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Old 06-05-2013, 08:12 AM   #1
Catsnstuff
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Default First batch, and questions about saving yeast.

Hi everyone,
This is my first post here, AND the first attempt by my husband and myself at brewing cider (or indeed anything). It was just about 9 litres (2.3 gallons) from our tree, which I think is granny smith or something similar. It started off quite informally, like the beer and "champagne"s on River Cottage: simply strained juice from the washed and sorted apples, + bought cider yeast, brewing in two covered buckets. We soon started to worry a little more about it, and after a week moved it to secondary fermentation two sealed buckets with air locks. We have a bunch of Grolsch bottles to put it in after a while, when the hyrometer readings are consistent (we didn't measure, or indeed own a hydrometer, at the start of the process and so are now looking for consistency rather than any specific figure).

I plan to experiment much more with this and make it a regular thing, we've bought campden tablets for next time we use juiced apples, and will be buying proper demijohns etc, which is very exciting! This first batch should be quite dry, but we both tend to like cider dry anyhow, and can always balance the sweetness in the glass. I plan to put half a teaspoon of sugar in each bottle when bottling them up, which the man at the homebrew shop said should be about the right amount to make carbonation.

As we were pouring the juice into the secondary buckets, I though I'd try making another small batch with a 3L bottle of store-bought preservative-free apple juice and some of the yeast from the first lot. I hadn't read about saving yeast, so I thought the stuff at the bottom might be waste and instead scooped up all of the remaining yeasty foam I could from the top. A bit of cider came with it as well. Nothing happened for a few days (it's winter here in New Zealand, so I didn't expect fast results), but now there's a lovely bready smell coming from it and I can see a layer of yeasty foam. Still, I don't know how much of this was luck, or indeed if it will turn out OK, and want to refine my process.

I've read through the first 40 page of this thread -
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/yea...strated-41768/ - but, I must admit, got a bit tired after a while and probably won't go through the other 100+ any time soon! Some questions:

1. Part of this "washing" seems to be removing gunk that includes hops, which cider doesn't have, but I assume it's also necessary with apple cider?
2. I don't plan to make very large batches at a time, so it would be more convenient to transfer yeast from batch to batch. But, would this be discouraged due to gradual changes in yeast?
3. Is there a name for the process of scooping the foamy stuff off the top? Is this something worth experimenting with further?

Basically, those questions all circle around two main ones: For newbies such as ourselves, who will only make small batches, what would you say would be the most efficient way to save yeast? And, are there any cider-specific differences from the thread above that I should be aware of?

Also, as an added question, all equipment we used for the process above had boiling water poured over it to sterilise it, but I'm not 100% on how effective this is - my husband assures me it's fine, but I notice a lot of online sources put a huge emphasis on sterilisation via chemicals and/or prolonged boiling. Any comments on this would be appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance.

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Old 06-05-2013, 01:33 PM   #2
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Sanitation is crucial! Boiling water may be better than nothing, but it's really important to sanitize all of your equipment.

Also, now that you've got demijohns, make sure to rack (siphon) your cider from container to container, and not pour or splash, once fermentation starts. Oxidation will ruin cider, turning it into a sherry-like drink.

I don't save yeast from ciders. It's ok for beer, which tend to be 5% ABV or so for the most part. But from cider, the yeast tend to be more stressed and have a higher ABV. Also, since I use wine yeast, it's cheap. Wine yeast is less than $1 a pack here (good for up to 6 gallons) while liquid beer yeast is more than 6 times the cost. I just buy about 10 packages and keep them in the fridge. They last for about 2-3 years in the fridge.

You can try yeast rinsing/saving, and see if you like the results.

You shouldn't have "foamy stuff on top" of cider the way beer does. That comes from proteins and things in the beer, which cider doesn't have. Cider is more simple sugars than beer, which has things like polyphenols and more tannins and protein. Cider behaves much more like wine during fermentation, and will go dry (.990) easily because the simple sugars are fermented completely.

One thing I like to do is to add a bit of honey after the main fermentation is over. I like my ciders dry, but adding a bit of honey (which ferments out) seems to "smooth" out the flavor nicely.

You can also add a tiny bit of powdered tannin if the cider needs some "bite". If the cider is bland, a little bit of acid blend gives some acidity. That's all done by taste, so once it's done you can pull out a little sample and see what you like best.

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Old 06-05-2013, 10:13 PM   #3
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Hi Yooper,
Thanks so much for that! That's all very useful, and the honey sounds really very tempting. If I can get some reasonably priced stuff (a friend makes mead, so should be able to hook us up) I might even try "cyser" - I hadn't heard of it before looking at this website, but it sounds really delicious.

We actually siphoned between buckets to avoid sloshing the lees around, although I'm not sure how useful that will end up being from an oxidation point of view given how high the general surface area is! It's good to know what the consequences of oxidation might taste like, though, so we can diagnose some of the (probably plentiful) problems our first batch will have.

Thanks also for the difference between cider and beer - that's a good point about alcohol levels, although I'll certainly experiment a bit more with washing. Yeast is $5 (about US$4) a pack at our local store, so while it doesn't break the bank I'd feel a lot more comfortable experimenting if it doesn't cost that each time. My husband would probably be a bit more enthusiastic, also. :P

Sorry, with regard to the "foam", is cider not meant to have a surface of yeasty foam when/after it has been brewing? Not like the head on a beer - just gunky and yeasty.

And yes, I think we'll be getting some equipment sanitiser from our local store. Why risk it, eh?

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Old 06-11-2013, 04:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
One thing I like to do is to add a bit of honey after the main fermentation is over. I like my ciders dry, but adding a bit of honey (which ferments out) seems to "smooth" out the flavor nicely.
I am about to start my first cider and was wondering as an average or rule of thumb how much honey you would put in per gallon as a rough place to start
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