How to Clean and Sanitize Fermentation Equipment

How well do you need to clean your fermentation or brewing equipment? Do you need to sterilize it? This article aims to shed light on the subject!

Several criteria will ensure that your desired ferment strain will easily take over the unwanted micro-organisms.

But, as it happens when two “enemy” strains are sitting near the pool, it is better to take extra precautions to ensure that our VIP bacteria are not intimidated.

Before starting a fermentation; all containers, instruments, worktops and hands (!) should be thoroughly washed and rinsed to limit the presence of unwanted micro-organisms.

No need to become a sterilization freak, simply because it is often not necessary to sterilize.

 

Do I Need to Sanitize My Equipment?

Not all home ferments require sanitized equipment. Regular cleaning could be enough. It really depends on the fermentation type!

 

Acidic or Mixed Fermentation

Acidic or mixed fermentation (vegetables, kombucha, water kefir, vinegar, etc.) are sturdy and often fierce enough not to let the invaders take over. A good wash is enough.

 

Milk-Based Fermentation

Milk-based fermentations (yogurt, milk kefir, cheese, etc.) have a medium strength.

It is probably wise to clean your containers and instruments the first few times and, after a few successful tests with your equipment, you can proceed without cleaning.

 

Alcoholic Fermentation

For the more delicate fermentation such as alcoholic fermentation (beer, sake, root beer, cider, mead, etc.), sanitation is necessary.

 

Cleaning Method

  1. Cleaning: Wash with dishwashing detergent and hot water, then carefully rinse with clear water.
  2. Sanitation: Rinse with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach in 4 litres (16 cups) of water for 30 seconds, then rinse neatly with clear water. Always clean the previously cleaned equipment!

By following this sanitizing method, spores or micro-organisms will remain, but in insufficient quantities to contaminate fermentation. Sanitizer products for brewers can also be used.

Sanitation by scalding or by spraying alcohol at 70% is not recommended: boiling water can crack the carboys and alcohol sold as a disinfectant in pharmacies often contains a bittering agent which, without proper rinsing, could find their way back into your food.

Text taken from the “Fermentation Revolution” book.

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