From vineyards to glass, wine preservation is a constant challenge for winemakers. The many variables of fermentation, exposure to air, and high sugar content in grapes are all factors that can lead to the creation of destructive bacteria such as acetic acid (vinegar) and acetogens (methanogenic bacteria).
These microorganisms can be harmful if left unchecked, creating an acidic environment that can produce volatile phenols like ethyl acetate and fusel alcohols. With so many variables at play, winemakers have long relied on additives known as “chemical preservatives” or “natural preservatives” to prevent contamination or fermentation before they begin maturation.
Here we explore two common wine additives home and commercial winemakers use Campden tablets and locked-down sulfites.
Related: Reasons Why Your Wine Turn Brown
What are Campden tablets?
Campden tablets are a fast-acting sulfur-based food preservative (to sterilize wine, cider, and in beer) that you mix with water to prevent fermentation from taking place. They’re used in the wine industry to sterilize it by killing bacteria and preventing the growth of wild yeast, but can also be used in other recipes such as cider and beer.
Moreover, Campden tablets (sodium metabisulfite) are used to eliminate both free chlorine and the more stable form, chloramine, from your brewing water such as municipal water making it great for brewing.
A Campden tablet is a fast-acting food preservative used to add shelf-life to fruit and sugar solutions. In most cases, they are used as an anti-oxidizing agent when transferring wine between containers. The tablet contains the white sulfur of Sodium or Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate, which acts as an anti-microbial agent.
When dissolved in water the tablet will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, which helps it react faster with other ingredients in your recipe. It is one of the most commonly used food additives to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product.
How do Campden tablets work?
Campden tablets work by acting as an anti-microbial agent and creating small amounts of CO2 that reacts with other ingredients in your recipe. The Campden tablet contains white sulfur, which is a chemical compound found naturally in various foods.
When the tablet is dissolved in water, it reacts with other ingredients in your recipe to release CO2 gas. The gas created by the Campden tablet has four functions:
- It helps react with the other ingredients in your recipe;
- It actively eliminates mold and bacteria
- It enables fermentation to occur without infection by wild yeast
- It can alter the aroma and taste of your wine or fruit juice
To be effective the Campden tablet must come into contact with all or most of the sugar solution. This can be achieved by adding the tablet directly to fruit juice before cooking or by adding it to whole fruits or fruit purees during cooking.
How to use Campden tablets?
From our brewing experience, we recommend that you should not use more than 3 Campden tablets per gallon of wine. The most important thing to remember about Campden tablets is to use them sparingly.
Too many tablets will result in a lack of flavor and produce an overly acidic wine. You should use no more than 3 Campden tablets per gallon of wine spaced out into these three separate occasions before the yeast, after the first racking, and just prior to bottling again to prevent oxidation.
Campden tablets can be dissolved in warm water or alcohol. The most common way to dissolve a tablet is through the use of boiling water by stirring it until it’s fully dissolved into a solution.
If you choose to dissolve your tablet in a liquid with a higher acid content such as white wine, do so with caution as this may cause it to react too quickly and form corked wine.
One Campden tablet will typically cover up to 5 gallons of liquid. This means that 1-2 Campden tablets should suffice for most cooking recipes.
There are two types of Campden tablets: potassium metabisulfite and sodium metabisulfite; they’re not interchangeable and care must be taken when using each one as they react differently when dissolved in different liquids (see below).
Uses For Campden Tablets
Campden tablets are used to prevent infection and spoilage in a number of fruit-based products, such as wine and cider. They work by decreasing the acidity in a solution where yeast is present, which prevents it from reproducing. It does this by producing a small amount of carbon dioxide gas.
This gas reacts with other ingredients to lower the pH of your mixture, thereby creating an environment that is not suitable for microbial growth.
For example, if you added Campden tablets to apple juice and let it sit for 15 minutes, the pH level would be lowered from 3 to 2.5 because of the amounts of CO2 released in the reaction.
One interesting use for Campden tablets is for increasing the shelf life of cut flowers. When adding Campden tablets to water used to water plants or when watering cut flowers, they will release CO2 into the soil and flowers instead of oxygen.
This will prevent bacteria from growing on them and will keep them fresh for much longer than they would otherwise last without any protection at all.
1. Treating Juices and Must for Wine Making
It is not uncommon for people to use Campden tablets in their wines. These tablets are used to treat the juice and must be added before it is fermented.
The Campden tablet will help create the right environment for fermentation to take place. They also offer a good preservative, making your wine safer and with a better shelf life.
Campden tablets are used in both white and red wines to prevent them from fermenting too soon with any wild yeast that might be floating around in the air.
This gives you more control over the wine’s flavor profile, as well as giving you more time to make your wine before it needs to be bottled.
