Leaving container covered with solely a towel for first bit of cider fermentation?

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thisissami

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Hi All - I read an article recently where the author said that he likes to cover his cider bucket with a towel for the first couple days of fermentation, as letting air get in helps the yeast strengthen in the beginning of the process. After this, he switches to the standard airlock system as the yeast goes through the rest of the fermentation process.

Has anybody here ever done this? What are your thoughts about this?
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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whoooops sorry just realized there's a dedicated cider forum!!! can i delete this?

EDIT: lol I can't post in the cider forum because I've hit the "5 posts a day" limit for new users :p
 

RM-MN

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When fermentation starts the yeast we add is too little to get a good fermentation so we need to help it propagate. For that it needs certain things, one of which is oxygen. The cider can only hold a certain amount of oxygen as you agitate it but the yeast are happy to utilize oxygen from the air above the liquid. Putting a towel over the opening keeps unwanted things out.
 

Ogroat

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To add to what’s said above, oxygen will help or harm things at different points in fermentation. Early on, it’s beneficial for yeast growth. After fermentation, though, oxygen will contribute to reactions that make fermented beverages go stale. This is very likely why the article you read stated that the author put an airlock on during active fermentation - to better keep oxygen out after yeast propagation.
 

bernardsmith

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I basically loosely cover all my fermentations (wine, mead, cider ) with a towel or a bucket lid placed on top. I want to be able to degas during the active phase and having a bung and airlock discourages me from that activity. If you are making mead and following a nutritional feeding regime then again you want to have easy access to the mead. Bottom line: fruits and honey ain't grains and while the processes for fermenting fruits is similar to those used in brewing, wine makers (and I include cider and mead makers in that group) do not have the same anxieties that brewers do. Our raw materials are not as susceptible to "spoilage" or infection as brewers' , our pH is lower, and our ABV tends to be higher. We need to seal the wine or mead or cider only when active fermentation has ended not when we pitch the yeast.
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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@bernardsmith - wouldn't having an airlock allow things to degas? isn't the whole purpose of that to allow gas to leave? or is it that you don't want there to need to be pressure for the gas to leave, but rather want all the gases to continually replenish?

@everybody: how long do you tend to leave a towel type thing on? is it just the first day or two as well, or do you guys go beyond that?
 

GeneDaniels1963

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I always use a towel on my wines, but I have not done this with ciders. I may try this on my next batch and see if I can tell any difference in fermentation rates or taste
 
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