Pitching yeast into apple juice for cider

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Jbones

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I am going to start some more cider this weekend, and had a few questions about the specifics of this task:

- I have 4 different yeasts to try out on 4 different gallons of apple juice. Can I add the entire packet of yeast to a gallon, or is that too much?

- I plan on adding .5# dextrose to each gallon to bump the ABV. I have heard that you should shake the bejesus out of the juice before adding the yeast to aerate. Can I do this after I add the sugar? Is it even necessary to aerate the juice?

- I have heard that you should pitch the yeast into a little warm water, and then let it sit for 20 minutes before adding to the juice. Is this necessary or can I just dump the yeast straight into the juice bottle?

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!!
 

tooldudetool

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I wouldn't add a whole pack of yeast... I'm assuming its dry yeast because of your rehydration question. I would just sprinkle a quarter to a third of the packet into a gallon. It is said that you can lose about half the dry yeast cells by sprinkling directly vs rehydrating. Considering you have way more yeast than you need i wouldnt bother rehydrating, I would just use a bit more... Are you planning on fermenting directly in the juice jugs? If so you will want to drink a glass out of each to create some headspace in the container for fermentation to occur. There will be a much smaller krausen then a beer fermentation due to the lack of proteins in the juice, but it will need some space to prevent it from overflowing the container. Yes, you do need to oxygenate for proper yeast health. I would pour out a bit of the juice, add your sugar, then shake the crap out of it for a minute or so. Yeast nutrient would also be a good idea if you have any, as juice doesn't have many nutrients compared to wort. Good luck!
 
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Jbones

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I wouldn't add a whole pack of yeast... I'm assuming its dry yeast because of your rehydration question. I would just sprinkle a quarter to a third of the packet into a gallon. It is said that you can lose about half the dry yeast cells by sprinkling directly vs rehydrating. Considering you have way more yeast than you need i wouldnt bother rehydrating, I would just use a bit more... Are you planning on fermenting directly in the juice jugs? If so you will want to drink a glass out of each to create some headspace in the container for fermentation to occur. There will be a much smaller krausen then a beer fermentation due to the lack of proteins in the juice, but it will need some space to prevent it from overflowing the container. Yes, you do need to oxygenate for proper yeast health. I would pour out a bit of the juice, add your sugar, then shake the crap out of it for a minute or so. Yeast nutrient would also be a good idea if you have any, as juice doesn't have many nutrients compared to wort. Good luck!
Thanks for you advice tooldudetool. Yes my initial I am doing in the plastic jugs, but I bought some glass jugs to rack into a secondary.

I do not have any yeast nutrient. Are there any alternates I can use in lieu of the nutrient? Did I hear to use raisins somewhere?
 

tooldudetool

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I'm not sure about raisins, but what you could do is boil a bit of water and throw the remainder of your yeast packs in there, let it cool and add that. Dead yeast makes great yeast nutrient :)
 

Calder

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tooldudetool gave you good advice.

You are probably OK without any nutrient. I have never used any for cider, and managed to finish everyone of them below 1.000.

0.5 lbs is a lot of sugar in a gallon. A typical apple juice is around 1.050 (which will give you about 7% abv). 0.5 lbs of sugar increases the gravity by almost 50%; by .023 to about 1.073, and may get you to 10% abv. I usually limit my sugar addition to about .25 lbs per gallon.

Commercial apple juice usually comes in somewhere between 1,040 and 1.060. Do not trust the sugars listed on the label to calculate the gravity, as the label is just an average of thousands of gallons, and your container could be way different. If you want an accurate number, measure it. As noted before you will need to remove some juice anyway, so you could measure the gravity of the juice you remove.

If you are trying to make several similar batches and compare the yeasts, I would recommend mixing all the apple juice in a single container and then pouring back into the gallon containers. Unless you got the exact same batch for all containers, the contents of each could be very different.
 

msayler

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Re: the raisins - if you do it, I'd chop 'em up in to small bits. I did a cider and used raisins to help out the yeasties, but once I went to rack it out, they kept getting sucked toward (and eventually in to the opening of) the siphon. I think if they had been minced up, they would have just blended in to the trub goop and stayed put.

My vessels for this project were growlers, so I thought I'd chime in since you're looking at gallon vessels.
 
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Jbones

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tooldudetool gave you good advice.

You are probably OK without any nutrient. I have never used any for cider, and managed to finish everyone of them below 1.000.

0.5 lbs is a lot of sugar in a gallon. A typical apple juice is around 1.050 (which will give you about 7% abv). 0.5 lbs of sugar increases the gravity by almost 50%; by .023 to about 1.073, and may get you to 10% abv. I usually limit my sugar addition to about .25 lbs per gallon.

