How to restart a stuck fermentation

Ollie wrote to us to say the following:

I have just started my very first batch of cider, picked and pressed myself.
My question is, I did not use a fermenting bucket – instead I put the juice, yeast nutrient and yeast into a demijohn with an airlock.
The first few days I had lots of bubbles, but for the last three days nothing has happened, I read that there should be a steady ‘blip’ of bubbles, one every minute or so for a week or two.
Any advice would be great.

Thank you

Ollie

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Hi Ollie and welcome to the fizzy, fruity and ocassionally headache inducing world of cidermaking.

We generally use a bucket or similar vessel at first because a good ferment will produce a heck of a lot of bubbles. The top of the bucket might look something like a kids bubble bath for a few days. If you start straight off in a demjohn you get tons of bubbles gunking up the top, pouring over and generally making a mess.

As you didn’t mention any of that I suspect or your fermentation never really got off the ground.  Either that, or your bung has an air leak (unlikely).

So how do you restart a ‘stuck’ fermentation?

I suspect your yeast, so  re-pitch with a fresh starter. Thats fancy talk for ‘throw in some more yeast’.

Fill a glass vessel with roughly 3/4 of a pint of water. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and disolve. Get a fresh packet of yeast. Stir in the yeast and whisk thoroughly. Cover with cling film and leave in a nice warm spot for half an hour. The yeast should be vigourously working on the sugar by now and the top should have a good layer of bubbles.

Pitch the sugar/water/yeast mix into your demijohn.  Make sure you have plenty of newspaper underneath as there should be a mess for few days.Do not replace the airlock. Just stuff a loose wad of kitchen roll paper in the top to keep the flies out. The fermenting juice will be putting out enough CO2 for the first few days to keep everything clean anyway.

Once the mess has subsided, replace the paper bung with your airlock and watch it blip merrily for a couple of weeks.