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I'm a complete homebrew n00b and I need help answering a couple of questions.

I have pressed my garden apples into 2 gallons of juice. It is now is the shed in a 3 gallon bucket. My questions are..

  1. Is the excessive air space (headspace?) in the bucket a problem? If so, what should I do?
  2. I understand I need to leave the lid on loose until the natural fermentation dies down and I then add the airlock, is this correct?
  3. The kit came with some wine yeast. Should I use this or not and when does it go in if so?

Many thanks,

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Welcome to the hobby!

  1. Excess head space is not a problem for at least the first 2-3 weeks of fermentation. If you will keep it fermenting for much longer than that, you may want to rack it over to a new container with a smaller surface area at top, like a carboy where the neck is constricted. But even if you don't, if you will be consuming the cider within a month or two, the risk of it souring is reasonably low. It becomes a problem with greater surface area and longer timeframes. (FYI -- since I am an extremely lazy cidermaker, leaving my cider in the fermenter for 6-12 months at a time, I have occasionally gotten vinegar. But if I had kept it for a shorter time this would not have happened.)

  2. I would add the airlock immediately. If it is foaming over, things could get messy, but that won't be an issue at all in your case with 2 gallons in a 3-gallon fermenter.

  3. Wine yeast is great to use. Actually any commercial yeast will work great, regardless of whether it was intended for wine, beer, mead, or cider. MANY people use beer yeasts for cider. I think beer yeast gives a slight beery flavor, so I usually stick with a wine yeast. My favorite is Cote des Blancs, makes a very clean appley cider.

You should be able to make a great tasting cider on your very first try, it is so easy to make. Cheers and good luck!

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    To add a couple points- Cider won't foam like beer. A beer-like krousen on a cider would require a TON of pulp in your must (just juice won't do it) and a massively aggressive yeast. Wine yeasts are however excellent if you want something to age for a long time and really unlock some interesting flavor, and Cote Des Blanc or K1V-1116 are both decent choices for this. However if you're looking for something more like a typical english cider, WLP002 (that strain specifically) is probably the best cider yeast you can use. – rob Sep 15 at 12:42

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