Essential Fermenting Equipment?

Since I am a newbie to making cider, I have been researching fermenting cider and I believe that there is 4 essential items - (1) fermenter, (2) airlock, (3) siphoning hose and (4) bottles. I am making a trip to the big city tomorrow to a “Winery and Brew Shop” store to see what they have.

(1) fermenter - What size of a carboy should I consider?
(2) airlock - Is this a necessity if I am not making hard cider?
(3) siphoning hose - How does “auto siphoning” work?
(4) bottles - Why can’t I just use regular mason jars?

If anyone has thoughts about what else I need to get started brewing cider I would appreciate it. Maybe a hydrometer?


#6 you do not use mason jars because the air space is exposed to air to much lower
alcohol as well not like wiskey

Think of a stale beer after a day of a party left out.

You should go to the dollar store, and get a spray bottle

Potassium Metabissulfite — (Short K Meta ) K stands for Potassium
A lot of people know Fertalizer NPK is Nitrogen N Phosphorus is P, and K is Potassium

Spray stuff down it saves time

#3 Siphoning Hardware store fish tubes.
Also you can fill the Hose with liquid , and pinch it, that will start a syphon
)syponing is called racking in wine)

#3 you can get a bottle filler as well

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I guess I’m confused as to what your son is of you’re not making hard cider. Are you making vinegar?

From a hard cider perspective, your carboy size will depend on how much juice you have to work with. You want a little headspace for the primary ferment, but very little for secondary/aging. I’ve used Carlo Rossi jugs for small batches. The airlock is essential IF you want good control over what yeasts and bacteria are in there. Otherwise, you can get away with loosely covering it to keep flies out.
If you were to make hard cider, you need bottles, because Mason jars are not pressure rated and can’t take the carbonation.


I just posted quickly can right more later
But A wine place makes it easy so I posted this link
Of coarse they sell stuff so they want to make it easy, but I have some tricks

I will leave it at this for now.
(tricks as in What does water weigh (I came up with this), but 8 pounds
A SCALE for people can hint how many gallons you have in a bucket.

Also A resturant You csn get free pickle buckets
Yes Vinegar but it is Distilled
ask a bar for free bottles (get the phone book out,m and make a lot of calls
(I do not, but we have garbage day , but have got free buckets.
I just show up sometimes people are better in person sometimes not, but I aM CLOSE to a lot of places…)

I can think of a lot of other things as well
(see the bottling cane to fill bottles
(of coarse clamps work as well)

a bottle fILLER has a valve when lifter it stops the flow of (must) or cider
Also keep in mind do not pour wine I always see people with bad tasting oxidized wine
(exceptions to this are if the wine is no fermented much)
at the begining stages you stir in oxygen , after more alcohol forms you (rack) or syphon to a bottle with less air.

When people have a alcoholic wine, or cider, and pour it is like a Bruised apple
it turns brown the flavor has a old wine taste after it has been left out in a open bottle for a week or more. (well unless you pumped in Inert gas or used a wine savor in a open bottle , but it isn’t as good)

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I think He means cider as alcohol, and hard cider as distilled

Confusing because in Europe cider means Alcohol
In America Cider means unfiltered apple juice

not sure what your budget is
As you have to travel I would get 2 carboys the same size
one for racking off the Sediment (syphoning off the sediment)

This can help after you want it to sit to age
you can clean one and store it after you syphon
makes things easier …

I would also set some extra aside as you might want to sample
Keep in mind Marbles they can be used to fill in a air space

I use carlo rossio bottles as well (ask around or craigslist)
I would get extra air locks
(you could make them out of bent pipe
(or even fish hose tied in a U shape I have, but prefer not to as I am sampling most the time, and it isn’t easy hahhaa,.)

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Why a spray bottle?

You completely lost me here. i know about fertilizer but what does that have to do with making cider?

Bottle filler?

K- meta – (I meant to use as a example NPK sorry nothing to do with Fertalizer )
It is a sanitizing thing that is also edible
People add some also to stun wild yeast , nd use packet yeast
(I use natural yeast but take cation it can turn to vinegar)
I have some experience , and yes have accidentally made vinegar.

