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Old 10-27-2009, 11:06 PM   #1
mikefunk77
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Default Fermentation question

Last year was my second attempt at making Cider, and the results were much better than I was expecting to be honest (don't ask about the first attempt though!).

I took a pretty rough and ready approach - fermenting the juice in the bottle for around ten weeks and then simply putting a top in and leaving it for 7 months. The end product was, as I said, surprisingly drinkable (and potent).

This time I would like to refine it a little, if only in appearence, by fermenting first and then bottling - hopefully avoiding the yeasty leftovers at the top of the bottle, and removing a good bit of the sediment settling at the bottom.

My question is (and apologies if i sound a bit thick!) as I'm still not sure how much juice I'll get from my apples, will it make a difference if there is a gap at the top of the fermenting barrel? Would using an airlock be a waste of time because of the air already in there?

Any advice greatfully recieved!

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Old 10-27-2009, 11:25 PM   #2
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Welcome to HBT!
It is fine not to have it full to the top. The CO2 will produce a protective blanket as it ferments.

Airlocks are not to keep air out but to release CO2 and keep insects out of your cider. Fruit flies carry the bacteria that produces vinegar that can turn your cider.

To reduce the crud in the bottle, leave your cider to ferment a couple months. Then rack to a clean sanitized container to age.

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Old 10-28-2009, 12:06 AM   #3
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I too am new to home brewing and I decided to take on apple cider straight from apples as my first batch. I am looking for a dry cider, my favourite so far is Strongbow. I used a bushel of bruised apples from the market and about 10 lbs of granny smith apples. I was originally hoping to do an 11L batch but now I have about 1/3 extra juice I might was well use store bought juice or cider to bring it up to 23L. Tonight will be 24 hrs since I added the Campden tabs, so I have a little bit of time before I have to add the Lalvin-1116 champagne yeast that I got for this. Is there a better yeast for my goals?

I bought a starter kit from my local wine/beer home brew store and it came with a large food grade bucket with a snap on air loose (not air tight) lid. My guess is that it is 10 gallons. If I understood Nurmey correctly the air getting into my primary fermenting bucket will not cause a problem. The CO2 will not get out over time exposing my cider to air?

How do I know if I need to add sugar or acid to my cider? I took a measurement last night and the first OG was 1050. I say first as I may add store bought juice which will change it. Is it best to wait until I hit a certain target SG before racking or just let it go for a while? It seems that there are opinions on what the OG should be. How do I know what I should start with? Is adding sugar the way to raise my OG? How should it taste now if I want it to be dry later? Not super dry. Is it safe to taste it with the Campden tabs in it?

I plan on adding my pectin tonight along with the store bought juice preservative free but pasteurized juice.

I also plan on carbonating in the bottle which means that I cannot cold crash. Right?

Thanks,
David

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Old 10-28-2009, 12:45 AM   #4
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Welcome to HBT!

The CO2 is heavier than air so it will just sit on top of your cider. Many folks use lids loosely set on their fermenters. The goal is to keep critters and airborne bacteria out but still allowing the CO2 to escape.

Adding sugar is up to you. Personally I like my cider without added sugar but many will increase the alcohol content with added sugar. 1.050 will drop down to about .995ish range making your cider 5.5%. Champagne yeast may drop the final gravity even more to the .990 range.

Yes, it is safe to taste it with campden in it. You can cold crash and still carbonate although I usually just leave my cider long enough that it is clear without crashing.

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Old 10-28-2009, 02:15 AM   #5
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IMO you can't leave cider indefinitely with a loose lid, eventually o2 will get in and spoil it. I think 3-4 weeks after fermentation stops is tops. Pitching a malolactic culture will give you more co2 = more time but you need to either bottle it or transfer to a better container ie glass carboy.

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Old 10-28-2009, 04:27 AM   #6
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There is to stages to fermentation. Aerobic and anaerobic. Durring the aerobic stage, the yeast mutiplies using oxygen as energy. This is why you oxygenate your lees, or must if you are making mead.

Cider makers left the bung hole open in the barrel and allowed the frothing to expel froth and pieces of apple. The second is anaerobic fermentation. At this stage, the yeast is using the sugar as food and converting to alcohol. At this stage, you need to not expose the liquid to oxegen.

There is much bacteria in oxygen, and you want to prevent contamination. You should always airlock your stuff if you want to not have to throw away your batches! In the second stage of fermentation, air is cider's worst enemy! Unless you are making vinegar!

And to dmulligan's question about making a dry cider... look at your og on your hydrometer, and see what the potential alcohol level might be. Ajust your sugar to hit the dryness that you want by using your hydrometer readings. If you don't see the potential alcohol reading on your hydrometer, look it up on-line. I belive that you will can have a higher og than the 1050 and still have a dry cider. This depends on your target alcohol level. Again, look at the potential acohol level corresponding to your og.

Next, to add acid or not, test your ph in the cider. Your ph should go up in number as you ferment. a good range is 3.5. If you do not hit this, then you can add acid at he end of fermentation, before you bottle. 1.000 on your hydrometer is theoretically a dry cider.

I hope this help you all. The book "Cider," would help you all. It's all about making apple cider from apples, blending your apples to make a tasty cider and making hard ciders. Also talks about distilling ciders to make hard liquor. Good luck people!

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:57 PM   #7
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Many thanks for the info / advice everyone! Nurmeny, that was pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear. Just finished my pressing this weekend so all ready to go!

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Old 11-03-2009, 08:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrJinchao View Post
And to dmulligan's question about making a dry cider... look at your og on your hydrometer, and see what the potential alcohol level might be. Ajust your sugar to hit the dryness that you want by using your hydrometer readings. If you don't see the potential alcohol reading on your hydrometer, look it up on-line. I belive that you will can have a higher og than the 1050 and still have a dry cider. This depends on your target alcohol level. Again, look at the potential acohol level corresponding to your og.

Next, to add acid or not, test your ph in the cider. Your ph should go up in number as you ferment. a good range is 3.5. If you do not hit this, then you can add acid at he end of fermentation, before you bottle. 1.000 on your hydrometer is theoretically a dry cider.

I hope this help you all. The book "Cider," would help you all. It's all about making apple cider from apples, blending your apples to make a tasty cider and making hard ciders. Also talks about distilling ciders to make hard liquor. Good luck people!
I've got a copy of Cider on it's way along with the one by Andrew Lea. Thank you for the suggestion.

Do I check pH level just before racking to the secondary fermentor? What do I need to check pH level? Do I just get litmus strips at my local home brew store?

I am leaning towards adding malolactic enzymes at that point too.
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:44 PM   #9
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When I check the SG of my cider in the primary fermenter should I be stirring it first? My cider looks thicker in the bottom third. The OG was 1050, the SG was 1040 two days later, but back then the bottom 4/5 looked lighter with only the krausen looking darker.

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Old 11-05-2009, 07:38 PM   #10
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No, no. Those are particulate matter slowly settling to the bottom. SG measures the density of the liquid. The things that effect that (sugar, alcohol, etc) are dissolved in the liquid and can't settle out. In specific, sugar dissolved in water is more dense than just water. You're measuring the drop in density as sugar is converted into alcohol. Dissolved sugar will never fall out of suspension under normal conditions.

Also, you want those particles to sink, therefore giving you a nice, clear final product. The only time you'd want to stir is, oh, maybe if you had a stuck fermentation, or if you needed to add something after pitching. You sound good, though. That drop in SG is your cider fermenting away. RDWHAHB.

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