Forget impressive facial hair and a solid commitment to plaid: sterilising bottles properly is the real secret to a successful home brew. Without thorough sterilisation, you’ll end up with a powdery, mouldy film across your creation, and it’s likely to smell and taste more like vinegar than the tasty tipple that you were aiming for!
In order to avoid the risk of lurking bacteria or mould spores spoiling your brew, some heavy-duty cleaning is required. Read on to find out how to sterilise bottles like a pro.
Has your cleaning regime changed during the Covid-19 lockdown?
- Wash bottles thoroughly and remove sticky labels.
- Soak in a solution of bleach and hot water.
- Rinse thoroughly with distilled water.
- Dry and further sterilise in a clean, hot oven.
- Fill and seal bottles immediately to avoid contamination.
How to Sterilise Glass Bottles
Sterilising glass bottles can be fairly labour intensive, especially if you are sterilising a lot of them. However, cutting corners could risk spoiling your brew, so it’s well worth taking the time to do it properly.
- You will first need to give your bottles and bottle tops a thorough initial clean. If the bottles still have labels attached to them, soak them in hot water with a good dishwashing liquid, for about 10 minutes.
- Peel off the label and any sticky residue.
- Don a pair of plastic gloves to protect your hands before making up a solution of 1 gallon of water and 1 tablespoon of multi-usage bleach, like Domestos.
- Soak the bottles and bottle tops in the bleach solution for a further 10 minutes, before using a nylon bottle brush to scrub the interiors of the bottles. Use a small brush or clean toothbrush to scrub the insides of the bottle tops.
- Use water that has been boiled to rinse the bottles thoroughly until all traces of the bleach have been removed. It’s a good idea to allow the water to cool after you have boiled it, to avoid burning yourself by accident. Do not use plain tap water as this could lead to contamination of the bottles.
Sterilising Bottles in the Oven
Sterilising bottles doesn’t end there! Dry and further sterilise your bottles in the oven to be extra sure that all bacteria have been removed. It’s important to note that bottle tops should not be baked in the oven, as it could cause them to become warped.
- First and foremost, ensure that the inside of your oven is sparkling clean – there’s no point in sterilising bottles in a dirty oven! Use a specially designed cleaner like Cif Oven Cleaner to get the job done.
- Once the oven is clean and dry, pre-heat it to 160°C.
- Place the bottles on a clean baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the bottles for approximately 15 minutes.
- Remove the bottles, and fill and seal them with your brew immediately, to avoid the introduction of any bacteria.
Sterilising bottles in the oven is easy – just remember to handle the hot bottles very carefully with clean oven gloves so you don’t burn your hands. Once you’ve completed the sterilising process, your bottles will be ready to fill with your delicious home brew!