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Old 09-26-2009, 05:36 AM   #1
harriw
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Default Newbie, first cider

Hey folks!

Great site here! I've been browsing around, and have a few questions: Given the fantastic cider we have here in WNY this time of year to start with, I've been wanting to try my hand at hard cider for quite some time now. Finally got some gear today, and will be picking up some fresh cider tomorrow while apple picking (I believe our orchard UV treats only, no heat pasteurization).

So here's my plan: roughly 5-6 gallons of fresh cider go into my 6-gal. glass carboy, along with 2 lbs. light brown sugar. Swish around to dissolve. Make sure it's all at room temp, and pitch yeast (one packet split into three parts, add 10 minutes apart and let sink on its own).

First question: Can I realistically expect to add the sugar through a funnel, and have it dissolve into 5-6 gal. of cider at room temp by just swishing? I'm hoping I don't have to heat it up to dissolve...

Second question: Should I take the yeast out of the fridge to warm up to room temp before hand, or just pitch it in cold?

Third question: yeast type. I picked up some champagne yeast today (1118). But now I"m thinking I'll grab some ale yeast instead... I'd like to avoid cold crashing so I can add some sugar at bottling to cabonate, but want to keep it sweet too (my only hard cider experience is the "Ciderjack" brand that I can't find anymore, and now woodchuck as its replacement).

Finally - my kit came with "C-Brite" Cleanser (nasty stuff - looks like it contains bleach, a sulfate, and a phosphate as well). How do I use it? Just dilute per instructions, swish the stuff around in the carboy a bit, and rinse? How serious are they about using rubber gloves once it's diluted (don't have any on hand at the moment).

Thanks very much for reading this far for another into another annoying Newbie thread. Please also let me know if you see any glaring holes in this plan. Thanks again!!!!

-Bill

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Old 09-26-2009, 06:11 AM   #2
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I don't see any reason to add the yeast one third at a time. Seems like you're just creating another chance for something to go wrong there, although I'm sure you'd be fine.

Instead of adding sugar to the carboy, only empty your cider jugs about 1/2 way, then put a pound of sugar in the jugs, cap, and shake like the dickens. Easy dissolved sugar.

For yeast, whatever floats your boat. Ale yeast is less traditional, and may create some interesting flavors (never tried it), but I've seen others who have and liked the results. I'm guessing without experience, but I'd assume most ale yeasts would leave you with a sweeter cider than champagne yeast. I've only used Montrachet, but don't let my experience become your rule.

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Old 09-26-2009, 06:16 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Lord Hedgie,

Great idea on the sugar - I'll definitely go that route. After looking through the other cider threads, I think I will give the ale yeast a shot...

You'd recommend just dumping in the whole packet of yeast at once though? I thought I read somewhere you were better off adding it slowly for some reason... I'll do some more reading on that one I guess.

Thanks again!

-Bill

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Old 09-26-2009, 06:18 AM   #4
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Maybe you know something I don't about adding yeast slowly. See who else responds -- I haven't made much cider, but I've always dumped it all at once, and never had a problem. That's the joy of cider -- five minutes, and you can put it away and forget about it until it's ready to keg.

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Old 09-26-2009, 07:09 AM   #5
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K, got another question: My kit came with a 6-gal. glass carboy. Do I need to use (almost) 6 gal. of cider/sugar/etc. to keep the level up near the top and minimize air inside? Or could I ferment, say, 1 gallon in the 6-gallon container without getting vinegar at the end? Guess I'm struggling with managing the cost of the additional cider, and cost of additional bottles to store it in - especially on my very first batch.

Thanks!

-Bill

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Old 09-26-2009, 07:19 AM   #6
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Generally I say don't worry about using a carboy that's too big, because the yeast will create a CO2 blanket that will displace oxygen and fill the headspace. It should do the same even if you're only putting a gallon into a 6.5 gallon carboy, although at that point I'd consider looking around for a smaller container just to keep the carboy free for something else. Cider takes at least a month to ferment; a gallon really isn't a lot considering it will have to last you until the next batch is ready...

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Old 09-26-2009, 09:19 AM   #7
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i have never tried to hard to make cider but i have expiramented a little. if you are just making a gallon just buy gallon jgs to keep your carboy free plus gallon jugs store easy and are much easier to transport. if you want a sweet cider dont use champagne yeast it will be very dry. i grew up drinking magners cider so i expected apple juice and champaign yeast to taste similar and boy was i wrong!! if you are buying fresh cider get a few gallons and two to three jugs and expirament to see what is good and what you like. im planning on getting some fresh cider soon and expramenting also, i have some graff bottle conditioning now that im anxious to try. good luck and i hope it turns out good

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Old 09-26-2009, 10:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDbrews View Post
i have never tried to hard to make cider but i have expiramented a little. if you are just making a gallon just buy gallon jgs to keep your carboy free plus gallon jugs store easy and are much easier to transport. if you want a sweet cider dont use champagne yeast it will be very dry. i grew up drinking magners cider so i expected apple juice and champaign yeast to taste similar and boy was i wrong!! if you are buying fresh cider get a few gallons and two to three jugs and expirament to see what is good and what you like. im planning on getting some fresh cider soon and expramenting also, i have some graff bottle conditioning now that im anxious to try. good luck and i hope it turns out good
Did you try again with a different yeast? If so what kind did you use?

