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Old 11-07-2008, 07:07 PM   #1
curbdawg
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Default Using natural yeast from unpasteurized cider

Hi new to this forum here Well i have to say my stepfather and I have made hard cider using unpasteurized cider and 55 gallon whiskey barrels for a few years now. I never new much of anything about it and he just used a few tips a buddy of his gave him. We always used the natural yeast from the cider and brown sugar/ honey to ferment the cider. We would put a water bubbler in and let it bubble for a few months until the bubbling slowed to a almost stop. We would then bung it, prep/ clean the bottles and bottle it. I have to say it has all came out good. Actually i just had a few bottles from 4 years ago and it tastes excellent. Now i'm curious on learning more!! We never took SG readings or anything. Is it ok to do it the way we have been doing it? Most of everything i've read on this site talks about using pasteurized cider from the store and adding yeast. Anyone have tips for me for cider straight from the press?

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Old 11-07-2008, 07:25 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. Prepare to spend a lot of time here.

I've never made cider, but I think most people here would give various parts of their anatomy to get cider fresh from their own press, use whiskey barrels, and, moreover, do it all with their father. You could probably sell tickets to "The Cider Experience." What you're doing sounds great. The only thing I could suggest is perhaps culturing out the yeast from a tasty batch, and adding that to future batches to make sure that you've got something growing in there that you like. I don't know much about using wild yeasts, but it seems like there is a chance that one year you might get something growing in it that you don't want.

People here buy cider from the store because they can't press apples with their dad.

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Old 11-07-2008, 08:37 PM   #3
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You're making a farmhouse style hard cider, where the apples are grown, crushed, fermented and bottled in one place (aka the farm).

I do about 40 gallons of my own a year, however, immediately after pressing I use campden (sodium metibisphulate) in glass carboys for 24hours, followed by store bought dry yeast, where it sits for a month, then gets racked to a seconday for 2 or 3 more months. The campden is simply to subdue the natural yeast strains so I can use a "clean" strain and have no surprises, mold etc.

Nothing wrong with natural yeasts, but you're far more prone to ruining a batch. Frankly, every year I keep telling myself to allow nature to takes it course but I never do.

If it's working for you, don't change a thing!

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Old 11-07-2008, 08:41 PM   #4
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Right, what Chip said. If you care to, you could separate out part of a batch and follow Chip's procedure for it...that way, you at least have something on hand should anything go wrong.

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Old 11-08-2008, 12:07 PM   #5
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About this "mold" you talk about. Would we be able to smell/taste it if it went bad? How are some ways that it could become moldy? Thanks

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Old 11-08-2008, 12:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curbdawg View Post
About this "mold" you talk about. Would we be able to smell/taste it if it went bad?
oh god yes. if it smells ok to drink, it probably is. if it smells so bad you don't even want to pour it out because you'll have to smell more of it, then it got moldy.
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Old 11-09-2008, 11:33 AM   #7
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can I add yeast to my unpasteurized cider without killing off the natural yeasts? If so what would be a good rule of thumb to adding sugar? would I know how much total yeast I would have?

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Old 11-09-2008, 02:09 PM   #8
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There isn't natural yeast "in" the cider, dawg...wild yeasts come from the air, and you may have some local strains who have taken to hanging out around the orchard (if you are near one) the cider press, the room/building you've been making cider in, or even the wood of the barrel you use. So, by adding a yeast you buy, you wouldn't be killing off the natural yeast, but you'd be giving the new yeast a head start over any other organisms. If you keep using the same barrel, then the new yeast could take up residence alongside the wild ones.

The thing is, what you have been doing works for you, and you should keep doing it. But it does carry some risks of a ruined batch. So I think you should take some of the cider and ferment it under more controlled conditions, in a sanitized carboy or fermenting bucket. But I wouldn't give up the barrel.

As for sugar, what you have been doing in the barrel works, so stick with it. Sepme else here can tell you how much sugar to feed a commercial yeast.

Good luck!

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Old 11-09-2008, 06:40 PM   #9
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Thanks!! Well i just put my order in at the orchard. I'm going to do 2 5gallon buckets. The whiskey barrels are getting harder to get these days and if you can get one there going for over $100 almost double of what we use to pay for them. I'm going to do one with commerical yeast after killing off the "nastys" and the other i'm going to keep it untreated and use raisins. Same cider same amounts of sugar just different routes for yeasts. I'm also going to try to get some plastic carboys so I can try racking these off after fermenting.

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Old 11-09-2008, 08:37 PM   #10
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Sounds excellent. Just be sure to keep up on this board with the people who, unlike me, know something about making cider.

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