In order for this treatment to work, you will need to calculate how many milligrams of calcium sulfate or sodium bicarbonate should be added per liter of liquid by using this formula: (2x number of liters) x (0,1g) = number of Campden tablets needed per liter
2. Preventing Oxidation After Racking
If you have ever had a wine taste overly acidic, chances are it was due to oxidation. When oxygen comes in contact with an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol will react with it and cause the wine to taste sour.
This is because the yeast consumes the sugar in wine and ferments it into alcohol. The byproduct of this fermentation process is carbon dioxide gas. Ethanol (alcohol) reacts with any oxygen through a series of chemical reactions converting it into acetaldehyde
Campden tablets can be used to remove oxygen from your wine after racking so that you can store or bottle it without worrying about oxidation taking place.
To do this, simply dissolve one Campden tablet per gallon of wine and wait at least 24 hours before bottling again or storing.
3. Removing Chlorine From Brewing Water
If you want to make your own brew at home, then it’s important that you start with great-tasting water. Chlorine can create an unpleasant taste and smell in your drink. Luckily, it is easy to remove chlorine from your brewing water with Campden tablets.
The tablets eliminate both free chlorine and the more stable form, chloramine, from your brewing water such as municipal water making it great for brewing. As discussed previously, chlorinated water is not great for brewing since chlorine can mess up living organisms’ growth.
The Campden tablets will eliminate chlorine and chloramine almost instantaneously. The use of sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite thus ensures that you do not need to get distilled water or reverse osmosis water for brewing.
Related: Can You Use RO Water for Brewing Beer? Reverse Osmosis Water for brewing Lager
4. As a Sanitizing Solution For Equipment
Campden tablets are also used as a sanitizing solution for equipment. The tablet can be dissolved in water and used to clean surfaces that come into contact with food.
It is important to note that Campden tablets should not be used on aluminum or copper surfaces, as they may corrode the surface, or on the inside of pots and pans.
To use Campden tablets as a sanitizing solution, crush up four tablets into a quart of water or 16 tablets to one gallon. Then use it on the surfaces and equipment that will be used for wine preparation.
When to use Campden tablets?
The Campden tablets should be used during the recommended 3 times in the wine-making process which is before the yeast, after the first racking, and just prior to bottling again to prevent oxidation.
You should add one tablet per gallon of wine 24 hours before adding the wine yeast that is before the fermentation starts. After fermentation, you should add one tablet per gallon just before bottling.
Campden tablets are an excellent food preservative and an effective way to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product. They work by killing the microbes with a quick release of carbon dioxide gas, which helps to react faster with other ingredients in your recipe.
Campden tablets work to preserve the freshness of any food or drink you are preparing. They are commonly used by winemakers, brewers, and cider makers.
Alternatives to using Campden tablets
The alternative food preservative to Campden tablets is Potassium sorbate. To note however is that Potassium Sorbate halts the fermentation of wine while the Campden tablets (metabisulfites) do not.
Rather than using a Campden tablet you can go for potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite to preserve your wine and produce.
The use of alternatives is because Campden tablets alter the taste and aroma of your wine. The change in aroma and taste does not make the wine profile better.
There is an alternative to using Campden tablets. potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite in the form of a granulated powder which is cheaper and does not require crushing but you have to measure out the dosage (1/16 teaspoon per tablet) rather than using a tablet.
They are also a lot less acidic and can be used to extend shelf-life for up to two weeks. The same principle applies to Campden tablets, where they react with other ingredients in your recipe, protecting them from unwanted fermentation.
Pros of using Campden tablets
Campden tablets offer a number of key benefits for food creators. As an additive, the tablet will change the pH level in your recipe, which helps to keep your recipe free from bacteria and other microorganisms that could lead to spoilage.
Campden tablets also work as a preservative, allowing you to store your produce or fruit juices for up to two weeks without refrigeration.
Here are some of the pros of using Campden tablets:
- They prevent fermentation from occurring, which means they last indefinitely if stored properly
- They have a long shelf life and can be used without refrigeration
- They last for years when used as directed
- They are inexpensive when bought in bulk
- You need only use one Campden tablet per gallon of solution and they dissolve quickly
Cons of Using Campden Tablets
Campden tablets are not the only type of food preservative and are not necessary in every recipe. They need to be used in a solution that is high in sugar or fruit content, as they will react faster with these ingredients. Campden tablets can also cause light-colored foods, such as jams, to take on an undesirable brown hue.
Moreover, the Sodium Metabisulfite present in Campden tablets is a skin and eye irritant. Therefore, to prevent irritation, ensure that you put on your protection as you use it.
Moreover, do not overdose since some people can be allergic to sulfur.
Side effects of using Campden tablets
The chemical can irritate your skin and eyes and thus should be used with protective gear for the eyes and hands. The person using the tablet should be careful not to get splashes from the chemical.
If you get a splash, rinse the chemical solution quickly with lots of water.
