Wild/ Open Fermentation concerns

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JP Smajda

Active Member
Mar 11, 2018
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Goal: A Cyzer using fresh pressed, local, organically grown apples and wild yeast.

Concern #1: I have picked up some unwanted yeast and potentially mold spores in storage

Concern #2: I am wasting my time trying to capture wild yeast when it is 30-50ºF outside

I have several Bushels of local apples in a walk in cooler. I want to do a wild ferment, possibly an open ferment to capture even more yeast but I have concerns.

1. I am a little worried about the storage conditions of the apples. They were organic and local, but they have been in a cold storage facility for a while and then in a walk in cooler that shares a space with a farm (a farm that isn't as on top of rotting seconds as they should be.)

2. With these temps (Nashville will be in the 40's most of the week,) is it even worth doing an open ferment? I'm not sure how much yeast is floating around.

Should I not be worried about it, give a good rinsing, and just press away? I paid a lot for these apples and want a good batch. I was thinking about giving in and pitching some white lab Cider yeast to be safe.
How much honey do you intend to use? A cyser is typically 12-14% ABV and I would be concerned that wild yeast might not get there.
I was thinking about a half gallon added to about 5-6 gallons of cider. Now that I do my calculations, fully attenuated might get me to about 10% which you may be right, that might be too high for a wild ferment. Then again my wild/open fermented meads have dried out nicely and gone past there.
I also took 750lbs of local wild apples and gave them a bleach rinse before pressing them into 48 Gallons of apple cider. I didn't want a wild yeast strain though and added 1118 to get this going. Crisp and very dry was the result. Hope yours turns out.
I have had several wild ferment wines go to 15%, so 12-14% does not sound difficult to me. But maybe my local yeasties are just stronger than others ;-)

Also, I usually freeze my fruit for at least a week or two before fermenting. They release their juice better, and it probably kills some of the nasties too.
I say go for it. My daughter had accidentally made me a wild fermented cider. She grabbed an ice cream container of my already juiced apples I was going to use at a later date out of our freezer. She actually grabbed two containers of juice and left the one on the front porch. It sat out there for days until I found it (I didn't notice it in the corner). Before pressing the apples I only rinsed them in hot water. Our temperatures for that week were highs in the mid 40's. When I found it, it was happily fermenting all by itself. I said what the heck added some more sugar and let it be. My strongest cider to date is 9% abv and this wild cider taste much stronger than what I have made. Hope this helps and good luck!