Pasteurizing on a Small Scale

I’ve gotten a lot of requests for pasteurizer advice over the years but never put it into writing in any permanent way, until now! I built this pasteurizer in my garage almost four years ago. To date (late 2015) we have run about 40,000 cases through it with no injuries, no significant failures and no modifications. It is a highly recommended design, and one that I credit to others in the cidermaking community especially Richard Anderson of Westcott Bay.

There are many threads and some pictures of people’s home-built pasteurizers but I’ve not seen any like this, other than Rich Anderson’s, who gave me the idea. It holds 120 x 750ml bottles in rectangular milk crates. Our baths range from 6 to 20 minutes depending on what we are doing. I can fill the bath in about 20 minutes at 185 F using two ganged-together water heaters.

Here is a little video of the thing running its inaugural bath:

And here is an old video of me describing it to a friend while still operating in my driveway and garage. (Super choppy and informal since I was making it just for a friend.)

Here is the setup:

  • MacroBin 16 S. This is used in the wine industry quite widely, although the 24 is a more standard size. Rated to 190 degrees F or more. Buy the optional lid. $200?
  • Semi-cheap bronze head pump. My first was a is Tellarini Pompe. The important thing is that it is rated to 190 degrees F. This one has garden hose threads and cost $125. We have since upgraded to Jet05 from St Pats for about $250. They last about 10,000 cases before going bad.
  • CPVC flange, elbow, adapters, valve, etc bits. CPVC is rated for hot water, PVC and ABS is not. I got the schedule 80 thick wall stuff, ~$50. We have since replaced the silicone caulk but the same fittings are in use.
  • Rinnai tankless water heater R94 LSI. Runs on natural gas or propane. You can get the smallest BTU water heater you can find but it needs to go to 185 degrees, and most don’t. This one is a “commercial” unit, and needed an optional controller to raise the temp to 185 F. $150 (used on craigslist) plus $100 for controller. In the new cidery, we have two R95s running side by side, one running the pasteurizer, the other making hot water for washing, etc. New about $1000.
  • Water heater rubber hose, garden hose barb fittings. ~$40
    Total: $635

Not included in the cost: black iron pipe to get from my gas meter to the water heater. I have seen similar capacity pasteurizers for sale for $6700 using electric elements.

Installation steps:

  • Drill a hole in the middle bottom of the MacroBin, insert the CPVC flange, sealing it down with silicone caulk (rated to 400 F). Bolt-through the flange with SS hardware.
  • Connect CPVC adapter, elbow, pipe and valve to get the “drain” to extend to the side of the bin. The bin has feet/runners built in which makes the piping easy to install. Fasten the pipe to the runner with some pipe hangers. End the CPVC pipe in a garden hose adapter.
  • Connect a short length of rubber hose from this bin drain outlet to the pump.
  • Connect the other side of the pump to a whole-house 30 micron water filter to catch dirt, junk, broken glass, etc.
  • Connect outlet of filter to the cold water in side of the tankless water heater.
  • Connect the third hose from the hot water out side of the tankless back to the bin. I just draped/hung the end into the bin, but you could get fancy with another fitting through the wall of the bin.

Some notes:

  • Make the rubber hoses have female-female ends to ease attaching and detaching.
  • The water heater has valves on the IN and OUT water ends with garden hose threads so no fittings are needed there. These are standard on all water heaters.
  • I’m “starving” the water heater on BTUs a little bit with a long 3/4″ pipe run, but it uses so little gas in recirculation that it’s okay.
  • Carefully measure the depth under the MacroBin before you commit to whatever drain fittings you’re going to use. You have a limited amount of space under the bin from the height of the feet/runners.
  • Use protective clothing and face shield when operating the bath.