Moreover, sodium Metabisulfite should be used in moderation. A maximum of 3 tablets per gallon is recommended in the wine preparation.
Finally, it’s important to note that some people are allergic to sulfites. Therefore, ensure that you notify the consumers of your wine that you used a sulfur-containing product in the preparation to ensure you do not ruin your party or event.
Campden tablets are a food preservative and are used to prevent fermentation from taking place in fruit juices and sugar solutions. The tablet contains Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, which acts as an anti-microbial agent when dissolved in water.
When dissolved in water the tablet will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, which helps it react faster with other ingredients in your recipe. There are many different uses for Campden tablets.
You can use them to preserve wine, beer, or cider by adding one Campden tablet per gallon of liquid. You can also use them to add shelf-life to fruit juice or sugar solution without altering the flavor and for this, you need only add one Campden tablet per four liters of liquid (1 tsp per liter).
Campden tablets are often used in home brewing where they help maintain flavor by preventing fermentation from taking place. They should be used at the same time as yeast, but only half the quantity is needed.
As with all food additives they should not be used over the recommended dosage and some people can be allergic to sulfites so take care not to get any on your skin or rub it into your eyes.
Campden tablets per gallon
The most common use of Campden tablets is in winemaking. Nowadays, many people are using them to help preserve their wines.
When you’re making wine, you want it to be preserved for as long as possible without becoming over-oxidized. This is why adding Campden tablets to your wine before bottling is so important.
As a preventative measure, use no more than 3 Campden tablets per gallon of wine spaced out into these three separate occasions before the yeast, after the first racking, and just prior to bottling again to prevent oxidation.
It’s advisable to use Campden tablets in a 1:100 ratio; one tablet should dissolve into 100 parts of water, and this will be your preserving agent for your fruit or sugar solutions.
When using Campden tablets, you must remember that they are not preservatives in and of themselves, but they act as an anti-microbial agent that inhibits fermentation.
This is why it is important to use no more than 3 Campden tablets per gallon of wine spaced out into these three separate occasions before the yeast, after the first racking, and just prior to bottling again to prevent oxidation in the wine.
The reason for this is that you want your wine to ferment slowly so that the flavors can develop; by adding Campden tablets it will slow down the process.
What Campden Tablets Won’t Do?
Campden Tablets will not stop fermentation completely. They will only slow it down. As such they are not an appropriate substitute for sulfites in winemaking and should not be used to stabilize the wine.
Campden tablets are not a perfect fix for everything and should not be used for all purposes. Campden tablets will not stop fermentation completely and should not be used as a wine or beer stabilizer, or to keep yeast from working.
They are most commonly used as a food preservative by adding them to any fruit and sugar solution in order to prevent fermentation from taking place.
A Campden tablet is a fast-acting food preservative used to add shelf-life to fruit and sugar solutions. The tablet contains the white sulfur of Sodium or Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate, which acts as an anti-microbial agent.
When dissolved in water the tablet will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, which helps it react faster with other ingredients in your recipe. It is one of the most commonly used food additives to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product
Campden tablets are a common food preservative used to extend the shelf life of products. They are a fast-acting, cost-effective and easy way to add an anti-microbial agent to your recipe.
Campden tablets are a fast-acting food preservative that is used to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product. They are typically used to add shelf-life to fruit and sugar solutions.
The tablet contains the white sulfur of Sodium or Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate, which acts as an anti-microbial agent. When dissolved in water the tablet will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, which helps it react faster with other ingredients in your recipe.
It is one of the most commonly used food additives to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product.
What are Campden tablets?
Campden tablets are food preservatives that are used to prevent fermentation in a recipe. They contain the white sulfur of Sodium or Calcium Hydrogen Carbonate, which acts as an anti-microbial agent.
When dissolved in water, the tablets will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas, which helps them react faster with other ingredients in your recipe.
What is the Campden tablet used for?
Campden tablets are typically used to add shelf-life to fruit and sugar solutions. It is one of the most commonly used food additives to prevent fermentation from taking place in a product.
How do Campden tablets work?
When dissolved in water, Campden tablets will release small amounts of carbon dioxide gas. This bubbles up through the liquid and reacts with other ingredients in your recipe, which helps preserve it from turning rancid.
How do I store my Campden tablets?
Campden tablets should be stored somewhere out of direct sunlight at room temperature away from moisture or humidity levels that may cause them to deteriorate over time.
They can also be stored upside down so that any residual liquid on the surface is kept on top rather than seeping back up into the inactive ingredients and altering their effectiveness over time by breaking down their structures prematurely.
How do I use a Campden tablet?
To use a Campden tablet, you will first need to dissolve it in warm water before adding it to your recipe. To dissolve the Campden tablets in water simply pour them into boiling water and let them sit for 24 hours before using them
Make sure to stir occasionally as they are dissolving in order to ensure an even distribution of the ingredient throughout the solution. Once dissolved, your solution will be ready for use!