You have to keep things clean
Go ahead, and use blech, but that is a pain to clean
if a dirty carboy you can get Vinegar (useful
but if you get flowers of wine (mycoderma )your wine will be eaten by the white bacteria
it will eat the acids , and taste like dilluted gatorade or something

A quick dose of Sulfites will kill it
(your suppose to syphon (rack) as well after
I do, but being lazy a spray bottle helps

But even so a spray bottle helps to spray down buckets fisah hose tubes
all sorts of things,

A hydrometer (floating test tube to meassure sugar by density in the juice I even made one before)

Keeping stuff clean prevents mold , and vinegar A Spray bottle is a good thing

Now I do not want to be grouped into the people that take cleaning to serious
wine has been made for a long time
but Vinegar bacteria is easy to form on un cleaned equipment
and mycoderma sucks easy just to have suliftes in case, and not dump 5 gallons.

I also will say sulfites are made by yeast naturally
Now is it in the free form I do not know (how the chemical differs by how the yeast make it)
Just saying.

Also a lot of people claim sulfites in red wine give them a head ache,
but in white it is in higher concentrations

I do use wild yeast but would get a little experience first,
and stun the yeast with sulfites first, and use package yeast
do not want your first cider to be full of acetic acid (vinegar)

I am trying to find “jack keller winemaking problems”
but his site is not working , but check out hos recipes
you have to search, and cilick cach for the site to work at this moment.

— EdiT I use sulfites to rack (syphon wine)
bottle filler see link (about the valve.) it’s like a couple bucks at most (clamps helps otherwise)
that stops the flow of wine — imagine changing bottles or being interupted , and having to start a syphon again (not hard, but depends on how many bottles your filling , and how small)
There are 5 fifths in a gallon so they can add up.
a fifth .750 millilitres

Those 1.79 Millilitre liquor bottles are good to have people save for you.


I do not use plastic
Got sick aging a year in PETE gatorade bottles wine is acidic
now have 40 gallons in basement of 16 year old wine (and 15 year old maybe)

Short term may not be bad
but even 6 months seemed to give me problems
(like shortness of breath I would drink 3 big cups as well though
since it wasn’t aged didn;t matter it was hot tasting(
Good wine I drink slow.)

Well, lets see if I can explain myself.

I’m under the impression that hard cider has at least a certain percentage of alcohol. What that percentage is, I don’t know. Also my understanding is if it is not hard cider it is just common grocery store apple cider without significant alcohol. Maybe called sweet cider, I don’t know.

My thinking is that what differentiates apple cider from apple juice is that apple cider is unfiltered (as @Francis_Eric alluded to) whereas apple juice is filtered and is therefore clear. How this filtering
is done - well, I don’t know about that.

My only real concern is not to be too drunk after drinking a pitcher full of the stuff. :grinning:

This is all American, I know.

I do not think for cider being clear is to important

I added egg whites to a cloudy wine once i cleared right up in a day or 2

Other strange stuff like OX blood peopel have used,
but Clay or benoite (spelling) clay is used to clear a wine in the wine shops it is bought
I like just using gravity (syphon rack every month into clean jug)
I think Cider cloudy it may add flavor to the cider.

Keep in mind tannin is good for wine it is what makes black tea bitter (tea can be used)
using egg whites reduces tannin some.
the tannin helps with aging , and gives the (wine /cider ) better flavor
mouth feel is the flavor lingering on the tongue I cannot think of this stuff as I am just waking up
Oh it is finish (this finish of the wine is nice haha)You want the wine not to taste thin or the flavor to go quick
a little complicated as the wine can have body as well (some people buy glycerine, but I never have)
I think the crab apples will add potent flavors , and body
Winemaker (mag) says some people use apple concentrate in apple wine
keep in mind the higher the alcohol the more flavor is lost
(maybe for apple wine with higher alcohol concentrate being used also need to age longer out the hot ness)
(you said drink a whole jug so you should be okay with just juice)
alcohol Numbs the taste buds so it thins the flavors (like for instance I like Rhubarb %9 ABV and sip)
For Body people also use WHITE grape concentrate (neutral ) or white raisinsa lot of jack Kellers recipes did
And also banans are neutral as well never tried to use for body (my wine failed of banana)

Sorry I am all over the place with this post, but just edited some stuff in after writing a short message.

I do not get into cider much
the taste I have tried I didn’t get into the flavor (maybe if it was a better brand or had beer hops bitter thrown in)

I have to ask you are going to use some sour apples , mixxed with sweet as well
Bitter sweet apples I do not know where they grow

I know adding some crab apples can balance the flavors

I once made a sweet cherry wine, and it ended up tasting like couch syrup
sour stuff makes good wine (cider is the same I read needs to be balanced )

you may know this, but it is a forum so I wrote it
I even saw On TV by amature brewers them using desert fruit in the beer, when other stuff is better suited.

