Just Started my First Cider

4 1/2 gallons sitting in the carboy. Put the Campden pallets in to kill off the wild yeast. Will start my yeast tomorrow. This is my first experience ever so I’m pretty geeked!

Couple of questions for you experienced cider makers out there: Should I pre-hydrate my yeast? I have Cote de Blancs. The woman at the home brew shop recommended pre hydrating and then leaving it in the fridge over night so to weaken the yeast which she said would leave more of an sweet apple finish. From reading on the forum, I think I’ll just pre hydrate and throw er’ in. What do you think?

I did not add any sugar or other ingredients to my cider. I purchased cider from a local mill. I hear that late in the season the apples yield higher sugar content. Will it turn out well without sugar added? I was at 1.060. I figured that was good enough. What do you all recommend?

Also, and this may sound stupid, but how long will my cider take to be bottle ready? Do I simply syphon it out of the carboy and into the bottles after priming? Could it really be that simple?

Thanks in advance for any advice. I’m very new.

Oh, one more question… should I leave a decent amount of room in the carboy? I don’t want overflow issues. Thanks.

I just pitched some cider with Cote de Blancs last week, without prehydration, and it took off like gangbusters, faster than any of the other 3 yeasts I tried. Certainly no need to prehydrate, but you can if it makes you feel better.

Don’t be fooled about sweetness – this yeast is going to ferment your cider pretty dry unless you rack and sulfite or sorbate early to eliminate some of the yeast. What this yeast is good at, though, is it preserves the “sweet” appley fruit aroma and flavor in the cider – I mean that as “sweet” in a fruity sense, not sugary. But if you ferment all the way to dryness in the SG=0.990s, you’ll need to sulfite and/or sorbate and backsweeten at the end.

1.060 is a fantastic natural starting point for cider. The best I could find this season was 1.050, and most of my cider started at 1.043 this year, to which I added just a very small amount of sugar to bring it to 1.050. So if you’re up at 1.060 without addition of any sugar, you’re in great shape.

Your cider will probably be ready to bottle in approximately 3 or 4 weeks, but it depends on temperature, pitching rate, how old the yeast packet is, whether or not you’ve added yeast nutrients, etc. I don’t mess around too much, just basically leave it in the low 60s Fahrenheit for a week, then rack to secondary, then leave it alone for as much time as it takes to stop fizzing. Like I said, you can also sulfite and/or sorbate it a little before it ferments out completely (maybe when gravity hits about 1.020) in hopes that it might finish fermenting closer to 1.005, but it’s a swag and will still kind of do whatever it wants. Once you finally get to the final gravity and confirm it isn’t fermenting anymore over the course of about a week, it’s ready to backsweeten if desired and bottle.

You’ll have a little krausen on the cider for a few days, but it soon dies down to a very thin layer. A few inches of head space should be enough. I don’t think you need more than like 4 or 5 inches, but I could be wrong.

Rehydrating the yeast and then leaving it the fridge over night is one of the craziest ideas I’ve heard in a while. The whole point of rehyrdating is to increase viability of your dry yeast pitch. If you wanted lower viability, just add the packet dry and half of the yeast will die right away. Regardless of the amount you pitch you are probably not going to have any sugar left over as others state above. Pitching a lower quantity of yeast is just more likely to produce sulfur and other bad behavior.

Thanks you for the advice. I will start my yeast tonight. Decided against pre hydrating in the fridge. I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that, even though the chick at the home brew shop said do it. I’ll follow the advice on here instead.

I might pre hydrate for a couple of minutes or something.


I was very happy with the 1.060. I guess the sugar content is higher this time of year. I had brown sugar but opted out of adding any. I figure I’ll just go all cider on my first batch. I think I’ll take your advice and try and make some stops around 1.020 and hope for the best. Any chance I could use Campden palletes to kill the yeast at 1.020?

Back sweetening is not an option if I am going to bottle. Is that correct?

Hmmm… I don’t think I have 4-5 inches of head space. I topped off my previous 4 1/2" with the remaining cider, so I’m darn near 5 gallons. I’m not pitching the yeast until about 8:00 tonight Eastern. I probably only have about 2 inches. Maybe I should dump some out before I get this thing rolling?? I’d hate to have an overflow mess if I could have easily avoided it.

You might be alright with 2 inches head space, but it’s safer to dump a couple inches out. You could save it for topping off later if you wish – just put it in the freezer and add it back in after a couple weeks.

You can backsweeten in bottles, if you either kill the yeast, or if you want a carbonated cider, add sorbate and keep the priming sugar to a minimum. In the specified dose rate, sorbate will prevent yeast from reproducing, but won’t necessarily kill them outright, so you could have enough cells left in there to add a little fizz if desired. So far this has worked for me and I haven’t experienced bottle bombs – not yet anyway. On the other hand, high doses of Campden will kill the yeast, and in combination with sorbate it’s even more effective. Then you will have a still cider, but you can then backsweeten without worry of bombs.

