First timer fermenting a fresh batch of cider!
I'm new here and new with wine making. I have a fresh batch of apple cider and grapes fermenting. The grapes are about a month old and the apple cider is about a week old. All fruit was harvested from my family farm.
A bit about the cider background:
I started with fresh farm apples that I crushed and pressed using an antique cider press. I should have taken a few pics of the press while I had it out, LOL. Anyhow, I immediately filled the carboy with the cider. I added the campden and pectic enzyme and let it sit for 2 days while I waited for the other ingredients that I wanted to add. After the 2 days, I started the Red Star Cote De Blanc yeast and yeast nutrient in some warm cider. At the same time, I added some acid blend and wine tannin. Within 24 hours, there was activity with the airlock. Now, 4 days later, the thick cap formed and there is vigorous airlock activity.
I have a couple questions about the apple cider. See the foam at the top of the carboy, is that called the yeast cap? Will it dissipate on its own or take care of it when I rack it? When and how often should I rack it? Will racking it clear it up? I know when I had the crushed grapes in the primary fermenter, they formed a very thick cap that I stirred once or twice a day. How many months will this cider ferment?
As for the grapes, they are fresh farm grapes as well. The grape wine is my absolute first attempt at making wine. I did not know much about wine making when I started with the grapes. I read a bit about wine making on the web and took some advice from a local brew supply store. I think I added way too much sugar and I hope it turns out OK. There is still airlock activity, maybe a bubble every minute or two. It smells good though, lol. I started out with crushing 2, five gallon buckets full of concord grapes. While in the primary fermenter, I added the campden tablets and pectic enzyme. Twenty four hours later, I added Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast and nutrient. I let them sit in the primary fermenter for a week with a towel covering the buckets. Using the trusty cider press, I pressed the grapes and filled up the carboy and 2, one gallon jugs. I took a hydrometer reading and the OG was 1.075. This is where I got confused or got some bad advice and added about 10+ cups of sugar trying to obtain a target SG of 1.090. Well, that didn't happen and added more sugar, LOL. Taking what I know now, I think I added too much sugar and don't think I would add any if I had the opportunity to do it over again. Live and learn I guess. The grapes seemed to be a bit sweeter this year for some reason. Maybe it was the dry summer PA had? As of today and one racking, its still working, so I guess that is a good sign.
Now for the cool part, pictures...
Welcome to HBT!
For you cider questions, firstly, that thick foam at the top is what's called Krausen. It will mostly dissipate on it's own after about a week or so, there will be some dry stuff stuck to the sides about the fluid line afterwards, don't worry about it. Don't worry about stirring your cider any.
For my New England Hard Cider, I rack it to secondary after 4 weeks. Then after another 4 weeks, I rack it again and put it into bulk storage for 3-6 months. You'll notice significant clearing while it is in secondary, and then after the bulk aging, it will come out almost clear, or a pale yellow.
It looks like you're off to a great start there, let us know how it turns out... :tank:
Hello and welcome!
As far as the sugar and your wine are concerned, I wouldnt worry about that a whole lot. I couldnt find the attenuation of that particular yeast online, but assuming its pretty full, your original SG certainly puts you in the ballpark for %ABV. Is 5+ pounds a lot of sugar, well yes, in fact im still a little confused as to how you got that gravity considering your sugar additions... but I think that if there is a common theme on this forum, its that we are all generally pleasantly surprised by our first batches.
As far as your cider is concerned, be careful. You might end up with something extremely delicious there!
Yeah, that cider looks to be extra yummy!
Thanks for the tips and suggestions! As of today, the Krausen has disappeared and the airlock is bubbling vigorously. I assume it will slow as time goes on? I know my grapes bubbled vigorously at first but slowed to a bubble every minute or two.
Should I add more campden tablets when I rack?
When it comes time to bottle, use corks? I don't have a corker, so any recommendations on what to get? My local supply store has a twin handle corker for like $18. It sure looks like another set of hands might be needed to operate it though, LOL.
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