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Old 10-20-2007, 03:30 PM   #1
THAYER988
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Default Many questions, please help

My husband and I have many,many apple trees on our land and after many years of talking, we have decided to take the plunge and make cider and hopefully hard cider. So far we have collected 2 30 gallon cans full (very sweet, juicy apples). We have ordered a cider press that will be here mid next week.

I have spent a considerable amount of time online studying up on the best way to do this and this is what I have come up with so far, with questions along the way. Please read and let me know what you think.

My basic plan without too much detail so far is-

After washing the apples, we will grind with our meat grinder. Place into cider press (Q- press doesn't come with cloths for straining, should I purchase?) putting juice into barrels ( Q- does size of barrel influence taste, length of fermentation ect) Drop in camden tablets and wait recommended time before dropping in yeast. ( Q- What is best yeast to use for sweetest tasting cider?) Let set at (55degrees?) until fermentation stops ( Q- how do you know?) then bottle.

What determines the length of fermentation? I have heard the longer it ferments, the sweeter it gets, I would like to make a batch of slow fermenting and faster fermenting, tips? Also, when filling the barrels, is it true when using natural fermentation you should fill the barrel to the top but when using yeast fill a few inches short of the top?

If you can recommend any websites for cider making that would be great!!

I have many more questions, but this should get me started. I am embarrassed to say I have very little knowledge on this subject, so please be kind....TIA!!

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Old 10-20-2007, 08:17 PM   #2
Adolphus79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THAYER988
My husband and I have many,many apple trees on our land and after many years of talking, we have decided to take the plunge and make cider and hopefully hard cider. So far we have collected 2 30 gallon cans full (very sweet, juicy apples). We have ordered a cider press that will be here mid next week.

I have spent a considerable amount of time online studying up on the best way to do this and this is what I have come up with so far, with questions along the way. Please read and let me know what you think.

My basic plan without too much detail so far is-

After washing the apples, we will grind with our meat grinder. Place into cider press (Q- press doesn't come with cloths for straining, should I purchase?) putting juice into barrels ( Q- does size of barrel influence taste, length of fermentation ect) Drop in camden tablets and wait recommended time before dropping in yeast. ( Q- What is best yeast to use for sweetest tasting cider?) Let set at (55degrees?) until fermentation stops ( Q- how do you know?) then bottle.

What determines the length of fermentation? I have heard the longer it ferments, the sweeter it gets, I would like to make a batch of slow fermenting and faster fermenting, tips? Also, when filling the barrels, is it true when using natural fermentation you should fill the barrel to the top but when using yeast fill a few inches short of the top?

If you can recommend any websites for cider making that would be great!!

I have many more questions, but this should get me started. I am embarrassed to say I have very little knowledge on this subject, so please be kind....TIA!!
Yes, you will want to purchase a straining bag or cheesecloth large enough to fit the basket on your press...

Size of barrel really doesn't effect anything, but material does, make sure your primary is either Stainless Steel or plastic (fermenting bucket from any HBS)...

There are several options for yeast, some people use a liquid cider yeast, I personally use Red Star Cote de Blancs for my New England Hard Cider...

The only way to know for sure that fermentation is complete is sequential SG tests... for my NE hard cider, I leave it in primary for about a month, rack it to secondary for another month, then rack again and put into bulk storage for a few months...

As far as websites go, you've found it... I've seen more and better information here on HBT than most of the other sites I've surfed... I would recommend you check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cider for a 'beginner's lesson'...

A few other notes:

You'll get about 1 gallon for cider for every 15 pounds of apples, try to find a vessel that will hold the amount of cider you have (don't put 10 gallons in a 35 gallon barrel)...

You may want to add a little pectic enzyme to the cider when you add campden, this will help break down what little pulp may have made it past straining, and will also help it clear.
Temps don't really matter much, so long as you stay between about 60 and 70 during fermentation. Once you're bulk aging, you can cellar the batch if you want (50-60F).


Any questions you have, feel free to ask, like I said, HBT is the best source I've found for making cider... there are a lot of us here, and we're all willing to help...
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:29 PM   #3
THAYER988
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Default A few more questions before I order....

Thank you so much for your help. I would have posted sooner, but I have taken your advice and I have been combing through posts here. I also appreciate the link, it did help me understand the process better. There aren't a whole lot of websites with good info for a beginner.

So, I am ready to place an order for some campden tablets, pectic enayme, and I think I have decided on Sweet Mead Yeast. After reading as much as I could here, I *think* that sounds like a good choice for what I am after.

I believe I have most everything else, until it comes to the final bottling, but I will worry about that later. Any recommendations for reputable sources??

