a while to build up the colony before active fermentation begins.
 

Johnd

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1.044 ... which is pretty typical compared to my diary of previous batches ... I haven't added any sugar yet.

Not sure what you mean by 'check the yeast'?

The yeast was a fresh packet I just bought from the store 3 days ago, best before Oct 2021 and kept refrigerated.

The directions (to my surprise) specifically said not to rehydrate it, but to sprinkle it straight into the must and stir well ... so that's exactly what I did.
Don’t fret for a few more days, yeast can take a few days to get going, give it some time.
Regarding your SG, that’s a pretty low SG, and will only yield about 7% ABV if it goes completely dry. If that’s your goal, so be it. If not, get that sugar on board pronto!!
 

CDrew

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Usually when you are starting a new fermentation, you are not trying to sterilize the must. You're just trying to add enough SO2 to slow down wild yeasts and bacteria to let your chosen yeast get established. I aim for 30 ppm roughly. You added I think, about 50ppm, though I've not used Campden tablets. 50 ppm is a lot and may be inhibiting your yeast, though I agree, the yeast you added will eventually triumph. I think of Campden tablets as 1 tab per gallon for 50ppm SO2?

I highly recommend you get the predictable and excellent effervescent tablets of SO2 which are easier to use and don't need to be crushed. Or, use regular KMBS crystals and a precision scale. Campden tablets are historical.

Overall, I think you're fine. You may need to stir a bit and re-pitch with new yeast, but no harm done. Hopefully it comes to life in the next 24-48 hours.
 

Goatherd

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Did you use just a single standard 5 gram packet of yeast?

Usually 5 grams gets you up to 6 gallons. With you having over 8 gallons, you might have underpitched and it's taking a while to build up the colony before active fermentation begins.
Yes I did use just one packet. I just bought the one sachet (which was also the last in stock of the type) I was expecting about 26l of must but the grape vines did quite well this year. I didn't think a little bit extra would make so much difference but I guess all these things add up.

There's still no sign of fermentation, coming up 22 hours.
 

Goatherd

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Don’t fret for a few more days, yeast can take a few days to get going, give it some time.
Regarding your SG, that’s a pretty low SG, and will only yield about 7% ABV if it goes completely dry. If that’s your goal, so be it. If not, get that sugar on board pronto!!
I will keep waiting in hope for a while yet then.
How long is it safe to wait before adding new yeast?

About the sugar, in the recipe I originally used years ago (I've been following my brew diary notes since) the sugar was added after straining the must ... is this wrong?

I thought it was to prevent excess sugar retarding the yeast at the beginning.
 

Goatherd

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Usually when you are starting a new fermentation, you are not trying to sterilize the must. You're just trying to add enough SO2 to slow down wild yeasts and bacteria to let your chosen yeast get established. I aim for 30 ppm roughly. You added I think, about 50ppm, though I've not used Campden tablets. 50 ppm is a lot and may be inhibiting your yeast, though I agree, the yeast you added will eventually triumph. I think of Campden tablets as 1 tab per gallon for 50ppm SO2?

I highly recommend you get the predictable and excellent effervescent tablets of SO2 which are easier to use and don't need to be crushed. Or, use regular KMBS crystals and a precision scale. Campden tablets are historical.

Overall, I think you're fine. You may need to stir a bit and re-pitch with new yeast, but no harm done. Hopefully it comes to life in the next 24-48 hours.
Well I went for the campden tabs being simple to try, as this is the first time I've tried any method of pretreatment. (I never heard of the effervescent tablets before, but I'll check those options out thankyou)

I just followed the label which said 1 tab per 5l, and wait 24 hours before adding yeast ... which came up as over 6, so I chose 7 tablets, being aware I'd read 1 per gallon online.

How much is a gallon in regard to that 50ppm ... 4.5 or 3.8 litres? If we're talking 3.8l gallons, I have 8.42 gallons of must so 7 tabs was about 40ppm by that math.

It would be awkward to have to re-pitch ... I only got the one packet of CR51 and the shop at the end of the road is out of that strain now. What happens if you mix strains?
 

