Yo! I mean Greetings!
(Breaking Bad joke)
OK, while I go blind reading for answers to a few pressing questions I have, I see SO many different instructions and so very many extremely interesting (and sometimes relevant) stories...well, while I continue my search I think I'll put this up and invite your expert commentary.
I recently participated in an apple harvest and squeezin' and have 5 gallons fermenting in a carboy right now. I'll list the details below. I plan to enjoy some as hard cider and to take a portion (if not almost all) of the batch all the way over to apple cider vinegar (ACV).
I am Mr. Organic and do no pasteurization and use no yeast killers, sulfates or other added chemicals. ALL of my ingredients are raw and organic.
What I have read is that fermentation is complete when the specific gravity (SG) reaches 1.000. Another less reliable indicator is the ending of gas formation. What puzzles me is what appears to be conflicting indicators. My batch is still producing CO2, and my SG reading is below
1.000 at 0.996. Seems to me if gas is still being formed (though now at a very slow rate), fermentation has not
completed. Is this so?
How can the SG be below
1.000? Is that because alcohol has a lower SG?
I am reading about making ACV and one site advises me to stir the primary fermentation every day. Is that right??? I was under the impression that it's best NOT to disturb it, and that opening it every day would increase the risk of undesirable yeasts? So, what's the truth on this? Stir or no stir?
I would love help deciding what to do next. I am debating whether or not to add sugar for carbonation because I am unsure about how that might affect the ACV.
If anyone knows of a favorite site about making ACV to point me at, please do!
If anyone sees something that I should do right now, or has any suggestions at all (racking/bottling, etc.), of course I welcome any and all input.
Thanks in advance!
Here are the details of my first batch. (I've made two beer batches ages ago)
Day 1 - Yesterday, we acquired 5 gallons of fresh-squeezed apple cider from Friend's 33rd annual Apple Squeezin'. Today we make a start for hard cider.
Cleaned equipment and counters
Sanitized equipment and counters
Measured OG without sugar 1.038 (4.9 % alc. potential)
Sugars - dissolved in 2-3 C water - added half-way through adding juice to carboy:
1 lb organic dark brown
.5 lb organic raw washed cane sugar
.5 lb organic turbinado raw cane sugar
(I wonder how many cups that is)
Measured SG with sugar 1.049 (6.8 % alc. potential) [Is this the OG?]
.5 t pectase (pectic enzyme) per gal (5X total)
1 pkg Redstar Pasteur Champagne Yeast - dissolved in 1/4 C water at 100-105 degrees
Placed in bedroom - temp is consistent 62-62 F
Day 9 - Bubble rate maxed at one every 2.7 seconds
Day 17 - Took specific gravity reading: 0.996 [temperature is 62 F]
I am surprised that it's under 1.000 (does alcohol cause it to read that low?)
Taste test: Partner didn't like it. I think it's "interesting."
Neither of us have any
idea how it's supposed to taste.
get some hard cider somewhere - sample it to see what it tastes like
discover if 0.996 is an oddball SG reading
1.000 is supposed to mean the sugars are used up, yet it's still off-gassing - normal or not?
can sugars be used up AND brew still produce CO2?
decide if and when to add sugar (and how much) for carbonation
decide how much (and how) to make into apple cider vinegar (ACV)
what are next steps toward ACV?
Day 22 - Bubble rate is significantly slower, yet still happens with one bubble every 73 seconds, or every 1 min 13 seconds.