Started my first cider fermenting tonight, worried about the yeast...

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damdaman

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Here's the deal, I'm trying to make a med-high alcoholic, semi-dry to dry cider. I used 3 gallons of Santa Cruz organic apple juice combined with 1.5 lbs of brown cane sugar dissolved in a couple cups of boiling water. I had picked up Red Star champagne yeast as I heard this is a good cider yeast.

A couple hours before pitching I combined 1 packet with about a cup of warm water and a little sugar to act as a mini-starter (or so I hoped). It bubbled up nicely and looked good and active, but when I went to pitch, the bubbling had died down and it looked like gunky water.

I'm worried I left it in there too long without any food and the yeast have died off. I pitched it anyway and will obviously keep my eye on it for signs of active fermentation over the next 24 hours, but here's my questions...

1) would it do any harm to pitch another packet of yeast just in case? if the first one was fine and I pitch another will this lead to bad results, or just a quicker fermentation?

2) given that I want a pretty dry cider and I added sugar to the juice, is there a risk that there will be some active yeast left in there that ferment the juice but not as much as I want? i.e. I'll see signs of active fermentation but when it's all done it's a lot sweeter than I wanted? would it be too late to pitch another packet of yeast to "finish it off" at this point?

Thanks for any tips. :)
 

fineexampl

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how long has it been since you pitched? i thought the same thing with mine. it went like this...

day 1: nothing
day 2: some bubbles
day 3: lots of bubbles
day 4: still the same lots of bubbles
day 5 and 6: i ignored it
day 7: before i left for work i checked it and it was SPRAYING krausen all over everything! No time to clean up so i used to bottle starsan and did a quick cleanup and reset the airlock.

My advice to you? Wait at least a week and a half before considering a repitch. It sounds like your post is made less than 48hrs from pitching if my vibe is accurate. If so, hang in there. Perhaps boil a pound of corn sugar in some water and add that if you need to repitch? Mine was 5gal of fresh-pressed cider + 1lb of brown sugar and a packet of Windsor ale yeast.
 
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damdaman

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Yeah, it's only a couple hours in the closet so I'm not worried that is hasn't started foaming/bubbling yet, I just didn't like the way the yeast looked when I pitched it so I'm wondering if I'd be better off repitching or waiting, or if the crappy looking yeast I pitched is probably fine (it'd only been sitting out for maybe 3 hours tops).
 
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It takes a while before you see any activity. I would say that it takes about 8-12 hours or so before I can see good airlock activity. I like to pitch before I go to sleep so that I can wake up the next day and check on it, giving it a good 8 hours or so to work. Some people who make high gravity musts will pitch more than one packet of yeast. I like to add some of the cider to the starter to give the yeast something to eat and I suppose it prepares them for the pH of the cider as well. If you make a good starter you don't have to use more than one packet of yeast with cider though.
 

khiddy

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Your yeast is fine. Once the yeast gets rehydrated, it turns into what is described as a "yeast cream" - a brownish/tan slurry. That's standard. Check back and give us an update in 36 hours.
 
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damdaman

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Your yeast is fine. Once the yeast gets rehydrated, it turns into what is described as a "yeast cream" - a brownish/tan slurry. That's standard. Check back and give us an update in 36 hours.
Thanks, that's what I was hoping. :)
 
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damdaman

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Been over 36 hours. Getting airlock bubbles and can see tiny bubbles rising from the bottom of the juice to the top, but no foam or vigorous fermentation. Was hoping for more activity by this point but I'm going to be patient.
 
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damdaman

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After doing a little research it would seem that a foamy krausen is uncommon for cider with this type of yeast. I've got about 1 bubble every two seconds in the airlock and a steady stream of tiny bubbles floating from the bottom to the top of the juice, so I'm going to take these as positive signs of active fermentation and RDWHAHB. :)
 

Keff

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I had the same issue with no bubbles, no airlock activity for two straight days. I repitched with same strain and topped up the fermenter with more apple juice thinking headspace might have done something. Its going crazy but no krausen or blowing out the airlock. Just bubbles coming from the bottom and steady airlock activity.
 

ByCandleLightWinery

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You shouldn't have had to repitch unless it absolutely doesn't start after a week. Cider makers will sometimes let it ferment outside, which is a really really slow way to ferment. Cider will get a tad bit of foam, not at all like how beer gets, so don't worry. Be patient.

The other question was about going dry. It is actually harder to keep it sweet, so let it ferment down to 1.000 SG, and don't worry about killing of the yeast and what not unless you want to prime it. Read this from a top notch cider maker out of England who wrote a book on cider making if you want to have a dry carbonated drink: http://www.cider.org.uk/part4.htm
 

fineexampl

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Has anyone even bothered mentioning the yeast chosen here? In my experience, wine/champagne yeast don't tend to have a need for a blowoff. That would explain the lack of foaming activity.
 
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