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Old 21-08-2017, 08:43 AM   #1
lektoraj
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Default First attempt at cider.

Making a first attempt at cider (in fact first attempt at home brewing at all). Any comments or tips would be very welcome.

Equipment: I have a 30 litre white plastic fermentation bucket with tap, airlock, some stirrers.

Recipe used:
About 20 kg of apples, run through a normal kitchen juicer (I don't recommend this as it took ages to do and made a mess of the kitchen).
About 8l of water (boiled to remove chlorine though max chlorine here is 3 ppm anyway)
1 kg of white sugar.
One bunch of dark grapes, also run though the juicer to act as a yeast nutrient (is this too little nutrient - will I get fusel alcohols?).
Yeast: Gozdawa French Cider G1 (dry powder) (tolerates up to 9% alcohol, 10-30 degrees C fermenting, optimal 22-26, we have had about 28 in the kitchen over the weekend but now down to 25 degrees)

Other info: I'm British but physically located in Slovakia (hence the need to home-brew cider, as Strongbow is the only one on sale here) but I can order stuff on the internet as required.

Start: After letting it stand with the cover on (no airlock) for a few hours I followed the rehydration instructions of the yeast and put it in on Thursday night. I heard a few bubbles that night and by morning it was bubbling away nicely.

As of today (Monday) it is about one bubble per 4 seconds. As the container is partly transparent and there are markings on it, I can see that there is dark stuff up to about the 17.5 litre mark, then there is lighter stuff (foam?) up to the 20 litre mark (was 20.5 litres). Is this too much headspace?

Initially I had water in the airlock but then I read on an American site that cheap vodka was better so I put that in instead (there not being a shortage of cheap vodka here ).

Plans:
When it stops bubbling, wait a few days then add 120g sugar to carbonate and immediately bottle 10l of it into 20 0.5l swing-top beer bottles. Get volunteers to help drink the rest.
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Old 21-08-2017, 08:52 AM   #2
chewie
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Hiya, don't worry about the headspace in a fermenter as the developing Co2 will force out any oxygen and will effectively create a blanket over the cider. You may want to leave it more than a few days before bottling once fermentation completes, this will allow it to clear. Cider does clear pretty quick unaided but it's more likely to take a week min.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:16 AM   #3
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I wouldnt drink the remaining cider after fermentation, it will be far better bottled and carbonated and left for a few weeks. You can always use plastic water bottles (best to use ones which contained sparkling water). Ive always found when tasting the cider before bottling it is ok, after a few weeks bottled it starts tasting really good.

Also might be worth sweetening some. After all the sugars are fermented you might find it a bit dry, if you sweeten then just make sure to use non-fermentable sugars or you will get bottle bombs
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Old 22-08-2017, 01:11 PM   #4
lektoraj
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Thanks for the advice. I will get more bottles for the rest of the cider than.

Fermentation has really slowed down today (day 5). About 1 bubble per minute - yesterday was 1 bubble per 4 secs. Have I messed something up or is that normal?
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Old 22-08-2017, 06:22 PM   #5
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Check your gravity with a hydrometer.
Open the lid a little and poke your nose in, take a good sniff. If it attacks your throat and makes you cough it's still making Co2
Your recipe has too much water in it for me, it will be like harsh Strongbow, I make it with 100% juice and sweetener, but you might like it rough and hard!
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Old 24-08-2017, 11:11 AM   #6
lektoraj
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I don't have a hydrometer. By the end of yesterday (day 6) it had stopped bubbling altogether.

Today, "to see what would happen" I opened the fermentation container and poured 2l of supermarket apple juice (100% juice, pasteurised no preservatives) into it (was this silly?) and it has started bubbling again pretty quickly (bubble per 3 seconds), which suggests the issue was just that all the sugar had been used up over the weekend.

Plans:

Order a hydrometer (I kind of knew I needed one but thanks to Deltabrew for the push to make me actually do it).

Order some stevia tablets.

Order about 40 bottles and swing tops.

Get some crates to store them in - bottled beer is still commonly sold here in crates with glass bottles (not swing top though) on a deposit system so I will get a couple of crates of something and take back the bottles for the deposit but not the crates.

When it stops bubbling again (which presumably will be fairly soon), leave it two weeks and bottle - rather than adding sugar for carbonation I may instead use another litre of juice (i.e. with 110g of sugar into the 20-ish l of cider in the tank - is that a good idea or will it disturb / cloud the cider and/or fail to mix properly? If not then perhaps it will be ok to put about 25 ml in the bottom of each bottle). I plan to do 10 bottles each with 0, 1, 2, 3 stevia tablets, leave to carbonate for a few weeks and then taste-test to see which is nicer.
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Old 24-08-2017, 08:22 PM   #7
chewie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lektoraj View Post

Order a hydrometer (I kind of knew I needed one but thanks to Deltabrew for the push to make me actually do it).
If you have to get them posted then get two, they are easily broken.
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Old 24-08-2017, 09:32 PM   #8
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If you are going to batch prime, you need to move the cider to a fresh bin first or you'll disturb all the sediment in the bottom.
If you don't have a spare fermentation bucket, much better would be to taste what you have after its completely finished bubbling and see how dry it is. If it's really dry, add a sweetener to each 500ml bottle with 15ml apple juice / 1teaspoon of sugar and fill them up!
The sugar/apple juice will ferment and carbonate the cider and the sweetener will make it a medium cider.
Optional is to leave out the sweetener if you like it dry.
Leave it somewhere warm for a week and the somewhere dark and cook for a minimum 2 weeks and it'll be ready to drink! The longer you leave it, the better it will be.
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Old 25-08-2017, 08:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicks90 View Post
Leave it somewhere warm for a week and the somewhere dark and cook for a minimum 2 weeks and it'll be ready to drink!
What gas mark would you recomend to cook it at?
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Old 25-08-2017, 08:53 PM   #10
Nicks90
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Hahaha - beer on keyboard!

I leave mine at 20c for a week before cool storing
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DJ2 - blackberry and elderberry wine

Conditioning
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half AG half wilko's bitter kit 15l
elderflower wine
blackberry TC
festival landlord bitter
First ever AG 12 pints
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