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Old 11-29-2009, 05:58 PM   #1
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Default Misc questions on cold crashing/racking

Hi guys,

I'm working on my first batch of cider- a gallon of organic, no preservative juice with champagne yeast and sugar (original SG 1.062). Its going well, but during the process, a few questions arose. Maybe you can answer then so my second batch will come out better.

Campden tablets: I understand that you can use campden tablets to stop fermentation as an alternative to cold crashing. Most people don't suggest this as it will leave an off flavor. Does adding campden tablets before pitching the yeast (to kill off wild bacteria) also lead to an off flavor? Or does this only occur if you add the campden tablets later on?

cold crashing: I'm a little confused what the next step is after cold crashing. Does the cold crashing remove all yeast so that you can bottle immediately? Is the safe route to check SG after cold crash, rack to a jug, and check the SG again after a few days to see if any yeast is still working? I'm trying to avoid bottle bombs.

Racking and cider/air contamination: From reading many posts, people seem to love racking their cider. Before cold crashing, after cold crashing, as soon as primary fermentation is over, etc. But every time you rack, I lose some volume of cider. when I add the cider back to my 1 gallon jug, I have some air in the jug. I heard that cider in contact with air can cause some off flavors, though this is usually prevented by a CO2 layer. But if you were successful in cold crashing, you should have very little/no CO2 produced to protect the cider. One book I read recommended topping off with water to fill the container, but with a 1 gallon jug, this will lead to heavy dilution that I don't want to do. Is cider spoilage from air contact that big of a concern?

Efficient racking: I use an autosiphon to rack, which suck up liquid about 3/4-1" from the bottom. This is great after primary fermentation when there is a ton of stuff at the bottom of the container. But on subsequent rackings, when there is only a smaller layer of yeast, the autosiphon leads to wasting a good portion of cider. This is probably inconsequential in large tanks, but it gets significant for 1 gallon batches. But I don't want to use the old-school siphon method of creating suction by sucking on the tube. So can you tell me a different way to siphon without wasting as much cider, or the critical times when racking is necessary so that I don't go through additional unnecessary rackings?

Thanks for the help guys.

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Old 11-30-2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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I just bottled an absolutely barebones cider fermentation and siphoning without anything but a tube is tricky, but possible. What I did was put a small measure of pre-boiled (i.e. clean, or you can use a no-rinse sanitizer) water into the sanitized tube. Insert one end of the tube into your fermenter while keeping a bend in the tube so that no water drains into the fermenter. At this point you should have a tube that goes up out of the fermenter, back down a ways where the water rests, and back up to the other end of the tube. At this point you can lower the open end of the tube into a cup and let the water pour out. A pressure differential will suck cider out of the fermenter and down into the cup. At that point, do a (slightly messy) transfer into your secondary.

It's not the most wonderful method, but it'll get the job done and it lets you stick the siphon all the way to the bottom of the fermenter if that's what you want.

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Old 11-30-2009, 12:28 AM   #3
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Campden tablets don't kill wine yeast, in nomal doses. Wine yeast strains are not very susceptible to sulfites- that's why sulfite can be used in wines and ciders as an antioxidant and preservative. Campden tablets are added at the beginning to kill wild yeast and bacteria before pitching the desired yeast strain.

I've never had good luck with cold crashing to stop yeast activity, or with using campden and sorbate to stop activity in an ongoing fermentation. It's like stopping a freight train. I know that a few people have successfully done it, but if fermentation starts up again you'll have popped corks at the least and bottle bombs at the worst.

I let my cider finish fermenting, and then either drink it dry (which is how I like it), or stabilize it with sorbate and campden. After a few days after stabilization, I sweeten to taste and wait a few days to ensure no further fermentation before bottling.

If you use sorbate and campden, and then sweeten, you won't be able to bottle carbonate. I don't carbonate my sweetened wines and ciders, so that's not an issue for me.

Sorbate doesn't kill yeast, either, but it inhibits reproduction so once fermentation is finished, and you add sorbate, the yeast probably won't restart Sorbate does have a slight taste to it, especially if too much is used.
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:16 PM   #4
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search on "cold crash" or read page 15 of the sticky

Cold crashing works well with ale and wheat yeasts. With lager, champagne and natural ferments it is a lot harder.

You can use a keg charger with a pipe nipple to blow CO2 into your headspace (see pg 15). One CO2 cartridge contains about twice as much C02 as a big can of "wine conditioner"

I always rack at least 2 or 3 times. If you are concerned about waste, you can take what is left, pour it in a glass or bottle, let it settle in the fridge and drink it later
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:08 AM   #5
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I use a 60mL syringe for starting siphons. It's easy and sanitary and you don't end up with air in your finished product like you do with an autosiphon. They're dirt cheap and if you lubricate them, they last quite awhile.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by yogensha View Post
I use a 60mL syringe for starting siphons. It's easy and sanitary and you don't end up with air in your finished product like you do with an autosiphon. They're dirt cheap and if you lubricate them, they last quite awhile.
after i sanitize the cane, i leave the tube full of starsan to start it off.

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