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Old 10-22-2011, 05:16 AM   #1
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Default oversulfited apple pomace causing yeast to die before fermentation takes hold?

I've made wine before (about 3x 5gal carboys worth, a chianti, a reisling, and a pinot noir all from kits), so I tried to make some apple cider.

Local orchard, hand picked ~185 lbs of apples. I used a garbage disposal to grind the apples into pulp, and a home made press to press the juice out. Below is my witches brew and what I made from it:

10lbs cortlands+36lbs red delicious+31lbs gold delicious = 4.75gallons juice
18lbs mcintosh = 0.75gal juice
15lbs jonathans = 1.00gal juice
37lbs Fuji = 2.75gal juice
28lbs Jonagold = 2.00 gal juice

Here is the problem. I was working with a friend of mine, and I was going to sulfite the must before pressing to avoid oxidation. I myself dont like the sight of apple juice that looks like iced tea (personal preference). For every 5 gallons of pomace that I made, I added 1 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite and stirred it in. I then pressed the juice out. Some of the buckets that had only 1-2 gallons of pomace... my friend inadvertently added a whole teaspoon of sulfite to them thinking the rest of the apples would get added.

I think I ended up with 3 teaspoons of sulfite for about 15 gallons of pomace which pressed down to about 11.25 gallons of total juice.

The red/gold/corts were pressed on Sunday, all the rest were pressed on Monday. I waited 24 hours and taste tested the juices and got the right mixture together that I liked (wishing I'd had more jonathans in the end for more tartness). On Tuesday night late, I created one primary fermenter with 5 gallons of batch A and two 4.5gal carboys holding just short of 3 gallons each as batch B. Batch B is just a mixture of everything left over, Batch A is my "super concoction". Batch B contains an added 1lb of brown sugar.

OG Batch A was 1.052
OG Batch B was 1.048
Batch B after sugar add was 1.054

After blending, just before midnight, I added 1 pack of Red Star Cotes de Blanc yeast to about a cup of water at 100F. I know it was this temp because I used my cooking thermometer and it was very accurate. I dissolved the yeast using a fork and stirring vigorously for about 2 minutes. I then added it to Batch A. I repeated the steps for each of the other two 4.5gal carboys (100F water per the package instructions, stir for 2 minutes, then add to juice)



Batch A was a bucket fermenter and I left the lid just sitting on top of it with an airlock. Not air tight, letting it stand so I could monitor it and when it started bubbling i'd lock it down. Batch B's carboys I airlocked right away.

Wednesday AND Thursday, I noticed vacuums in the carboys and no bubbles in the cider. This concerns me of course. I asked the local brew shop and they suggested adding more yeast. So I bought 3 packs of red star premier cuvee. This time I did not mix them in warm water but added them directly to the batches and did not stir.

Today is Friday, I saw some film on the top of the must but it was ONLY in the glass carboys of batch B, NOT anywhere to be found in bath A, and did not look convincing and yet again the airlock showed a slight vacuum and gave all three mixtures a good stir.

My question really though is the sulfiting. is it possible this batch is way oversulfited and cannot sustain any yeast whatsoever even though it's been 5 days since adding? I also have to wonder how much sulfite comes out of the must when pressing and how much remains in the dry pomace?

Other posts indicate that fermentation for some doesnt start for a week and some indicate that they never see bubbles at all yet the entire batch processes fine.

Any advice on moving forward would be appreciated. I'd rather not have to scrap this batch of course.



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Old 10-22-2011, 05:19 AM   #2
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Forgot to add that the temp is in my basement, very stable and constant at 69-70F



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Old 10-22-2011, 05:30 AM   #3
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It'll be fine. I made 25 gallons of cider this year, and actually wish I had your problem. A slower fermentation will mean a more complex apple flavor. I added just 50 ppm sulfur, pitched 10 grams montrachet per 6 gallons after 12 hours, and LESS than 24 hours later the cider had hit terminal gravity at 1.004. I also used Fermaid K. You'll be fine.

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Old 10-26-2011, 11:26 PM   #4
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Quick update. I got pretty irritated after about 6 days with no indication of fermentation starting (no bubbles, no cap, no temp increase, and no SG drop). I went and bought 3 more packs of premier cuvee and created starters for them. 1/2 gallon of juice (from each carboy), added 1/2 tsp of yeast nutrient, and aerrated the crap out of them. Added all of it together with a pack of yeast per starter and let it sit for 24 hours. after 24 hours, had a good solid ferment going in them.

I also stirred and aerated the mixtures in order to drive off any sulfite that I might have overdosed with earlier in my process. I took an auto siphon and put it over a funnel to a fresh sanitized carboy. I took a stainless measuring cup and held it on its side. i ran the stream of the must over the back side of the cup in effect decanting it.

Then I added the 1/2 gallon starters to each of the carboys. after about 8 hours I saw slight bubbles and gunk starting to form. In 12 hours I saw the airlocks start pumping out a bubble about every minute or two. Not impressive, but more than before.

Today about 30-36 hours later, i'm happy to report that my cider is WELL on its way to becoming a beverage. The bubbles are coming out of the airlocks so fast that it's impossible to measure bubbles per minute (what i measure with as i keep a journal).

I do have one more concern though... I've noticed the carboys are getting quite warm, and the temp gauges on the side of them are a max of 82 degrees F. I cant see a reading, indicating the temp is well over this.

Today I stepped in and saw that the once bubbling hardcore cider in my 3rd carboy has dribbled to a halt. it puts out a bubble a minute or so, but i'm concerned that the heat from the yeast making all that noise has caused some of them to die off.

I've since lowered the house temperature and placed them in the coolest part of my basement where i've got a Pinot in a secondary. the pinot reads 70-71 on its thermometer.

Havent taken a SG reading yet. HOpe that the yeast is finished its boil and not just killed itself off. it's entirely possible my two smaller batches have finished up and the larger (2x the size) is still eating up sugar.

Thoughts on how warm the yeast gets? anyone ever have yeast party so hard they OD'ed on heat?

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Old 10-26-2011, 11:36 PM   #5
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Its done. Done with primary anyway

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Old 10-27-2011, 02:30 AM   #6
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Took SG readings... you're right. looks like they're done. Batch A was at 1.003, Both Batch B's were at .999 and .996. new carboys, racked both off to them. combined Batch B's to a single. W00t. tastes like ass though. I'm sure it'll get better when it finishes secondary and starts to clear.

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Old 10-27-2011, 02:31 AM   #7
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Super tart and rough with a farty funk?

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Old 10-27-2011, 02:35 AM   #8
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Yes, yes, and yes. Tastes like fermented rubber water with a very tart taste. a hint of metal to it too. Have to wonder if that comes off of the press I used for the apples.

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Old 10-27-2011, 02:45 AM   #9
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It'll be fine. Cider has all kinds of funky off flavors. It won't be ready to drink till spring.



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