Thanks!
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:13 PM   #9
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If you like ciderjack and woodchuck, you are going to want to stop the fermentation at around 1.010 - 1.015. Woodchuck granny smith is 1.014 and that is their dryest. Ale yeast will leave you a nice apple taste when it ferments out around 1.000 or 1.002, but it will be dry. Fresh juice with SO4 at 1.008 to 1.010 is much better. You can often do repeated rackings instead of cold crashing to stop it, but unless you have kegs, you will have to make the choice between semi sweet and still or dry and carbonated.

I'm pretty sure you can bottle carbonate a sweet cider by using nitrogen deprivation, but how to do this seems to be a fairly well guarded secret. I may try to work it out later, but for now I'm still working to improve my keg process. If you live in good apple country, I'd recommend getting some kegs. Second hand kegs are cheap and much easier to clean than bottles.

The reason that you want to pitch the yeast in increments and not all at once is that it is very important that the yeast have a nice smooth re-hydration - this is where they are most likely to have problems. You only want to pitch enough each time so that they spread out evenly over the surface and form a film of single cells - you dont want any little piles of yeast on top of the cider. You can lightly tap the carboy on the side to encourage the yeast to spread out to make a nice even film while they are rehydrating. Then when the first round sinks, you can add some more. I keep a solid stopper in the carboy when I am doing this (other than taking it off briefly to add a little more yeast) and also fold the top of the yeast packet over and put a paper clip on it between pitchings to keep everything as sterile as possible during this period.

If you are pitching into a fermentation bucket instead of a carboy, you might be able to get the yeast to spread out enough to get an even film all across the top with a single pitch, but I would probably do at least two pitchings just to be safe.

The yeast manufacturers assume that a large percentage of the yeast will not survive rehydration, and so they put a lot more than you really need in the packet. So if you just dump the packet in, you will usually be OK. But you will have more dead and crippled cells. If you look at old posts on this forum you will see a lot of folks worried about their yeast because it has been several days with no activity. The yeast almost always gets going in the end, but you dont want your juice sitting around with a bunch of shocked yeast in it. I have done hundreds of batches and always get strong ferments within 24 hours and usually less than 8 by paying attention to rehydration.

I usually take my yeast out of the fridge after I get the juice home but before I start measuring sg and pH and adding sugar, so it has 30-60 minutes to warm up. Not sure if it matters for dry yeast. Liquid wants to be a room temp.

You dont want to leave more than a bit of headspace in your carboy. Yes *eventually* that air will be displaced by the CO2 produced by the ferment, but that could be a couple of days if you have a lot of headspace. In the meantime, that air is oxidizing your juice, plus any bacteria in the air is having a field day on your juice until the alcohol level gets high enough to kill it. I fill my carboys to the top at the press, then right before pitching the yeast, I pour off about about 24oz to leave enough headspace for krausen. For gallons, I pour off about 4oz. Also, every time I rack, I blow some CO2 on the top, because by this time the ferment has slowed down and you dont want air sitting on the cider. I usually skip that step for gallon batches, because I'm usually not worried about keeping them for any length of time.

You can use the gallon jugs you get from the press as the primary. Just pour a little juice out and you are good to go.

If you buy your juice in gallon jugs than you can add the sugar to the carboy first. Most presses will sell it cheaper if you bring an empty sanitized carboy, in which case add the sugar later. It will have no problem going through a funnel - just make sure you pour out some more juice to leave a little extra space for it and dont let the bottom of the funnel get close to the juice or it will clump up. I put a bung in the carboys and roll them around on the floor for about 10 min until all the sugar or honey is completely dissolved. That is a lot easier than shaking.

Brown sugar will leave a more caramel aftertaste than what you get from a ciderjack or woodchuck. you might want to use a lighter sugar or a mix of light and brown

I've never used Cbrite. I use 1-step for cleaning and star san for sanitizing. They say wear gloves with that stuff too, but I dont and it doesnt seem to bother my hands although both are very soapy feeling so I wash it off right away if I get any on me.

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Old 09-26-2009, 11:14 PM   #10
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WOW, very informative post -thank you!

One more cleaning question: I have everything sanitized now (got some star san) and am about to start filling the Carboy. But there's still quite a lot of bubbles from the star san in there. What's the general procedure? Do I go ahead and fill ignoring the bubbles, or rinse them out a bit with water (everything I"ve read about this stuff says not to rinse it out), or will it eventually go away as it air dries?

I grabbed some light brown sugar rather than regular - I figured that would be a bit more middle-of-the-road?

Thanks again!

-Bill

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