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Old 11-14-2013, 11:48 PM   #1
rtwormsy
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Default About to start my first cider, need a little help

Hey folks, new to brewing/cidermaking here, but I'm about to start out on making my first hard apple cider. I have 5 gallons of unpasteurized juice from up in Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California that I just bought.

I'd like to make a dry, crisp, hopefully effervescent/sparkling cider without the use of a keg. I'm hoping to make a low-alcohol cider, somewhere in the 4-5% ABV range, potentially backsweetened (if needed) with some sort of unfermentable sugar.


As far as a recipe, I've not really found one that encompasses everything that I've been reading, so I'm hoping to sort of put together things on their own. Here is my plan so far, I was hoping you guys could critique it and help make additions and suggestions as far as timing, critical steps, and ways to avoid mistakes.

1. Sanitize
2. Test OG, pour juice in primary, add 3-4 (is that enough?) campden tablets for 5 gallons to kill wild yeast/bacteria.
3. Wait 24 hours.
4. Add Red Star Champagne yeast, pectic enzyme, and yeast nutrients. Fermentation will take place at about a temperature of 65-68 degrees. (Is that too cold for cider?)
5. Wait 2 weeks for fermentation to stop completely, and check the SG.
6. Rack to secondary.
7. Taste, and see if I need to add acid, sugar, etc.
8. Let sit in secondary for 3 weeks - 3 months
9. Prepare for bottling, sanitize, etc.
10. Prepare for bottle carbonation as described in step 3 of bottling here: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/media/pdf-printouts/Cider.pdf (rack cider on to water/corn sugar solution instead of adding amounts to the bottles themselves)
11. Bottle and let sit for minimum of 2 weeks to carbonate.
12. Enjoy (hopefully) tasty cider?

Questions:
1. Do i need to sorbate my cider before bottling?
2. Is champagne yeast a horrible idea? The girl at the store said it works well, I heard Nottingham Ale Yeast is great too. I'm definitely going for a dry cider though.
3. I have fairly sweet apple juice I believe, what types of acids should I add? Malic, tartaric? A blend?

My favorite ciders in the world are the sparkling French apple and pear ciders of Normandy, though I know I won't be able to make something necessarily like them, that's what I have in mind. Any suggestions, comments, and help is appreciated as I'm excited but also a little scared I'll screw up!



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Old 11-15-2013, 12:11 AM   #2
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1. Yep!
2. One crushed campden tablet per gallon. It's easiest to boil 1/4 cup of water in the microwave, and then crush/dissolve the tablets in there, stir it up and pour it in the cider.
3. Yep. Well except for one small thing I'd do-
4. I'd go 12 hours and add the pectic enzyme, but other than the yeast and the pectic enzyme, put everything in with #2. Pectic enzyme doesn't like campden, and it works better before yeast is pitched, so that goes in at 12 hours for me. It works great that way! The temp is 0k, but a bit on the warm side for my taste.
5. Mine finished in 5 days, and started to clear. It probably won't take two weeks.
6. Yes, when primary is slowed/finishing and you can rack off of the gross lees.
7. You can sample any time, but when you check the SG is a perfect time.
8. Sure, just make sure it's topped up to prevent oxidation and infection risks. If you get a ton of lees, like over 1/4" thick, rack to a new vessel and top up and airlock.
9. Yes.
10. That's fine.
11. Yes.
12. Yes, but if you're not sweetening, it will be dry. I like it that way, but many people don't expect the tart and dry flavor. If you want to sweeten it at bottling, using non-fermentable sweetener is easiest and avoids bottle pasteurizing.

Questions:
1. If you add sorbate, you can't bottle carbonate as it inhibits the yeast reproduction and fermention. That's fine for a sweet non-carbonated cider, but not if you want to carb it up.
2. Either will work and the cider will finish dry with either one, but perhaps bone dry with the champagne yeast and just dry with the nottingham yeast.
3. Probably none. Once the sugar ferments out, apple cider is pretty tart. You can always add some if the cider isn't tart and "bright" enough but that's usually not the case.



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Old 11-20-2013, 04:45 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for your help! I popped in the tablets last night at about 9PM. Anxious to get the yeast pitched! One quick question: do you mean that I should add the pectin enzyme at 12hrs from the campden tablets, or +12 hours from the yeast? I'm assuming the latter, as you said they don't like Campden. I just wanted to clarify.

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Old 11-21-2013, 12:54 AM   #4
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I am pretty sure yooper means: campden, wait 12 hours, pectic enzyme, wait 12 hours, then pitch yeast.

At least, that was my interpretation of her general process from another thread, and I hope it is correct because that's what I started doing this season and it works like a charm

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Old 11-21-2013, 05:21 AM   #5
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Thanks blakelyc! I wasn't sure so I waited, but as soon as i read your post I tossed in the pectin enzyme at at 7:50 tonight, about 22 hours after campden tab. It's late because I thought it was better to err on the side of caution because I didn't understand the timing that Yooper said.

Time (to pitch yeast)

T -2 hours: Tossed in 2tbs of pectic enzyme for 5 gal as the package stated.
T 0:00 hours: Pitched 1 Packet Dry Red Star Champagne Yeast
T 0:00 hours: Dissolved 4.5 grams of Fermaid Yeast Nutrient (as was recommended by the LBS) in distilled water, and poured that in with the yeast.

Hopefully things all go well! Very excited for my first cider! I'm hoping being late adding the pectic enzyme won't be a problem.

I've read that Champagne yeast strips some of the apple flavor out, so I think I'll try Nottingham next time.

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Old 11-21-2013, 05:26 AM   #6
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Oh no I just read that definitely should have hydrated my Red Star Champagne yeast! Is this a major problem if I didn't!?

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Old 11-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #7
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It isn't a major snafu not to hydrate , but definitely put that on your process list for next time. It makes for happier yeast, and happy yeast make better cider

Fermenting at the low-end of the temperature range for that yeasts will help keep any off-flavor sunder control.

Cheers!
-Blake

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Old 11-21-2013, 09:16 PM   #8
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Phew! Ok thanks! I don't see any activity in the airlock, but it's about a constant 62-66 degrees out there, so I'm hoping for a slow-low ferment to keep lots of those off-flavors out!

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Old 11-22-2013, 10:06 PM   #9
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Well, its about pitch + 41 hours, and I'm not seeing any activity in the airlock. How long should I expect to wait for fermentation to start if the temp is about 62-66 degrees? When should I start getting worried/think about pitching another (rehydrated, this time) packet of champagne yeast?

Thanks for the help!

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Old 11-22-2013, 11:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtwormsy View Post
Well, its about pitch + 41 hours, and I'm not seeing any activity in the airlock. How long should I expect to wait for fermentation to start if the temp is about 62-66 degrees? When should I start getting worried/think about pitching another (rehydrated, this time) packet of champagne yeast?

Thanks for the help!
It may never show much through the airlock, as you may have a leak somewhere. If you are worried about it, open it up and take a look and either take a hydrometer reading (ideal) or stir it a bit. If a ton of co2 bubbles come up, or it gets foamy, it's fermenting.


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