Cider stalling after Campden Tabs

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RIptidedylan

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Hi everyone, long time lurker first time poster here.

I pressed about four gallons of cider and prepared it following http://www.cider.org.uk/frameset.htm which I read about on here. Per their instructions I used 3 campden tabs (150 ppm) per gallon--which translated into 2.5 tabs as I am using 1 gallon jugs w/airlocks that are topped maybe to 80%. Now, I'm really worried because most other places recommend 1 tab per gallon MAYBE 2, but cider.org.uk has a chart that shows how many based on Ph--my starting Ph was 3.7 and SG was 1.050 on the money. So according to their chart I needed 3 campden tabs per gallon.

I waited 24 hours (more like 27 to be safe), and pitched two types of yeast --in two of the four gallons White labs enlglish cider yeast that I had started with simple cider juice on a stir plate with aluminum cover for a day before (it was super yeasty and great smelling--clearly ready to go). The other two I used a wild yeast starter I had cultured and selected from a series of mason jars with cider + apple peels from the local orchard --one of the 4 smelled AMAZING and so I made a starter and used that on the other two gallons.

ANYHOW --it has been 2 full days (maybe 2 and a half now?) and none of the cider that I used campden with has shown any signs of fermentation. I opened and re-aerated yesterday but still nothing.AS a control of sorts, I just processed the other 24 gallons from the store without campden (my thinking was they have been uv treated already and campden treatment may have killed my other tests), and now all 6 of these batches that make the 24 gallon --with 4 types of yeast (including the white labs and my wild yeast, and the two cyzers I'm trying) are ALL fermenting within 6 hours.

So does anyone have advice for my poor 4 small batch ciders? I aerated well 26 hrs after sulphiting so scientifically it seems it shouldn't have hurt my new culture--and if anything it should only slow it down a bit as I've read commercial strains are pretty sulphite resistant. Should I add yeast nutrient, wait and then repitch with new yeast? Or is it just considerably slower because of the sulphiting and now the absence of wild yeast ? Cider.org says it should take 2-3 days and I'm right there now with no signs of fermentation. Again as another control of sorts fermentation happened within 2 days or not at all in my wild yeast culture tests. I also read on here that sometimes cider fermentation are slower and less obvious, but again my airlocks in all 6 other non-sulphited batches are already bubbling in under a day.

Please help! I'm pretty devastated, I put sooo much time into these small batches, getting the right varieties to balance everything (crab apples were hard to find!!!) , and I'm really upset that following these directions I may have killed my cider. I'm very interested in what you all might suggest, thanks for your help!
 
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RIptidedylan

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Also, I just took a SG reading and it is 1.050 , the same as 2 and a half days ago at the fermentation start. Should I wait another few days, or aerate, use a yeast nutrient, and repitch with something?

Thanks!
 

sgreene820

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2.5 tabs per gallon seems like a lot. I've never used more than half a tab per gallon. You're not trying to nuke the wild yeast as slow it down enough to give the pitched yeast the edge!
 

Maylar

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Should I add yeast nutrient, wait and then repitch with new yeast? Or is it just considerably slower because of the sulphiting and now the absence of wild yeast ? Cider.org says it should take 2-3 days and I'm right there now with no signs of fermentation.

Good for you for finding Andrew Lea's web site and paying attention. He's one of the best cider masters in the world.

I've never had cider with a pH as high as 3.7 and I suspect your measurement accuracy, especially if you used some crab apples. But your apple mix is no doubt different than what I use so I guess it's possible.

Anyway, I doubt that the wild yeast will take hold with that much sulfite. They recommend using half the dose if using wild yeast. The good news though is that sulfite does dissipate with time, and I've even had 75 ppm sulfited cider kick off spontaneously after 4 days.

Give it another couple days and if you still have no activity proceed as quoted above.

Good luck.
 

dmtaylor

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WAY too much Campden. Give it a week or so for the Campden to calm down before pitching more yeast, and keep it cold if you can. The Campden will keep it reasonably sanitized for a long time. Maybe 2 weeks, I don't know honestly. That's a lot of Campden.
 
