Sanitizing first batch of hard apple cider

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zeppelin

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Hi there,

I recently watched a video describing fermentation of apple juice by sprinkling some Fleischmann's Traditional Dry Yeast in the container and leaving it for about 3-10 days with the cap only sitting on top. I tried this very basic method last night without using an airlock and this morning found the cap beside the container. I poured some liquid out of the container and added a bit more yeast before placing the cap back on the bottle

Having purchased 2 containers of apple juice, I also placed an order for a 1 gallon glass wine fermenter with a rubber stopper and twin bubble airlock, into which I will be putting a bit of Fleischmann's Traditional Dry Yeast, and a cup of sugar along with the apple juice.

My questions are:

1) Am I able to sanitize the fermenter and airlock with something other than StarSan? I've heard soap and water but just want to make sure. For this kind of minimal brew, is sanitation necessary? What are the risks of brewing it with just a hot water rinse of the components?

2) I am assuming the first batch with the cap on it is no longer safe for consumption due to sitting out uncapped and I just want to confirm that.

Thank you in advance!
 

Rish

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Welcome to making cider! It can be fun and addictive.

1. You can make a no rinse sanitizing solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak anything coming in contact with your juice for 10 to15 minutes. I've done many batches that way with no problems.
2. I'd let it ferment out then give it a taste. If it's to your liking, drink it. Very unlikely anything will grow that is harmful, but it may taste bad.
 

Knightshade

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1.
If I'm not mistaken..a lack of sanitation brings about an almost guaranteed failure rate. Note...that clean equipment and sanitized equipment are not the same thing.

Some soaps will also leave a residue that makes the environment for your yeast a little harsher than it needs to be, and then there is also the potential for unwanted flavors and aromas (if using scented soap)

2.
Let it ride and see what happens.

and..Welcome to HBT! Lots of good info here.

and..I referenced this site quite a bit before I found HBT.
Might want to give it a skim at the very least.
 

scott.campion

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Sanitizing always a good idea but I wouldn’t assume that batch is contaminated. For context, I sanitize everything really well, but also don’t wash my apples before pressing them, including plenty that came off the ground and/or have bruises etc.

If the cap came off it’s probably because you had vigorous fermentation. The airlock is more about keeping oxygen out than bacteria and wild yeast. The bacteria that makes your cider turn bad needs oxygen to grow, and fermentation fills your vessel with CO2, displacing the oxygen. If you put an air lock on it oxygen can’t get back in once fermentation slows/ends. This is most important if you are letting age for a while, which I would definitely recommend. Either get a lock on it or bottle it.

Sidenote you probably did not need to add more yeast. But won’t hurt it.
 
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zeppelin

zeppelin

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Thank you for all the advice!

I went ahead and cleaned the carboy and airlock with a solution of bleach and water (of course not realizing I had to also sanitize all my measuring equipment) before putting my second bottle of apple juice (+1/3 cup sugar) into it. Since it is only 2L it did not fill up the carboy completely (is that a problem?).

I guess my next question is, what are the chances or circumstances under which the carboy would explode? I have it in my basement right now and am anticipating an explosion any minute.

I hadn't really intended to do any "bottling" of this liquid, just pour it out of the jug into a cup and drink it, but apparently there is a siphoning/bottling process that takes place after the initial 2 week fermentation?
 
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zeppelin

zeppelin

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15 hours in, the batch of cider in the carboy looks much darker than the juice bottle experiment and the foam on top is way thicker.

The original resource I used for the juice bottle cider suggested consuming it after 3-10 days. However, subsequent research has told me that several weeks is a better timeframe.
 

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scott.campion

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Hah - 0% chance of explosion. You've got an airlock on top which is designed to let air out but not in. You should see it bubbling away happily, which will slow and then stop.

What you're looking at right now is probably very cloudy, in part because it's full of live yeast that's eating sugar and multiplying. As the yeast eats all the sugar it will go dormant and settle in the bottom of the carboy. You'll see a layer start to develop at the bottom, and the cider will clear over weeks (or months). It may or may not get completely clear. The reason people siphon is to take the cider (gently) while leaving that layer (aka the lees) behind. If you just pour it may mix back in. It's not poison, but most people don't like the yeasty taste. At higher scale people will siphon it off after a few weeks, either into bottles, a keg, or just a clean carboy. Then let it age another few weeks to months. But for your first effort I'd just leave it be where it is. That's more airspace than normal, so in theory you have more chance of oxygen contamination. But if you're just having fun I wouldn't worry about it. Just don't open the airlock until you're ready to drink it.

The flavors will also change over weeks/months, usually improving. Last time I made cider it was quite sour after a few weeks, but then after a few more months all that had gone and it was crystal clear and very mellow. Maybe just put it in a closet in your basement and forget about it for a month or so. But relax and have fun is the main thing.
 
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zeppelin

zeppelin

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Thank you all for the helpful tips!

I went ahead and ordered some StarSan for the peace of mind. My new concern is the whole "bottle bomb" phenomenon.

If were to theoretically rack this batch into a new jug and from there simply siphon it into a keg for drinking, would I be correct to assume there is little risk of explosion? I understand explosion occurs with the presence of too much priming sugar, incomplete fermentation, or heating bottles up on a stove during pasteurization.

If I am simply transporting the liquid into a new vessel (checking there are no changes to gravity with hydrometer) into a keg (which I hear is the least likely to explode), without carbonating or sweetening, should I be relatively at ease about this process?
 
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