Using 2gal or 5gal buckets to ferment

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Biggz

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Hello WMT,

I noticed that when you use just a 1gal carboy to make wine that you have to top off after racking and of course you do not have any extra when using the exact amount. So my question is if i was to buy a 2 gallon bucket to ferment can i make 1.5 gallons for the top off in the new 1gallon vessel after racking or do i almost need to make a full 2 gallons? I made a gallon of Orange blossom honey mead for the 1st time and i had to top it off with some light white wine and would have rather of used more honey mead instead. I am so new to this stuff but am reading my old butt off and understanding more and more and it is very interesting to me. I just got my springless bottle filler today so i think i have everything i need now except the bucket apparently!IMG_20221207_134536945.jpg

Also would I need to buy the lid and the air lock or just use like a cheese cloth or something to cover the bucket? Thank you for your help!

Thank you
Biggz
 

hounddawg

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you can use a cloth to cover your ferment bucket,
you can order online bottles that have the 38-400 thread your gallon jugs have, i have them in half gallon, quarts and pints so they use the same 6.5 drilled bung for extra topping off, as well a small universal drilled bung flipped upside down will let you airlock wine bottles for your extra topping off stuff,
Dawg
 

BigDaveK

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You learned why many of us make a slightly larger batch.

Most of my small batches are are 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 gallons, usually depending on the quantity of leftover pulp I'm expecting. Don't religiously follow a recipe, use it as a guide. I add extra fruit, adjust the SG to 1.085-1.090, adjust acid to around pH 3.5.

I got my 2 gallon buckets from a bakery, for free. My favorite price!!
 

vinny

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I use 2 gallon buckets. There is no reason not to use a 5 gallon, I just like that it only takes up the space it needs and is easier to stir and punch down your fruit bags into the (deeper) liquid.

I often add a little more fruit than the recipe calls for to compensate, but my technique was developed out of complete laziness. I measured 1.5 gallons and put a mark on the side of my bucket. With an average 4-6 lb fruit recipe, I fill to that mark including the fruit in a nutbag bag. I make sure my SG is about 1.100 and by the time I squeeze out the bag and rack I am usually at 1 full gallon jug and a liter milk jug. Sometimes I get 1.5 liters of top up and put the other 500ml in a mason jar.


Either way, I enjoy pushing the recipe past the 1 gallon mark so that I can top up any wine with itself and I don't have to dilute it with a random wine.
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BigDaveK

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I use 2 gallon buckets. There is no reason not to use a 5 gallon, I just like that it only takes up the space it needs and is easier to stir and punch down your fruit bags into the (deeper) liquid.

I often add a little more fruit than the recipe calls for to compensate, but my technique was developed out of complete laziness. I measured 1.5 gallons and put a mark on the side of my bucket. With an average 4-6 lb fruit recipe, I fill to that mark including the fruit in a nutbag bag. I make sure my SG is about 1.100 and by the time I squeeze out the bag and rack I am usually at 1 full gallon jug and a liter milk jug. Sometimes I get 1.5 liters of top up and put the other 500ml in a mason jar.


Either way, I enjoy pushing the recipe past the 1 gallon mark so that I can top up any wine with itself and I don't have to dilute it with a random wine.
View attachment 96111
Those bottles without air locks - is that some kind of Canadian air wine?
 

Biggz

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Thank you very much for all the information Hounddawg,BigDaveK and Vinny. So really any food grade safe bucket with a cloth cover or a lid with the bung and airlock will work then? And iI would probably just stay small i am the only one that drinks it mostly and i do not have a lot of room.

Thanks again
Biggz
 
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Thank you very much for all the information Hounddawg,BigDaveK and Vinny. So really any food grade safe bucket with a cloth cover or a lid with the bung and airlock will work then?

Thanks again
Biggz
Not one of those guys, but I'll answer. Yes, any food safe bucket is fine. Also any Rubbermaid Trash Can is labeled NSF and is fine to use as well.
 