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RIptidedylan

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Thanks guys. So what do you all think via the 3 tabs per gallon recommendation from the site I posted? How do we rectify this recommendation with the fact that this guy is a master cider maker? To test Ph I was using wine making strips in the 2.8-4.6 range or something like that--they are certainly not perfect , but I can tell 3.7 from say 4.0 or 3.5 with decent confidence. My apples used were as follows:

Gala Apple (40% base) -- 1.051 SG, Ph=4.4 (Seriously, this basic)
Cortland apple (+-25%)-- 1.051 SG, Ph 3.7-3.8
McIntosh (+-25%)---1.046 SG, Ph 3.6
Crab apple mix (+- 10%) 1.062 SG, Ph 3.1-3.2

Final mix -- Ph 3.6-3.7 SG= 1.050

Now, even if my Ph were 3.5 that site recommends 3 tabs per gallon! Anyhow, that's not me arguing with you all--obviously I used too much, just me frustrated that following what seemed like a scientific approach I got kind of screwed here.

So with adding wild yeast I get why that would be slow... BUT why so slow with white labs culture (and I made a starter??) I was under the impression that cultured yeast survived sulphites well. I went ahead and last night added yeast nutrient to one of the four jars, aerated and pitched some dry white wine yeast--still no activity this morning in that jar.

It's been about 5 days now, so you all would wait what--another 5 days and if no activity--aerate, more nutrients, and more yeast? Can anyone recommend an especially powerful yeast strain that might have some sulphite resistance?
 
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RIptidedylan

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Also , sorry, to clarify "keep it cold," my "cider room" is at 67-68 degrees, is that good while I wait for campden to clear, or should it be more like 40 degrees for a week in my refrigerator? And is there a way to make it clear quicker i.e. through aeration? I'm confused about the science here as I thought it cleared in 24 hours.
 

RPh_Guy

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First, the site recommends 3 tabs per imperial gallon, not US gallon. 1 tab provides 66ppm total SO2 per US gallon.

The antimicrobial action of sulfite is based on molecular SO2. 1ppm is a reasonable target.

Here's how I would calculate an antimicrobial SO2 addition:
1. Use this calc to determine the free SO2 required, based on pH.
https://www.winebusiness.com/tools/?go=winemaking.calc&cid=60
For your must, it's about 80ppm.

2.This calculator will calculate the total SO2 needed to hit 80ppm free SO2.
https://winemakermag.com/resource/1301-sulfite-calculator
Your must needed 1.25 tabs per US gallon.

As to why the recommendations on that site are excessive...? Maybe his process & equipment are different than yours and/or he uses high SO2 tolerant strains.
He expects fermentation within 2-3 days after pitching, longer than most of us prefer.
When I pitch Premier Cuvee into a gallon at 70F it's clearly fermenting within 30-45 minutes (with no sulfite)

FYI pH strips are not reliable and may be off by quite a lot.

SO2 doesn't magically dissipate after 24h. After you add SO2 (total SO2), some of it binds to molecules in the must (bound SO2). The rest of it stays in solution (as free and molecular SO2). The only way it's removed is by gassing off, which means there's a greater rate of dissipation with larger headspace, more access to air (e.g. covering with a towel vs using an airlock), and more aeration.

Aerate and try pitching again. Do not add any more nutrient.
 
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dmtaylor

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Thanks guys. So what do you all think via the 3 tabs per gallon recommendation from the site I posted? How do we rectify this recommendation with the fact that this guy is a master cider maker? .....

It's been about 5 days now, so you all would wait what--another 5 days and if no activity--aerate, more nutrients, and more yeast? Can anyone recommend an especially powerful yeast strain that might have some sulphite resistance?

Not sure how to rectify recommendations from a master... except to ponder whether a master can also be human? I dunno. Maybe he's right, and maybe you just need to pitch 3 times as much yeast to get it to take off. Keep on adding yeast until it survives. Outside my area of expertise, really, since I always heat-pasteurize and elect to use zero Campden in my own ciders.
 
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RIptidedylan

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Okay, thanks everyone! The imperial gallon to US gallon definitely threw me--that certainly accounts for a bit of the difference (but of course not 3:1 ). Anyhow, I really appreciate everyone's help, reading this and what I've read a few other places it seems I need to aerate by siphoning into a new fermenter and having it run down the side --and perhaps now as recommended above I should remove the air lock and use cheese cloth instead until it gets fermenting?

