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aerate and pitch the yeast.

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    • #2947
      Deanas
      Participant

      Sorry I am a real novice at this!!

      How do you aerate the cider and what do you mean pitch the yeast?

      ALso, what should the hydrometer read to be ready? What is the alcohol content of the hard cider?

      I am going to buy a bottle of calvados and add my cider to it to make a bit of my own calvados as an experiment. With a 2 gallon still, I fear I would have to make 10 gallons of cider to get a bit of calvados. This way I hope to get a pint using a 5th of the brandy and a gallon of hard cider — does that sound about right? I also got French oak chips to add color and flavor.

      thanks for your help!!!

    • #2949

      Q)How do you aerate the cider ?
      A) The easiest and cheapest way to aerate is to dump the cider between two buckets a few times

      Q)and what do you mean pitch the yeast?
      A) Pitching yeast is just another way to say add the yeast

      Q) ALso, what should the hydrometer read to be ready?
      A) I like to shoot between 1.065 and 1.070

      Q)What is the alcohol content of the hard cider?
      A) If you start with 1.065 and end at 1.000 you will have around 8.5%

      • #2967
        Deanas
        Participant

        Ok, measured with hydrometer. It reads 1000. I tasted it and it tastes yeasty but not alcoholic. the sugar is mostly gone. smells more like bear than apples. Is that right? I wonder if I should put a pinch of fresh cider in when I distill for apple accent?

    • #2950
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      Aeration is really only important to replace oxygen in the wash, to replace oxygen driven off by boiling or heating. The yeast needs the oxygen to build new cell walls in the yeast’s reproduction/growing phase. I don’t know how you produce your cider, but my process is entirely cold, so no oxygen is lost due to heat. Not only that, but the crushing, draining (from pressing) and pouring into jugs or carboys, aerates the cider some also. For me, at least, I don’t additionally aerate my cider.

      “Pitching” yeast is just the introduction of yeast to your fermentable liquid.

      Because apple juice typically ferments to between 5 and 8% Alcohol By Volume (%ABV), you’ll get less alcohol in the distillate than some of the higher %ABV washes, like grape wine, for instance, or a sugar wash. If you mix a gallon of, say 7% hard cider with a 5th of maybe 40% Calvados, you’ll have a total (in fluid ounces) of (26)(.4) + (128)(.07) = 10.4 + 8.96 = 19.36 ounces of ethanol.

      As a strictly ballpark estimate, if you distill that mixture to a final head temperature of 98 or 99C (208 or 210F) you will, for all practical purposes have all that ~19 ounces of ethanol in your collected distillate. Again very roughly, if you mixed all of your distillate together (which I don’t recommend – this is for calculations’s sake), that total distillate would be about 50% ethanol, so your total output would be twice that 19 ounces, or 38 ounces of total distillate.

      For yet again a great handwaving approximation, perhaps 3/5 of that total you will save as hearts, that spirit which tastes good to you, and 3/5 of 38 is about 23 fluid ounces, not quite a pint and a half. You will probably have to add a bit of water to that amount, to get the drinking strength you want, so that pint-and-a-half will grow a bit. Depending on lots of things, your actual results will vary from that, but the upside is that homemade Calvados is delicious!

      Good luck!

      Zymurgy Bob

      • #2968
        Deanas
        Participant

        Another question, when the hydrometer hits the right mark, do I close up the jar and let it sit for 2 weeks before distilling with the calvados?

      • #4926
        Deanas
        Participant

        Zymurgy bob — do you mind if I quote you in an article??

    • #2951
    • #2952
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      Hi Richard,

      Yes, that’s my book. It’s mostly aimed at beginning potstillers.

    • #2954
      Deanas
      Participant

      Ok here’s another one. Do I leave the fermenting jars open the whole 2 weeks? I have a paper towel loosely draped over the jar tops. They have been fermenting for 6 days.

    • #2955
      Beerdcomb
      Participant

      I usually ferment in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid an airlock-
      http://www.amazon.com/6-5-Gallon-plastic-fermenter-Drum/dp/B0064O8XP0/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1417492075&sr=8-8&keywords=brewing+bucket
      You can use the white food grade buckets and lids from homedepot (they are cheaper and work great for smaller batches)

      link to airlock-
      http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Plastic-Airlock-Sold-sets/dp/B000E60G2W/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1417492075&sr=8-7&keywords=brewing+bucket

      The only way to know for sure if it is some fermenting is to take a hydromter reading- if you don’t have one I’d let it go the full two weeks to be safe.

    • #2966
      Deanas
      Participant

      OK, still not sure about the answer. Do I leave the jar open or closed. At the moment I have the cider in half gallon mason jars with paper towels over the top. Should I close the jars? I thought the yeast needed oxygen?

