A labor of love in restoring my family's old cider press, recently rewarded me with three gallons of fresh, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider.
I've made fruit wine before, but never cider. I started two batches six days ago. One was with a recipe (campden tablet, acid blend, pectic enzyme, tannin, sugar and of course, wine yeast). The other I decided to just see what goes....and it looks like I might be successful?!
I started the "au naturale" batch (about two gallons) in a sterilized three gallon pickle jar with an airlock in the lid. I added nothing to the fresh cider. I put the jar in an area of the kitchen that ranges between 65 and 75 degrees. After a few days I noticed a few tiny bubbles. After four days a bubbly cap of brown foam started to build up. Prior to the foam forming, I had been stirring the cider gently once a day. However, today I decided to remove the foam first and then stir. More foam came back within a day. I take this as a good sign. I have tasted it. It's good. Sweet with a light carbonation. So, so far so good but now I have some questions about where to go from here.
#1 Should I rack the batch into a smaller carboy at some point and leave the must behind? If "yes", at what point?
#2 I have a hydrometer and I took a reading of the recipe batch after adding sugar. It was 14% PA. The cider was sweet to begin with. What is the range of PA typical for hard cider that hasn't had added sugar?
#3 This is related to question #2. If my guess is right in that the cider is probably going to only produce a small percentage of alcohol, I'm thinking that it probably won't keep. Should it be refrigerated or drunk right away once it's done fermenting?
#4 Can you drink the cider before it is done fermenting?
Thanks in advance for any comments and advice.