Author Topic: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?  (Read 1885 times)

saberhagen

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Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« on: October 10, 2013, 10:52:06 PM »
So I'm (sort of) brewing my first batch of cider.  I went to a farm and got 3 gallons of fresh, unpasteurized sweet cider and built up a starter using a liter of the cider and a smack pack of Belgian ale yeast.  The starter was the craziest most vigorous starter I've seen; seemed very healthy!

About 24 hours before I pitched my starter into the main batch, I used potassium metabisulfite to kill any wild yeasty's. I read this was a good idea to insure a good primary fermentation. Don't worry, I mixed into the main fermenter with the un-inoculated juice, not the starter!

Now, 4 days later, nothing. My airlock hasn't bubbled one time.  Is it possible I created a hostile wprk environment for my yeast? I've done a couple dozen all-grain brews, but have yet to make cider, wine or use any kind of sulfite for anything.

Should I buy more yeast and re-pitch? Any other suggestions?

cornershot

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 01:51:47 AM »
This is exactly what I do for cider. Except the starter. That's a lot of yeast for 3 gallons of cider. Maybe it's already done? How much potassium metabisulfite did you use? 24 hours should be plenty of time for it to dissipate.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 04:05:13 AM »
If the cider is super cloudy and looks like coffee with way too much cream, it is probably fermenting.  It is just hard to see activity in cider as there will be little if any krausen on top and it usually ferments more slowly than beer.  It might just be off to a slow start is all.  There is no way it is already finished fermenting.  How much sulfite did you use?  If you followed the instructions it should be just fine.  Jiggle your airlock and make sure everything is tight and be patient.  I am sure everything is just fine.
Dave

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Offline wingnut

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 04:52:32 AM »
How much potassium metabisulfite did you use?   It has been a couple years since my last cider batch, but my memory is about 1/2 tsp per 5 gallons. (I forget how many tablets that may be)

Wine makers sometimes make up batches of potassium meabisulfite and water to use for sanitizing.   (They acidify the water to bring the PH below 4.0 and sniff the mixture before using to make sure it is still releasing SO4

My guess is that you are fermenting (but slowly).  One thing that I do with cider is make sure I use a yeast nutrient of some sort since fruit juice is lacking in many things yeast need.  (Wort on the other hand, usually has plenty).  I have read some people dosing the cider a few times with nutrient during fermentation, but I have had good results just adding it at the start.

Good luck!
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 05:41:07 AM »
I echo what was said above. Is it in a bucket? Sometimes buckets don't seal well and you won't see airlock activity. Otherwise, sulfites will sometimes slow the yeast temporarily and cider fermentation is slower than beer to begin with. I doubt you need to worry.
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saberhagen

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2013, 06:14:19 AM »
This is all very encouraging news! In answer to the questions about how much sulfite I used, the instructions called for 1/4 tsp per 5 gal., so I did a little less. (Not very scientific!)

It's in a glass carboy, so no air leaks that I can identify, but the solution is cloudy, so hopefully that means it's okay!

I can sleep better now.  ;)

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Stuck Cider Fermentation OR Did I kill my yeast with Sulfites?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2013, 06:40:33 AM »
With fresh cider, if there was no fermentation the solids would sink to the bottom and you'd have relatively clear apple juice on top.
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