There are situations when due to heavy employment, urgent business trip or breakage of the moonshine distiller can not immediately overtake the fermented brew, delaying the process for 7-14, and sometimes 20-30 days. There is nothing wrong with this, with the correct organization of the storage process, braga can stand without consequences for several weeks.
Deterioration of the properties of braga can occur for the following reasons:
1. The souring
After fermentation stops, the yeast stops releasing carbon dioxide, which pushes out oxygen. If the braga comes into contact with air, then the ingress of oxygen into the wort causes souring – aerobic microorganisms are activated, they process the alcohol in the braga for water and acid. As a result, the output of moonshine decreases and a sour taste appears.
To prevent souring of the braga in storage, it is necessary to protect the access of oxygen, keeping the container hermetically closed or under a water seal.
2. Yeast by-products
Processing sugar in the wort, yeast in addition to alcohol and carbon dioxide emit other substances, many of which degrade the quality of the brew.
It is interesting that the most harmful impurities accumulate is the fermented braga – when the sugar runs out, the yeast begins to eat their dead relatives or find other sources of food from the remains of plant raw materials.
It is necessary to destroy the yeast or create unfavorable conditions under which they will go into suspended animation (“fall asleep”). To do this, the fermented braga is removed from the sediment, clarified (preferably) and stored in the cold, but not at subzero temperatures.
For clarification, it is best to add vodka, alcohol or tails from the previous distillation to the braga. As a result, the concentration of ethyl alcohol will increase and this will become an obstacle to the activation of yeast and harmful microorganisms.
You can kill yeast by pasteurization, but this process is comparable to distillation in terms of labor and time, so it is often impractical.
3. Decomposition of plant residues
It is typical for fruit and grain brags. The remains of raw materials accumulate together with the dead yeast in the form of sediment on the bottom. Sooner or later, this sediment begins to decompose (rot) or becomes a source of backup food for yeast. Both options have a negative impact on the quality of moonshine. This is another reason why the braga that has played out before storage is necessarily removed from the sediment (decanted).
4. Activation of other microorganisms
In addition to acetic bacteria, other microorganisms can spoil the braga, which, depending on the raw material, cause mold, milk, oil and even glycerol fermentation.
Technology of preparation of braga for storage
Sequence of actions:
- Make sure that the braga is fermented. Although a clear execution of the following steps of this instruction is guaranteed to stop fermentation, but the non-product is fraught with a decrease in the yield and, perhaps, not so rich in the taste and aroma of fruit and grain moonshine.
- Remove the braga from the sediment: using a tube, pour it into another plastic or glass container, taking care not to touch the sediment at the bottom.
- Lighten it. The stage is desirable, but not mandatory. It is best to add vodka, alcohol or “tails”from the previous distillation to the braga. It is necessary to raise the fortress to 16-18% vol to “preserve” yeast and other microorganisms. If we assume that the braga has fermented and gained a strength of 12%, then one liter requires 4-8% pure alcohol, the formula for calculating the amount. At the same time, it is important to remember that it is better not to pour grain distillates into fruit and berry brews, since they can kill the light aroma. There are other methods of clarification of braga, but they are not suitable for every raw material.
- Hermetically close the braga or put it under a reliable water seal.
- Transfer the container to a dark room with a temperature of +12-15 °C (preferably +2-5 °C). The main thing is not to allow the temperature to fall below zero and increase beyond the specified range.
- Leave the braga alone until distilled. Before distillation, remove from the sediment again.
Attention! If the braga remains at least a little sweet and the temperature may rise above +14 °C during storage, then it is necessary to put a water seal, otherwise carbon dioxide from the likely re-fermentation can break the container.
Shelf life of braga
The storage time without deterioration depends on the raw material and it will not be possible to accurately predict it. In any case, the earlier the distillation is done, the lower the risk.
Universal rule: the lighter the braga and lower the ambient temperature, the longer the shelf life.
The easiest way is with pure sugar braga, since it contains almost no vegetable impurities. This braga can be stored for 6 months or longer.
The most difficult case is grain braga, which is often very difficult to filter. It is better not to keep grain brews longer than 14 days, but this does not mean that after this period everything is lost, you need to distill, but the quality of moonshine can be worse.
In terms of shelf life in the middle are fruit and berry brews, which can stand for several months, provided high-quality filtration, in fact, this wine. The problem is that not every raw material can be removed from plant impurities. For example, most apple and grape braga can be stored longer if the fruits are not ripe (the pectin content is insignificant), but peach or apricot braga will begin to lose its properties faster.