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I started my first cider yesterday. I am concerned that, because I haven't pasteurised I am running the risk of getting 12 litres of vinegar.

Is there I anything I can do, now fermentation has started, to prevent that and how can I keep tabs on progress during the fermentation?

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The test for acetobacter is simple: smell whatever's coming out of the airlock on your fermenter. If it smells like vinegar, you've got an infection :).

For a fermentation in progress, there's only a couple of options. You could pasteurize the whole batch, which would kill off bacteria as well as the yeast, so you'd have to repitch your yeast.

Another possibility is to dissolve some campden tablets into your cider. If you pitched a quality, healthy yeast, they won't be affected by the increaed sulfite concentration but it will inhibit bacteria and wild yeast growth. If you take this route and find fermentation stops, just give it some time and repitchm, as the sulfites from the campden will dissipate with time. Campden tabs are used all the time in wine and cider making to prevent infection without having to boil/pasteurize.

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SO if the fermentation has been going a day or so, I can still add campden tablets? how long till I should see bubbles in my air lock again? Should I stir it in? –  Mild Fuzz Nov 26 '13 at 14:16
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Yep, you can still add them. At the typical dosage of 1 tablet per gallon of wort / must, it takes about 24 hours for the sulfite to outgas and dissipate. After this your yeast should rouse themselves. It should be crushed and stirred in. I find it easiest to dissolve it in a small amount of liquid and then stir that liquid into the batch. Even though the campden will kill most of the nasties, it's still important to follow sanitation procedures during this step and minimize splashing to help prevent oxidation. –  mallan1121 Nov 26 '13 at 16:24
    
Okay, so it just smells of yeasty apple juice at the moment. Not a whiff of vinegar at all. I'm assuming this is to be expected, and I should go ahead and add the tablets? Or would you expect to smell it now if it was going to turn (fermentation began sunday night/monday morning) –  Mild Fuzz Nov 26 '13 at 18:43
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I am tempted to not do anything. It smells fine, and my instinct says it is okay. Is this folly? –  Mild Fuzz Nov 26 '13 at 22:51
    
Not at all, not doing anything is often the best policy in this hobby, and if I were you that's exactly what I'd do in this situation. Most often it's best to just let the yeast do their work. –  mallan1121 Nov 27 '13 at 0:19
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