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How To Sterilise Fermentation Equipment

Fermentation equipment should be sterilized after every fermentation project to eradicate all microbes that might contaminate a future batch. Sterilizing fermentation equipment can be accomplished via a couple of ways, mainly by chemical or heat action, to kill all yeast and bacteria culture that might be left behind after the brew is done fermenting. This guide will go through all the possible ways you can sterilize your fermentation equipment and the various considerations involved in the process.

Considerations When Sterilising Fermentation Equipment

1. Type Of Material Used

The material of the fermentation container or equipment being cleaned will determine the exact method of cleaning to be used. This is due to the fact that certain chemicals will often react with metals, while others cannot altogether remove the stains left behind on glass surfaces after fermentation.

Some sterilization processes usually involve extreme heat, which can easily break low quality glass fermentation equipment. In contrast, metallic ones will often react with bleach if left in contact for more than an hour.

2. Size Of the Equipment

When dealing with large fermentation containers and brew setups, you will need to factor in the least strenuous approach to cleaning them while also ensuring that they are completely sterilized. The cleaning method you settle on should include a way to remove the grungy fermentation deposits and still eliminate all bacteria and yeast cultures.

3. Available Cleaning Materials

Sterilizing fermentation equipment can be achieved using commonly available tools and materials from around the house. For stars, you will need to take stock of all available cleaning materials such as bleach, detergent, distilled vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and even oxalic acid-based cleansers. Once you’ve identified that you have enough cleaning materials for the entire fermentation set up, you can then proceed to start cleaning.

4. Length Of Previous Brew Time

The length of the brew or fermentation time will determine the amount of gunk and stains that accumulate on the equipment. Long term brew setups should be taken apart, and each part cleaned thoroughly, preferably with warm water and a cleaning agent of your choice. Depending on how long the setup has been fermenting, you may even end up with stubborn stains that will require a potent bleaching agent to remove.

5. Scale Of Fermenting Operation

The size of the fermentation setup will determine how hard or easy it will be to completely sterilize all equipment that came into contact with the fermenting project. Small scale home setups will often be really on benchtop scale size, making it much easier to clean and sterile the entire setup without having to rearrange the entire operation. It’s recommended to pick the best fitting cleaning and sterilization process that does not interfere with other ongoing fermentation projects in the room while also eliminating all contaminants that might have been left behind from the previous fermentation.

Fermentation Equipment

Vegetable Packer

Vegetable packers future a long handle with a flat, broad surface that’s used to push and pack in vegetables and fruits into fermentation containers. Vegetable packers should be cleaned right immediately after use as the juice may dry and leave behind sticky stains. Wooden vegetable packers are best cleaned with warm soapy water before sterilizing them with distilled vinegar.

Glass Jars

When it comes to fermentation, glass made jars are the best-recommended storage variety as glass does not react with the acetic acid that’s usually released during fermentation. However, glass jars can become stained and thus need to be cleaned thoroughly before they are sterilized. Use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol mixed with salt to scrub off the stains. Glass jars can be sterilized using distilled vinegar.

Fermentation Weights

Fermentation weights are used to weigh down the vegetables and fruits during fermentation, ensuring that they are all submerged. This prevents the growth of mold, which will happen if some of the vegetables are sticking above the brine. Fermentation weights need to be cleaned right after they have been removed from the fermentation setup. Use warm soapy water to scrub the fermentation weights and soaked overnight in vinegar and hot water.

Lid And Pump

Most fermentation lid and pump kits are made from BPA free plastic, which is easier to clean and also less prone to breaking. While cleaning plastic lid and pump parts, it’s recommended to avoid dipping them in boiling water and to use instead look warm soapy water to clean them. The lids and pumps can then be sterilized using distilled vinegar.

Ceramic Containers

Ceramic containers require a more detailed approach to cleaning them due to their porous walls, which can retain bacteria and yeast cells from a previous brew. This is achieved by washing the ceramic containers in hot soapy water followed by 10 to 15 minutes of heating in the oven at 110°C (230°F). the ceramic containers can then be allowed to cool before using them again.

How To Sterilize Glass Equipment

  1. Soak the glass jars in warm soapy water for 10 minutes and scrub them thoroughly with a dishwasher ensuring that you reach all corners of the containers.
  2. Put the glass jars in the oven for 10 minutes at 110°C (230°F)
  3. Take the glass jars out of the oven and allow them to cool before transferring them into storage

How To Sterilize Plastic Lids

  1.  Soak the plastic lids in hot soapy water for 5 minutes and scrub them thoroughly with a dishwasher.
  2. Rinse the plastic lids with sterilized vinegar and allow them to dry before moving them into storage

How To Sterilize Vegetable Packer

  1. Soak the vegetable packer in warm soapy water and scrub thoroughly to remove any vegetable juice that might be sticking on the packer.
  2. Sterilize the vegetable packer with isopropyl alcohol or distilled vinegar.

How To Sterilize Fermentation Weights

  1. Soak the fermentation weights in hot soapy water and scrub them thoroughly with a dishwasher.
  2. Sterilize the fermentation weights by either heating them in the oven at 110°C (230°F) for 10 minutes or soaking them in distilled vinegar mixed with boiling water overnight.

How To Sterilize Ceramic Containers

  1. Scrub the ceramic containers in hot soapy water and use a dishwasher to scrub the inner wall thoroughly.
  2.  Sterilize the ceramic containers by heating them in the oven for 15 minutes at 110°C (230°F)


It’s important to remember that the success of your fermentation project relies on the health of the bacteria and yeast cultures controlling the entire process. Having clean and sterilized fermentation equipment will certainly prevent contamination from occurring during fermentation.

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