Will opened juice spoil?

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Frostbitten

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I purchased an Italian Amarone kit. I poured in the grape juice, bentonite and oak into my 6 1/2 gl. Carboy on 4/26/17. I was unaware of the mesh bag and grapes skins and I can't get them through the neck of my carboy. I had to leave home for a few days and have the skins in the fridge but left the carboy with grape juice etc at room temp. Today I came home with a bucket fermenter to use but I have a couple issues to deal with. I could start it now but I will have leave it unattended from 5/4/17 to 5/9/17 so I would have to rack to secondary on the 4th after only 3 days or I leave it till the 9th when I return? How important is it to stir or punch down the skins? I would prefer to wait till the 9th to start the primary but I'm concerned the juice will be sitting 15 days at room temp and will spoil. Should I get it cold till then, freeze it or is the opened juice ok at room temp? Or start primary now and work the skins as directed until I leave town on the 4th, leaving unattended for 4 days and rack upon my return after a total of 8-10 days. I don't want to spoil a $180 kit.
 

rustbucket

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Frostbitten,

I've never dealt with this situation but here is what I would due if I found myself in your place; add about 1/2 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite to the juice, stir it well, and tightly seal the primary fermentation container in which you have the juice. The potassium metabisulfite will imped bacteria and other organisms from growing in your wine must; but, will not inhibit fermentation when you later add the yeast. You can then wait until you're back in town on May 9th and add your yeast and grape skins.

You can skip the mesh bag and add the grape skins directly to the carboy that you are using as a primary fermenter. The narrow neck on your carboy shouldn't be a problem if adding the skins directly. The only problem with doing this is that the skins sometimes clog the racking wand or auto siphon when you rack the wine. On the plus side, some people say that adding the grapes directly to the must improves the transfer of tannins and color from the skins.
 

Noontime

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I'm not sure I would ferment with skins in a carboy. I think I remember seeing problems other people had doing that (the skins get pushed out the neck by the gas maybe?). I'd get a bucket and rack out of the carboy, allowing to get the skins in there with the bag as well. If you do have the ability to refrigerate I definitely would until you can return and address everything properly (and add the kmeta like Ron suggested of course). If not, then just relying on the kmeta should prevent native yeast from fermenting.
 

richmke

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You are asking for trouble if you plan to ferment a 6 gallon kit in a 6.5 gallon carboy.

How big is your pail?

Remove 1 gallon (before pitching the yeast), and put that in the fridge. Ferment what you have left with the skins. When you get back, slowly add the removed juice (about 1/2 gallon per day).

> How important is it to stir or punch down the skins?

Kind of important. If you use a bag, you can put a weight in the bag (sanitized plate) to keep it submerged.

> is the opened juice ok at room temp?

No. You risk fermentation with unwanted bacteria.

You won't spoil a kit by keeping it in the Primary for an extra few days.
 
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Frostbitten

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I was not aware of the skins till I had poured the juice in the carboy. I agree with all about the problems with using a carboy. I now have an 8 gl Brewcraft Fermenter pail for all future primaries.

I've made room in the fridge for the carboy and can add the potassium metabisulfite. If something has already started growing will the PM stop it?

richmke - Why do you suggest removing 1 gallon and add later?

My main concern is the juice has been sitting now at room temp for 5 days and will sit for another full week.
 
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Floandgary

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Since you have an 8gal. fermenter, it will not be necessary to remove the 1 gallon. Strange things can happen during fermentation and if your vessel is full near the top, you can have some bubble-over. If it were me, I'd pitch the yeast without the skins. You'll likely be back before fermentation is done so you can put them in then. Unless you do as richmke suggested and weight the skins bag so it stays submerged. Do not apply any heat(er) to the fermenter!!
 

richmke

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I've made room in the fridge for the carboy and can add the potassium metabisulfite.
The k-meta shock, and fridge while you are gone, is a good option.

If something has already started growing will the PM stop it?
Yes, and no. If anything is there, it will knock it out, but nothing is 100%. Just like you can't stop an active fermentation, you can't kill everything. But, it make knock them out long enough to give your yeast a chance to take over. I have no idea if Ron gave you the right dose. I can't seem to find the recipe for making wine from grapes and killing wild yeast.

The time sitting in the fridge (and warm up when you get back) will hopefully give your juice enough time to disperse the k-meta so it doesn't kill your yeast when you pitch it.

richmke - Why do you suggest removing 1 gallon and add later?
The juice and skins will be about 6.5 gallons of your 8 gallon pail. That gives you about 1.5 gallons of head space for foaming. By removing 1 gallon (prior to pitching the yeast), that gives you 2.5 gallons of head space. By around day 4, the worst of the foaming should be behind you, and when you add the 1 gallon back, you shouldn't need as much head space for the foaming.

My main concern is the juice has been sitting now at room temp for 5 days and will sit for another full week.
Either start your fermentation now, or shock it with k-meta and put it in the fridge until you get back.
 

Frostbitten

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I appreciate all the helpful suggestions. I don't know if it's the right thing to do but I just went ahead and started the yeast. I was too concerned about wild yeast activation or bacteria if I waited another 8 days. I weighted the mesh bag. I'll keep the room at the minimum recommended so I can maybe gain an extra couple days of fermentation.
 

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