First I want to start by thanking Pappers for the fantastic pasteurizing how-to on the thread" Easy Stove-Top Pasteurizing - With Pics
" If it had not been for that thread I would have had no starting point and would still be stuck drinking sweet still beverages or sparkling dry ones, but now because of that thread I can have my sweet and bubbles too. Hats of to you!!!
I am not one to EVER leave anything alone. I am constantly trying to improve my self and the things around me. After reading through the entire thread, and seeing the stories of bottle bombs I quickly concluded that the stories of brakeage were do to people not doing things exactly as Pappers described. They were not checking their CO2 levels, they were using the wrong bottles, and or they were not heating things as described in the thread. So quite simply if you wanted the pasteurizing process to be successful you needed to follow the directions and you could not deviate because there was little margin for error. It got me thinking even though this pasteurizing technique is highly effective was their room for improvement, is there a better way that might be a little less likely to go horribly wrong should some one make a mistake???
After looking at mistakes people make I devised a slightly different technique that has proven to work well for me:
Preparing for Pasteurization
1. I start with CLEAR cider or wine (if it is not clear it is still an active ferment and easy to overcarbonate), back-sweeten it and then bottle it in clean sanitized bottles with no imperfections. I place the bottles in a case and put the case in my basement where it is cooler.
2. Day two, I examine a bottle to see if the liquid has clouded up. if it has I proceed immediately to step 3, if not I give it another couple of days (this time may very for you depending on temperature and yeast used)
3. The #1 cause I found in the thread for bottles exploding during pasteurization is over carbonation so you must check the CO2 levels in the brew before you pasteurize. To do that after the brew has had a few days to carbonate I pop the cap and see if the liquid bubbles. If it does not I recap the bottle with a sterilized cap and put the date on the lid. I repeat this process, every couple days popping an un-dated cap until I have the desired co2 level. By recapping them I can allow them all to carbonate rather than drinking half of my cider before it carbonates.
I have heard two objections to recapping. The first is by popping the cap you are letting all the co2 out, but this simply is not the case. Yes some if it is escaping, but it is just like a bottle of pop, once you open it, if you re cap it the next time you open it there should still be co2 in it plus the yeast will continue to add more CO2 until you pasteurize. The second objection I often here is that by opening the bottle you run the risk of contaminating the beverage. There is a slight truth to this BUT because the bottle is destin to be pasteurized any contaminating microbe is going to be killed so it is really not an issue.
4. When my bottles are ready to pasteurize I place my stockpot on the stove with water in it, and turn the burner on high. I affix a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and watch the temperature closely. My max temp is 175ºF. I know in Pappers instructions it says to go with 190º but my technique allows you to use lower temps. I feel this is the single biggest step in increasing the margin for error, and is important because according to the Internet search I did the boiling point of alcohol is about 173º F and by starting with the stockpot at 175º compared to 190º there is less of a risk of increased bottle pressure due to expanding alcohol.
the water and alcohol mix will result in a boiling point some where between water and alcohol with it being closer to the boiling point of water, also internal pressure will also raise the boiling point. I only mentioned boiling point to show that alcoholic beverages are going to produce more pressure at lower temps.
To any of you that have used Pappers technique, I know what you are probably thinking "If you start with a lower temperature, once you add the bottles the temperature of the pasteurizing water will drop to low or you will only be able to do a few bottles at a time to maintain the correct temp" Because of the added step I am about to describe the opposite is true. My pasteurizing water temp barely drops AND I can "crowd the pot" and do 10 -12 bottles at a time.
5. While the water in my stockpot is heating I place my bottles in a second stockpot (sitting in my sink) and fill it with the hottest water I can get from my tap about 120ºF. This starts the pasteurizing process and preheats the bottles to a temperature closer to that of my pasteurizing bath. After about 10 minutes the temperature between the bottles and the tap water as equalizes so I turn the hot tap back on, letting the stockpot overflow as the cooler water is replaced by the new hot water.
6. By the time my pasteurizing pot gets up to 175º my bottles are already at 120º I then turn off the heat on the pasteurizing pot and transfer the hot bottles in to the pasteurizing bath. From there I remove the thermometer, cover the pot, and check the clock so I will know when 10 minutes has passed.
7. When time has elapsed I stick the thermometer back in the liquid and get a reading. the temperature change is usually less than 10º. Last night I pasteurized 10 bottles preheated to 120º with the pasteurizing liquid starting at 175º prior to adding the bottles. The final temp of the pasteurizing liquid 10 minutes later was 166ºF more than enough to pasteurize the liquid as 140º for 10 minutes is all that is required. From there I simply remove the bottles and let them cool.
If I had had more than 10 or 12 bottles to do I would have started preheating the next batch as soon as I transferred the first batch from the preheating stockpot in to the pasteurizing pot. Not only does this technique allow you to work with cooler temperatures, but it also allows you to heat the pasteurizing pot up quicker for the next batch because you only need to raise the temperature about 10º
This thread is by no means a slam against Pappers technique. What Pappers has provided is a proven method and safe when done correctly but there is not a lot of room to make mistakes. I just wanted to pass on what I have discovered. It IMHO gives you a little higher margin for error and thus reduces the chance of bottle bombs if a mistake is made in the process.