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how to use a hydrometer for newbies

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Ste

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Thanks for the reply.

Yes its 4.5 litres, so not huge. What about the base reading, is now the right time to do that? Or is it to late?
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Ste
 

Johnd

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Thanks for the reply.

Yes its 4.5 litres, so not huge. What about the base reading, is now the right time to do that? Or is it to late?
Thanks
Ste
Probably too late. You want to get a reading before you add your yeast, so you know what SG you are starting at. That reading, in conjunction with the reading when you are finished allows you to determine how much alcohol you have produced. Readings during fermentation allow you to monitor your progress.
 

Ste

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Ok, thanks for that, i thought that might be the case from what I had read on here. Is there any benefit to using the hydrometer at this stage then if i dont have the initial reading?

Thanks
Ste
 

Johnd

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Absolutely, there is a reason to use a hydrometer. When the reading stays the same for about three days in a row, then the fermentation is done. Don't trust counting bubbles in your airlock or any other method, use the tool.
I'll add on to what @cmason1957 said. In addition to the same reading three days in a row, it should be below 1.000 for three days in a row to be finished. For instance, if you get .997 or lower, three days in a row, you're done. If you get 1.014 three days in a row, you have a stuck fermentation, as there is still sugar to be consumed.

The hydrometer, in addition to helping you calculate your final alcohol content, allows you to monitor your progress towards completion, helps you time racking and pressing, and generally lets you know when you're fermentation is on or off track.
 

G259

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You need to take the SG before you pitch the yeast, this lets you know how much sugar is in your must. To calculate the ending alcohol % as well. There are several apps out there to do this for you, like winecalc and fermcalc.
 

Lexas

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Hello. Just started my very first wine. I got some hydrometer reading before i put yeast, but not sure, is it good or not. Do I get anything drinkable? I made 2 different taste, from fruits. Interesting, that one is bubbling steady, bubble every 2 seconds, another is going crazy like tractor. Any thoughts please
 

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mainshipfred

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The 1.080 will get you about 11% ABV and the 1.100 about 13.75 ABV. But that is all the hydrometer is going to tell you at this time. The final wine is a product of the recipe and post fermentation additions.
 

Lexas

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The 1.080 will get you about 11% ABV and the 1.100 about 13.75 ABV. But that is all the hydrometer is going to tell you at this time. The final wine is a product of the recipe and post fermentation additions.
And how do I know, when fermentation is finished, what hydrometer should show?
 

mainshipfred

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And how do I know, when fermentation is finished, what hydrometer should show?
When I gave you those numbers I was using .995. What people say is it's done when the hydrometer reads the same for 3 days. I don't worry about it since mine age for 10-12 months but being your first batch I'm sure you will want to bottle it.
 

Lexas

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I read somewhere that I cant give contact with air while its fermenting. But to take sample for hydrometer read, I need to open anyway. What is best way to do that, not to contaminate wine. Or its myth an i can open when i need?
 

crabjoe

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I read somewhere that I cant give contact with air while its fermenting. But to take sample for hydrometer read, I need to open anyway. What is best way to do that, not to contaminate wine. Or its myth an i can open when i need?
What you heard is incorrect for the most part.

During primary fermentation, especially in the beginning, you want oxygen exposure to help the yeast. Once fermentation is ended, or near ended is when you want to keep oxygen exposure to a minimum.

That's the easy short answer.

BTW, during primary fermentation, at times, I'll leave my hydrometer in the bucket. That way, I just lift up the towel I use to keep bugs out and read. No need to keep filling a cylinder to check the gravity.
 

Lexas

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I was reading a lot before start make wine, but looks like i was reading in wrong place and started from second fermentation straight away ( pipe in jar with water from beginning)...
 

Johnd

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I was reading a lot before start make wine, but looks like i was reading in wrong place and started from second fermentation straight away ( pipe in jar with water from beginning)...
You weren’t necessarily in the wrong place, it’s done both ways. Yeast does need a little O2 early in the process to aid with speedy reproduction, after that, not so much. Despite that, once fermentation starts, you can airlock your vessel or not, personal preference.

With white wines, I lock em up tight, reds are simply covered with a towel for easy access to the must for punch downs and measurements. During active fermentation, there is plenty CO2 being produced, and your wine will be saturated with it, protecting it well from any minor exposure you may provide as you measure.

As far as the best way, you get to decide that too!! With a must that doesn’t have any solids in it, you can simply put your sanitized hydrometer in there for a reading. If you do have solids, they can affect the readings, so you’ll be wise to extract some wine to measure in a sanitized container, and return the wine.
 

Lexas

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Thank you very much for info. I'll finish this anyway and then start new. Just in Ireland hard to find fresh grape juice or even concentrate. That why was doing from other fruits.
 

RichardC

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Hi all. I started a second batch of hand crushed, frozen banana (8lbs), 1.5-2 gallons water, 3 lbs sugar, and 2lbs blended Sultanas ( not paste but, kinda mushy,) and the must is like oatmeal. Can a proper hydrometer reading be taken with that consistency?

I added 2 full TSP pectic enzymes to the roughly 3 gallons must and after 24 hrs, there was no clear liquid to use, so I pitched the yeast anyway.

( I guesstimate that adding 3-4lbs more sugar syrup will give +16% ABV.)

Do you ever have mush must and how accurate are hydrometer readings?
 

G259

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Richard, I would add another 2 Tsp. if it was that thick (maybe 3!) Pectic isn't going to hurt it, it will just drop out unused.

Hydrometer reading will be off, if not impossible, suggest relying at first on Fermcalc initially, when you get mostly liquid,
a hydrometer will work.
 
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RichardC

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I added another TSP pectic enzyme and another sprinkle of amylase. This no-boil batch is fermenting very slowly. Ugh
 

G259

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I often have (what I suspect) is sugar settling, that has not been completely dissolved. This would account for your differing readings. Just make sure you stir before you take a reading.
 
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