You could also heat pasteurize to kill the yeast – I haven’t tried it but some people say it works. Basically heat the bottles in a hot water bath at like 160 F for 30 minutes or something like that. Some people even load the sealed bottles into a dishwasher on a heated cycle and say this is good enough to kill the yeast to prevent refermentation in the bottles. One of these days I might try that. Maybe even prime and pop a bottle open every once in a while until the cider is carbonated to my liking, and then set all the bottles in the dishwasher in the hopes that the yeast will die but leave the CO2 inside the bottles. Lots of ways to experiment with bottling and carbonation. Just need to be real careful is all. Wear gloves, chaps, chainmail, and a faceshield, or whatever it takes! :wink:


I pitched my yeast last night at about 8pm. No activity yet as of 4pm today. Is that pretty normal? My temperature is right around 66 -67 degrees. I aerated my cider after I dumped the yeast in. I forgot to before hand so I figured it was better to do it after than not at all. I shook it up pretty well. I also added about 1 tablespoon of yeast nutrient to my 5 gallon carboy. I didn’t want to go overboard with it. Hopefully it gets rolling here within the next day or so.

That’s fairly normal, but it’s nearing the time to be just a little bit concerned. If you don’t see any activity by tomorrow morning, you should probably pitch in some more yeast. It doesn’t even matter what yeast it is, as long as it’s fresh, and as long as it isn’t Fleichmann’s bread yeast! I’ve done that before, and it works, but it ends up tasting like… bread!

Thanks! Okay, will do. What exactly should I be looking for? I haven’t seen any crazy activity that a layperson would notice or anything.

I have my first batch of cider going now too, so I’m not an expert like these other fellas who are so helpful. But I pitched at about 58 degrees, and it took the better part of 24 hours to really get going.

My O.G. with unpasteurized unfiltered pure cider was 1.050, and it bubbled off the charts at 63 degrees for two weeks straight before slowing down. Finally it slowed enough, and I should have racked it to a secondary before now but just did so tonight.

My gravity now measured 0.098, so about 7 or 7.1% abv. Surely it’s done or very close.

Now that it’s in the secondary, I will let it clear up for a while. For that, I have no idea how long it will take but a couple of folks have suggested several weeks to months (I would prefer the former).

It sure is fun, and much easier than beer.

At the beginning of fermentation, you will see just a very small amount of foam on top, or some fizz bubbles popping at the surface. If you don’t see either of those two things, your yeast is lonely and begging for you to add more buddies to their party.

Voodoo, it looks like your fermentation is getting close to complete, but might not be completely done yet. Give it just another week or two, just to be on the safe side. After that, if it is still hazy and you want it to clear up instantly instead of taking several months, dissolve about a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin (usually Knox brand) in about a cup of hot water, then stir that in. After a few hours, the haze will be completely gone, guaranteed. Right away it will look like a snow globe, with haze particles falling to the bottom. It’s kind of cool to watch.

Okay. I do see a small ring of foam (or yeast?) sitting around the top ring of the carboy. Very thin line . Looks almost like a yeast ring. Lots of content sitting at the bottom of the carboy. There are bubbles in the air lock. None of the bubbles are moving, however. There is zero movement in the carboy. It’s 48 hours. What’s your take? Bad yeast or normal early signs?

Here is my airlock. Just little bubbles. No movement:


Here is my carboy. Just a ring at the top:


48 hours. What do you think?

Let’s try this again.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n255 ... 3659-1.jpg http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n255 ... 153749.jpg

It’s hard to say from here, but it appears to me that you’ve got the beginnings of fermentation. Let it go a few more hours and see how it progresses. Probably fine.

Do you see movement going on inside the carboy? Little flecks moving all around? Not necessarily up? but in any direction?

Still no action fellas. I’m pretty disappointed. At this point I think my yeast is no good. Should I just grab another packet of cote and throw it in? This should still be salvageable right?

Yes, absolutely. Dump more yeast in there and everything will be just fine. Always make sure you have one extra pack in the refrigerator for times like these, just in case. But I still think your cider will turn out just fine. No worries.

Wow! You aren’t kidding. I pitched the new yeast at about 4:00 pm. It’s now 8:16 pm and I have a nice foam head forming already. More action in the last 4 hours than I’ve seen in the last four days. Yippie!!

I’ve been having the same issues with my first cider, DomerIowa. 72 hours after pitching with zero activity. I pitched another sachet of Nottingham last night and there’s still no activity today. I haven’t taken a gravity reading yet; I plan to do that this weekend. Sort of frustrating after brewing 115+ batches of damn fine beer only to be challenged by a process that seems much simpler!

My juice was fresh, unpasteurized stuff straight from the orchard. I actually watched the guy press it, which was pretty cool. I added 7 crushed campden tabs very shortly after pressing (I started with 5 at the orchard and for some reason threw in 2 more when I got home). After 18 hours with the bucket open for degassing (I had muslin stretched over the top to keep anything from getting in), I added some pectic enzyme. 24 hours after adding the campden, I added 5 tsp of yeast nutrient and pitched a sachet of Nottingham that had been rehydrated with 95 degree must.

I’m a pretty careful brewer and I didn’t skimp on being cautious with this cider. I’m stumped… :?