Carbonation Concerns & Yeast Pitching

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sreichenberger

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Hello all –

I have a batch of 2.5 gallons of cider which is currently in secondary infusing strawberries and red berries. It looks fantastic, but since transferring to secondary there has been no airlock activity at all.

I want to aim for a carbonated cider, and plan on bottling after two weeks of secondary infusion. When adding sugar to the batch prior to bottling, should I add more yeast for carbonation or will the sugar "re-awaken" the yeast? Is adding yeast prior to bottling common?

Thanks in advance!

Iemanjá Cider's Jupiter Hard Cider in the making (currently one week in secondary)

IMG_0098.jpg
 

Sammy86

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That is quite a bit of head space there...might give someone a heart attack around here with that much LoL

Anyway, remember airlock activity isn't an indication of fermentation. Yes, it's nice to see but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Only real way to tell is take a hydrometer reading.

As far as priming sugar goes I can't comment as I have never bottled conditioned cider. Hope this helps!
 

Chalkyt

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With that much head space it is possible that the small amount of CO2 generated towards the end of secondary in relation to the amount of air in the container won't be enough to cause any significant airlock action. As suggested above, monitor the SG to get a better idea of fermentation progress. As a guide, you can work on 0.001 change in SG resulting in 0.5 atmospheres of carbonation. i.e. bottling at 1.004 will give you around two atmospheres of carbonation if your cider finishes at 1.000.

You should have plenty of yeast without adding any more. As far as carbonation is concerned, if your cider has finished at 1.000, use the Brewer's Friend on-line calculator (or something similar). Or, just go with the "rule of thumb" of one to two teaspoons of sugar per litre depending on how much carbonation you want. Add the sugar as a syrup to secondary before bottling in order to get even distribution as adding small quantities of sugar to bottles can be hit and miss.
 
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sreichenberger

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With that much head space it is possible that the small amount of CO2 generated towards the end of secondary in relation to the amount of air in the container won't be enough to cause any significant airlock action. As suggested above, monitor the SG to get a better idea of fermentation progress. As a guide, you can work on 0.001 change in SG resulting in 0.5 atmospheres of carbonation. i.e. bottling at 1.004 will give you around two atmospheres of carbonation if your cider finishes at 1.000.

You should have plenty of yeast without adding any more. As far as carbonation is concerned, if your cider has finished at 1.000, use the Brewer's Friend on-line calculator (or something similar). Or, just go with the "rule of thumb" of one to two teaspoons of sugar per litre depending on how much carbonation you want. Add the sugar as a syrup to secondary before bottling in order to get even distribution as adding small quantities of sugar to bottles can be hit and miss.
Thanks, so SG is already at 1.000 but there is still a week to go before I get two weeks for flavoring. Does the fact that it already reached 1.000 mean that I need to bottle?
 

Chalkyt

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Normally, once fermentation is finished you can leave it in secondary to mature for as long as you like. But with the amount of head space you have, I would be worried that it could spoil from being exposed to too much O2. I would be inclined to transfer into something that it fills (i.e no head space) if you are going to keep it for a while before adding sugar for carbonation.

When adding sugar, I use SG change as a proxy for how much carbonation I want (i.e. from 1.000, add sugar to 1.004 to get two atmospheres of carbonation, then bottle)... it works for me.
 
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sreichenberger

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Normally, once fermentation is finished you can leave it in secondary to mature for as long as you like. But with the amount of head space you have, I would be worried that it could spoil from being exposed to too much O2. I would be inclined to transfer into something that it fills (i.e no head space) if you are going to keep it for a while before adding sugar for carbonation.

When adding sugar, I use SG change as a proxy for how much carbonation I want (i.e. from 1.000, add sugar to 1.004 to get two atmospheres of carbonation, then bottle)... it works for me.
Do you think that having it in that fermenter with that much head space for a week would cause it to spoil? Will bottle this Friday but will give it a taste before doing so to check.
 

Chalkyt

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I don't have any direct experience with spoiling due to cider being exposed to O2, but there are plenty of posts cautioning against it. I am not a chemist, but I understand that acetic bacteria and some spoilage yeasts are aerobic (i.e. they need O2) and so can't cause mischief like making vinegar without access to O2, whereas the "good" yeasts etc will continue their work under anaerobic (absence of O2) cconditions.

As your secondary has been exposed for a week and a bit now, I don't suppose that a few more days will make that much difference, although others might have a different opinion. I imagine that once you have bottled, then by and large, oxygen will be excluded.

The other thing in your favour is that since CO2 is heavier than air, there might be a thin layer on the surface of your cider from continuing fermentation, which would give it some O2 protection. This is more likely during more turbulent fermentation when the SG is higher, but you never know. I guess the answer is "suck it and see".
 
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sreichenberger

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I don't have any direct experience with spoiling due to cider being exposed to O2, but there are plenty of posts cautioning against it. I am not a chemist, but I understand that acetic bacteria and some spoilage yeasts are aerobic (i.e. they need O2) and so can't cause mischief like making vinegar without access to O2, whereas the "good" yeasts etc will continue their work under anaerobic (absence of O2) cconditions.

As your secondary has been exposed for a week and a bit now, I don't suppose that a few more days will make that much difference, although others might have a different opinion. I imagine that once you have bottled, then by and large, oxygen will be excluded.

The other thing in your favour is that since CO2 is heavier than air, there might be a thin layer on the surface of your cider from continuing fermentation, which would give it some O2 protection. This is more likely during more turbulent fermentation when the SG is higher, but you never know. I guess the answer is "suck it and see".
So, I transferred it over to a smaller fermenter just about the right size, and tasted the Sider. It tasted actually pretty good. I am hoping that is a sign it did not spoil. Waiting a few minutes to see if I see any signs of spoilage, but so far so good! Thanks for the heads up.
 
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