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root cellar

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:52 pm
by womblesd
I plan on building a root cellar to store apples until I have time to process them into cider.
Can I store my carboys of fermenting cider in a well ventilated root cellar, or will the gases given off adversely affect my stored apples? My plans are to slow ferment the cider, and my root cellar will be the coolest environment that does not freeze.

Thanks in advance for your responses!


Re: root cellar

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:57 pm
by appledude
Easiest way to tell is to try it one year.

I am not sure how much ethylene gas is given off by bruised-juice of macerated apples.

I do know that CO2 (or other inert gasses) is used in controlled storage atmospheres.

Oxygen and ethylene seem to be the storage enemies of apples.

Re: root cellar

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:33 pm
by mmi
an apple cellar temps go bellow freezing way too low 4 brewing . there are two types of root cellar one that freezes are one 4 potatoes and squashes 4 example that are warmer

Re: root cellar

Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:07 pm
by sgbotsford
The gas given off by fermenting cider is CO2. This won't hurt your apples. My uncle stores apples in Controlled Atmosphere -- They replace all the oxygen in the warehouse with CO2, and drop the temp to just above freezing. That's how an apple in spring can taste like it was just picked. They don't all come from New Zealand.

That said: CO2 is an asphyxiant. Uncle Bill tells a horror story of a couple of kids who broke open a door into a warehouse, and got 10 steps inside, passed out and died. Rapid effects require no oxygen. But at 2% you'll get a headache and feel short of breath. At 4% you will feel like you've been running windsprints, and will pass out with time.

One way to extend storage: Put the apples in a drum with a removable head. Make a can with an opening in the bottom the same size as the barrel bung. Fill the can with chunks of dry ice, put the lid on, and set it so the hole matches the bung. It will fill the drum with CO2. Put the bung back in. This should give you another 2 months if you can keep the temps under 40 F (6 C)

If you are willing to wait, there are beer yeasts that are used for fermenting at low temperatures. I think the lager's are a low temp yeast. But generally for every 10 degrees C you drop the temperature the speed of reaction drops by a factor of 2 to 5. So doing things at freezing will take 2 months instead of 2 weeks.

You may want to ferment outside. I heard of one guy who fermented in 45 gallon plastic barrels. He'd start it in the fall with the convention air trap, then after the temperatures got below freezing he'd skim the ice every week or so. With this method of freeze distilling, he got apple jack up to 30-40% in a really cold winter.

Re: root cellar

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:54 pm
by appledude
Nice post Sherwood!

Re: root cellar

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:53 pm
by Carl on Cape Cod
Just a note on increasing the alcohol concentration by freezing out the water (a.k.a. freeze distillation and fractional crystallization):

Aside from the fact that in the US the federal government frowns on people making high proof products without paying the proper taxes, there is a bit of science as to why you may want to pass on the idea. Specifically, when yeast or other organisms turn sugar into ethanol, they also produce some other compounds. Many of those compounds may give the new cider, wine or beer some of its distinctive flavor when present at low levels, but at higher concentration can be quite toxic. In conventional distillation, the first materials that boil off are those that are more volatile ("lighter") than the ethanol / water mix itself and a portion of that fraction is discarded (this includes the methanol - wood alcohol). Similarly, after the bulk of the ethanol /water mix comes off, there remains a less volatile fraction that contains the higher alcohols, and a variety of other semi-volatile compounds which are collectively referred to as fusel oils which I recall are a large part of the hangover producers. The art and science of distillation is to get just enough of the heads (lighter) and tails (heavier) fraction to get some taste, but not poison the drinker. Therein lies the issue: with freeze distillation to make farmers apple-jack, water is pretty much the only thing removed; all of the nasties stay in solution and become more concentrated.

'nuff said?

Re: root cellar

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:32 pm
by appledude
How about apple juice concentrate with vodka added for the octane? :lol:

Is this a good workaround?

Re: root cellar

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:45 pm
by Carl on Cape Cod
Why not give it a try and report back?

Call it a scientific experiment, it won't cost much, and might be interesting!

Re: root cellar

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:59 pm
by mmi