As for the pectic enzyme, I see this is to help with clearing, if I understand correctly, it would help reduce the number of times you would need to rack (rack = to siphon into another carboy and allow to referment and clear correct)? Does it alter the flavor?

You mentioned SG test, do I test with a hydrometer? What are your recommendations when ordering one? Are they all pretty much the same? How would you test without concern for air contamination?

Speaking of air contamination, how do you rack your secondary? Should I order a siphon kit?

Reading posts here, I see yeast nutrient being mentioned a lot and I haven't been able to decipher wether or not it just means yeast, or is it something different?

Another question when it comes to temperatures and fermenting. I see your post recommends staying between 60 - 70 degrees. This is my biggest concern right now. Our basement stays between 50 - 60 degrees, so my husband wants to put most of the cider there especially since we will be doing large batches and it would not be convenient to have anywhere else. Is this a big no no?? I would love a slow fermented cider, but I don't want to kill the yeast.

On a good note, my husband and I became a little excited this weekend and decided to grind and press approx. 30 pounds of our apples for some non alchoholic cider. It was so much fun, and we got almost 2.5 gallons easier than I thought. Mind you we hand pressed these apples inside a sterilized feed bag and my knuckles are sore. I can't wait for our apple press!!

I apologize for all the questions, the more I type the more I have. I really appreciate your time and help!!!

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Old 10-22-2007, 06:19 PM   #4
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I don't know about a sweet mead yeast with cider, have you looked into one of the cider yeasts?
Reputable sources for bottles? Try your local redemption center. I buy all mine from there for 25 cents a piece.
Pectic enzyme does not alter flavor, it is used to break down the cell walls of the fruit, which in the beginning mean more juice from your fruit, and then after primary fermentation means clearer cider. Some people use pectic to assist in the final clearing, I do not. I let the cider clear on it's own.
Yes, to test for SG, you need a Hydrometer. You want to get a 'triple scale hydrometer', these are available from any homebrew shop. Also, get a 'wine theif' and a 'hydrometer test jar'. You use the theif (basically like a turkey baster) to draw a sample, put that into the test jar, and float your hydrometer in said jar for a reading. Do not put the sample back into your batch after testing, use it for a taste test...
For racking, you will want to get a racking cane (or even easier, an auto-siphon), and some tubing. Place the cane at the bottom of the first vessel, and start the siphon, then place the hose at the bottom of the second vessel to ensure aas little splashing as possible. I recommend 'carboy caps' for your carboys, this makes racking easier due to the ability to push with air instead of sucking on the hose (removing one more possible source of contamination).
Yeast nutrient and yeast energizer are both supplements that you can add to a batch to help the yeast. I have not used any myself, but I know some people swear by them.
50-60 degrees should be ok, so long as it's not any colder than that. Below 50, and you run the chance of stopping fermentation due to cold (on the same note, above 80 is bad too). If you ferment between 50 and 60, it will lead to a slower fermentation. There's nothing bad about this other than taking longer to finish.

Welcome to your new addiction... just remember... RDWHAHB...

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Mike

"Give me yesterday's bread, this day's flesh, and last year's cyder." - Benjamin Franklin

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Old 10-26-2007, 07:55 PM   #5
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You have been so amazingly helpful, thank you!!

OK, to update, I have found a local brewer shop and purchased most of my equipment and supplies. I also started a beginner batch of 1 gallon. After grinding, pressing and straining our apples, we flash pasteurized our cider because we didn't have any campden tablets at that time. After cooling, we used champagne yeast (as recommended by the brewer shop) and put on airlock. It began bubbling VERY soon afterwards and is holding steady around 1 bubble per 1-2 seconds. It is in our closet and temp is mid 60's. So far, so good. Ideally I would like to rack again in 3 weeks with brown sugar, but realisticly I know we will probobly do so at 2 weeks, although I know longer would be better. This is why we are starting with this "sample gallon", as I know curiosity and eagerness will get the better of us.

Now that we have our trial run under our belts, we are going to attempt the remainder of our apples tommorrow. We have estimated 500+ pounds that we have collected and have been sitting, some 1 week, others 2 weeks. We have a few friends that are joining us for this "adventure".

Thanks again for your help!! BTW, what does RDWHAHB mean?? Sorry, I am a noob!!!

Thanks!!

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Old 10-26-2007, 08:06 PM   #6
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relax, don't worry, have a home brew

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Secondary #2 Panty Dropper Cider
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Secondary #4 Empty
Bottled European Ale, Corona Clone, Raspberry White Zinfandel, Old English 800 Clone
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Old 10-26-2007, 08:18 PM   #7
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AHA, I get it now, thanks!!

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