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Jeffers_S13

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Started my first ever batch of cider last weekend, put 4 gallons into a plastic wine makers barrel/bucket with lid on it and cotton wool in hole but with a wire heater on it as I don't really have a suitable 'warm cupboard'. I've just siphoned today it into demijohns and fitted bubblers, I now have 3 and half gallons. But there appears to be no more activity! no bubbling or anything, does it need heating up to get it going again or could fermentation have completed given that it's been at a fairly high temp for 7 days?

Please tell me everything will be fine and I have wasted effort!
 

ShadesManna

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Congratulations on your first cider!

Wow that's a lot of variables. What was in the bucket besides apple juice? What kind of yeast? Nutrient? Acid? Pectic enzyme? Tannin? How much oxygen was the juice exposed to from using the cotton wool in the hole? How much sugar did you add? What was the starting Potenial Alcohol? How hot is "fairly high temperature for 7 days?"

With the limited information you provided, it really could be anything.
 

Johnny_M

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Started my first ever batch of cider last weekend, put 4 gallons into a plastic wine makers barrel/bucket with lid on it and cotton wool in hole but with a wire heater on it as I don't really have a suitable 'warm cupboard'. I've just siphoned today it into demijohns and fitted bubblers, I now have 3 and half gallons. But there appears to be no more activity! no bubbling or anything, does it need heating up to get it going again or could fermentation have completed given that it's been at a fairly high temp for 7 days?

Please tell me everything will be fine and I have wasted effort!
You should never heat your must above 70° F. You loose way too many volatile flavor compounds. Many people ferment their cider in the 50° F range. Not only does high temperature affect the juice itself by speeding chemical reactions like oxidation, but it also affects the yeasts production of alcohol. Warm temperatures can cause the yeast to form combined alcohols that will give your cider that cheap vodka flavor.
 

CKuhns

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Seven days at a "fairly high temperature" It certainly could be done fermenting. If you don't have a hydrometer. I would strongly encourage you to get one. The only way to tell for sure if its "Done" is to check the Specific Gravity if at 1.000 or less and or your readings do not change 3 - 5 days apart then yes your done.
 
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Jeffers_S13

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Thanks for the interest everyone.

It was just the apple juice, as squeezed, with 4 tsp of Young's Yeast Nutrient. Cotton wool was fairly tight I suppose. I measured pH to be 3.8 which is according to Pooley/Lomax right on the upper limit but I didn't dare tinker with it and in my newbie excitement I didn't measure the SG.

No idea how hot it was I'm afraid! I just strapped the heater strip on as it was in a cool-ish utility room and was concerned it wouldn't even begin fermenting. It cleary was but as its an opaque drum without a bubbler I couldn't see the rate it was fermenting at.

I referred to my Pooley/Lomax book and mixed in 170g sugar/water syrup to each gallon. Then put it in a warm cupboard that I then realised I actually do have at my new house where there is a hot water tank in the bathroom! previous house had water on demand style boiler...

After a day or two it slowly began bubbling and now its bubbling away nicely again, the cupboard is ~20degC. It's very reassuring to see the bubbles and know it's fermenting and at what rate.

Is my cupboard too warm? what temp do you guys ferment at?

I have a hydrometer, is it OK to remove the bubblers to take samples ? is the sample wasted or can you put it back in? can I keep removing the bubblers to do this? I read so much about not disturbing it for fear of potentially encouraging it to spoil.

This has been a great learning for me! only way to learn is to get stuck in and see what happens.
 

CKuhns

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Is my cupboard too warm? what temp do you guys ferment at?
20C is pretty standard. I personally prefer a bit cooler but really depends on your yeast temperature tolerance. Target something closer to 15C but have had success at 10C as well. Cooler takes longer (At 10C Months) but tends to cause less stress on your yeast.

I have a hydrometer, is it OK to remove the bubblers to take samples ?
Absolutely is OK to remove the air lock and take a sample. Just be sure to sanitize anything that touches the cider.

is the sample wasted or can you put it back in?
That's an ongoing debate on this forum. If the hydrometer and test chamber is sanitized then i personally just pour it back in. Others will disagree as it does carry some risk.

can I keep removing the bubblers to do this?
Yes

I read so much about not disturbing it for fear of potentially encouraging it to spoil.
Every time you "mess" with it you do take some risk in introducing something (Bacteria or wild yeast) that could cause problems. However with good sanitation practices should not be over-stated or keep you from evaluating your ferment. With that said, once your sure your fermenting then the best bet is to just let it go and check it when it appears to be near complete. Color change as it starts to clarify and lees settling out.
 

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