The pear cider has been quietly fermenting under my kitchen table for about four weeks now. Typically cider would undergo that first round of fermentation for about two weeks, but because of travel plans we decided to let it sit longer. It was time to rack the cider into new carboys.
Racking means you siphon out the good liquid into a new container, leaving the thick layer of sediment behind. The process begins by washing out the new carboy. Some people sterilize the new container, others just rinse really well with clean water. For us, this meant another trip to the bath tub to rinse the five gallon containers.
Our original double batch was put into six gallon containers, but we choose five gallon carboys for this second fermentation because we were leaving so much sediment behind and you don’t want a lot of head space in the containers. The good liquid was siphoned in, air locks were put into place, and we were done! The whole process was only maybe 15-20 minutes.
The second fermentation will take another couple weeks before we bottle everything. When we bottle the cider, we will add more juice (pear, blackberry, whatever). That gives the yeast something to eat while it’s in the bottle, which will release gas that gets trapped in the bottle. This gives us natural carbonation and a slightly sweetened cider.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that I may have messed up the whole thing already… These carboys were hiding under the kitchen table while I went about my life and I didn’t notice the airlocks had gone dry. We tried the cider when we were racking it and didn’t taste anything sour/foul, so let’s cross our fingers that we will still have a delicious end product from our efforts.