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Old 10-14-2011, 02:29 PM   #1
Parsnip
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Default First attempt

Hello fellow cider brewers.

I would like to share a short background on my first attempt at making home made cider from the various apple trees we have. Ill try to be quick as im sure you all have things to prepare.

What we did, after I had learnt as much as any lazy person could here.

http://www.cider.org.uk/part1.htm

1. picked apple from who knows what type of trees we have, 4 types. All I know is some were green and some red.

2. We sterilized the best we could using some sort of liquid for baby bottles that evaporates.

3. 7 hours or juicing using a centrifugal juicer produced 31 liters of juice. I know a press would be better but we used what we had.

4. Then, I think a mistake. We filtered the juiced into a large bucket using cloth rags and a sieve removing all the froffy stuff.

5. Put the juice into a 60 litre demijohn.

6. Heated some left over juice to 25 degrees and added 1 kg of sugar and the "Turbo" wine making yeast which comes with the food the yeast needs, then added it to the demijohn.

7. Replaced the bubble cap and watched it bubble like mad, about 2 bubbles a second, for a day before it settled down to around 1 every 5 secs.

The bubbles continued for a week before stopping and the cap leveling out equally, then no more bubbles. We was worried so added some more yeast and a cup of sugar ( not dissolved this time ) and the bubbles began again for around day. We did this again a week later without yeast and bubbles appeared at the top of the juice and in the cap.

Anyway its been near 4 weeks now and tomorrow we will test for alcohol content using one of those float things, ( sorry don't know the technical words ) Im pretty sure that during the initial filtering we did we must have removed some of the stuff from the juice it will need to help the yeast, maybe sugar?

If all goes well we will bottle it in clean plastic coke bottles in the cellar over winter. Then we plan to carbonate the cider with a soda stream whenever we fancy a drink.

Well here comes the question. Would it be ok to add more sugar if the alcohol content is low and so long as it doesn't taste like vinegar then leave it in the demijohn for a few more weeks?

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Old 10-14-2011, 08:23 PM   #2
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I'm assuming the alcohol content will not be to low. I've had batches do a fine job with only really bubbling for a day, others take longer. The device your thinking of is called a hydrometer and you really need to measure before and after to figure out the alcohol level. By just nearing at the end you just know if it is finished (<1.000-~1.002 depending on the recipe).

The only thing that filtering will do is take out some of the pulp and possibly contaminate things if done wrong. All the bits and pieces and pulp will settle to the bottom of the tank when you ferment so don't worry about filtering at the start.

There is no need to add more yeast our sugar as you go until you are done and need to add priming sugar as you bottle.

The best thing you can do once you start a batch is relax!!! Stop fiddling with it and give it some time. Cider can be ready for drinking in little more than a month, but IMHO all the batches I've tasted that have gone this quick pale in comparison to ones that have been allowed to sit in the primary for atleast a month and allowed to mellow for 4-6 months before bottling. Cider, generally, is slower then beer to develop flavors so don't rush it and you will enjoy the results.

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Old 10-14-2011, 09:34 PM   #3
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Great reply Greghark, thanks.

Basically I have no idea on how much Alcohol, if any, will be in the juice as I never checked beforehand like you said. From what I have read, the bottling is done around 1 month usually so if there is no other way of checking Ill just go for that no matter the alcohol content. The priming sugar? I have no idea what that is or why its used sadly, pretty much the same as this pasturising phase i keep hearing.

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Old 10-15-2011, 02:49 PM   #4
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You should have plenty of alcohol, especially with throwing in more sugar and yeast along the way. Different yeast behave differently as they ferment the cider so it is a good idea to sit back and take notes. Some will only bubble for a day and some will keep it up for more than a week or two but end up at the same final gravity (hydrometer reading) and alcohol level. Once you start a batch you should rarely need to do anything with it until you rack it over.

The priming sugar is what you use if you want to carbonate your cider. If you want a light fizz like most commercial ciders add1/2 -3/4 cup of sugar. Dextrose(corn sugar) works best, looks like powdered sugar. It produces small bubbles and ferments well in the bottling. You can also use brown sugar, as a last resort use regular table sugar. The bubbles will trend to be bigger and can have a tendency to explode in your mouth. Makes for a weird drink. Do not use powdered sugar as it has other things in it other than sugar.

What I do is add my sugar to a bottling bucket or another carboy/demijohn and rack the cider into the bucket. This will do an adequate job of moving the sugar and one last chance to clear out the cider and leave done sludge behind. Then bottle from the bucket. Some people as a small amount of sugar to each bottle, (something like a half teaspoon I think). For me, thats just tomuch work and can lead to sporadic results and possible contamination if you aren't careful what you are doing.

If you wanted still/flat cider than just ignore all that and bottle.

Everyone has a different favorite, and there are a lot of methods that work equally well. Expirement a little, keep good notes, and if your results don't impress you right away. Relax, it can take up to a year for some ciders to get to the good drinking stage depending on the variety of cider, ph, sugar levels, yeast used, temperature, etc.

Worst case, it tastes horrible but is highly alcoholic, keep it around and drink it after youve had a bunch of good drinks and can't tell the difference.

