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Old 11-16-2012, 08:50 PM   #1
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Default Tell me about using plastic bottles to gauge carbonation

I have a couple of gallons of cider that I'm getting ready to backsweeten with tart cherry juice. I know that bottle bombs are a concern when backsweetening so I want to do everything I can to avoid that.

It was originally recommended that I try a bottle a day to check the carbonation and then cold crash or pasteurize. Since it's only a couple of gallons it seems that I might run out of the cider before it is ready.

So somewhere I read about people using plastic bottles as a gauge for carbonation. How do I do it, and what am I looking for?

Thanks!


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Old 11-17-2012, 04:20 PM   #2
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Bump.

Was hoping to get some feedback on this method as I need to bottle this weekend to get them out of the spare bathroom for company next week.

Thanks for any advice!


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Old 11-17-2012, 04:56 PM   #3
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Sure, I do this with every batch. Works great.

Get some small plastic soda bottles, I find plain seltzer is best because you don't have to worry about weird flavors sticking around. Just make sure it's a bottle in good condition that held a pressurized beverage before. You can also buy new brown PET bottles, but if you're just doing 1-2 per batch I don't see the point. Sanitize, fill as normal, squeeze the remaining air out of the bottle and screw the cap on rather tightly.

It'll start off all squishy and flaccid, as it carbs up you'll see a headspace again and the bottle will be firm.

If it's beer, make sure you keep it out of the light (putting it in a small paper bag works well).
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:07 PM   #4
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I think they fill a Soda Bottle, and then wait until it gets about as firm as an unopened soda. Thus there will be about the same pressure in your now carbonated cider as the soda. Then you would pasteurize, kill off the yeast and enjoy your cider. (don't use a water bottle, they are too weak.)

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It was originally recommended that I try a bottle a day to check the carbonation and then cold crash or pasteurize.
Cold crash is generally done in the carboy, before carbonation, it puts the yeast to sleep and they hopefully settle on the bottom of the carboy, then you siphon the cider off the little bit of yeast.

Pasteurization is done in the bottle, generally with a hot water bath, and after carbonation if you want sparkling cider, before carbonation if you want still cider.

Hope that helps!
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys. Exactly what I needed.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:06 AM   #6
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Should I expect the plastic bottle to return to regular size? I'm using a 12 oz plastic Sprite bottle. So far the head space has increased by about a half inch.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:21 AM   #7
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I'd go by feel. If it feels like a warm soda bottle (pretty stiff, and "regular" size) it's probably carbonated like soda.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:38 PM   #8
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Below is a pic of our progress so far. We bottled on Sunday evening. Added our cider and squeezed air out until the liquid was about at the base of the cap. The bottle is still a little squishy, but quite a bit of headpiece has formed. If you can see the lines on the right side of the bottle the second from the bottom was drawn this morning.

Are we on the right track? Any guesses to how much longer until we need to pasteurize?


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Old 11-22-2012, 07:02 AM   #9
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Wow....just checked on the bottle again and it is now back to regular shape with another quarter inch or so of head space. The bottle still has a little give to it so I guess we'll let it go a little longer. I can't believe how fast this is happening. Should it happen this fast?
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:32 PM   #10
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Every batch I brew includes a Pepsi bottle or two. I do not squeeze out the air first, as this might (I say might) not give me a true read or feel as to the actual pressure being built up. This is for BEER not cider but it gives me a good idea how carbonation and brightening is getting along. I also open the plastic bottles a few weeks into conditioning for a taste test.

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