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Racking Hard Cider, Part 2
April 10, 2014 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Here I am one week later, as advised, ready to rack my cider again. But I'm still unsure of some of the details.

So now it's been three weeks since I put sugar and yeast into a gallon jug of cider. It's been warm lately, and I'm able to see the bubbles still coming up. I've let the jug sit for a while so the yeast is all nicely settled to the bottom.

I got a ton of advice from my last question, (thanks!) which I think I mostly understood (some of it was using lingo that is a few steps above my level). I think the simplest way for me to go forward is to siphon the cider into four or five of my metal-hinged bottles, (i.e. 'rack'?) add some sugar, and let it sit for one month, then throw them in the fridge until it's drinkin' time.

My expectation is that this will get me carbonated cider, but it will have a slight amount of odd flavors from sitting with the yeast. If I want to fix that flavor issue, I could put the bottles directly in the fridge until the yeast settles, siphon the cider out so I can clean all the sediments out of the bottles, then put the cider back in and then let it sit at room temperature for as long as I want (say, until Thanksgiving).

I'm sure I'm grossly misunderstanding something here. Any tips? Or should I go for it!

P.S. how do you sanitize sugar? Also, oh man, I accidentally posted this in the blue a second ago. So embarrassed!
posted by brenton to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
 
...aaaand the links didn't make it in the transfer from blue to green. Here's the ask thread from last week. This is the type of bottles I'm using.
posted by brenton at 7:39 PM on April 10


Normally you boil the sugar in some water and blend it in.
posted by lathrop at 7:42 PM on April 10


1. If there are bubbles still coming up, you either a) MUST chill-crash the yeast by putting it in the fridge to halt fermentation OR b) continue to wait until there is no more activity. This is the first and most important thing: wait until there are no bubbles left.

2. What you describe above is not racking; it is bottling. Racking is siphoning the cider into a second sanitized fermenting container and leaving the solids behind. After racking, you should let the cider sit again for another week or so at least so that any solids you've disturbed in the racking will settle back down.

3. ONLY AFTER ALL FERMENTATION ACTIVITY IS COMPLETE should you bottle your cider. You should do so using the following method:

A. boil the priming sugar in water as lathrop suggests.
B. Allow this sugar mixture to cool.
C. When it is cool, mix it in with the cider, either by pouring it into the fermenter and gently swirling the mixture with a sanitized paddle or by adding it to the bottom of your bottling bucket (if you have one and intend to use it for bottling) before siphoning the cider into the bottling bucket.
D. Siphon or pour the mixture of cider + priming sugar solution into your bottles (which you have already sanitized) and cap them or otherwise seal them.
E. Put the bottles in a cool-but-not-cold location (i.e., not the fridge but not on top of your radiator either. A coat closet works nicely.) Wait at least two weeks.
F. Enjoy.
posted by gauche at 7:53 PM on April 10 [3 favorites]


Ahh, I've been mixed up on what 'racking' is, no wonder all these instructions have been so confusing. Thanks so much gauche. I'd assumed you had to bottle before fermentation was complete so that you could back-carbonate.

Also, if I stir in the sugar, won't I also stir up all the sediments that I'm trying to avoid?
posted by brenton at 8:02 PM on April 10


Also, if I stir in the sugar, won't I also stir up all the sediments that I'm trying to avoid?

That's why you rack (i.e., siphon into the secondary fermenter), and then wait for it to settle, and then siphon into your bottling bucket -- at each step, you will leave much of the sediment behind. By the time it's in the bucket you're talking about truly minimal amounts of sediment, and those are already mixed with the cider just due to the siphoning activity so you don't really have to think about this when adding the priming sugar.
posted by gauche at 8:07 PM on April 10


Oh, and enjoy! I hope it comes out well!
posted by gauche at 8:14 PM on April 10


Update: utter tragedy! Bottling went smoothly, but after a few weeks one of my bottles exploded. After cleaning the mess, I opened and closed the remaining bottles to let excess air out, and put them in a wine cooler. When we came back from a weekend trip, the remaining bottles had also exploded.

Going to try again soon, though I'm not sure exactly what I did wrong. I think another Ask question is due.
posted by brenton at 3:29 PM on May 10


Either a) you didn't wait long enough before bottling (i.e., primary fermentation had not yet completed) and the yeasts were still digesting the digestible sugars found in the cider itself, or b) you added too much sugar to the bottles, or c) you didn't leave enough space at the top of the bottles to allow the gas to compress. Good luck on your next attempt!
posted by gauche at 6:36 AM on July 8


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