“Racking” mead is simply the process of separating the mead from its sediment, ailment approved or lees, clinic and transferring the mead into another container using a siphon. Although it is a simple process, viagra 100mg it is one that needs to be mastered. Many meadmakers suggest that you rack only once (from the primary fermenter into the secondary fermenter) and once or twice, during secondary, to help produce a clear mead. Racking has a tendency to remove not only the dead yeast but also a large percentage of the viable yeast cells that have settled to the bottom. Over-racking mead can slow or halt fermentation, can introduce oxygen into the mead, or organisms that can ruin it.
The physical act of “racking” is simply using a siphon tube. The tubing should be flexible, food grade, clear vinyl, and most have a 3/8” ID. This size will transfer a carboy of mead fairly quickly, with out too much suction (that can pick up lees you are trying to leave behind).
A “Racking Cane” is usually clear rigid acrylic tubing or a stainless steel tube (with a 3/8” OD) that is attached to the end of the siphon tube that goes into the full carboy. They usually have some sort of a tip that raises the opening of the tube above the lees, therefore reducing the amount of lees transferred. Another advantage of the racking cane is you can put the opening where you want it in the original carboy. Tubing has a habit of curling and making it difficult to place the opening of the tube where you want it.
How to rack mead
- CLEAN & SANITIZE everything that will come into contact with your mead, carboy, hose racking cane, air lock and stopper (don’t forget your hands).
- Move the carboy with your mead to a table or counter, and allow time to settle anything you might have disturbed while moving it.
- Place the empty carboy lower than the first one. (Some people purge this carboy with CO2, to prevent oxidation.)
- You are now ready to rack your mead using one of the three methods described below.
- A. Sucking is the easiest and simplest way to get the mead flowing from the upper carboy to the lower one. But, it is also the least desirable method, due to the risk of contaminating your mead. Begin by putting the racking cane (or one end of the hose) into the upper carboy.
Hold the free end of the hose below the upper carboy, and near the opening of the lower carboy, and suck until the mead starts to flow. Quickly place the hose into the empty carboy and let gravity do the rest.
- B. Water Primingis another simple way to start the flow of mead into the second carboy. You will need one additional item – a bucket or catch pan.
Hold both ends of the hose, both ends up and at the same height, and fill it completely full of clean water. Close the end that will go into the empty carboy with your clean finger, and hold it below the level of the mead. Quickly place the racking cane (or the other end of the hose) into the mead. When you remove your finger from the lower end, the water will flow out and begin to pull the mead with it. Let this initial flow go into the bucket or catch pan. When you are sure there is only mead flowing out of the tube, stop it with your finger and move the hose into the clean carboy. Gravity will now do all the work.
- C. Auto-Siphonis a commercial gadget that is probably the best money you could spend (and it is very inexpensive). To use the Auto-Siphon, lower it almost to the very bottom of the upper carboy, being careful not to submerge the tip into the sediment. One or two strokes of the racking cane will normally be sufficient to pump the mead all the way through the hose and begin the flow of mead into the clean carboy. The only drawback I am aware of is the Auto-Siphon won’t fit into many of the one-gallon fermenters I use.
- Put the cleaned and sanitized air-lock back on.
Some additional racking tips:
Always have the end of the siphon tube below the surface of the Mead to avoid exposing the flow to the air.
The hose must be at the bottom of the second carboy to avoid splashing, and therefore aerating, the mead.
To minimize wasting mead, tip the top container slightly – about an inch – by wedging a small object underneath one end. You can now siphon out of the lower corner, and get nearly every bit of mead out of the fermenter without transferring the lees.
When doing the first couple of rackings, don’t worry about leaving all of the sediment behind. Get as much of the liquid as you can, even if it some of the sediment comes with it. It is when you do your final racking that you will want to leave all of the sediment behind at the expense of some mead.
Mead that is or has recently fermented will often have a lot of CO2 dissolved in it. When exposed to the turbulence, caused by siphoning, the carbon dioxide can come out of solution, forming bubbles. These bubbles can gather into one large bubble, and this can cause the siphon to fail. This rarely happens if you are just using flexible tubing, because the bubbles normally form at the junction of the rigid plastic tube and the flexible siphon tubing where there is a slight change in inner diameter (and thus, turbulence). If you see bubbles forming there, pinch the flexible tubing where you see the bubbles, and they will be forced down stream.
Now is a good time to take a sample and measure the Specific Gravity and taste your mead. Write down the results as well as the date and tasting notes.
KEEP a RECORD
You will be able to duplicate your successes – as well as avoid making mistakes over again – if you keep a record of each fermentation. This can be as simple as just jotting down notes, buy information pills as you go, medical and keeping them in a loose-leaf folder, buy more about or as formal as a mead journal or a computer file. Whatever your choice, fill it out religiously and consistently. Try to keep it handy. I keep mine in a plastic page-protector, on the carboy, during fermentation, and transfer it to a loose-leaf notebook after bottling. Keep the book in your fermentation area.
Each record should have, at a minimum:
Dates – when you began, dates of events (such as rackings and nutrient additions, etc.), when you bottled.
Measurements (Original Gravity, Final Gravity, pH, etc.).
Quantities- amount & variety of honey, amount & type of fruit, additions of acids, tannins, etc.
Temperature of fermentation area.
This is the MeadLog I use. I have adapted it from one I found, several years ago, on the internet. I cannot remember whose site is was, but I would like to give him credit for the original design. It has helped me a great deal. It opens in a new window – copy it and use it.