Safe to use plastic vinegar jugs to ferment grape juice?

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Junior
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Hello,

I've never made wine before and wanted to ease into it by making "hobo wine" out of Welch's. Glass jugs are best but I don't want to spend a lot of money at first for several reasons.

I already have numerous #2 HDPE empty vinegar gallon jugs. I've washed them out and rinsed with a water-baking soda solution to neutralize any remaining acid, and will rinse with StarSan before fermenting if you think this would work. I'm wondering if the fact that the jugs held vinegar at one time will have a detrimental effect. I can't detect any odors in the jugs now. I plan on starting fermentation in the Welch's 96oz containers and then siphoning them into the jugs after 2-3 weeks.

I plan on using those jugs with drilled rubber stoppers and airlocks. Will this setup produce decent hobo wine?
 

AkTom

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Some one who knows will be along soon. I reuse plastic apple juice jugs all the time. I hit the recycling bin at the dump looking for gallon jugs. I'm up to 5 now. Plenty of 3 quart jugs.
I would think your vinegar jug would work to get you started.
 

jugs

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Some one who knows will be along soon. I reuse plastic apple juice jugs all the time. I hit the recycling bin at the dump looking for gallon jugs. I'm up to 5 now. Plenty of 3 quart jugs.
I would think your vinegar jug would work to get you started.
Good to know - thanks!
 

AkTom

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It won't take long and you'll want to get an 8 gallon fermenting bucket. I know , I have 2. Making 5-6 gallons at a time is great. Then of course you'll need 3 or 4 carboys....
 

JohnT

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It all depends on what type of vinegar was in the jug.

Wine is converted to vinegar by bacteria (acetobacter). If the vinegar was distilled, then in theory, there should be no acetobacter that will ruin your wine. I know that some vinegars are not distilled and this would definitely be a risk.

My suggestion? Toss away the vinegar jugs (just to be safe)
 

jswordy

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I hear all kinds of horror stories. I have used vinegar jugs before, just wash them out really good and sanitize them well. I hear horror stories about people just making wine where vinegar is present and having it turn off. Horror stories about people making wine where foods have been fermented, or kombucha, and having it turn out off. Oh, the HORRORS!

My wife uses vinegar in cooking, and ferments all kinds of food and drinks, all in the same spot I make wine. I use her old vinegar jugs at times for excess wine.

I'm pretty sure it is all about making sure you are meticulous when sanitizing (inside and OUTSIDE of the container), keeping your hands sanitized constantly too (which many people do not do) and using a good sanitizer product by the label directions.

I have never had a vinegar problem. I have an alcohol problem. :D
 

Jericurl

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@jswordy

We just made our first kombucha and we are in love!
 

jugs

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Thanks, all. I do plan to be meticulous (already neutralized any remaining white vinegar with baking soda, will thoroughly wash jugs with a bottle brush, and then the jug will go into a 5-gallon bucket of StarSan solution to soak for a few minutes).

I'm sure you're correct in that I'll eventually want a larger container. Preparing a few 1-gallon containers, racking them, etc. would get bothersome quickly. But, I already have the jugs and figure I'd try them out first and grow into this.

Thanks again!
 

PhilDarby

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As others have said be sure to clean and sterilise well before use.
 

Scooter68

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For the risk - I just wouldn't do it. Buy a bottle of Apple Juice or something that is not potentially harboring a wine killing bacteria.

Plastic can get small nicks and hide bacteria. That's one reason many cooks refuse to use plastic cutting boards, the plastic can become a serious and dangerous hiding place for bacteria.
 

dralarms

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I guess they'd be ok, 4 of my carboys used to house sulfuric acid.
 

Scooter68

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I guess they'd be ok, 4 of my carboys used to house sulfuric acid.

I've had a couple of cheap box wines that tasted like there were fermented in an unrinsed jug like that. :sh

Still think I'd go buy a jug of Apple cider or Apple Juice. Hate to use any more plastic than I have to. Fermentation bucket and my hydrometer tubes are my only exceptions.
 

dralarms

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I've had a couple of cheap box wines that tasted like there were fermented in an unrinsed jug like that. :sh

Still think I'd go buy a jug of Apple cider or Apple Juice. Hate to use any more plastic than I have to. Fermentation bucket and my hydrometer tubes are my only exceptions.
Well when I got these they had been used for wine for years, the only reason I know what was in them was they still had the Styrofoam "housing" around them and it had the symbol for sulfuric acid. I still scrubbed the crap out of them before using them.
 

Scooter68

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I've seen a few batches of glass gallon jugs with chemical names on them at the recycling center most were Brown bottles. The names of the chemicals they stored was such that I walked away from them quickly - The chemical name took more than one line of the label to spell out. That was enough warning for me.
 

DiscoStu

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I'm cheap glass 1 gallon carboys are only 5 dollars at my brew store. 4 bucks each of you buy 4. Craigslist for the big guys. Just bought 3 5 gallons for 10 each. Patience. Plastic degrades and leeches over time in the short run there fine but consider the investment of glass. Don't drop them and they'll last forever.
 
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