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Old 02-12-2009, 04:40 AM   #1
blandeena
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Default Worried my first cider may not be working

On Sunday, I started my first batch of cider. My plan was to start off simple to get the process down, and possibly do something fun with secondary fermentation. I'm not sure my primary fermentation is even doing anything.

I put 5 gallons of preservative free, pasteurized(that's all I could find) apple juice in my primary fermentation bucket. I added a vial of WLP720 sweet mead yeast and 3 teaspoons of yeast nutrient. I stirred it for a minute or two, put the bucket lid on and stuck in the airlock. The lid isn't designed to seal, so I put a textbook on top of it to weigh it down. The next day, it smelled a bit like what I would guess to be what everyone refers to as rhino farts. I haven't smelled anything since, unless I go right up to the lid, and it just smells like apple juice. It is now late Wednesday night, and I still haven't seen a single bubble in the airlock.

People kept mentioning that primary fermentation gets bubbly and frothy and needs extra space. Is it possible there is too much head space in my bucket? I'm pretty sure the bucket's total capacity is 7 gallons, and I have 5 gallons in it. My original specific gravity reading was 1.050, but I am afraid of opening my bucket to take another reading. If CO2 is actually building up in there, I wouldn't want to ruin it by exposing to oxygen.

Should I be worried? Is there something I need to fix?

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Old 02-12-2009, 04:43 AM   #2
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Quite often cider does not make any krausen at all. If you had rhino farts, it means you have fermentation going on in that bucket. You will not hurt it if you want to take a reading but cider can continue to ferment for weeks. My vote is you leave it alone for a few weeks and trust the process.

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Old 02-12-2009, 05:23 AM   #3
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Sounds like fermentation got started, since you had some tell tale smells. I highly doubt, a well treated, low gravity cider just stopped abruptly with no changes to its environment. You are almost definitely fine. Also, if your bucket isn't sealing, then all of the co2 being produced is likely seeping out through the non-airtight lid, bypassing the airlock and not causing any bubbly goodness in the airlock.

I you started it Sunday, you don't really need to be taking SG readings, but doing so, as Nurmey mentioned won't hurt anything, as long as you use sanitized equipment. Do you plan on racking it to another container, or are you intending on letting it fully ferment in the bucket?

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Old 02-12-2009, 05:49 AM   #4
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I was hoping for air bubbles, so I would know when to transfer to secondary. It sounds like the timing on that isn't entirely critical though, so I guess I should just trust it, and leave it go for a week or two and then transfer over to secondary.

I was originally planning on racking to my 6 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation/clearing. Since my juice came in glass gallon containers, I started to think it may be fun to rack it back into those and do something different to each one to experiment a bit. I'd leave at least one as is, so I know how it would be plain. I think it would be fun to add different flavors to each during secondary. I'd like to leave one as is, add a bit of apple concentrate to another, add cherry juice or concentrate to one, raspberry to one, and cranberry to the other. Somewhat of a controlled experiment just to add in some fun.

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Old 02-12-2009, 06:00 AM   #5
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I've done similar experiments with 1 gal jugs, so all the power to you. Love doing lil try outs like that. In regards to the other options, if you want to keep it all the same, you are going to need something to top it off with. You can't safely age 5 gallons of cider in a 6 gallon carboy. That much headspace will almost guarantee some oxidation issues.


*God I need to get to sleep.

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Old 02-12-2009, 06:13 AM   #6
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How much time is ok to leave the cider exposed to excess head space before oxidation is an issue? I'm guessing as long as its pretty actively fermenting, the CO2 it produces will be enough to protect it from oxidation. If using one larger secondary, would you just top it off with another gallon of apple juice?

I agree, sleep sounds like a good plan! Thanks for the feedback.

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Old 02-12-2009, 05:30 PM   #7
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Hi,

I had a similar situation with my first cider.

My primary is a 6 gal bucket with a snow saucer on top with a hole for the airlock. (had the bucket, lost the lid, had the saucer...) It works well, but does not seal much. You can always pull the airlock stopper and have a look for bubbles with a flashlight. Mine bubbled like crazy for two weeks then slowed substaintially. I transfered to a glass carboy so I can brew a new batch of Marzen and to monitor cider clarity. After 3 weeks now, it's clear, smells great and when we tasted last week during the transfer, it was absolutley wonderful!

You should be fine...

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