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Old 10-15-2011, 05:51 PM   #5
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you have no real way of gauging the alcohol %. you could bang up an estimate that might be close, but the most important things (in my opinion!) now are
1. knowing if it's done fermenting or not, and your hydrometer will tell you that, if it is fully fermented dry it wil probably be below 1.000, maybe 0.990, or if the yeast have died from alcohol poisoning then the gravity will be higher but stable when checked over a few weeks. also since you are using plastic bottles you don't face the problem of exploding glass, so you can be a bit more adventurous with the bottling.
2. try not to allow too much oxygen to come in contact with the cider. ideally you would have it in a closed carboy that is full right to the top so there is no airspace. but if you don't have that, and you are opening it a lot (introducing oxygen) then probably bottle as soon as possible.
as stated above, if the cider is finished fermenting you can add a bit of sugar, use any online beer priming calculator for the appropriate amount, shoot for around 2.5 volumes CO2 and you'll be good. i don't agree that different colored sugars give different sized bubbles but that doesn't matter, definitely don't use powdered sugar but anything else is ok. if the yeast is dead from booze it might still have enough residual activity to make a bit of carbonation for you over the winter months, you never know
definitely taste it, and remember it will improve over the coming months

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Old 10-17-2011, 09:37 PM   #6
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I really appreciate the replies from seasoned cider makers.


I understand its a learning process but one thing I have in my favour is the amount of apples we have. Never knowing what to do with them previously seemed a shameful waste, but if this comes off it will be one less thing we have to shell our hard earned money out for.

I have attempted making home brew beer before which used the same
method of carbonating as described in the replies here, but Im thinking of an alternative way as I didnt like the heavy taste to it which came from the yeast. So this time im going to leave the Alcohol stored flat, in this case cider, and carbonate it using one of those home fizzy drink makers called a Soda stream where I come from, and put the fiz in the cider when ever I fancy a drink. Hofefully this will reduce the yeasty taste.

Would there be any downfalls using this method?

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Old 10-17-2011, 10:06 PM   #7
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Hi. I am in the same boat here, with one big difference : I am fermenting with wild yeast from the apple skins. Here's a how it went:
1 picked and bought a apples
2crushed and squeezed, old school press
3 took 1 gallon and tossed it in my gal. fermenter (only have a one gal, and single stage setup right now.)
So this where we are at. Here's were I am worried, I want carbonated cider in my quart bottles, not bottle bombs. Having no recipe, how do I know that when it is safety bottle? How much priming sugar should I use? Does the size of my bottles make a difference in the sugar to cider ratio? I was planning to rack to a priming pot (than bottle

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Old 10-17-2011, 10:34 PM   #8
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Some quick figures from what you've said would suggest an approximate SG of 1.065 and an ABV of 8.85%. (8.47 gallons apple juice with 43oz sugar and a approximate total final volume of 8.67 US gallons)

Your demijohn is way too large for this batch though. Your cider volume is 8.67 gallons and your demijohn is about 15.8 gallons! ... like dinnerstick said above, you need to eliminate the empty space (also known as "headspace") in your demijohn above the level of the cider. You will risk the batch going bad with that much airspace above the cider.

If it were a smaller difference than the 7 gallons of headspace you have now you could try adding marbles or boiled stones or something to get the level up to within an inch or so of the top ... but this is probably not practical with 7 gallons of empty space. Your other option is to find a smaller demijohn that fits the amount of cider better ... and the sooner the better. Even using a number of smaller jugs (say, a number of gallon jugs) would be better even though you will need to buy an airlock for each of them.
One other possibility is to go to local restaurants and ask if they have any buckets (5 gallon, etc) that food came in ... WITH the lids. Then, you could use a bucket with the lid on it and a hole drilled in the top for the airlock. You would wash and sanitize the bucket and lid, then fill the bucket right up with the cider to about 1/2 inch from the top and put the lid on tight, and the airlock in the hole.

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Old 10-18-2011, 06:48 AM   #9
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i agree with above, but (theoretically) the huge headspace should only be a problem if you have released the co2 generated from primary fermentation. if you racked to a new vessel for example. even opening yours to steal a sip will *probably* leave most of the co2 inside, if it is a large vessel with a narrow neck, and that close to the north pole co2 retains the same properties of density that it does down here in the 'tropics' (for north american viewers i am at the same latitude as newfoundland and labrador...) in other words it's a bit heavier then air so undisturbed it will settle onto the liquid surface and assist in preventing oxidation. but i wouldn't push my luck too far if i were you... theory and practice are different dudes.
i think your sodastream idea is ok but again you don't want to leave opened half bottles around for more than a day or two or it goes bad like wine.
ale1- you will be fine if you ferment to completion, which you can check with your hydrometer, i have had very slow wild yeast batches which (when i first started making cider and had no hydrometer, thought it was done only to have the bottles eject their contents when opened months later) so make sure its really done, 1.000 or just below, then look up the amount that brewers use to prime for beer and use the same amount. (2.5 volumes on an online priming calculator works for me). or a small teaspoon of table sugar per beer bottle if you want to bs it

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Old 10-18-2011, 09:23 AM   #10
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Great stuff, some very helpful tips here. Im thinking of uploading a few picture into this thread so anyone reading can get a better idea of what I have done and how it all turns out.

Thanks again!

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