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whartonski

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So I've been making hard cider from supermarket juice for about 3 years pretty successfully. Use apple juice as a base and generally add about 1/4 of something else for interest. Pineapple juice was a favourite for a sour edge until my local supermarket stopped selling the 100% stuff. Now I use 100% raspberry juice which gives a pleasing tartness. Always add a thumb of grated ginger. Worst one was meadowsweet, which was a bit of a let down but forced myself to drink; best one was syrup from locally harvested wild cherries.

So to the point - the biggest variable is fizz off secondary ferment. I don't measure anything so each batch is different, but loosely speaking I use 3/4 gallon of pure apple juice, a good glug of something exotic, about 1/2 LB of granulated sugar and whatever yeast is leftover from previous racking; I then ferment until it stops popping - usually 3 - 4 weeks; rack and clear with finings for about a week then bottle. I have arrived at a recipe where I use 5 level desert spoons of sugar for the secondary ferment, added to a strong tea brew. Usually this is great after about 3/4 weeks ferment, settle & clear; but sometimes it is dead & sometimes over-primed which makes the sediment lift and kind of spoils it (I do try to get my cider as clear as possible). This is even off the same batch where the priming sugar was added in big container, mixed well & evenly distributed. So the only variable I can see is the amount of air left at the top of the bottle.

Anyone have any science or suggestions as to optimal air in the top of the bottle? I tend to drink a batch over a week, after 3 weeks or so secondary, and would like to have sediment which stays at the bottom of the bottle, but a nice pop and good effervescence.
 

CKuhns

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Minimize the amount of air space in the bottle. I fill them into the neck about an inch or two from the cap or cork.( No science to back it up just what seems to work for me.)

Buy and use a Hydrometer. If you have residual sugar and suspended yeast (even though clear) you will have additional fermentation. If neither of the above then no additional fermentation and no carbonation.

One ounce of priming sugar per gallon will give you a nicely carbonated cider if fermented to 1.000 Specific Gravity. After one to three weeks at room temperature.
 

doug293cz

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Unless the headspace volume is more than about 10% of your cider volume, it won't have a significant effect on the carbonation level. A "normally" filled bottle is about 6% headspace. On the other hand, a half filled bottle will definitely be under-carbed.

Brew on :mug:
 
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whartonski

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Unless the headspace volume is more than about 10% of your cider volume, it won't have a significant effect on the carbonation level. A "normally" filled bottle is about 6% headspace. On the other hand, a half filled bottle will definitely be under-carbed.

Brew on :mug:
Thanks for the clarification. What about over filling a bottle? If there isn't enough air does that mean CO2 can't be produced? Or can CO2 be converted from just H2O?
 

doug293cz

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Creating CO2 requires no headspace. The CO2 is created by fermentation in the beer. If there is no headspace, it all just stays in the beer. If there is headspace, the the CO2 level in the beer comes into equilibrium with the CO2 pressure in the headspace. That equilibrium changes with temperature (less CO2 in the headspace at lower temps.) But, since the headspace volume is small relative to the beer volume, the carbonation level changes little with changes in temperature.

You only need enough headspace to allow for any expansion of the beer if the bottle temps get raised from bottling temp. If there is zero headspace warming a bottle can cause it to explode.

Note: read "cider" where I typed "beer."

Brew on :mug:
 
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whartonski

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Hey, I now know something which I've been puzzling for a while. Must be a full 1% cleverer today than I was yesterday. Think I should have a drink to celebrate! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
 
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