Homebrew Cider 4
The cider is bottled and [hopefully] carbonating!
On Tuesday (3/8/11) I added two cups of "priming" sugar (plain, old granulated sugar) to kick-start the fermentation process in anticipation of bottling. This carbonation process is called "bottle conditioning" in that the yeast continue to ferment sugar into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide while inside the bottle. Since the bottle is tightly sealed (as opposed to a fermentation vessel with an airlock) the generated CO2 has nowhere to go so it infuses with the liquid thus producing carbonic acid: fizzy bubbles!
However, after a day of waiting I saw no evidence that the yeast had restarted fermentation. I was loathe to bottle the cider if I wasn't confident that it was going to properly carbonate so I decided to pitch another sachet of yeast, along with a couple tablespoons of yeast nutrients, to see if that would help. I waited another day...
Thursday morning I still wasn't seeing any appreciable fermentation so I got desperate. I borrow little andy's heating pad and wrapped it around the fermentation bucket as best I could and turned it up to "high". I also gave it a vigorous stirring to introduce oxygen into the mix and waited yet another day.
While I didn't see the exciting bubbling in the airlock that I was hoping for I did notice that the pressure in the bucket was slowing rising. I figured that was the best I was going to get and got set up for bottling. Before actually bottling I decided it to give it another good stir. After sanitizing my big wooden spoon and swirling the mixture around a bit I was pleased to discover a bubbling forth quickly forming on the surface. This was enough to reassure me that the yeast was doing its job and that I could safely bottle the cider.
So today, I finally filled sixteen bottles and set then out to carbonate. It's probably too much to hope that any of them will be sufficiently carbonated for my friend's St. Patrick's Day party tomorrow. But within a couple weeks they should be as done as they're going to get. With luck, it isn't horrible.
In any case, I can now proceed to a new fermentation experiment. I'm thinking sake. I've already got the koji-kin and feel like I know what I'm getting into.
I'll let you know how it goes.