      I do have a hydrometer.

      thanks for all the help, everyone!

    • #2970
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      The life cycle of yeast can be considered to have 4 major phases, each phase with its own requirements and products.

      First, for dry yeast, there is the hydration stage. In the presence of water , the dried yeast cells reconstitute, and are helped greatly by “hydration nutrients” at this point.

      Second is the multiplication or growth stage. This is when the yeast cells multiply by budding, increasing their numbers by a large factor. At this point, the yeast metabolizes sugars to water (no ethanol) and carbon dioxide. During this phase oxygen is vital, and required to make the lipids for new cell walls. Normal yeast nutrients are also necessary at this point.

      The third stage is our favorite. After stage 2 has consumed all the oxygen (aerobically), the yeast kicks into its oxygen-less (anaerobic) stage, where it now metabolizes sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol. It still needs yeast nutrients in this stage.

      Fourth stage is where the yeast has eaten all the sugar, and just quits, clumping together (flocculation) and settles to the bottom of your fermenter, ready to be revived for another fermentation.

      To sum it up, oxygen is necessary at first, and then its absence is necessary so we can get ethanol. You can leave your fermenter open, if you figure you’re safe from wild infections, and can determine whether your ferment is finished by taste or specific gravity, but an airlock keeps you safe from infection and tells you (by bubble frequency) where your fermentation is in the process.

      Anything that I bottle to keep for a while, I figure needs to be free of infections so I airlock and disinfect, but for distillation, I’ll often just throw a towel over the fermenter to keep fruit flies and cats out. Once the still’s fired up, everything‘s sterile.

      • #2971
        Deanas
        Participant

        Thanks so much. As I said in an earlier question, it measures 1000, has no alcohol taste — sort of like beer now. So do I close it and wait??

    • #2972
      BeverageCommander
      Participant

      Deanas,
      What yeast did you use?

      1.000 usually means that fermentation is finished- but some yeast will keep going below 1.000.

      Do you know what your starting gravity reading was?

      I’d probably let it go for another day or so- take another reading and if it does not go below 1.000 I’d then put on the lid and let the yeast settle to the bottom.

      • #2975
        Deanas
        Participant

        DOn’t know what the starting gravity was. The jar has a lot of sediment at the bottom and the bulk of the liquid is clearing.
        I used English cider yeast.

    • #2976
      BeverageCommander
      Participant

      Right on-

      Sounds like a winner!

      keep us posted

    • #2977
      Deanas
      Participant

      So I guess I will check it tomorrow, then close it for a few weeks before distilling if it stays around 1000. I am soaking the French oak cubes in old madeira. I thought it would give my calvados a sophisticated depth.

    • #3251
      Deanas
      Participant

      Just a quick update. I bought French oak cubes and soaked about 10 in a bit of cider and a blend of 50-100 year old madeira (only a few tablespoons). I had read that great calvados spent time in old madeira casks and cider casks. The cubes have been in the bottle with my mix for a few weeks now and already the scent is a wonder. I got a full 750m bottle out of my distillation. I could have done more (the left-over mix still smelled of alcohol), but I stopped short when the alcohol output dropped a good deal. I don’t know how I can wait 3 years to use it let alone 6 but I have to say, I am pretty happy with the result

    • #3253
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      It sounds like you did a fine job, but now you’ve got the hobby distillers dilemma. You want to age it to perfection, but you have to taste it to know how it’s coming. By the time it’s perfect, it’s gone.

    • #3341
      Deanas
      Participant

      This should be the last question. I have been reading that I should remove the oak cubes after 3 months. The calvados already has a rich vanilla scent and is much less brash. Should I take the cubes out and just leave it in the bottle to mellow on its own?

    • #3342
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      I wouldn’t remove the oak cubes until you see the color you want, and then I’d make sure the calvados gets some oxygen once in a while. If your container has some air space, just open the container to get some new oxygen-rich air, the close it again, and shake the hell out of it. For larger containers, I use a stainless airstone and O2 to oxygenate it. After oxygenation, it’ll mellow some in the next month or two.

    • #4931
      Zymurgy Bob
      Participant

      Deanas, I can’t find a PM function on this forum, so could you email me at zymurgybob@kelleybarts.com?

    • #4947
      Thebrains
      Participant

      aerate you just shake it. Don’t do that. That is good yes but if you want to do it like a professional (ex shiner) simply add 1 drop of olive oil per 5 gallons. To get 1 drop dip a tooth pick in the oil and let it drip. 1 drop acts like o2 to the yeast. If you get a few extra drops it wont hurt it but wont help so 1 drop per 5 gal.

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