Creating cider yeast from wine yeast or capturing wild orchard yeast, thoughts????

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Well-Known Member
Dec 5, 2011
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I recently was looking at a post about getting wild yeast off of apple skins to make cider. It seamed to me to be an interesting experiment but nothing you would want to do (in pursuit of a consistent beverage), because there would be other contaminants and you may or may not get a good quality cider yeast. I recommended using wine yeast because apple cider is really a low ABV fruit wine and with wild yeast you never know what you will get. It was pointed out to me that there are not a lot of commercial "cider" yeasts and because the yeast on apple skins was apple specific that when it works and you get a good apple yeast with out a bunch of contaminants, than it is better than wine yeast.

This got me thinking... "Why could yeast found on an apple be better???" The conclusion I came to was yeast growing on an apple is apple specific. in other words it has had generations and generations of yeast on crop after crop of apples and has adapted to be the best apple eating machine it can be. As I said before the challenge is harvesting this superior apple eating yeast with out harvesting other yeasts that happen to be there (new to the apple) and bacteria on the apple that could contaminate the cider.

My solution, (wonder what others think of this) is to start with Montrachet yeast, since cider is closer to a wine than a beer. Then based on this thread I will wash my yeast cake and repitch in future cider batches.

Based on this thread:
I should be able to experiment as I go along and create a cider specific yeast. what do you think??

I am also thinking of propagating some of my washed yeast starters in juice high in apple solids so I can really get the yeast accustom to the chemistry and sugars compounds of apples. I'm thinking after I wash the yeast and separate it out in several containers I could pitch one of the containers in a solution of about 2 cups apple juice from concentrate and one large apple (minus its core) ground to a pulp, skin and all, and then lightly pasteurized prior to pitching the washed yeast. I would think after six of seven generations of growing in this kind of solution, that I would have a yeast that was specific to apples and would be a great yeast for making cider. thoughts???
there are more wild yeasts inside the apple, than on the skin, both good and bad! proper use of sulpher, based on acidity of the juice, will kill the bad yeasts, and after a period of time, the good yeasts will multiply and take over the fermentation. There are also wild yeasts on your press, rack clothes, ciderhouse walls, etc., after a year or two of production. When your ciderhouse and equipment are new, it can be hard to ferment with wild yeasts, as there is not a large quantity on/in the apples.

I recommend reading Andrew Lea's site @ The Wittenham Hill Cider Pages for great info on making craft cider.

Dan Wombles
St.Louis, MO
If wild "cider yeast" develop over time on the orchard equipment I think I can "convert" a wine yeast. Makes sense, before apple juice was there the yeast was just the local verity, not cider specific, and the juicing process fed the yeast and they adapted to become "cider yeast" the same should apply in controlled conditions, by washing and re-pitching. I will keep every one posted on how it goes. thanks for the link it was a good read!!!

If you post your question on the Cider Workshop Cider Workshop | Google Groups
Andrew Lea may give you a very informed answer. You may want to do some searching/browsing for some related posts before posting.

I might be able to send you a small quantity of yeast from my keeved cider that you can use. I haven't washed it yet...