Potassium sorbate is a food and beverage preservative. Used in food preparation, it is often present in cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meats and fruits, apple cider, and baked goods. Potassium sorbate is also used in many cosmetics and personal care products to prevent growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and molds, stabilizing the product and prolonging the shelf life.
This common preservative is often used in home canning and bottling as well. Potassium sorbate can be purchased in most food stores, anywhere canning supplies are sold and over the Internet. Information on the use of potassium sorbate is often included with home preserving, canning, and beverage making instructions.
To use potassium sorbate in wine making, first the wine will be prepare and fermented prior to the bottling process. In order to prevent refermination from occurring after the wine is bottled, potassium sorbate is added. Since small amounts of the yeast can remain in the wine undetectable this is an important step in the wine making process.
Frequently used in home beverages, it is important to remember not to allow your wine or beer to come in contact with any amount of potassium sorbate until the fermentation process is complete. If the potassium sorbate is added earlier in the process it can stop the fermentation all together.
If the wine is to be a dry wine, a small amount of the potassium sorbate is all that will be needed. Usually 1/4 teaspoon of the preservative is added to a small amount of the wine. Once the potassium sorbate is completely dissolved then the small amount of liquid containing the potassium sorbate can be added and thoroughly mixed with the entire bottle. If the wine is to be sweetened more, about 1/2 teaspoon total, will be needed.
Potassium sorbate is a fine, white powder that dissolves readily in liquids. It is odorless and tasteless. Potassium sorbate is not harmful if taken internally and does not because respiratory irritation but it may cause eye irritation. In large quantities potassium sorbate may cause skin irritation but this is unheard of in the small amounts present in cosmetics and other skin products that contain it.
An effective preservative and food stabilizer, potassium sorbate is a safe additive for home prepared food and beverages. It also works well in cosmetics, decreasing microbial growth and prolonging the shelf life. With no toxicity or skin irritation, potassium sorbate is a useful addition to many products.