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Thanks for taking a look

I recently came into possession of a lot of apples and decided to make cider before they spoiled. I've done this before once or twice and have the correct gear, but very little experience. As such I'm fermenting in my home, at ambient temperature in Spain.

I've done this before in summer and the ferment bubbled constantly for a few days before producing a good cider. This time in autumn I've followed the same procedure as before but have been away from home a lot over the last two weeks so I couldn't keep a close eye on the cider. I've been popping in every few days but haven't seen a single bubble coming out of the air trap. I'm pretty sure the container is air tight and the gas hasn't escaped by another opening.

It's been two weeks now and I'm not sure if it's fermented and can be bottled, or nothings happened and I still have apple juice. I've tried a small amount and it doesn't taste like apple juice (not sweet like when I first juiced the apples), or alcoholic.

Here is my question(s):

  • Apart from drinking several liters to determine this manually I'd like to know if it's fermented or not?
  • If not, what do I have to do next?

Supporting information:

My procedure was as follows:

  1. Wash the fermenting container (and other accessories) properly with non rinse steriliser
  2. Juice my apples directly into the container (10 liters of juice in total)
  3. Sprinkle in the yeast as per the packet instructions
  4. Seal and wait

During this time I've been checking the temperature of the ferment using a laser thermometer from outside and it has been between 17 and 25 degrees Celsius (62 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

See pictures below of what I have:

Fermentation setup enter image description here

Inside the container in general as of today: enter image description here

Detritus inside the container, I don't know if this is growing yeast or bits of apple: enter image description here

Yeast packet front a added to the apple juice: enter image description here

Yeast packet rear showing the instructions that were followed and temperature range which has been adhered to:

enter image description here

UPDATE:

Sneftel recommended I try using a hydrometer, here is an update with the results:

General view

enter image description here

Scale View

enter image description here

I summary the hydrometer sits very low in the liquid reading 1000 on the scale, with the reading directly above being 0990 and directly below reading 1010 and increasing by 10 for every unit below.

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    I can't tell from the pictures - is there any sediment on the bottom? A pale, muddy layer of dead yeast would be a good sign that plenty has been going on in your absence
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 19:53

1 Answer 1

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A hydrometer can be used to measure the density (which is determined primarily by the sugar content) of the liquid, thereby determining whether the sugar has been transformed into alcohol. The place where you bought your fermenter will also sell you a hydrometer. The glass ones are fairly cheap.

You put some of the cider in a sample container (the plastic tube the hydrometer comes in works fine), drop in the hydrometer, and see what line on the gauge is at the surface of the cider. For fully fermented cider it’ll be quite close to 1.000 or below. For a stuck fermentation it’ll read higher, at least 1.020 but probably closer to 1.050.

If your fermentation has actually been stuck for this long, other microorganisms will likely have been operating, and the results likely won’t be great even once fermentation is restarted. If it were me I’d toss in a packet of champagne yeast (known for its robustness and scorched-earth thoroughness in fermentation) and hope for the best.

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    Even better of course would have been to take a hydrometer reading beforehand. But it's too late for that. I'd be a little concerned that 10 litres of juice in that size container means a lot of air, and we don't really want lots of oxygen on top while fermenting. But I've got demijohns as well as a 23 litre fermenting bucket, so have options
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 19:49
  • Hi Snefter, thanks for your reply, I got a hydrometer and took some readings with an update at the bottom of my post. I think the cider fermented, do you agree? Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 12:42
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    @JamesScott Yep.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 12:43

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