First off, let me say hello to everyone here! There appears to be a wealth of information available in this forum, but I'm not sure what to search for to see if my questions have been answered already.
Here's my situation:
I purchased 3 gallons of fresh, unpasteurized, unpreserved cider from a local orchard.
I split these into 3x0.75gal batches and drank the rest
Two of the batches are in 1 gal glass carboys with blow-off tubes going into a 1/2 gal bucket (2/3 full of water). One batch is in the original "milk jug" container (based on suggestions of natural fermentation by the orchard staff).
I have questions about two of the batches:
Batch 1) Glass carboy w/blow-off tube - 3/4gal must + 3/8cup Sugar In The Raw (heated with some of the must in a saucepan to ensure it dissolved completely) + Lalvin EC-1118 Campagne yeast. Original SG 1.045. Pitched on 10/17/06 @ 9pm. SG as of 10/19/06 @ 9am is 1.019
Batch 2) Glass carboy w/blow-off tube - 3/4gal must + Coopers Homebrew yeast. Original SG 1.042. Pitched 10/17/06 @ 9pm. SG as of 10/19/06 @ 9am is 1.019
As you can see, the ABV of Batch 1 is about 3.5% and the ABV of Batch 2 is about 3%.
Is this normal after 2 days of fermentation at 72degF ? I thought the primary fermentation was supposed to take 2 weeks or longer.
The fermentation is MUCH slower than the homebrew beer (Oktoberfest and Steam varieties) that my girlfriend's father and I have done (well, they're still fermenting - 2ndary fermentation this weekend and bottling next weekend!).
The bubble rate is about 1 bubble every 2 sec for Batch 1 and 1 bubble every 3 sec for Batch 2. The tubes are a rather large diameter, though, I was barely able to get them into the #6 stoppers.
Batch 1 has had good "currents" in the wort up until just recently... now the currents have slowed down and small bubbles have been seem coming up from the "yeast bed".
Batch 2 has some "currents", but not as much as Batch 1, but the bubbles from the "yeast bed" are significantly higher.
When I took the SG readings this morning, I tasted Batch 2 (forgot on Batch 1) and it has a nice low natural carbonation and there is a slight bite of alcohol, so things still seem to be going well.
I guess my main concern is letting the primary fermenation go too long and ruining the batches.
At what point should I siphon into fresh carboys for a 2ndary fermentation and when should I bottle? Should I go straight to bottling for my first batches and graduate to 2ndary fermentation after I'm more adept at homebrewing?
Sorry for the length of my post... I'm trying to ask all my questions at once so I don't start a bunch of threads for my first attempts at making hard cider.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I look forward to any/all feedback!!!