Oh, I have sour Winesaps, sweeter Staymans, and some Gravs (that I may or not use - they are getting soft). Don’t have any crabs. Probably won’t go for more than a couple of gallons of cider this year.

Am now thinking that I will use glass gallon jugs like this one. I have quite a few.

If you want sweet cider, non alcoholic, you have to freeze your juice or pasteurize it with heat. heat messes with the flavor and is not preferred. Fresh pressed juice will have enough wild yeast and bacteria that it will not last long unrefrigerated. If you want a fresh carbonated drink with low alcohol, it can be as simple as a gallon milk jug with a piece of saran wrap over the top to let air out but not in. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of days,refridgerate till cold, and enjoy till gone.


I was looking for Jack Keller’s site so I could post a link here as a way to help provide the info needed for brewing .
The site is down, and sadly I found his obituary !
Such a loss.
I learned so much from his extensive site on wine making.
A good time for a toast, to the life of a great man,
One that contributed so much to world of brewing.


I am so sorry to hear about Jack Keller
I think I am getting off line today
Do you have it to post

I talked with him On Wine press US (forum)
He was very smart, He had common sense and was helpful
like a lot of Smart people sometimes they do not have common sense

He did answer questions completely most people were being helpful,
but may have missed fine points being asked he was thorough.

I think I will buy his book soon wanted to.

I actually was going to san Bernardino CA, looked at his blog, and he brought that up
so at the same time as me I thought that was a coincidence also went to San Antonio instead, and he was on his blog writing about all these coincidences I didn’t contact him though to meet Him.

Never mind about the Obituary
I was looking at his Facebook during these posts didn’t see, it but did here.

Yes can be simple
Do not want to over complicate this stuff

People use a balloon as well with a tiny pin hole in it
airlocks last a lifetime, and are like half a buck or a buck fifty depending,

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One thing jack keller taught me, and it is good to know for measuring sugar
I read it on his blog
This required a hydrometer knowledge of the specific gravity (SG)
(that floating test tube that measures sugar density by how high or low it floats)
(if you floated a test tube in maple sugar it would not sink much would it. so it has a lot of sugar)

If in a gallon of water you add sugar total a pound (2 cups of sugar are a pound)
** will be a specific gravity of 1.045 %6 alcohol **

**2 pounds are 1.090 SG 12% **
(in a gallon total of water , and sugar)

**Making wine, and guessing to add sugar can be a problem **
doing simple math like this can help

(edit weighing a bucket can tell how much liquid is in it (8 Lbs. a gallon of water)
you factor in fruit as well you added)

I brought up here for people to get motivated to make wine
just make a simple cranberry tea wine
use the sugar measurement (4 cups in a gallon is 12%
(sugar feed yeast will be stressed adding to much sugar at the beginning if higher then 12%)
add some lemon juice , and black tea for tannin
wait a year to drink or dip in time to time,

My first wine was wild grape (vitis riparia), and concord mixxed in 5 gallons or 100 pounds of grapes

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Francis_Eric has good info.

I will add and perhaps (?) help with explanations and some links.

Here is what I have:

  1. 2x - 3 gallon PET fermentors
    Most brew shops will also have 2 gallon plastic buckets with a hole/grommet in the hole for accepting an airlock. These can work for primary fermentation, but you want to transfer to those glass bottles with a bung stopper and an airlock for longer term aging/slower fermentations. The plastic buckets I have allow too much air in without a proper o-ring seal and I’ve had a couple batches go bad in them after being left too long in a corner in the basement.

  2. StarSan santizer. It is a contact sanitizer to sanitize buckets, equipment, etc - anything that goes into contact with your cider. Excessive sanitization may be overkill if you plan on doing a wild yeast ferment.

  3. Potassium or Sodium Metabisulfite aka “Campden tablets”. The sulfite (SO2 gas) will kill wild yeasts and bacteria. You can use it at a high concentration as a sanitizer, but it is pretty noxious and I don’t like it for that. I prefer StarSan. If you buy “Campden tablets” 1 crushed tablet per gallon of cider gives about 67 ppm of SO2. For most ciders this is enough to kill the bad bacteria and wild yeast. If your apples are more sweet and less sour, then add two per gallon. Sulphur dioxide in cidermaking At higher pH’s/less acid metabisulfite becomes more necessary to fend off spoilage microbes.

