Whooops... sanitization + cider question

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thisissami

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Hi Everybody! I'm fermenting my first batch of cider right now, and ****ed up my sanitization in a number of ways.

The primary way in which I screwed up was that I felt weird about pouring my fresh apple juice (that I juiced myself!) into containers full of sanitary foam, and accordingly rinsed out the star san with tap water before putting said juice in my containers.

So... I have 2 different containers. One larger one that I put some champagne yeast into. I'm not too worried about that one, as I'm sure the yeast will overpower any contaminants in the water (I live in Vancouver, BC where the tap water is very clean on the scale of things).

The second (smaller) container, however, I am solely using the yeast from the skin of the apples. For those of you that are super experienced with fermentation - how likely do you think that this batch will get infected to the point of undrinkability? If there's consensus that the chances are super high... I'll just drink said juice now before it goes bad while it's fresh and simply delicious apple juice without alcohol. :p
 

Yooper

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The residual diluted star-san in the container won't harm a thing.

Wild yeast is a crapshoot- you may or may not get a drinkable product, but that has nothing to do with the use of star-san in the vessel.
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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The residual diluted star-san in the container won't harm a thing.
I am aware of that now. But I've already made these batches without leaving it in (and in fact rinsing it with tap water). So I guess my takeaway from your answer is that "there's no way to know until you wait and see"?

Are there any especially good threads that you'd recommend I read about infections and what that can look like? I'd love to know what signs I should look for. :)
 

JKenshi

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I am aware of that now. But I've already made these batches without leaving it in (and in fact rinsing it with tap water). So I guess my takeaway from your answer is that "there's no way to know until you wait and see"?
Since you usually start with tap water to mix up a batch of Star San, my guess is that rinsing it with tap water would have just made a really dilute solution that you swished around. Being that you're already fermenting, there's probably not much you can do about it now anyway, so just relax and know that you are most likely ok... very little chance of cholera... very little. :)
 

JKenshi

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A few weeks ago I bottled my lovingly prepared, 6 gallon batch of cider made from orchard pressed, unpasteurized cider. I racked it oh so carefully to my bottling bucket, smacked the lid on it and carried to my sanitized kitchen. I got all my sanitized implements together, got everything ready and lifted the lid to see...

... the tell tale squiggle of a follicle of canis lupus familiaris... specifically, Border Collie hair. By the length, specifically from the tail. Know what I did? I bottled anyway. Guess what? It still tastes great, and my wife knows NOTHING!

My point is, you can prepare the best you can, but sometime, something's going to make it through. All you can really do is practice, plan carefully, do your best, and hope for good results.

(Oh, and specifically from the one in my profile picture. My next batch will be called "Hair of the Dogs".)
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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Ha! That's great. :D

Curious about your unpasteurized cider: did you add yeast to it or did you use the natural yeasts from the apples?
 

JKenshi

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Ha! That's great. :D

Curious about your unpasteurized cider: did you add yeast to it or did you use the natural yeasts from the apples?
I used potassium metabisulfite, left it for 24 hours, then pitched a pack of Nottingham Ale yeast on it. I'm not up to trying wild yeast yet... maybe in another year.
 

dmtaylor

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I have used wild yeast several times. Sometimes it turns out great; other times it turns out horrible. Odds are approximately 50/50. You'll know if it is contaminated with bad stuff based on taste. @Yooper is exactly right. Just wait and see what happens.
 

madscientist451

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Don't worry about it, your cider will be fine. Cider has been made for over a thousand years with out Starsan or cultured yeast and there are some cideries in France using what looks (in modern terms) very unsanitary practices.
They pick up apples off the ground, use straw in the press, ferment in barrels, and the airlock is an old rag wrapped around the bung. They don't seem to worry about lack of sanitation at all:

 

madscientist451

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Yeah, I'm sure the rotten apples with mud and grass on them as well as the ancient press and building being used have never seen much Starsan and never will.
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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Oh that's great to hear :D thanks everybody for sharing!! :D <3
 

Ogroat

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Yup. Here's another one. I wonder if they StarSan those shovels?
Hmm... I wonder what downsides they see as a result of their processes? Would it be as simple as relative lack of consistency from year to year and batch to batch? Would they have issues with some of the cider tasting poor and being unsuitable for sale? Shorter shelf life? Or would any undesireable bugs potentially introduced in the handling of the apples and pressing be fixed with sulfite additions?

Or maybe I’m looking at the whole thing wrong and the “shiny and clean” ideal I’ve got here in the states is generally unnecessary.
 

dmtaylor

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I've read some places and it seems to make sense that the reason places like these with no sanitation can get consistently good cider from year to year is because the presses accumulate wild yeast (and whatever other wild critters) on them that consistently inoculates all the juice with every use. It will come out about the same quality every time because the press will always have this yeast on it.
 

r4dyce

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Personally I think sanitation is important, but I also think the risk of real infection is overblown. I once accidentally threw a small bowl of hops into my fermenter including the bowl itself. Before I even realized what I was doing I had plunged my whole hand and forearm into the fermenter to grab the bowl before it sank to the bottom. I assumed the batch was a goner, but it tasted great at bottling time, conditioned normally, no gushers, and it came out great. One example doesn't prove anything, but just saying if your stuff is clean and sanitized in a normal fashion I don't think you have a lot to worry about without small contaminations.
 
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thisissami

thisissami

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Update - batch came out great. :) Super tasty!! Nowhere near as strong as the stuff with champagne yeast pitched into it, but it worked!
 

myndflyte

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Made me think of my first cyser that I bottled a few weeks ago. Got all my stuff together, racked it to the bucket and it was crystal clear. Got through about 20 bottles and needed to clean a few more. As I'm cleaning them, I realized I didn't sanitize a single bottle so far. They were clean but totally forgot to dip them in the starsan I had set out. Well the last few bottles were sanitized correctly but so far it looks like other un-sanitized bottles are doing just fine.
 
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