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Jun 28, 2010
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Great Lakes
I have 2 gallons or so of cider that i pitched a smack pack into 2 weeks ago, in a 6 gallon carboy. I am going to press more cider and want to combine it with this. After two weeks of fermenting, what do i have to watch out for with the yeast? I think i have 3 basic options;

1)dump or siphon the new cider into the existing carboy;
2)dump the fermenting cider into a demijohn holding the new cider; or
3)siphon the fermenting cider into the demijohn.

One issue is i might end up with more than 6 gallons so 1) would not work. In transferring the already fermenting cider over will acetobacter be an issue at this point? Do i need a hydrometer reading to tell what stage the yeast is at or ok to go by the airlock activity? If i need to siphon off the fermenting cider, how much of the sediment should i try to transfer?
In any case, you'll want to add some metabisulfite in your fresh cider and wait a day or so before doing anything else. Then decide how to proceed.

After 2 weeks the existing batch should be winding down. A gravity check will tell you for sure. But the lees is still viable yeast, so if you add more fresh cider to the existing batch and stir it up it'll ferment the new stuff too.

If you can't fit it all, then rack (siphon) the current batch to a demijohn and use your carboy to start over with the new batch. You can probably dump the lees from the smaller batch in there and use that for your yeast.
I have a number of reasons not to sulfite, primarily that i've found it superfluous. Ive done 8 batches over the last 2 years, with numerous varying factors at each step, using nothing but sanitized equipment and store bought yeast. All of it turned out very drinkable.

Using the demijohn, i'm going to want all of the cider in there so i have the carboy free to rack off my other batches. Is dumping the current batch into the demijohn with a funnel introducing too much oxygen to the recently fermented cider? Would you suggest racking that cider over and then dumping the lees on top of everything?
If you're racking fermented cider, then always use a siphon. No funnel, no dumping, no splashing. Minimize headspace too, to limit exposure to oxygen.

Leave the lees behind when you rack to secondary (the demijohn), and put the fresh cider on top of it.
Going to the title of the thread, at what point does a mass of fermenting apple juice transition from a 'starter' to 'fermented cider'? Do i go by % of fermented sugars, airlock activity, or what? I initially started with the smack pack in 2 gallons of cider, thinking i would pitch more in a few days after the yeast ramped up, but didn't have enough apples until after a couple weeks. (BTW this is 1728 Scotch Ale yeast and has been in a room between 60-70 degrees, mostly around 65.)

Also, all of the cider will be in the demijohn, is it ok to pour the lees into the demijohn like the contents of a smack pack? Or are you saying to rack over the older cider, dump the new cider on the lees, then siphon that over to the demijohn?
Sorry, I misunderstood you. I thought your carboy was bigger than the demijohn but not big enough to hold the current batch plus the additional cider. If you're going to combine both together in one fermentor then it doesn't matter how you transfer them. Oxygen is needed at the beginning of fermentation (primary), but later in the process it becomes a source of spoilage.

At what point that is I've never seen a definitive number. For me, when it gets below about 1.010 is where I start to be concerned about oxygen.