  4. Drilled stoppers to plug up my fermentors and airlocks.

  5. Yeast. EC-1118 champagne yeast is the standard for cider. You can also get dried (less $$) cider yeasts.

  6. A hydrometer and a tall vessel to put it in. This measures the density of your cider before fermentation. Use it later to judge if fermentation is done. My 13.5 Brix cider I just added yeast to tonight had an original density of 1.055 (g/mL). It will probably ferment to 1.000 or so.

That is pretty much all you need to get the fermentation started.

Later I use:

  1. Another vessel, as Francis says, without much air above the cider. This is for aging/secondary fermentation - e.g. continued slow fermentation. I’m not sure this is necessary. Lots of folks in the beer brewing community have gone away from long secondary fermentations as there is little benefit. A secondary fermentation would, however, be a bit more likely for a wild yeast fermentation.

  2. Tube and “racking canes”. Racking canes = plastic tubes that make it easier to transfer cider/wine/beer without splashing it and causing off flavors from oxidation. Introducing oxygen also begs allowing vinegar bacteria a home to do their thing.

  3. A bottle filler. Bottle Filler (3/8" standard size)
    These help you fill bottles without making a big mess (only a small one, ha!) There is a seal that allows you to move from one bottle to the next without breaking the siphon and spilling.

  4. Auto siphon. A couple of tubes that allow you to start a siphon without sucking on the tube etc. Auto Siphon (3/8")

  5. Bottles. Save beer bottles with a pry off cap.

  6. Bottle caps and a capper. Red Rocket Bottle Capper

Other things that are nice but not 100% necessary.

  1. A bottling bucket. A bucket with a spigot on the bottom. Allows you to push plastic tubing over it so you don’t have to start a siphon when bottling.

  2. pH test strips or a pH meter. To measure the pH of your cider. Not necessary, but nice if you geek out on it. Useful for knowing how much sulfite to add. And making year-to-year notes.

  3. Acid test kit. Super geek gear, I just got it this year after a few years of making cider. Use it to measure amount of malic acid in your cider. Mine was about 4.7 g/L. That is kind of low and I may add more.

Some comments:

I have recurring issues with “film yeast/film sickness” in my ciders. These are yeasts that grow on the surface of the cider and spoil it. I think this is from having too much headspace after fermentation slows down. If it goes too long it will spoil the cider and make it taste terrible. A nascent film sickness can be knocked back with judicious use of metabisulfite as a rescue treatment.

I buy apples from a local orchard until my trees are big enough (argh moving). Pretty much no tannin and they picked them out for me this year. I had too many sweet apples this year and there isn’t much acid in the cider.

I have added grape tannin to a single variety cider pressed from sweet apples. This is a la Jack Heller. You can buy it in the store. It is worth adding to part of a batch to evaluate.


Good thorough Post

I have recurring issues with “film yeast/film sickness” in my ciders. These are yeasts that grow on the surface of the cider and spoil it

That film sounds just like mycoderma Flowers of wine
Less head space is good for that

Just one thing I disagree with Sulfites do not kill wild yeasts could kill bad bacteria
will stun the yeast though
After a amazing thing happening with wild yeast I like to use them now
It is a long story , about finding a 40 pound pumpkin someone threw out after Halloween (not carved)
but part of it is I kept feeding the yeast sugar they never stopped
I was amazed the alcohol must of been so high, never saw anything like it
Also the temp was 65 to 60 degree’s ,
doesn’t sound believable but I didn’t have all the sugar at once needed more,
but the yeast ate the sugar at a low temperature in 3 days …
There are other parts of this story, but it sounds so odd I do not think it is believable
maybe for people that know me more in person ,
but not going to tell the complete story here about those yeast.

I did also use 2 buckets of wild, and 2 of cultivated as well not on purpose though.

that had nothing to do with sulfites those yeast, and my wild yeast story
just why I use wild now is very little wild yeast was used (see I boiled the pumpkin must of been residue on a bucket, but like I said how can that of been when I poured hot pulp into buckets must of been just some on the air space of the buckets so the story sounds less believable , and in 3 days at a low 60 to 65 degree temp (65 because cooking in the kitchen in the morning and night)
(these yeast needed to be boiled because over flowing all 4 buckets by accident with wild yeast,
and no acid in pumpkin so didn’t want bacteria blooming. )…

(Another thing I forgot do not fill buckets to the very top the C02 will expand the fruit, and over flow the wine
Leave a gallon gap for room for fruit to expand, and not overflow, you speak of cider , but just thought I’d add ,

My banana wine I left sit on the (lees) sediment too long, and it tasted like rubber
autolysis (spelling correct now) which is the break down of old yeast after leaving wine age on the sediment(lees)
(not sir lees though = = French for where = one stirs the lees (or fine sediment , and ages on the lees)

I also am not a big fan of campdon tablets (sulfite tabs) more expensive
just measure (I forgot isn’t it like 1 /16 of a tea spoon per gallon for fruit( or pinch) stuff lasts forever )
I do not mind for cleaning, but to each his own.

