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Old 01-11-2011, 04:51 PM   #1
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Default First Batch in Progress- Am I Ruining It?

So my first batch of cider is in progress, and I'm wondering if I'm going down the wrong path. Here's what I'vd done so far:

1. Placed 5 gallons of cider (purchased from my local brew shop) into my 6.5 gallon primary fermenter (plastic), added one rounded cup of table sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite and pitched with dry packet of wine yeast.

2. Didn't see a lot of action through the airlock, but I think the lid wasn't on supertight. Smelled like rotten eggs for a couple days and had some action on the top of the cider, so I know it has fermented.
3. Dropped 2 plastic grommets through the hole in the lid while trying to check it (!). Ugh.

4. After about 6 days, added 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient per directions. Forgot to dissolve it in water. Just dropped it on top and stirred with a sanitized spoon.

5. Waited about 6 more days and transferred to 5 gallon glass carboy. Left about a gallon behind in fermenter.

Here's where it gets a little messed up. I know it is supposed to fill the carboy pretty much to an inch below the top, but obviously I lost a lot in the transfer/sludge. Local brew shop had recommended filling the space with marbles, but I didn't have any and had read about topping with apple juice. In the meantime, I had a family emergency and had to leave town for four days. So here's what I did.

1. Left it as is (with too much head space) for four days.

2. Bought a gallon of pasturized, unsweetened (Apple & Eve) apple juice and poured it into the secondary with one teaspoon of yeast nutrient. I was worried the fermentation was done and I'd be creating bottle bombs if the natural sugars didn't ferment. Now I'm worried that there's not enough head space for any fermentation that might be taking place.

This is where I am now. It's in the secondary, filled to the top. There are some bubbles around the top and the airlock is ocassionally bubbling. Did I ruin it? What should I do now?
Before you ask, I have never taken a reading...

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Old 01-11-2011, 05:02 PM   #2
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can't say anything without some data.

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Old 01-11-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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Well, I figured that. But I guess I was looking for a general thumbs up or down, based on people's past experiences...
I will try to take a reading (never done it before) tonight, but I didn't really want to mess with it too much.

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Old 01-11-2011, 06:03 PM   #4
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Most likely if you didn't do anything to stop fermentation besides racking once, you'll be fine. The remaining yeast will probably east the rest of the sugars. To be on the safe side I would check some gravity readings before I bottle. If the first one you check shows that it's pretty much dry then don't worry about it. If you check and it still has some residual sugar then check back in a week. If fermentation has stopped, add campden and sorbate. No bottle bombs.

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Old 01-11-2011, 06:31 PM   #5
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Ok. I was planning on having it sit in the secondary for a month or so and then putting it in another carboy for a couple months before bottling. Does that sound right?
So, I'll take a reading tonight. How do I get the cider out of the carboy? What reading would let me know it's dry?

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Old 01-11-2011, 06:41 PM   #6
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1. Did you wait 24 hours after adding your k-metabisulfite? That is likely why the fermentation was weak. You need to wait 24 hours and then pitch your yeast.
2. Yeast nutrient should have been added at the addition of yeast packet
3. I would be VERY surprised if your cider fermented dry in 6 days. I have ciders still fermenting from their initial start in mid Oct. Granted some are higher sugar value, but still. Cider isn't like beer, fermenting to capacity in 1-2 weeks.
4. Adding the cider probably added fermentable sugars, but see #3 - I don't think it is done fermenting.
5. I don't think the cider is ruined, but you could have some taste issues since you let O2 have a chance to oxidize the must and diffuse in. If you had some free SO2 left over from your kmeta it likely helped remove *some* of the O2 that difussed intot eh must from the head space.
6. for your future runs of cider, keep a sealed jug aside for top off. I find that if you let your cider ferment a good month, or at least until it kicks off most of the lees, you can rack, top off with fresh cider and let it sit until month 3-4 (or more) to ferment out dry and start bulk aging. Since you rack off you take it off most of the lees (which prevents off flavors from autolysing), so you kill two birds with one stone.

With cider, air is your enemy, but I think you should be ok. Remember, cider, especially if you went with store bought cider, will taste very green in most cases for at least 3-4 months. I hope you plan on aging your hooch for 6 months+?

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Old 01-11-2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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To get a reading you can use a wine thief or a syphon to pull some off into a container. I woul recc not putting your sample back into the cider due to contamination possibilities. Just top off, with water at the worst, cider in the best case.

Ghetto fabulous siphon being a straw, plus your thumb and a lot of patience. dip the straw in, thumb over top of straw and withdraw... thumb off and liquid into container. Obvioulsy, you may want to just use a syphon unless you are patient.


A reading of 1.000 or .098 indicates you are fermented dry

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Old 01-11-2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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I followed the directions of my LHBS exactly, which was waiting until the cider hit room temp before pitching the yeast (about 8 hours). They told me to wait 3 days until any wild yeast died off before adding the nutrient, but I wasn't able to get it in til day 6. They suggested putting it in the secondary to finish fermentation for another month and then a third carboy for several months before bottling. I didn't buy store bought cider. I bought it from my LHBS, and they got it from an apple farm. Fresh cider.
So, when I put it in the third carboy, how do I fill it to the top without adding anything (and starting more fermentation)? Marbles?

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Old 01-11-2011, 07:00 PM   #9
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I hate to tell you this but I question your LHBS's knowledge of cider making. I am gonna go with my years of experience and gut on this one. In my humble opinion your local brew store knows little about cider. A lot of home brew stores don't (they focus on beer).

I press about 200 gallons of fresh cider each year and have over 100 gallons in fermenters this year alone. I make good cider.

For instance, while putting marbles in sounds cool, is a great way to introduce bacteria (I assume you would sanitize them), or more likely crack your fermenter as you plop them down.

I go about 1 month in glass primary, then when it slows I rack to another glass secondary and top off with fresh cider. From there I let it sit until it ferments dry and degasses (3-4 months). Bottle at ~4-6 months+

I would recc you resulphite at 30PPM when you bottle.

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Old 01-11-2011, 07:04 PM   #10
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I was planning on adding more sulphite when I moved it again. Should I just leave it in the secondary, then, and forget moving it? There's some sludge on the bottom. I assumed that's why I'm moving it again. Yeah, the marbles sounded complicated, so I opted not to. Hey, it's all a learning process!

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