Working on my first batch!

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iamjerico

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So I am just shy of a week into my primary fermentation, of my first cider. Looking ok so far I think. Tomorrow night I will take a SG reading and give it a taste. Original gravity was 1.07.

I got the juice from a local apple orchard - 6 gallons of cider (pasteurized but not preserved). I warmed that up (about 40m at 185) thinking I'd kill off some of the wild yeast, which in hindsight I don't think was necessary. But I was thinking that if this batch goes ok, I could try another with a different commercial yeast and compare the taste, with reduced impact from wild yeasts. We'll see.

From there I let it cool down added 2 lbs of dark brown sugar and then my yeast (SafCider AB1). I forgot to add liquid to the airlock until the next morning, at which point I added vodka. It has been bubbling away since then - initially pretty slowly, say 1 bubble ever 5m or so - but just now I went for a look at it is bubbling a lot more, like once a minute. It is still quite cloudy (maybe from the heating, but I kept the temp well below boiling, and used a sous vide circulator to target the temp). We'll see if it clears, but for this batch I'm not going to worry too much about clarity.

After this fermentation, I'm thinking of bottle into 1 liter glass bottles and introducing some ginger-infused simple syrup for some secondary fermentation, and thinking of letting the bottles age (and opening one every so often to take notes on the impact of aging). Still researching that and thinking about it though.

I'll post a bit more as things progress - but wanted to leave a message of update, and to thank everyone here as I've been scouring the posts since registering the other day!
 

Chalkyt

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Have fun!

A couple of things to consider... Firstly, your fermentation progress seems quite normal. However it is worthwhile starting with a a simple and basic cider for your first attempt (even if it is only a gallon) as a reference to compare with what you get after adding "other stuff" (i.e. sugar, fruit, hops, tannin, etc, etc).

Adding the brown sugar will have bumped the SG up from the original juice SG of something like 1.050 to your OG of 1.070 and modified the taste. So, fully fermented you will probably end up with about 9% ABV rather than 6.5% that the juice alone would contribute. Adding a ginger infused simple syrup will increase this even more as it ferments, so whatever the the final ABV ends up at might mask what your original cider was going to be like. Even at 9% you will get around 2-1/2 standard drinks in a 12 oz (330ml) bottle or 7+ out of a litre... yahoo, party (and headache?) time!

I don't know if I read your post correctly. but heating the cider to 185F for 40 minutes will generate about 4,000 pasteurisation units (PU's) and as you suggest, may have set the pectin which I understand can happen above 180F if there is a high enough sugar load. As a rule of thumb, cider only needs 30-50 PU's (about 149F or 65C for 10 minutes) to stop fermentation and kill any unwanted pathogens, so you will have well and truly stopped any natural yeast. In any case, commercial yeast will usually overwhelm natural yeast.

Enjoy the journey.
 
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iamjerico

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Hey there, thank you for the reply and the tips!

Right, I was aiming for a higher ABV (that 9pct) as I don't mind a little grunt in my cider. But I hear you with the syrup, that might be too much. I'll have to think about that.

I very well make the next batch simpler (and skip the heating entirely).

Cheers!
 

Chalkyt

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As a rough guide, 20 grams of sugar (about 4 or 5 teaspoons) per litre when fermented will increase ABV by 1%. So you will need to consider how much ginger infused simple syrup will be needed to make a difference to the flavour of your six gallons (20 or so litres) of cider and how much fermentable sugar this represents.
 
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iamjerico

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Roger. Thanks.

I just took a gravity reading after the first week, it looks unchanged (still around 1.07). Still see bubbles from airlock, foam on the liquid.

I think at this point I will be patient and check it again in a few more days.
 
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iamjerico

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I took yet another gravity reading - the 3rd reading, and about 10d in to primary - and it is STILL showing 1.07.

I extracted a sample of my juice and used it with a fresh pack of AB1 yeast and created a starter - after a couple of hours it was very active, foamy, bubbling. I decided to pitch this into the existing batch, and see how it goes. Right off the bat, my airlock was bubbling about every 10 seconds. Now 2 days later, it is bubbling about every 30 seconds.

So again, I think nothing to do but wait it out - it certainly seems to be taking its time. I am still scratching my head over my hydrometer continuing to show 1.07 on 3 difference reads (OG, and then 7d and around 10d later).
 
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iamjerico

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I took another sample over the weekend, gravity has dropped to about 1.05, after about 3.5 weeks since pitching new yeast.

Slow going, but going! I guess at this rate I'll sample again in a couple weeks, maybe I'll have some cider ready by Thanksgiving.
 
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