First time cider maker no fermentation after 2 weeks help

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sammy7boy

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Hi folks. I'm new to this forum and new to cider making but have a tiny amount of brewing experience (making elderflower "champagne" annually for about 5 years now).

A fortnight ago i pressed a load of apples - a blend of eating and cooking but mostly eating - from a local orchard and from my parent's garden. We filled a 25L brewing bucket with the juice, sprinkled a teaspoon a sodium metabisulphite in, gave it 48hrs for the SO2 to disperse, then sprinkled a sachet of cider yeast in, and closed the lid. After two weeks, nothing whatsoever. No bubbling through the airlock at all. Today i decided to open the lid for a closer inspection, and though the apple juice still looks and smells as fresh as the day it was pressed, there's no evidence of any fermentation whatsoever.

Admittedly, as a first time cider maker i may have made a couple of mistakes (spot the common theme...)
1) I just sprinkled the right amount of sodium metabisulphate in, but i should have made a solution. (I did however stir it in to try and rectify this).
2) I just sprinkled the yeast in straight from the sachet, but i think i should have hydrated it first.

So this is where i need to help of the experts! What's my best course of action now? Do I:

1) Be patient and leave it longer?
2) Add some yeast nutrient? (I have ammonium sulphate but not thiamine - should i add both?)
3) Add some more (hydrated) yeast?
4) Increase the temperature? (It's in a cool dark cupboard currently around 16 degrees C)

Or something else? Should i re-add sodium metabisulphite solution to be on the safe side as well?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Cheers!
Sam
 

gratus fermentatio

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When you say "a teaspoon a sodium metabisulphite," Do you mean you sprinkled a teaspoon of powder?
Regards, GF.
 
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sammy7boy

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Hi GF. Yup sprinkled a teaspoon of sodium metabisulphite powder on the juice shortly after it was pressed and left for 48hrs with lid loose to allow SO2 to disperse. Teaspoon of powder weighed in at 4.7g which i read was pretty much spot on for 25L of juice.

Sam
 

Maylar

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Umm... typical dose of K-Meta is 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons. I think you overdosed it big time.

Add some yeast nutrient. If it doesn't start, pitch the yeast again.
 

gratus fermentatio

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Hi GF. Yup sprinkled a teaspoon of sodium metabisulphite powder on the juice shortly after it was pressed and left for 48hrs with lid loose to allow SO2 to disperse. Teaspoon of powder weighed in at 4.7g which i read was pretty much spot on for 25L of juice.

Sam

Well, depending on the exact formulation of the powder you used, that's very nearly double the dose, maybe as much as 4 times the dose. Either way, you've overdosed the must. On the up side, I don't think anything has grown in it, so you might still be OK.

I'd check & make sure it's still OK, just quick smell & wee taste should be good enough to tell. Then aerate the heck out of the must do dissipate the SO2 & reintroduce O2, then repitch hydrated yeast or even a yeast starter. Be sure you add yeast nutrient & DAP (if you haven't already) and it should take off.
Regards, GF.
 

madscientist451

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Keep the lid on your 25 of cider and keep it as cool as possible for now, meanwhile, get a quart or so of cider or apple juice that doesn't have any preservatives in it and make a starter in a 1/2 gallon jug with an air lock. Put in the apple juice, some yeast nutrient and your yeast. Keep at room temperature and you should see some action pretty soon.
After 1 day splash rack your existing cider to another vessel. Take a sample and see if you can smell any sulfur. If you can, wait a day and repeat the splash racking.
Hopefully, the Sulfur dioxide will be diminished and you can add the yeast starter.
By using a starter, I skip the step of adding sodium metabisulphite before fermentation.
Any wild yeast that get started are overtaken by the commercial yeasts. some cider makers say that a little wild yeast activity adds complexity and isn't worth worrying about. Good Luck
 

DaMonkey

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Your advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Cheers!
Sam

Sam,

You did overdose the cider with Sodium-meta but you did not kill it. I do not think that's your issue.

You shocked the yeast dead. You need to get new yeast and re-hydrate it like the packet tells you. I would also suggest using yeast nutrients. I would do this before you try messing around with oxidation. If after 3 days your new yeast does not start then look into different oxidation methods (splash racking...)

You should have used 6/16 tsp but 1 tsp shouldn't have done too much damage, especially after 2 weeks of sitting.
 
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sammy7boy

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Hi guys. Thanks for your advice of a couple of weeks ago. This post should now read: no fermentation after FOUR weeks - help! It's driving me absolutely crazy!!! So here's a summary of what has happened since the last post.

* Last weekend took some juice from the 25L to make a starter. Boiled it to sterilise, let it cool and then splashed it around. Added some new yeast (and a little extra sugar and yeast nutrient) and hey presto - fermentation!
* Added a little more sugar plus some yeast nutrient to the 25L of juice itself (specific gravity now 1050). Poured in the nicely fermenting starter. Waited a few days, and a few more days. Nothing happened :(
* Tried re-pitching for a third time on Friday. This time using Champagne yeast (mainly because the homebrew shop had sold out of cider yeast!). The yeast hydrated nicely and started to froth with the addition of sugar. Added it to the juice and two days later ... still nothing. No visible bubbles or froth whatsoever.

