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How To Help: Basic 5 Litre Demijohn Cider Recipe

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blazers121

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Hi guys, another newbie question which I am sure you all love answering. Thank you in advance

I have been doing some research on this forum mainly and I am looking at starting my first cider brew (I brewed beer about 6 years ago, not very well)
Anyhow I am liking the idea of using a 5 Litre Demijohn (or something else around the 5 litre size)

My main reason is I would like to experiment a bit and with a 20 litre batch I would end up with way too many bottles.
So I have been looking around and I couldn’t find any step by step instructions to do this, here is my thoughts based on other threads of how I will do it

Ingredients (I know I can experiment with these + add extra sugar etc):
  • 4 Litres of Juice (non preservative)
  • Yeast, how much yeast will I need?
  • 5 Litre Demijohn
  • Bung with Airlock for the Demijohn – can this just be purchased at homebrew shop? And is this the best thing to use?
The process I believe as follows
  • Put Juice in Deminjohn, sprinkle yeast on top
  • Fit Airlock
  • Store at about 20 degrees
  • Once it stops bubbling after around 2/3 weeks – or is there some other way I can measure when it is done?
  • Bottle and prime with sugar
  • Store for about 2 to 3 weeks – do I want to store them in the fridge or is a dark garage fine?

If I want to measure alcohol content, do I just buy a hydrometer and measure when it is all mixed and then after it is fermented?

Is there anything else I need to consider
 

Bribie G

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I have been brewing beer for about 5 years and now getting into ciders. Here's an idea.

Supermarket juice can be bought in 3 L bottles for around $3. Pour off a wee bit to have with brekky and add sugar and yeast to the bottle then shake well. tighten lid until it is open just the slightest crack.

As it ferments the cider will have little or no krausen, unlike beer. It will generate CO2 that will force its way out through the crack so nothing will come in against the flow.

You should be good at ambient temp in Melb. at the moment. After around 10 days screw lid tight and occasionally crack the lid to see if gas is still being generated.

After bottling then just hoy the 3L bottles and save the yeast cake in a sterile jar or bottle.

I'll be doing a test run myself with 3 or 4 Coles 3L goonies as soon as I can get some yeast off my current full batch.

I intend just to drink from the Goonie as I used to do with the Farmhouse scrumpy back in the Old Dart but may bottle a few as well.

Edit: a hydrometer would be the go although it would waste a lot comparatively.
You can expect cider to ferment right out to 1.000
I did a check on supermarket juice with my refractometer and it is generally 1.042.

Using that and knowing what amount of sugar you also add for a stronger brew you can work out the final strength just from the recipe. You can't really do that with beer as it all finishes at different gravities. Praise ye o cider.

I'm on the phone ATM but will dig out some formulae later.

Edit: I should GOMA and do a spreadsheet for the Ciderists here.
 

pk.sax

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Hahahhaha. Bribie is doing it ghetto style ;) it works bloody well though.

I've consistently used white wine or champagne yeast with this method for three reasons:

1. Compacts and clears well.
2. No notice of yeasty taste by leaving it on and serving straight off the yeast.
3. Given lower temperature tolerance and higher alcohol tolerance they preclude the need to do hydro samples on the tiny batches.

As a rough guide, the point at which Bribie says screw the cap on tight (end of vigorous active ferment, 4-5 days generally), I put the whole bottle in the door of the fridge where it is warmer than the rest. This allows the yeast to continue fermenting it drier between drinks and keeps up the carbonation.

Yeast, I've always rehydrated the yeast and poured it in. 3L bottle is roughly 1/7th of a full sized batch so that proportion of yeast will do. On my guessed qty, 1/4 to a 1/3 of a small teaspoon level, rehydrated in room temp water and poured in. Never bothered saving the yeast.
 

blazers121

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Thank you guys for the reply,

So if I buy a champagne yeast, all I need to do is put it in room temperature water and then pour it on top to ferment?

So to get to bottling point, I just wait until the gas is no longer bubbling? usually about 2 weeks
 

pk.sax

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If you insist on bottling, I suggest leaving it in there for at least 3-4 weeks. Then add sugar to prime and bottle. Remember, putting brew with unknown sugar content in glass bottles is not a good idea, make sure to ferment it out and add a measured amount back.

The shortcuts are fine for plastic bottles that don't explode. Some people even manage to blow up plastic, so beware.
 

blazers121

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Thank you, If i used carbonation drops is there any difference?

When you say ferment it out, what do you mean?
 

Bribie G

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Run the fermentation till there's nothing left for the yeast to eat. At that point the cider will be quite dry but won't give you bottle bombs.

If it's too dry to your taste, a splash of juice into the glass fixes that.
 

blazers121

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Thank you Bribie,

I have another stupid question, how do I know when there is nothing left for the yeast to eat?
 