Commercial apple juice usually comes in somewhere between 1,040 and 1.060. Do not trust the sugars listed on the label to calculate the gravity, as the label is just an average of thousands of gallons, and your container could be way different. If you want an accurate number, measure it. As noted before you will need to remove some juice anyway, so you could measure the gravity of the juice you remove.

If you are trying to make several similar batches and compare the yeasts, I would recommend mixing all the apple juice in a single container and then pouring back into the gallon containers. Unless you got the exact same batch for all containers, the contents of each could be very different.

Thanks for the great advice Calder! I am starting my four jugs today, so I will combine all 4 gallons and add back. I do have a hydrometer so I plan on taking initial readings for this batch. Only .25#/gallon you say? I have read and heard different amounts. Has anyone in the community tried the difference between .25# and .5#?
 

RedlegEd

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Thanks for the great advice Calder! I am starting my four jugs today, so I will combine all 4 gallons and add back. I do have a hydrometer so I plan on taking initial readings for this batch. Only .25#/gallon you say? I have read and heard different amounts. Has anyone in the community tried the difference between .25# and .5#?

It all depends how strong (ABV) you want the cider, and how well your yeast attenuate the sugars. It really shouldn't affect how sweet the cider is if the yeast chew it all up. I've found that I like cider best when I don't add any extra sugar up front, but I add some frozen AJ concentrate (1 can/5 gallons) when I've racked into secondary. It gives it a little more "apple-y" flavor, and provides a boost to the ABV. If you prefer a less dry cider, you can rack and chill when your FG hits 1.008-1.010 or sweeten with some non-fermentable sweeteners (e.g. Splenda.)
 
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Jbones

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Thanks RedlegEd. I think I will try the concentrate on my next batch. I have heard that is a good method as well.
 

Maylar

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Thanks RedlegEd. I think I will try the concentrate on my next batch. I have heard that is a good method as well.

If this is your first time out, I would recommend NO sugar. A typical cider will finish at about 6.5% ABV which is more than commercial ciders. Boosting the alcohol will make your cider need longer to age and mellow. You'll be disappointed in the taste when it's young.
 
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Jbones

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If this is your first time out, I would recommend NO sugar. A typical cider will finish at about 6.5% ABV which is more than commercial ciders. Boosting the alcohol will make your cider need longer to age and mellow. You'll be disappointed in the taste when it's young.
yeah, I actually started a batch with no sugar about a month ago, racked it into a secondary last weekend, and just took a taste a little bit ago. I'm already pleased with the flavor! It measured out at .002 so I think it is basically ready to bottle. How long do you typically let yours age before bottling? Do you use bail tops to bottle? Do you bottle prime with sugar? I have heard 1.5 teaspoons for a 16-18 oz bottle.
 

Maylar

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I use 12 oz crown cap bottles (beer). Follow the sugar calculators (Northern Brewer site has one) and pick about 2.5 volumes of CO2. That's middle of the road cider carbonation.

I rack to a bottling pot and add the sugar all at once. Remember to compensate for the loss racking - 1 gallon primary typically yields 3 quarts (.75 gallons) and after bottling you'll get 8-9 12 oz bottles.

I will not bottle anything that's not clear enough to read through, so the minimum time in secondary is however long it takes to clear. That's my criteria. Beyond that, 3 months aging makes good cider even better.
 

BigFloyd

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What type of yeast are you using? Are you doing anything to control fermentation temps?

I do 5 gallon batches of cider using 5 one gallon bottles of Mott's apple juice (from Walmart) and 2 lbs of sugar as the base. With each of the first four bottles, I pour about 1/3 of it into the fermenter, add 1/2 lb of sugar to the bottle with a funnel and shake it well before dumping into the bucket. OG is around 1.060. I like adding yeast nutrient to avoid the sulfur smell that can happen if you don't.

Using Nottingham (my favorite for ciders), fermented in the low 60's, it'll normally finish up around 1.006. At that point, I cold crash a week, rack it into a keg, and hit it with potassium sorbate (to inhibit yeast activity - can't do if bottle carbing). IMO, at that point it doesn't have much apple character left and is too dry/tart to be enjoyable. To me, it's sort of a blank slate that you can then flavor/sweeten whichever way you desire. Apple-brown sugar-cinnamon turns out nicely. An experimental mixed berry batch last year was killer and will soon have to do an encore to satisfy high demand from friends and co-workers.

I've got some pineapple on tap right now. It's quite good, but different than others I've made. I carbonated this one, but I usually serve ciders not carbed at all (still) and just turn the gas on when pushing it through the tap.
 
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