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Fermenting is one of the most popular ways to preserve and store food.
It’s not just for pickles anymore.
Fermenters come in all shapes and sizes. You may be wondering if a fermenter is too big for your needs.
The answer is no, but it can depend on the type of fermentation you are doing. If you are making wine or beer, then a larger container will be needed to accommodate the volume of liquid that will need to be fermented.
However, if you are just making kombucha or sauerkraut at home, then any size fermenter should work!
How Big Should My Fermenter Be?
Ferments have been used by cultures around the world for centuries, and they’re still being used today because they are easy to make, delicious, healthy, and cost-effective.
The best way to decide what size is right for you is by looking at how much beer you plan to produce in one fermentation period. The general rule is 20% larger than the beer quantity to ferment.
For example: If I am brewing an IPA which has a typical ABV of 6%, then I would be looking at using a 20–30-gallon fermenter.
A large jar with a wide mouth is perfect for kombucha and other small ferments, while a carboy or bucket will be needed if you are making wine or beer.
Fermenting in a ceramic pot? If so, make sure it has high sides to avoid contamination from the outside air.
For any size fermenter: Always use a non-reactive container for fermentation.
How Full Can You Fill a Fermenter?
Many factors go into determining how full you can fill a fermenter. The main factor is the type of beer being fermented and the yeast strain used.
The maximum volume of liquid you can fill into a fermenter is the total capacity minus headspace of 20-30%. If your tank has 20 gals (75L) in it, and there’s an inch of air at the top, then filling it any more would risk spilling over when shaking or stirring to aerate.
The other common measurement for fullness is specific gravity.
For beers with higher alcohol content, it may be possible to get a little more volume into your fermenter than for weaker beers or lagers.
The fermenter is typically at its full capacity when the beer has reached a gravity reading of one.
This happens about five to ten days after pitching yeast and starting fermentation, depending on factors such as temperature.
When you are high-gravity brewing, it may be possible for your fermenter to get up to 30% more volume than if that same beer were weaker in alcohol.
What Happens If You Ferment Beer Too Long?
Fermentation is the process of yeast converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The beer-making process starts with grain, which is then heated to release its natural sugars.
Yeast is added to the mixture to start fermentation.
Fermenting too long can lead to several problems, including increased acidity; reduced head retention; lower levels of esters, terpenes, and phenols (important components in hop aroma); and higher concentrations of dimethyl sulfide (which produces a cooked corn flavor).
Fermenting beer too long can lead to an unpleasant flavor.
This is because the yeast will continue to eat sugars even after all of them have been consumed.
The result is a dry, nutty taste that may be accompanied by fruity flavors like banana and pear.
How Do You Know When Primary Fermentation Is Done?
Primary fermentation is the first stage of alcoholic beverage production, where yeast converts sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
It is a crucial step in the brewing process.
The process happens in a sealed container with an airlock to allow gases to escape without letting in outside air or bacteria.
You can determine when primary fermentation has been completed by examining your beer’s specific gravity, or SG (this will help you measure how much sugar is left in your wort). When the SG reaches 1.010 to 1.012, it means that most of the fermentable sugars have been converted to alcohol.
Primary fermentation can’t be rushed, but it also can’t go on too long either.
The result of primary fermentation will be determined by how quickly or slowly this initial process goes.
To know when primary fermentation is done you need to follow these 3 steps:
1) Check Your Hydrometer Reading
Take a hydrometer reading before and after your fermentation has completed.
The difference should be in the range of 0.001% ABV or less.
This range means that you’re finished fermenting. If it’s not within this range then keep going for another day or two.
2) Observe The Airlock for Activity
To observe your airlock:
Take a look at any bubbles that are coming out of your airlock—if they’re small, steady, and uniform then your fermentation has finished.
If you’re still noticing gas coming out of the airlock but not as often or with large bubbles then keep going.
3) Sample The Beer and Taste It
To sample your beer without getting any bacteria in it (and ruining everything) use a sterile syringe.
Fill it with your beer, and then stick it in a glass of water to take the sample.
The best time to do this is when you plan on taking hydrometer readings every day or two. This will help you monitor how quickly fermentation takes place.
If bubbles are coming out of the syringe but not enough liquid pressure, then fermentation is still happening.
If the beer tastes similar to what it did before, then you’re done.
When you notice off flavors like diacetyl or acetaldehyde, then keep going for another day or two and take a look at your airlock.
It can be difficult to know when fermentation is done. The best thing to do is follow these steps and watch for any irregularities in the process.
Why Does It Matter When Primary Fermentation Is Done?
Determining when primary fermentation is complete will enable you to determine when to transfer your brew from the primary fermenter into a secondary vessel for aging.
Check out an article on What Is a Black Garlic Fermenter?