Bribie G

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You don't really, it comes with experience. For example with beers they can just keep quietly but very slowly working away for months which is why sometimes you open a bottle and get a bit of a gusher. In the case of cider, if it's nice and dry to the taste then it's probably 100% done. Once the yeast has dropped out and the cider is clear then that's an indication that the yeast has done its job and hibernated.
 

pk.sax

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Technically, when the gravity, as measured by a hydrometer has been stable over 2-3 readings, taken a few days apart and the brew was kept at a decent temperature for the yeast to finish (as specified by yeast manufacturer).

Practically, for a small batch, leave it to run on the cool side for at least a week or two and then try to position somewhere warm for another 1-2 weeks (warm for cider/champagne yeast is only 18-20C). Before you bottle it, perhaps take a wee sample and measure just to ensure it's low enough. Bottle bombs ain't nice.

PS: Bribie beats me to it, but yes, be wary of visual indicators, I give my fermenter a shake, prod whirl a few times when I'm skipping the hydrometer. Call it paranoia but the one time a dodgy bottle did blow up on me nobody was around and I'm not keen for that to ever repeat.
 

blazers121

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Thank you guys, it is much appreacited.

Is the other alternative to bottling. Getting a bung for the Demijohn and putting it in the fridge?
 

blazers121

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Practicalfool, when you say take a small smaple and measure to be sure its low enough, what do you mean? is this something the hydrometer can tell me? If so at what point would you reccomend not using carb drops in the bottles?
 
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hey blazer i myself am very new to the whole cider experience been doing a bit of work with distilling beforehand and still am and at the moment have a first batch of cider in the fridge at the moment and another in the cupboard but basically what you want to do for your mix if you do want to do your mixture in a demijohn is to

1. place the approximately 4.5 litres of juice in the demijohn at around 23 degrees
2.sprinkle in the yeast (champagne or white wine or i have been using a brand mad millie cider yeast works well) just to sit on top and place a bung with a bubbler on top
3. leave for at least 8 days before you check with a hydrometer and you want a stable reading for around three days with your mix at same temperature
4 if you want a sweeter cider at this point i add lactose i usually use around 500gms for 25L so u might want to add about 90 grms and i usually mix and leave for an extra 2-3 days just to settle and then continue to bottle as normal with 2 carb drops per 750ml bottle or 1 drop per 375ml
5 at this point i leave in a cupboard for 1 week then i age in a fridge.
as of yet its coming out quite nice with a nice sweeter finish and not too dry.
i hope i could be of some help :)
 

pk.sax

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Blazers. I was assuming you knew at least about fermentation and gravity.

In a nutshell,

Fermentable (juice) contains sugar. For brewing purposes, lets only talk of the Fermentable sugars.
Yeast consumes the sugar to create alcohol and releases carbon dioxide. This is the 'bubbling' talked of, also the reason Bribie suggested to leave the cap a little loose for the start. Remember, that is aimed at flexible plastic bottles. NOT glass demijohn. Use an airlock on the demijohn, do not clamp the out flowing CO2 down, airlock it.
After the yeast has consumed all the sugars it can, it will be dry. I.e., there won't be sweetness left over if you used an aggressive yeast like champagne yeast. This is why you measure gravity with a hydrometer. Do not ignore the talk above of hydrometers, please read how to brew by John palmer on this topic. He will explain what is meant by gravity and how to measure it.

Now, what I meant by taking a small sample for the hydrometer was that it is relatively harder to take samples from carboys and demijohns unless you have a wine theif. Also, 4-4.5 L of cider and you take ~200ml sample for the hydrometer, if you took a number of readings just to be sure you'd have precious little cider left. So, that is the reason for suggesting the method I did.

Again, please avoid pressurising your glass demijohn. It's not meant to be and could shatter if there was any imperfections in it.

Only pressurise glass beer/cider/champagne bottles or plastic bottles. Again mate, there are enough pointers, search here/google and learn what to do.
 

blazers121

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Thank you guys, I have just ordered everything online. I will let you know how it goes
 

ivars

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Hope this is the right place for this question. In the past I have used Champagne yeast and US05 and not really been happy with the results. Additionally I have not had any way of accurately controlling fermentation temperatures. I now use an STC1000 controller and have decided to try Vintners Harvest MA33 in the hope of reducing mailic acid. Vintners Harvest say MA33 "is a good fermenter between 18°and 27°C". I was wondering if anyone knows if it would work at a lower temperature? I am considering this because of Andrew Lea's suggestion that "a cool fermentation (ca 15° C) is generally preferred for cider". Any advice would really be appreciated.
 

Greg.L

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I'm sure it would work a bit lower, but 18c is cool enough for a good cider. Lowering the temperature further might have a slight improvement in flavour, but is your juice good enough for it to matter much?
 

ivars

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Greg.L said:
I'm sure it would work a bit lower, but 18c is cool enough for a good cider. Lowering the temperature further might have a slight improvement in flavour, but is your juice good enough for it to matter much?
Good point. Hadn't thought about that. Thanks.
 

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