I have stirred and splashed the juice around a couple of times too. Temperature is around 63-65F. pH is around 3.5. It has yeast nutrient. I'm at a loss to understand why it won't ferment.

Thankfully it is still tasting and smelling fresh so there's still hope.

Any ideas what i should do? Could it STILL have too much SO2 and needs serious aeration maybe even heating to very warm??
 
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sammy7boy

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Thanks for your replies guys. Specific gravity is 1050 exactly and has not changed. Brewing bucket was new and there was no sterilisation prior to pressing 25 litres of juice into it. But i then sprinked 4.7g (around a teaspoon) of sodium metabisulfite powder (probably too much and i should have made a solution) directly onto the freshly pressed juice and left the lid loose on the brewing bucket 48hrs to allow SO2 to disperse before then adding yeast (four weeks ago) and more yeast (one week ago) and more yeast (2 days ago). There is still clearly no sign of fermentation - forget about bubbles through the airlock there isn't even the slightest early signs of foam or bubbles on the surface.
 

citytransplant

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Brewing bucket was new and there was no sterilisation prior to pressing

Ouch. I just bought my first brewing bucket from my LHBS. While it looked clean, I don't know where it's been or who did what to it before it ended up in my grubby mitts. So, before I threw my juice in, I threw some BPW in there along with some hot water and scrubbed gently. I gave the lid a similar bath and then sprayed everything down with StarSan before the juice went in.

How long was your juice in the bucket before you threw in the sodium metabisulfite powder? Where did you get the bucket from?

Best of luck. I'm sure this must be frustrating for you.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=548564
 
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sammy7boy

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Hi there! Actually the brewing bucket belonged to my parents - they had just purchased it but i don't know where (the process of pulping the apples and pressing the juice was a family event!). It was just a couple of hours between pressing the juice and sprinkling sodium metasulfite powder into it.

The only thing i can think is that there is STILL residual SO2 in the juice that is killing the yeast every time i pitch. I'm going to pitch for a fourth time but i'm going to warm the juice in a bath of hot water and aerate like crazy to dissipate any residual SO2. Another advantage is that when i add the hydrated yeast the juice will therefore be a good temperature for fermentation to begin (fingers crossed!)

Sam
 
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sammy7boy

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So it's nearly 5 weeks now and no fermentation. I've pitched yeast FOUR times and no success. A couple of weeks ago i DID manage to get good fermentation going in a little starter bottle containing the same juice (which i'd boiled and allowed to cool to 100F before pitching), but it failed when i added it to the rest of the must 24 hours later.

On the last attempt (Monday) i re-hydrated some new yeast and it started frothing nicely with the addition of sugar. Then i took my 5 gallons of must and heated it to 80F by putting the bucket in warm water (i drank a glass of the must and it tasted absolutely delicious - georgous apple juice as fresh as the day it was pressed!). I then splashed and stirred the must for maybe 20 minutes before adding the new yeast and keeping it at around 77F for around 24 hours to help encourage the process. 3 days on and the same old story: forget bubbles through the air lock i haven't got froth on the surface or any of the other early signs of fermentation.

It's driving me to despair!

And i only have one theory now: there is STILL too much SO2 in the must from my sodium metabisulfite overdose almost 5 weeks ago for fermentation to happen. IS THIS POSSIBLE DESPITE EVERYTHING I'VE TRIED TO DISPERSE IT??? I left the lid loose for 48hrs after adding the metabisulfite. I've splashed it around numerous times. I've heated it up. I've added yeast nutrient. I've added a little extra sugar. I've pitched four times.

What is going on? Anyone know?

My next idea involves pouring it into another container to give it a mega aeration. Anything else i can try?

(My only other unknown is that i haven't measure the pH very precisely. I have litmus paper for the full pH scale meaning it's hard to be more precise than about half a pH - from the colour it turned i judged it at about 3.5pH. Is it possible that it's too acid for fermentation to happen?)
 

menerdari

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I don't know why splash racking wasn't mentioned to dissipate the S02.
Get it into something else (carboy?) leave any residual lees behind, clean the bucket, rack it back in and try another pitch with some neutrient.
 

menerdari

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I don't know why splash racking wasn't mentioned to dissipate the S02.
Get it into something else (carboy?) leave any residual lees behind, clean the bucket, rack it back in and try another pitch with some neutrient.
Some homebrew shops can test a sample for you to see how much S02 you have, others will sell you a kit to test it yourself.
 
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sammy7boy

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Yes i have used yeast nutrient. Thank you menerdari your suggestion is pretty much exactly what i'm planning to do in the next couple hours. I thought i would try to make a big starter from the must. Last night i took a gallon of the must and poured it in a starter bottle. I only added a little sugar and water and nutrient (and of course some new yeast) and woohoo i have fermentation in the starter bottle. As for the remaining 4 gallons, i'm going to pour it into another container (leaving the lees). Clean the bucket and pour the must back into it. Then add the starter and probably warm the whole thing in a bath of warm water to encourage the process. Thank you everyone i hope this good feeling that i might be lucky 5th time around turns out to be true!!!
 
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