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I recently made cider from my apple trees and hand pressed them and all and I am having trouble figuring everything out.

So far I have made the hard cider two different ways my first time, to test both and eliminate waiting for them to ferment.

I am using cider yeast for both of these.

I used for my first batch:

  • 1 liter cider
  • 3 tbs honey
  • Enough yeast for 1 gallon ( due to having no way to measure it accurately)

It's been sitting for 7 days not with little bubbles still filling my balloon.

I got a carboy but my container doesn't fit it well.

The second batch is:

  • 1 gallon cider
  • 1 packet of yeast ( good for a gallon)

It has been sitting for about 4 days and is very bloated the bottle ( being that it's plastic and the other ones glass).

This one doesn't have any balloon on it just a cap sealing it.

When will I know if they're done?

How do I bottle them correctly with still allowing them to have some carbonation?

If I pasteurize them will that kill the possibility of having it carbonated when I bottle it?

If anyone know the answers to these please feel free to be as detailed in your answer as possible because YouTube videos and reading online always leaves grey areas.

Thanks a lot

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Please unscrew the cap of the bloated bottle immediately; it is a pressurized container and increasingly likely to "explode". – jsled Oct 9 at 20:59
Possible duplicate of How to tell if a cider is finished without hydrometer – Pepi Oct 11 at 6:24

2 Answers 2

Cider can take a while to ferment. Without a lot of the natural yeast nutrients from malt, cider can be a "slow" ferment as the yeast are at a disadvantage. At the same time, cider is mostly completely-fermentable sugars, so the yeast will get there, in time.

Your best way to understand fermentation is gravity readings, accomplished by using a hydrometer: a carefully-weighted, calibrated device which is used to measure the concentration of sugar in a liquid. These are inexpensive. However, for very-small fermentation volumes, you might be hard-pressed to take a disposable sample for the gravity reading. If you're careful with sanitation, you may be able to take the reading directly in the fermentor, if you can easily introduce and remove the hydrometer.

Otherwise, I'd say, give it a couple/three months and you should be assured it is finished fermenting.

I don't know what you mean about the carboy and the "container" that does not fit. Can you elaborate?

For bottling, there will be residual yeast in the cider. Bottle-carbonation is achieved by adding a bit of "priming sugar": just enough to achieve carbonation. The residual yeast will wake up and consume that sugar, adding carbonation in the sealed bottles. There are plenty of online guides about the amount (based on the type) of priming sugar to add to achieve the desired amount of carbonation.

If you pasteurize, then the yeast will be killed. There is really no need to pasteurize.

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This is the technical answer: In order to find out when your cider is ready to drink or to bottle and how strong it is in alcohol, you really need a hydrometer. This is a floating glass gauge that tells you how much sugar is dissolved in the juice. You should check the OG(Original Gravity = concentration of sugar in the original apple juice) after crushing. Then after fermentation you should check the FG(Final Gravity = concentration of sugar left in the cider after most has been fermented by the yeast and turned into alcohol). Hydrometers have a mark on the gauge showing you when to bottle beer or wine. Cider will be similar to beer. There is a formula to calculate the strength of the cider from OG and FG measurements.

Here is the practical answer: It is now too late for you to measure the OG. Hopefully you like your cider dry. If so, you just need to leave the cider until it stops fermenting and producing bubbles, maybe a couple of weeks. Then you can add sugar(about a teaspoon per pint) to each bottle and keep it sealed to get a secondary fermentation and produce sparkling dry cider. If you try and drink the cider before fermentation is complete it will be sweeter but also hazy and cloudy while fermentation is going on. Cider needs to be rested and stored to get it clear.

If you do not like dry cider, it is not easy to make proper sweet cider without filtering out the yeast before fermentation is complete, or adding more sugar to completely fermented dry cider and then filtering out the yeast, or pasteurising it to kill the yeast. Sparkling sweet cider is even more of a need to filter out the yeast under pressure before all the sugar is used up, or pasteurise under pressure(not in my house!), or add sugar to completely fermented still dry cider and then artificially carbonate after filtering or pasteurisation. Otherwise the fermentation will carry on until the cider is dry. Commercially they can do these procedures on a large scale but it would require a lot of work for the average homebrewer.

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