I think learning of the problems can help if your ever in a situation not to rely on people online
(I only had a few wines out of many go bad - banana (sediment), apple, (cider)and maybe one or two more)

copied from Jack Kellers wine making problems

Musty or Moldy Taste : This is caused by wine standing too long on the lees without racking. It can also be caused by using baker’s yeast instead of wine yeast. Add one crushed Campden tablet and 1/2 ounce of activated charcoal to each gallon of wine and stir with a sterile rod. Allow to settle 4-6 hours and stir again. Repeat the stirring procedure 4-6 times and then let sit undisturbed 24 hours. Rack through a double layer of sterilized muslin to catch minute charcoal particles.

Flowers of Wine : Small flecks or blooms of white powder or film may appear on the surface of the wine. If left unchecked, they grow to cover the entire surface and can grow quite thick. They are caused by spoilage yeasts and/or mycoderma bacteria, and if not caught at first appearance will certainly spoil the wine. If caused by yeast, they consume alcohol and give off carbon dioxide gas. They eventually turn the wine into colored water. The wine must be filtered at once to remove the flecks of bloom and then treated with one crushed Campden tablet per gallon of wine. The saved wine will have suffered some loss of alcohol and may need to be fortified with added alcohol (brandy works well) or consumed quickly. If caused by the mycoderma bacteria, treat the same as for a yeast infection. The Campden will probably check it, but the taste may have been ruined. Taste the wine and then decide if you want to keep it. Bacterial infections usually spoil the wine permanently, but early treatment may save it.

Prevent the introduction of spoilage yeasts and mycoderma the same way you prevent the introduction of vinegar yeasts – by introducing early an aseptic level of sulfites.

Flowers of wine are, of course, expected when using flor sherry yeast. In such a circumstance, there is no way to know if the flowers are from the flor sherry yeast or a harmful infection. Pre-treating the must with Campden, however, should eliminate a harmful infection.

Oiliness or Ropiness : The wine develops an oily look with rope- like treads or strings appearing within it. It pours slowly and thickly with a consistency similar to egg whites, but neither its smell nor taste are effected. The culprit is a lactic acid bacterium and is only fatal to the wine if left untreated. Pour the wine into an open container with greater volume than required. Use an egg whip to beat the wine into a frothiness. Add two crushed Campden tablets per gallon of wine and stir these in with the egg whip. Cover with a sterile cloth and stir the wine every hour or so for about four hours. Return it to a sterile secondary and fit the airlock. After two days, run the wine through a wine filter and return it to another sterile secondary. Again, this problem, like most, can be prevented by pre- treating the must with Campden and sterilizing your equipment scrupulously.

WELL I have thought of this, but years after , but maybe some wild yeast on the sugar
I do not know. (or remember if the sugar was hot too.)

Sorry for going on a tangent about wild yeast
Oh you could get

Maybe you do not need to go in town
have a hardware store nearby
they should have rubber pieces in the plumbing (for bung that holds the airlock like a cork with a hole drilled in it.)
could make a airlock if handy enough
(just a bent U shape of fish tube to hold water in the U part
like under your sink to prevent gasses comming up
they prevent AIR comming in , and CO2 Gasses pushing out in the U filled with water.) or copper tube)

Pectin enzyme
WE add pectin to make jelly thicken

Pectin enzyme Breaks down the fruit not for cider but for fruit wine
(BUT ) fruit Can be frozen as well a apple will turn to mush after thawed
ICE Expands will break a bottle it is frozen in if completely full by expanding water
so does fruit cells when thawed fruit turns to mush
(pectin enzyme is found in papaya Tenderizes meat, –
(I hope it’s made with papaya)

Acid blend or just getting tartaric acid found in grapes could be good to.

Oak cubes cheap

Funny we are talking about storing plain cider as well
I wonder if, after adding some sulfites (k -meta)
inert gas like Nitrogen could displace the oxygen, and plain cider would last (I just put sider gotta get off of here)

Oh and I said earlier this Finish of the wine is nice (oops) but funny
the wines finish is nice.