Commercial yeast for cider 🍎🍻

This is an experiment in using commercial yeast.

I picked Red Star Premier Blanc, a champagne yeast, because I like dry cider.

I’m also adding Wyeast Beer Nutrient Blend based on frequent references in online cider resources to adding yeast nutrient, and this product seemed to have nice stuff in it.

I bought both off Amazon, in addition to an air lock appropriate for a 1 gallon apple juice bottle. I chose a single chamber air lock because that’s what a friend lent me before, and I appreciate the simplicity.

The yeast packet recommended starting the yeast in a quarter cup of ~100°F water. I didn’t want to dilute the fermentation medium, so I used juice instead of water.

Microwaving a quarter cup of liquid for thirty seconds brought it to ~100°, measured using a Thermopen.

The 5 gram yeast packet contained enough for five gallons, so I measured ~1 gram for a single gallon using my wife’s baking scale.

The scale didn’t support fractional grams, so I just added a dash of yeast nutrient.

Within a couple minutes the yeast started bubbling! This was very different from wild yeasting where I’d wait for a few days before anything happened.

After the 20 minutes recommended by the yeast packet, I poured the yeast slurry into the juice in the 1 gallon jug, fitted the airlock, sanitized by wiping with a vodka-soaked paper towel, and sloshed the liquid around to aerate and disperse the yeast.

After just a couple hours, there were bubbles collecting at the surface.

After a couple days, the ferment was consistently bubbling. It never boiled, but did produce large bubbles relative to a wild yeast.

The bubbling subsided after a week. I then transferred the ferment minus the lees to a clean gallon jar. Although it appeared still prior to transfer, the cider effervesced vigorously. I fed the colony a tablespoon of sugar with hopes for a more full boil :) I also drank a bit of the lees, which were very mild relative to my experience with brewers yeast. The cider tasted clean and tart.

I still prefer the informal, self-reliant approach of wild yeasting, but am looking forward to a more fully fermented cider. In future, I’d like to experiment with wild yeasting a starter, and if it tastes good, using that with the process described above for full fermentation.

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