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I am on my second year producing apple cider at home, and was successful producing 40 liters of apple cider and perry last year, and are through primary fermenting about 40 liters this season. But my last batch of 20 liters, which I set in a bucket 17th September, is stuck still (>20 days). What can I do now? Best course of action?

additives: Pectolase, nutrition salts, 2 table spoons campden powder all added 2 days earlier

temperature: between 20-25 C across 20 days

Specific gravity: Measured 1.050 at 17th September, 1.045 on 9th October. The liquid is very clear, with just very little foam on top, no bubbles or pressure on the air lock. There is no bad smell, a slight smell of yeast.

UPDATE OCT 16TH: The mystery continues. I followed the advice given here, mail ordered for more Lalvin yeast EC-1118, rehydrated and added to bucket on Oct 13th. Now it is Oct 16th, there is no pressure on the air lock, about 20 C, clear liquid, still SG 1.045. pH was estimated with indicator film to between 4 and 5. The new rehydrated yeast also bubbled, I don't think that's the problem. What is wrong? Could there be something toxic to the yeast in the batch? The only substances that comes to mind are traces of Saniclean (phosphoric acid) and dishwashing liquid, but I don't think so. Alternative hypotheses? Should I give up?

  • By "50" and "45" I assume you mean 1.050 and 1.045? – jsled Oct 8 '14 at 5:45
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Sounds like the yeast failed.

additives: Pectolase, nutrition salts, 2 table spoons campden powder all added 2 days earlier

Do you mean that these were added two days prior to pitching the yeast?

Two tablespoons seems high to me. I often add no sulphite, it the apples were in good shape before pressing. Otherwise, I add one Campden tablet per gallon, which works out to about 1.25 teaspoons in five gallons. This is just over a 1/3 tablespoon, so you added 6 times as much sulphite as I do. It could be that you over-dosed with sulphite, and even after waiting two days for the sulphur gas to dissipate, there was still enough in solution to suppress yeast activity.

I'd suggest that you rehydrate a packet of yeast, and add it to the juice. Fermentation should kick off within a day or two, depending on temperature.

  • thanks, that would be my guess too. Lesson for me is I need to be less sloppy with measures. How about the 20 days? What are the risks? – Fredriku73 Oct 8 '14 at 19:37
  • The risk is that bacteria or wild yeast have started breeding in the juice. The best cure is a nice big dose of cultured yeast. – FishesCycle Oct 8 '14 at 20:52
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Two possible scenarios:

  1. Too much Campden Powder - Campden Powder releases sulfur dioxide into the liquid by it's nature it kills living stuff. Brewers who brew at scale have a reason to use it, but smaller home brewers I don't believe need it. It depends on how much you put in and how much time you gave before pitching, i.e allowing the concentration of SO2 to decrease before pitching. (Pasteurizing may be better)
  2. Temperature - Generally I have used CBC-1 for my ciders, it's not as aggressive as general ale yeast and as a result I find it's much more sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Meaning sudden changes or if it's a little too cool will cause it to get stuck. If it does I will generally slowly bring up the temp and give the entire solution a seriously vigorous shake - this always restarts the process. I have never had it permanently stuck.

Last Comment; If you are able to restart as in (2), it's very likely just a temperature issue - however if you can't at all and this happens repeatedly with batches, I'm 99.9% sure it's the Campden powder.

I would also suggest you rather pasturize before pitching rather than using Campden tablets. Same effect without imparting chemicals into a otherwise totally natural drink.

  • 1
    Hey, this question was asked in 2014, so it's probably not super relevant any more. – sintax Aug 22 at 20:53
  • Well the fact that this was just promoted from beta probably brought with it some new curiosity and lack of awareness of how old a lot of the content really is. I just join this forum and yep, I did the same thing. – Escoce Sep 1 at 1:43
  • It’s still good to clean up questions and vote on good questions and answers I think. – Escoce Sep 1 at 1:44
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You may have started with poor yeast. If the yeast was too old it could have been spent already. If the yeast was weak the campden powder will have slowed it down a bit as well.

A fresh pitch of yeast should get things going again as you likely haven't developed much alcohol at this point.

  • Could be, but I saw bubbles in my starter, it looked ok. – Fredriku73 Oct 8 '14 at 19:38
  • Which yeast did you use and how big was the starter? – brewchez Oct 9 '14 at 18:56

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