Secondary fermenter airlock question

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Aug 30, 2009
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I just moved into a new house and there is a massive crabapple tree in the backyard. My friend lent me all of his equipment so I could attempt my first homemade wine.

I started with 16 quarts of apples and smashed them with a hammer in a ziplock bag. I stuck them in the primary fermenter with 2.5 pints of white grape concentrate, 30 pints of water, 4kg sugar, yeast from a starter, pectic enzyme, and yeast nutrients. The first day was spent with just the apples, water, juice, and 5 Campden tablets. S.G. reading was 1104 on the second day when everything was mixed in.

I just sieved the apples and strained into my secondary fermenter. Topped up with 7 cups of water to 5 gallons. S.G. reading was 1036. I put on the airlock, and noticed it was "popping" pretty fast (not sure what the correct term is here, but I mean when the gas escapes from the airlock). I timed one minute and counted 75 pops.

What is a normal popping rate at this stage?

Also, the recipe called for 5kg of sugar, but after adding the first 4kg bag and seeing that the S. G. was higher than I had read was good, I kept off on the last kg. I also read about adding sugar at a later stage to increase alcohol content. Any concerns at this point?

Always use the hydrometer as you did when adjusting the sg in the beginning as fruits will vary from tree to tree and month to month. What was your starting sg as fruitwines especially one like this will not do good with a high abv as it will just hide the flavor. I hope you didnt bust to many apple seeds when smashing them with a hammer as it will make your wine very bitter and even poisonous if you busted them all up really bad. As far as (pops) go with your airlock :) go there is no set # but the fermentation is going well so just it go as far as it will go and when it is stable for a few days in a row add sulfite to protect your wine from oxidising (browning) as apple wine is very prone to do like biting into an apple and leaving it there for a few minutes. With wines using fruit like this I also use ascorbic acid to protect in conjunction with the k-meta.
Hi Wade!

Thanks for the quick response. I was pretty careful smashing the apples, as I'd read that cutting the seeds gave bad flavor to the wine (I did not, actually, know it could be poisonous though!). The apples were just smashed in half, not as a paste as it were :)

I did not take a S. G. reading with just the apples, only after I had added the 4kg of sugar. When the primary fermentation began, the S. G. was 1104.

When do you usually add in your acid?
1.104 is HIGH for a fruit wine. You should start around 1.085 otherwise the alcohol will overpower the fruit. You should ck the gravity before to see how much you need to add. There is a program that I use which will tell you how much sugar to add. GOOGLE WineCalc and download the program.
Acid I add before adding the yeast.
How's it comming?
Hmm... I'm sure glad I didn't add that extra kg of sugar then! The next time I will know better, but as it is, the extra alcohol is just going to make the wine taste odd? It's not going to kill the yeast or anything is it? Also, the recipe didn't ask for an acid additive, so how do I know if I need to add some?

The airlock is still popping more than once a second.
Get yourself an acid titration kit.
Acid testing is fun and easy to do and will give you a good insight on the juice.

Acid titration kits are the next best thing to an SG meter.

You can also taste the juice.
Tasting is something you should learn to do as a winemaker.
It indicates how the wine can be in the end.
It surely indicates if a juice is to acidic or not. That is
the next best thing to a acid titration kit.

Concerning the sugar.
An SG of 1104 would give you about 14% alcohol.

For an apple wine that is far too high.
If possible dillute the must with some more juice.
Otherwise you will end up with a high alcohol wine which is not pleasant for an apple wine, or fermentation could stuck and you end up with a sweet wine.

Without a final sg, anything is a guess. Assuming it stops at 1.000,

(1.104 - 1.000) * 133 = 13.8%

A better guess at final sg would be about .995

(1.104 - .995) * 133 = 14.5%

It might ferment down to .990 (it probably won't)

(1.104 - .990) * 133 = 15.15%

Using a higher factor

(1.104 - .990) * 135 = 15.4%


(1.104 -.990) / 7.36 = 15.49%

So, yeah 15.48% if you use the highest alcohol conversion factor and ferment way down. I'm guessing that your true alcohol would be more like 14.5%

Hi Luc!

Alrighty, well I had 250ml left of the grape concentrate, so I added that with another 500ml of water. I had already topped up the carboy with water when racking it into the secondary fermenter, so I don't know how much more water I can add.

Hopefully all will go well. I will definitely be back in a few weeks to update and to ask more questions :) Thanks!
cpfan, as a new winemaker, I keep thinking more alcohol the better, but from what I've been reading this past week, that couldn't be further from the truth. I did dilute it a bit more this morning, with a new S.G. reading of 1024. I really hope all goes well...
I knew an experienced winemaker who was very proud of his wines, and used organic fruits as much as possible, and even drove a couple of hours to get organic sugar.

Sounds good right?

He was very proud when he coaxed 18% out of the yeast. I could hardly taste the fruit for the alcohol taste. Might as well drink raw alcohol with a little juice added.

So yeah, most of us are not in this to make rocket fuel.

cpfan, as a new winemaker, I keep thinking more alcohol the better, but from what I've been reading this past week, that couldn't be further from the truth. I did dilute it a bit more this morning, with a new S.G. reading of 1024. I really hope all goes well...

For big reds a higher alcohol is OK as they can "take it" Fruit wined should be 1.085-1.095 range. Like what CP said all you will taste is alcohol and no flavor (fruit).