***Other big question*** I have several more gallons of non-sulphited must, I saw a log of someone who had this problem and ended up mixing the non sulphited with the sulphited must to have a combined amount that was much more conducive to yeast formation but still "sterile" from the overall sulphite level. On the plus it could be an easy way to save it--on the negative if it didn't work I could have killed 8 gallons instead of four. Thoughts?

Thanks!
 

RPh_Guy

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The sulfited juice isn't ruined. Once the excess SO2 gasses off enough for the yeast to take hold it'll be perfectly fine. Don't worry :)
Cheese cloth or any other covering needs to be fine enough to keep out flying insects.

I personally would not mix them, but it's fine if you do.
 

dmtaylor

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***Other big question*** I have several more gallons of non-sulphited must, I saw a log of someone who had this problem and ended up mixing the non sulphited with the sulphited must to have a combined amount that was much more conducive to yeast formation but still "sterile" from the overall sulphite level. On the plus it could be an easy way to save it--on the negative if it didn't work I could have killed 8 gallons instead of four. Thoughts?

That would work. Or, just wait a while for the sulfite to calm down and pitch a lot of yeast and hope that enough of it survives. Some will.
 
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RIptidedylan

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Thanks you two! Hmm..decisions decisions, I guess that's what makes this thing fun! So I have 4 jars with this issue, I'm a bit tempted to try to take one and mix it 50-50 with non sulphite must, and aerate the other three with cheese cloth on top. I may siphon one into a wide mouthed jar so that it can get even more oxygen (part of the fun of only using 1 gallon at a time--easy to find vessels!)

Once again thanks! And I will update you all in a few days!

One quick thing, what's "a lot" of yeast? Like 5 gallons worth (1 pack) for a single US gallon of must? And should I say wait 2 days to air--pitch, wait 2 days, pitch --something like that?

Thanks!
 

Maylar

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Andrew Lea is a Brit so, yes, he deals in Imperial gallons. And as mentioned the accuracy of Litmus paper strips is questionable. I suggest investing in a pH meter, they're not expensive.

That chart of required SO2 vs pH also appears in Claude Jolicoeur's book "The New Cider Maker's Handbook", which is the definitive reference on craft cider. I've used those numbers without any problems, though my pH is typically 3.4-3.5 so I've never had to add that much.

If you have unsulfited juice ready to go then mixing it with what you have would dilute the sulfite to a reasonable level. I think I'd do that.

It's odd though, that you made starters and haven't had fermentation yet.
 

dmtaylor

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One quick thing, what's "a lot" of yeast? Like 5 gallons worth (1 pack) for a single US gallon of must? And should I say wait 2 days to air--pitch, wait 2 days, pitch --something like that?

One pack in one gallon is a pretty big overpitch, so yeah, that's "a lot". Sounds like a good plan.

Best of luck to you.
 
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RIptidedylan

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So, I took my 4 gallon batches end aerated them by slowly poring them down the side of a wine bucket, then I stirred with a brew spoon vigorously for at least 15 minutes. I then mixed those 3.5 gallons with about 2.5 gallons of non-sulphited must, let stand for about 12 hours, aerated again vigorously and pitched about a half gallon of a vigorous starter made with WYEAST's cider yeast mixed with the unsulphited must for about 24 hours in an Erlenmeyer on a stir plate. (The starter was incredibly yeasty smelling/looking/could see thick yeast in it)

That was about 12 hours ago now--nothing yet, I know it's far too early to know (although every successful cider fermentation I've had has been <12 hours to start), but if this doesn't work I'm kind of out of options :(. I suppose I could dilute by another gallon and a half if I had to, but not much more than that. It's weird that there could be so much sulphite that even extraordinary aeration + almost half dilution wouldn't make it inhabitable to a vigorous yeast starter!

But we will see...I will update in 24 hours or so!
Thanks!
Dylan
 
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RIptidedylan

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UPDATE! We have FERMENTATION! :) Thanks everyone for your help.

What ended up working was using the sulphite calculator posted above (thanks RPH Guy) , to figure out how far I might need to dilute and then trying that dilution on a small one gallon sample. Once I got the gallon going I used it as a starter for the larger batch--so my 3.5 gallon original batch became about 12 gallons! We will see how it all turns out... it's fermenting like a mother right now though!
 
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