A few questions about starting a batch of cider

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Jbones

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Hi there! I am going to start some more cider this weekend, and had a few questions about the specifics of this task:

- I have 4 different yeasts to try out on 4 different gallons of apple juice. Can I add the entire packet of yeast to a gallon, or is that too much?

- I plan on adding .5# dextrose to each gallon to bump the ABV. I have heard that you should shake the bejesus out of the juice before adding the yeast in order to aerate the juice. Can I do this after I add the sugar? Is it even necessary to aerate the juice?

- I have heard that you should pitch the yeast into a little warm water, and then let it sit for 20 minutes before adding to the juice. Is this necessary or can I just dump the yeast straight into the juice bottle?

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!!
 

bernardsmith

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Hi jbones and welcome.
Three questions - and so three answers.
I would follow the instructions on the yeast if I were you. But that said, I use dry yeast and simply sprinkle the package onto the surface of the must. Never had any problem. And given the fact that you really cannot over-pitch (use too much) yeast as a home wine maker I add the contents of the whole package. Yeast is inexpensive and the risk of infecting or contaminating the leftover yeast with bacteria or mold outweighs the advantage of saving a dollar by only using 1 g of the yeast.
Yeast need oxygen to reproduce. You want to aerate the must before you add the yeast and wine makers typically aerate throughout the period of active fermentation. That means it makes little difference if you aerate before or after you add more sugar... you really want to aerate a couple of times a day (by stirring) even after you have pitched the yeast... By aerating you are also removing some of the CO2 that the yeast produce and CO2 inhibits fermentation... so stirring your cider is a twofer - incorporates air AND removes CO2.
Wine makers typically ferment in buckets and not carboys and use a loose cover to keep dirt out and not a lid sealed with a bung and airlock. That set-up makes it much easier to agitate the wine/cider/mead. Then when they rack rack the wine or cider or mead to the secondary (when gravity has dropped closer to 1.000 - in fact around 1.005) then they seal out all the air (no headroom at that point) and use a bung and airlock.
 
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Jbones

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Hi jbones and welcome.
Three questions - and so three answers.
I would follow the instructions on the yeast if I were you. But that said, I use dry yeast and simply sprinkle the package onto the surface of the must. Never had any problem. And given the fact that you really cannot over-pitch (use too much) yeast as a home wine maker I add the contents of the whole package. Yeast is inexpensive and the risk of infecting or contaminating the leftover yeast with bacteria or mold outweighs the advantage of saving a dollar by only using 1 g of the yeast.
Yeast need oxygen to reproduce. You want to aerate the must before you add the yeast and wine makers typically aerate throughout the period of active fermentation. That means it makes little difference if you aerate before or after you add more sugar... you really want to aerate a couple of times a day (by stirring) even after you have pitched the yeast... By aerating you are also removing some of the CO2 that the yeast produce and CO2 inhibits fermentation... so stirring your cider is a twofer - incorporates air AND removes CO2.
Wine makers typically ferment in buckets and not carboys and use a loose cover to keep dirt out and not a lid sealed with a bung and airlock. That set-up makes it much easier to agitate the wine/cider/mead. Then when they rack rack the wine or cider or mead to the secondary (when gravity has dropped closer to 1.000 - in fact around 1.005) then they seal out all the air (no headroom at that point) and use a bung and airlock.

Thanks much for your advice! I am using juice, so the initial ferment is going on in a plastic juice bottle and not a bucket. By stirring a couple times a day I would need to sanitize a stirring stick or spoon every time correct? Could I instead swirl or jiggle the juice bottle a bit trying not to disturb the lees? Does it matter if you disturb the lees at this point? This just seems much easier than sanitizing a stirring rod twice a day.
 

bernardsmith

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Others may disagree but there seems to be good reason to agitate the lees during the first days (or week or so) of the fermentation , not least because by agitating the lees you are providing more nutrients for the yeast and you are encouraging the yeast that may have a tendency to flocculate (drop out of suspension) too soon to stay in the game... Certainly, if you are fermenting in the containers that the apple juice (or cider) came in then you COULD simply replace the cover (or airlock if that is what you are using) with the cap and shake, rattle and roll the container to incorporate air into it.. but be careful because if you shake the container with a lid on then you may find that when you remove the lid a great deal of the trapped CO2 will now have enough energy to collect and gather together and force its way out of the mouth of the container... taking with it any liquid in its way... In short , you may find yourself with mini volcanoes... and liquid painting the walls and ceiling of your fermenting room... Just sayin' ... so it may be worthwhile to invest in some campden tablets or (better) straight K-meta without the filler and simply use that liquid to sanitize a spoon or rod or dowel that you use to stir the fermenting cider.. :)
 

Newsman

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<snip> ... so it may be worthwhile to invest in some campden tablets or (better) straight K-meta without the filler and simply use that liquid to sanitize a spoon or rod or dowel that you use to stir the fermenting cider.. :)
Or, buy some starsan and make a batch of that to santiize your spoon/stirring rod/etc :)
 

Maylar

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I've made a lot of 1 gallon batches, and honestly never noticed a difference with or without aeration. Even went to the extreme of getting an oxygen wand and bubbling pure oxygen through the cider for the first couple days. It didn't seem to matter. Nowadays I just let it rip, or at most give it a gentle swirl for the first few days.

But, I agree that we all need a sanitized stirring wand. If you don't have a plastic paddle then you can use a racking cane or bottling wand. StarSan is your friend.
 

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