Eddy Monsoon

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Well I went for the campden tabs being simple to try, as this is the first time I've tried any method of pretreatment. (I never heard of the effervescent tablets before, but I'll check those options out thankyou)

I just followed the label which said 1 tab per 5l, and wait 24 hours before adding yeast ... which came up as over 6, so I chose 7 tablets, being aware I'd read 1 per gallon online.

How much is a gallon in regard to that 50ppm ... 4.5 or 3.8 litres? If we're talking 3.8l gallons, I have 8.42 gallons of must so 7 tabs was about 40ppm by that math.

It would be awkward to have to re-pitch ... I only got the one packet of CR51 and the shop at the end of the road is out of that strain now. What happens if you mix strains?
I wouldn't worry about the 50ppm, that's about usual.

Give it a couple of days, if you're still getting nothing that first strain may be a dud, or died, so a new strain won't matter
 

Johnd

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I will keep waiting in hope for a while yet then.
How long is it safe to wait before adding new yeast?

About the sugar, in the recipe I originally used years ago (I've been following my brew diary notes since) the sugar was added after straining the must ... is this wrong?

I thought it was to prevent excess sugar retarding the yeast at the beginning.
There’s no reason that you need to wait to add your sugar, unless you plan to overload it with sugar. You shouldn’t put any more sugar than your yeast can convert to alcohol before dying from alcohol toxicity. In other words, if your yeast is rated for 14%, don’t have enough sugar to produce 16% ABV, it’s best to match the sugar and yeast to the ABV you desire and ferment to dry. If you want sweet wine, add sugar to taste later down the road.
 

Goatherd

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There’s no reason that you need to wait to add your sugar, unless you plan to overload it with sugar. You shouldn’t put any more sugar than your yeast can convert to alcohol before dying from alcohol toxicity. In other words, if your yeast is rated for 14%, don’t have enough sugar to produce 16% ABV, it’s best to match the sugar and yeast to the ABV you desire and ferment to dry. If you want sweet wine, add sugar to taste later down the road.
Ah ok that makes good sense, thankyou for clarifying.

Last night I added about half my sugar, a round 2kg which brought it up to 1.073.
I'm aiming for 1.100 for 14% so I'll add another lot now.

Still no sign of fermentation, it is a cold morning though. I had hoped to see some fizzing when I put the sugar in.
 

Goatherd

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So last night before I mixed in the sugar, one of the two drums had a greener, less red top surface (suggesting to me that oxidation was able to occur at the surface, therefore neither S02 nor C02 was present, correct me if I'm wrong) interestingly the 2nd drum was still red on the surface.

This morning both drums are red right to the surface. Perhaps I have a tiny bit of C02 starting? there is so far no level changing in my airlock, or bubbles visible or audible in the must though.

Wishful thinking also has me smelling possible fermentation in drum 1 this morning but it's faint or even purely psychosomatic.

Fingers crossed maybe there is a positive sign.
 

Goatherd

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I have fermentation!!!!

Just drum#2 so far and it hasn't moved through the airlock but I can see bubbles caught up the sides of the drum and the skins are starting to float. #1 had one little bubble stuck on the side so it lives too.
I moved them to a warmer place (24C) today that may have helped.

Not sure why one is started faster, I tried to mix them equally, but I've just swapped a couple litres of must between them to hopefully help the colony in the other drum.

Having a bit of a celebration and hope to wake to the cheerful sound of my brew blooping away merrily!
 

Johnd

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I have fermentation!!!!

Just drum#2 so far and it hasn't moved through the airlock but I can see bubbles caught up the sides of the drum and the skins are starting to float. #1 had one little bubble stuck on the side so it lives too.
I moved them to a warmer place (24C) today that may have helped.

Not sure why one is started faster, I tried to mix them equally, but I've just swapped a couple litres of must between them to hopefully help the colony in the other drum.

Having a bit of a celebration and hope to wake to the cheerful sound of my brew blooping away merrily!
Glad to hear it's going! The temps will definitely play a part in how quickly things get going, and how quickly they progress, mid-70's (F) seem to be a pretty productive temperature. Happy fermenting!!
 
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