Topping off heads space after primary

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BobCider

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So I just finished primary on a few carboys of cider (6 gallon, 5 gallon, and 3 gallon). They have fermented to dryness and I am ready to rack into new vessels.

My only problem is that being so excited to begin fermenting cider, we used up all of our must to make as much as possible and mistakenly did not retain any extra for topping off head space in a secondary rack.

In an attempt to solve this problem, We purchased gallons of unpasteurized cider from the same orchard we received our must, but unfortunately it contains "less than 0.1% potassium sulfate."

So I come to all of you to ask a couple questions: 1.) would using the purchased gallons just for the purpose of topping off extra head space be a significant problem/gamble?; and 2.) if so, what would you recommend using in its place?

Thanks for all your help!
 
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bernardsmith

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What might the problem be (apart from being able to detect the flavor of the sulfate)? That it might inhibit fermentation? OK but you said the ciders are already dry so that cannot be an issue. Were you planning on harvesting the yeast? But the cider is in secondaries so you either harvested the yeast already or you tossed it.. I guess I cannot see what the problem might be and I say that as someone who bought sorbated apple juice to backsweeten a candy apple cider I had made... so I may not be the one to find a problem with what you propose doing. I say , Go for it! :rock::rock::rock:
But wait... This assumes that you have no problem adding some sugars to your dry cider and so producing a semi sweet cider.. But that may not be what you want to do. OK, BobCider.. so what might you do? Well , it looks as though you have made 14 gallons of cider. You could take the 3 gallon batch and use it to fill the headroom in the 6 and 5 gallon batch and then take what is left from the 3 gallon batch and fill two 1 gallon carboys. Any remaining cider you could use to fill beer or wine bottles and cap or cork those (but keep 'em chilled lest the CO2 that is currently saturating the liquid separate and try to leave the bottles...
 
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BobCider

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Thanks for your feedback!

I guess my issue would be that I am planning on conditioning at the time we bottle for carbonation. I wouldn't want the preservatives to kill the remaining yeast to the point that I would be unable to achieve carbonation.

For all of the carboys there is head space down to the area of the carboy where it straightens out. So I imagine I would need to add a good amount of this "less than 0.1% potassium sulfate" cider to top off.

This is my first go around, so I apologize if the question is relatively basic.
 

bernardsmith

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I don't think your question is "basic". I honestly do not know how effective a bactericide this preservative is- though I would not want to "experiment" with it in a 14 gallon batch (you COULD see what happens if you pitch a pack of yeast into a gallon of the juice..It is usually sorbates that prevent yeast from reproducing and sulfates that kill tiny colonies of wild yeast. But to prime you COULD add a pack of cultured yeast and if you had whipped some air into the juice that might be enough to allow it to evaporate off (I am not a chemist so I don't know how this preservative works or what its characteristics are like)

- HOWEVER, if you want to prime your cider then I would recommend that you top the larger carboys from the smallest and use smaller carboys yet (one gallon vessels), or wine /beer bottles to store the remaining cider from the 3 gallon batch.
 

Maylar

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In an attempt to solve this problem, We purchased gallons of unpasteurized cider from the same orchard we received our must, but unfortunately it contains "less than 0.1% potassium sulfate."
That's a new one on me. Potassium sulfate (per Google) is a fertilizer, I've never seen it added to apple juice. Potassium Metabisulfite would be fine, we use that to inhibit wild yeast and bacteria. Potassium sorbate would be a really bad idea at this stage. You sure about the spelling there Bob?
 
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BobCider

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Haha, sorry about that, it’s definitely not fertilizer. I was at work and did a quick google search myself and must have copied someone’s mistake.

I can confirm after being home and looking at the label that it is potassium sorbate.
 
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Maylar

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Well then, as for your first question - yes there is some risk here. Sorbate inhibits the yeast's ability to reproduce. If there is significant yeast left after racking, some of them will be damaged and damaged yeast make off flavors. The sorbate will also hinder any attempt at bottle conditioning. This is all conjecture on my part, as I'm sure it would depend on the concentration of sorbate when used only as a top up. It might not be enough to matter at all, I can't really say.
 
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BobCider

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Thanks for all the feedback. Because each of the carboys are different (experimenting with different yeasts) and I didn’t want to take a chance since we will be attempting bottle
Conditioning, I ultimately just went out and purchased some gallon jugs.

This way I will rack the 3 gallon into gallon jugs, 5 gallon into the 3 gallon plus gallon jugs and the 6 gallon into 5 gallon and gallon jugs.

Gave myself a bit more work this way (and lost some $) but now I won’t have to alter the fermented must. We are going for dry ciders.


Thanks for all the feedback again!
 

bernardsmith

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You won't regret having some 1 gallon carboys. Great for experimentation and in fact I routinely simply make one gallon batches. Gives me five bottles and precious few worries if a batch goes sideways or south for whatever reason... (I tend to experiment with unusual ingredients - turnips, milk, echinacea, marshmallow (the plant), nettles)...
 
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