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Thank you very much for all the information Hounddawg,BigDaveK and Vinny. So really any food grade safe bucket with a cloth cover or a lid with the bung and airlock will work then?
If it's food grade plastic, it's good. Stainless steel also works, e.g., 5 gallon pots.

I strongly recommend filling the primary no more than 3/4 full. Ferments with lots of solids can overflow, which makes a mess and wastes wine.

EDIT: Craig posted shortly before I did, and we are on the same wavelength. ;)
 

vinny

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I just use the lid. Loose, no need to seal it down.

Yeast need oxygen in the first stages of fermentation and it is good to stir it into your must. Once they get really active they are producing tons of co2. You can't introduce enough oxygen to damage the wine, so you can stir up that co2 and release it to make it a friendlier environment for the yeast to keep going for the first 5 days or so. This is where headspace in the bucket comes in handy. Too much must and you get a volcano spilling over your bucket as the co2 is released.

6 gallon kits, this is the stage when I stir to introduce oxygen.
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My 2 gallon pails
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I pretty well always use a nut bag for solids. You just sanitize your hands, wring it out, and rack to your jug.
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Rice_Guy

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Agree with all of the above on the primary.
On small batches I try to do four liters for a primary and rack it into a four liter wine bottle with air lock etc, if needed this will be topped off with juice from the freezer. This is then racked into a 3.78 liter (1 gallon) to pull it off the lees, it may stay in the 3.78 liter six to eight months. From here it might be racked to a bottling container or if necessary to clean it up into another gallon jug.
 

vinny

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Agree with all of the above on the primary.
On small batches I try to do four liters for a primary and rack it into a four liter wine bottle with air lock etc, if needed this will be topped off with juice from the freezer. This is then racked into a 3.78 liter (1 gallon) to pull it off the lees, it may stay in the 3.78 liter six to eight months. From here it might be racked to a bottling container or if necessary to clean it up into another gallon jug.
Juice to top up...

More base flavour, less headspace, no dilution or uncharacteristic flavors added.

Something I had never considered and now on my things to try list.

Thanks @Rice_Guy
 
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On small batches I try to do four liters for a primary and rack it into a four liter wine bottle with air lock etc, if needed this will be topped off with juice from the freezer.
Adding juice, or anything containing sugar, can produce a renewed fermentation. This is not a bad thing, but should be part of the plan.

The easiest choice is to plan the batch so that the main secondary container is full, even after racking off the lees. Having a bunch of small containers for excess is important -- I have bottles from 125 ml and up, and most wine-type bottles will accept a #3 drilled stopper. Having a bunch of extra airlocks is good, as are vented bungs.

As all the above advice indicates, having a solid Plan B is very important, as things don't always go as planned. There's more sediment than expected so the final volume is less, maybe the final volume just didn't work out, or the opposite, the volume was more so containers to hold it are needed.

In short, assume something will go wrong (volume-wise), and be prepared. The worst case scenario is that you have equipment you're not using.

Also -- I didn't see it mentioned -- top up with a compatible wine. Light tasting dry white wines will do for most fruit and white wines, and a large variety of reds will work for dark fruits and red wines. Always keep in mind that the most important thing is to protect your investment; time, effort, and resources has gone into the wine, so ensure it's protected.
 

VinesnBines

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Yes, do be prepared to top up. Though be aware when you get more than one or two carboys, larger than one gallon, that sizes vary wildly. I racked three wines last night. Two were in "five" gallon carboys. One needed about 1/3 gallon to top up to another "five" gallons and the second five gallon to five gallon needed nothing. I racked one "six" gallon to another "six" gallon and again needed nearly 1/3 gallon to top up.

I have a supply of my own wines to top up so that was easy enough. One wine is a Traminette and I don't have any in reserve so I planned to use a commercial Gewürztraminer (a parent of Traminette) to top up. I opened the Gewürztraminer to be prepared. Of course that was the wine that needed no top up. What do we say about the best laid plans?

 
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