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Old 09-22-2009, 02:10 PM   #1
NextDoortoMickey
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Default 1st post, 1st Cider. Problems!

Hi all,

This is my first post, following my first cider attempt.

I have access to lots and lots of apples, so I am trying to make natural cider as much as possible. I built my own apple mill and press to start wit.

My first batch was just Beauty of Bath apples. Milled and pressed enough to get 16 litres. Placed this, (about two and 1/2 gallons) into a five gallon fermentation bucket. Added camden tablets and pectolase, then two days later pitched yeast directly into the FV. One month later, after no airlock activity I racked off into a secondary. OG was 1.044, SG at racking was 1.008.

When I was racking off there was a lit film/scum on top of the cider. It does not smell off, but has a very bitter taste. Any ideas or suggestions.

I currently have 100 litres, (20 gallons) in fermentation buckets of Worcester apples. About to pitch yeast into two of these FV's so any ideas or suggestions before I start would be appreciated.

I know this is a long first post so sorry, but I have loads more questions.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 09-22-2009, 02:26 PM   #2
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The scum was probably just yeast. The basic rule is: If it tastes okay, it's okay.

I would expect your cider to continue fermenting down to 0.995 or so.

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Old 09-22-2009, 02:31 PM   #3
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Default secondary fermentation

Will it continue to ferment in the secondary? I added nothing to it at all. Just racked off from the primary, leaving all the lees, gunk and scum behind.

Will the bitter taste round out a little to a nice dry cider, or should I consider adding something such as honey or sugar? Would prefer to leave it as natural as possible. It may be that this variety of apple is not suited to cider, hopefully the Worcesters will be better.

Also, why was there no airlock activity? Is a month normal on primary?

(See I told you there were lots of questions)

Thanks again in advance.

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Old 09-22-2009, 04:17 PM   #4
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Whether or not it continues to ferment in the secondary depends on how long it was in the primary. If a month in primary, you wont see much action in the secondary

The bitter taste is probably from the campden. It will take several months to wear off if you used the recommended dose, but it will wear off eventually. Adding honey before the ferment helps with the bitterness, sugar doesnt help much. I wouldnt advise adding anything after the ferment tho. It will take some patience, but the bitterness will dissipate.

If you press your own apples, dont use apples that have been on the ground, wash everything and keep your press sanitized, you can skip the campden. Your cider will have much more apple taste and you can drink it earlier.

If you are planning on storing the cider for over 6 months, you can add half the recommended dose of campden after the ferment has completed. That will keep it from getting vinegary. Drinking it within 6 months will also keep it from getting vinegary

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:01 AM   #5
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Default Pure apple cider

Thanks for the reply.

We try to only use fresh picked apples from the tree, not windfalls if we can help it. We let them sit for about a week or two in the collection bins before I mill and press them.

I didn't want to add anything to he juice, trying to make single variety cider. If this variety doesn't work out its no big loss, I have access to lots of apples and different varieties. When I find some that I really like i intend to plant anorchard with these varieties purely for the cider.

I will leave he bitter one in secondary for a couple of moths then.

What is the normal time for primary? Why am I not seeing any airlock activity on any of the FV's?

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:32 AM   #6
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I let my ciders sit in the primary anywhere from 1 to 5 weeks, depending on the temperatures. This time of year is warm and several carboys were done after 6 days which is a record for me. By the end of the winter, they will take 4-5 weeks. If you have low temps, it can go even longer. So the time is as long as it takes to get to the level of sugar you want, then get it off the primary.

Are you saying you didnt see any activity in the primary, or just not in the past month? If you went from 1.044 to 1.008 then you had to have seen some activity unless you have a leak somewhere. 1.008 is a little high for the yeast to tucker out on its own. It might be starved for nitrogen. But 1.008 is a nice level of residual sweetness if not for the k-meta. What kind of yeast are you using and what were the temps?

Next time skip the k-meta and the pectin. Unpasteurized juice will clear fine by itself.

Have you had a look at the UK cider page? It has some great info, including a page on apple types, none of which are available here, but you might recognize some of them

http://www.cider.org.uk/part3.htm

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Old 09-23-2009, 01:40 PM   #7
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Default no airlock activity

I thought the airlock thing was strange. I know my first batch fermented, because I could see a change in the SG, but I witnessed no airlock activity at all.

This is the same with the stuff inthe FV's now. I wondered was it too cold? I am storing everything in the garage. I can see that the cider has cleared well, with all the stuff dropping to the bottom, and I can see a ring forming around the top of the cider, but still no airlock activity. I have checked for leaks and can find none.

With the first batch I had a large vacant space at the top of the FV and thought this might also be a problem.

Thanks for the link to the UK cider page, lots of great info. I will just keep plodding along until I get something right.

Thanks for your help.

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:17 PM   #8
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You have water in your airlock, right? Yeasts produce CO2 when they convert sugar to alcohol. The CO2 has to go somewhere. What sort of yeast are you using?

I fill my primaries pretty full so there is just enough headspace in case a bit of krausen builds up, but no more. There are a few closeup pics on the last page of the sticky. The two on the right havent been racked.

I realize that you are getting cooler temps than us, but right now I'd be worried more about too warm than too cold. What are the temp ranges in the garage?

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:26 PM   #9
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Default Airlock problems

Yes, I have a little bi of water in my airlock. Not too much that it will bubble out, but enough to fill to the required level.

I am using Youngs Cider Yeast. This is all it says on the packet, produced by a company who make and supply brewing essentials in the UK. This is my first Cider year, so picked this as its a specific Cider yeast.

The garage is about 15 degrees C, so definately not too warm.

I just went and had a look at my FV's and I think I may have found a problem.

It looks like the bottom of my airlock inside the FV was actually under the top level of the Cider, which would obviously stop any airlock activity. Would this also cause an adverse build up of CO2 possibly damaging the Cider?

I have moved the airlocks up a little to take them out of the cider to see if this helps.

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:41 PM   #10
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Putting the bottom of the airlock below the cider will definitely keep you from seeing any activity. It wont cause a problem tho. The CO2 pressure will build up and it will either leak out somewhere or blow your airlock out of the jug - and since it didnt do that, it must have leaked.

15C is a nice temp for ciders. The ferment will be a little slow getting started, but generally a slow ferment is better for flavor. You might want to check the back of your yeast packet to see what is the recommended temp range, but you should be OK.

I never heard of Youngs cider yeast before. I goggled it and it looks like it isnt sold in the states, only in the UK. If it naturally stops at 1.008, I need to get some of that stuff.

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