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lliefveld

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Background: We are day 22 into our very first batch of brewing hard cider to make apple jack. Have tons of wild apples on our property and we took most of our apples from a single tree that needed severe pruning, with a few from a different 'variety' from a tree next to it. To start, we just pressed enough juice for 1 gallon of juice. Following an online guide to cider-making, we used Safale-04. Based on the amounts on the packet, I divided it up and used about 3/4 teaspoons of the yeast. I used 1/2 cup sugar. SG before adding sugar was 1.066. SG after adding sugar was 1.074. The temperature in the room varies, but since starting has been ranging between 62F and 70F.... slightly on the higher end of the scale for that yeast.

Questions:
  1. The guide that I was using said primary fermentation would take 1-2 weeks, and to wait until 2 days after there are no more bubbles coming up through the air lock. It's been 22 days, and a bubble comes up and out every 7-8 seconds. Is this normal? How long can I REALLY expect this to take for primary fermentation? We can be patient, just want to know what to expect.
  2. We pressed the apples using an inexpensive manual 'screw-type' press and the 'filter bag' that came with it. It seems a lot of sediment came through the bag, even from the beginning. I wasn't too surprised, but I thought the sediment would settle to the bottom. It doesn't seem to be doing that. Again, is that normal? Once it's done with the primary fermentation, should we filter it again, without pressing the 'marc' (I know, that's probably a term used more with herbal preparations, but it seemed appropriate).
 

ncguire

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1. If you have OG readings you must have a hydrometer. Gravity reading is the best way to know when primary is complete (will be around 1), but if there are bubbles, probably needs more time. I've never had primary take 1-2 weeks. For me, more like 1-2 months. But I am usually fermenting cold with home grown apples. Apples are naturally low in nitrogen and nutrients comparted to beer wort or other fruit juice. And wild/non-commercial apples can be even lower, which results in slow fermentation. How long really all depends on your juice, yeast, and temperature.

2. Sounds normal. Fresh pressed juice is never clear, unless you are freezing fruit, thawing, then pressing it whole. You could filter to remove the large chunks, but that usually is what settles first. The sediment you see is probably fine particles from the fruit and also the yeast. If it's still actively fermenting, you are also seeing yeast. Once fermentation is complete, it will start to clear. How long it takes depends on the juice, yeast and temperature. For me, anywhere from a couple weeks to months. It will settle eventually. Some add pectic enzyme after pressing, which can help the process happen faster.
 
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lliefveld

lliefveld

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1. If you have OG readings you must have a hydrometer. Gravity reading is the best way to know when primary is complete (will be around 1), but if there are bubbles, probably needs more time. I've never had primary take 1-2 weeks. For me, more like 1-2 months. But I am usually fermenting cold with home grown apples. Apples are naturally low in nitrogen and nutrients comparted to beer wort or other fruit juice. And wild/non-commercial apples can be even lower, which results in slow fermentation. How long really all depends on your juice, yeast, and temperature.

2. Sounds normal. Fresh pressed juice is never clear, unless you are freezing fruit, thawing, then pressing it whole. You could filter to remove the large chunks, but that usually is what settles first. The sediment you see is probably fine particles from the fruit and also the yeast. If it's still actively fermenting, you are also seeing yeast. Once fermentation is complete, it will start to clear. How long it takes depends on the juice, yeast and temperature. For me, anywhere from a couple weeks to months. It will settle eventually. Some add pectic enzyme after pressing, which can help the process happen faster.

Thank you SOOOO much! I really appreciate your response. We were just worried something was wrong.

Question for you, though.... you mentioned 'freezing fruit', then thawing and pressing it whole. This year, for some reason, most of our apple trees had zero fruit. We had found this ONE tree that we harvested apples from. But yesterday, we saw a tree with a HUGE amount of fruit. We've had a lot of freezing weather, so the apples have been frozen (and probably thawed and refrozen - multiple times). Does it make any sense to try to use those? Or would it just be a waste of time?
 

ncguire

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Thank you SOOOO much! I really appreciate your response. We were just worried something was wrong.

Question for you, though.... you mentioned 'freezing fruit', then thawing and pressing it whole. This year, for some reason, most of our apple trees had zero fruit. We had found this ONE tree that we harvested apples from. But yesterday, we saw a tree with a HUGE amount of fruit. We've had a lot of freezing weather, so the apples have been frozen (and probably thawed and refrozen - multiple times). Does it make any sense to try to use those? Or would it just be a waste of time?
Good question. I've put apples in the freezer, thawed them, and pressed them later before, and when you do this, it breaks down the cell walls of the fruit, making them mushy. You can sometimes squeeze the juice out with your bare hands. Never tried using previously frozen apples from the tree before though, never had any that will hang long enough till it freezes around here. I'd imagine you can try, though it may be messy harvesting them due to the mushiness. Then again, if the temps weren't too far below freezing, you may find the apples are perfectly normal, as the sugar can act like anti-freeze and they may not have really frozen at all.
 

Raptor99

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The first step is to taste the apples frozen on the tree. If they taste good, go for it! Some fruits taste better after having been frozen on the plant before harvesting.
 
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