Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Gunk film on my cider?

ok, so I have some gunk appearing on the top of my cider.

Hard to get a good pic but see below.
I thought I saw some of this in primary bucket.
Has been in secondary carboy for about a week, and I admit I have too much headroom but others thought it would be fine.
So anyway this stuff was not there yesterday but assuming it is not good and I should “fix” it and get the carboy topped off after that if it can be fixed.
I tasted a sample 2 days ago and it did not seem to taste off a;though I admit I don’t really know what it is supposed to taste like as this is my first go at this.
(I have had one other post here about the SG not going below 1.020 with a few othwr pics earlier on for reference.)

So the big questions…
What is it?
What should or can I do about it?
Could It ruin my batch?!

[attachment=1]Cider1.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=0]Cider2.jpg[/attachment]

Hard to say. Might be contamination. If it tastes good now, it might be worthwhile drinking it while it’s still good. These things happen. I make 4 or 5 batches of cider every year, and it seems like every year one batch goes funky. I’ve made a lot of vinegar over the years, which isn’t a bad thing, I actually use it for cooking and other household uses. Vinegar is probably the most common thing to happen. It comes from too much headspace and oxygen. It happens. Hard to prevent unless you keep the fermenter all the way full all the time. But then again, I’ve also left batches with big headspace for 10 months or more that did NOT turn to vinegar and tasted great. Sometimes these things clear up on their own, too. I had one batch of cider turn green last year, I figured it must have been due to too much copper in the soil where the apples were grown or something like that?? It tasted bad for a while, but after a few months, that green stuff settled out and it ended up being the very best cider that I made last year. Just needed some age.

When it tastes good, drink it. If it doesn’t taste good, let it sit for a few months. It might get better. It might not, but maybe it will.

I’m still learning, too. :cheers:

Wow, green? I’d have probably tossed it and missed out.
So no idea what the stuff is? Can’t be good.
I don’t want to babysit a whole batch and watch it go bad and I don’t want to drink something that could poison me. So I need to figure out what’s going on and if it can be fixed.

Was thinking or racking and leaving th last inch or so behind hopefully avoiding transferring whatever is going on on the top there, then topping off.
But I really have no idea if that would make a difference until I find out what it is.

[quote=“Nbstl68”]Wow, green? I’d have probably tossed it and missed out.
So no idea what the stuff is? Can’t be good.
I don’t want to babysit a whole batch and watch it go bad and I don’t want to drink something that could poison me. So I need to figure out what’s going on and if it can be fixed.

Was thinking or racking and leaving th last inch or so behind hopefully avoiding transferring whatever is going on on the top there, then topping off.
But I really have no idea if that would make a difference until I find out what it is.[/quote]
No microorganism that can grow in fermented cider (or beer or wine) is going to kill you. An infection might make the cider taste bad, but it won’t actually be dangerous to health.

Looks to me like it might be lactic acid bacteria infection. This has happened to me. You have the basic idea right: rack it to a new vessel and leave the film behind. If it is the same thing I’ve had, the film will pull aside and stick to the walls of the tank. Then, after it is racked, add some campden to the cider. That (along with limiting the oxygen contact) will prevent it from coming back. If you plan to bottle carb the cider, you don’t want to add more than about 1/2 campden tablet per gallon. If you plan to keg carbonate or bottle it still, you can add a whole tablet per gallon. Crush it and mix with a little water or cider to totally dissolve before adding to the main batch.

OK, so I did as planned a few days ago, but basically I had to double rack, if that is even a real term, haha. Since this is my first attempt I only have 2 buckets and two 5 gal carboys. So I racked to clean buckets leaving some sediment and some at the top w gunk behind, cleaned the heck out of the carboys (starsan) then racked back into the carboys.
I assume this added some risk as I’m basically putting it all into contact w air twice. I tried to keep the tub at the bottom \ submerged most of the time to avoid as best possible any churning \ oxygen contact. I do not have campden tabs, just powdered metabisulphite. Added a little less than 1/8 tsp. per (now maybe 4.5 gal) batch…So not sure what that equates to so hope it was not too much but it was the spec’d amount to add initially and assumed it would be correct again.

It seems I’m trying hard to mess this all up, but so far, no more gunk after 4 days.

I tested SG again and it is still 1 notch below (higher up on the stick closer to 1.01 mark w\ 5 dashes in btw 10.10 and 1.020) 1.020. so I guess that is like 1.018?

Anyway, I assume that means my batches are def not fermenting any more at all as they have been at this mark for several weeks and have not seen the bubbler move at all.

Also, given the even larger amount of head room in each now, I sprayed some c02 into the carboy opening. My logic is that it would force out the air and replace w the safer c02 and hopefully protect it from any new funk …or is my logic flawed?

I have read some fancy articles specifically on pear cider and apparently it is totally possible they stop btw 1.010 and 1.020 as they have a higher quantity of non-fermentable sugar (sorbitol) naturally occurring that is not in apples apparently.

So I guess my next question is, Now what?

Drink it now?, let it sit a few weeks, a few months, a year? I’m reading all and everything in between.

How do I know when it is “done” or “ready”?

I have tasted it and while it is “interesting” I’d prefer it to be sweeter \ less puckery than it is now.
tossing in a little sugar in a small sample made it taste a whole lot better and knocked off that pucker.

So do I back sweeten something that is already sitting at 1.020?

Did adding that metabisulphite require more wait time for it to dissipate or something?

My end goal is to bottle a batch as-is which I think is called “traditional” cider,
non carbonated. I want to force keg carbonate then bottle the other batch, (borrowing my bro-in-law’s equip for that…No idea how to determine how much pressure to force carb it at when I get to that point…thoughts? I just want it lightly carb’d and on the sweet side like the store \ pub stuff.).

Do I need Sorbate at some point?

Sorry for the barrage of thoughts & questions in one post, but just trying to get it all out and hopefully answered while I can recall what I have done and figure it out before I ruin it all. There is so much info on this site but in reading a ton of it there are a lot of contradictions or opinions at times

So, basically, Now what?

Thx,
Nick

Lots of questions here, I’ll try to answer some of them.

Once the cider has stopped fermenting, it is time to make any adjustments you want. Common adjustments could include stabilizing, clarifying, adjusting acid levels, back sweetening, carbonating, or diluting (if you want a lower alcohol level). Strictly speaking, all of these are optional, and you can just drink it as-is immediately. I personally would recommend stabilizing, clarifying and back sweetening.

Stabilizing would be adding sulfite and potassium sorbate. That will ensure that the fermentation doesn’t start again. You don’t want to let the sulfites dissipate before bottling, as sulfite in the bottle will help ensure the cider stays fresh and protects it against any bacteria that might have made its way into the bottle with it. So if you go more than a month or two between stabilizing and bottling, you might want to add a bit more sulfite just before you bottle.

Clarifying involves adding fining compounds or just leaving the cider alone for long enough to let any suspended solids settle out. How you do this depends on how much of a hurry you are in. With apples, I’ve found that adding some pectin enzymes (at the amount recommended on the container) works wonders, and combined with a month of sitting is all I need. Gelatin could be used if you want to clarify and be done with it in just a few days.

With regards to back sweetening, just go ahead and put in whatever level of sugar gets you to the taste you want. There isn’t a “magic” correct sugar level for cider, but rather a range. And that range will be dependent on the acid and alcohol levels for a particular batch (which the sugar will balance), plus the personal taste factor. But make sure you don’t backsweeten before you stabilize.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com