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Old 04-21-2013, 04:03 PM   #1
drewmey
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Default Back Sweetening Question

The quick and dirty question is can I back sweeten my cider without pasteurization/refrigeration/chemicals etc. if I wait long enough for all the yeast to die? Will all the yeast die if I wait long enough? If so, how long would that be?


My situation: Made a 4 gallon batch that spent three weeks in the primary and 2 and a half months in the secondary. I don't bottle my cider. I just simply but them back in their half gallon plastic/glass jugs to store them in that.

I have also made a simple syrup from apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, all spice and pumpkin pie spice. I would like to sweeten each half gallon with a shot or two of this syrup. (Tried it on a half gallon in the fridge and really like it). Is it possible for me to wait long enough so that all the yeast dies, sweeten with this syrup and then not worry about it? If so, how long would I have to wait?


Note: I have tried the pasteurization method that is a sticky. Yes, it worked well for me. But it took me several hours to do 3 gallons last time and I am not interested in doing that every time. Looking for a different method and it just so happens that I am a patient man so this one came to mind as simple to me.


Yeast: Editing because I realized that the yeast might play a large role in the time it would take so I am adding that I normally use Champagne yeast...

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Old 04-21-2013, 04:06 PM   #2
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In short, no. You can "stabilize" a finished wine with sorbate and campden, which inhibits yeast reproduction, and then sweeten and bottle. But adding sugar to even a very clear wine will generally restart fermentation, unless it is stabilized.

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Old 04-21-2013, 04:15 PM   #3
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Dang! Oh Well...

Not doubting you at all, just curious about the science behind it...I thought of yeast as a living thing that would need nutrients to reproduce/survive. Therefore, my batch would eventually run out of sugar, its nutrient, and reproduction would stop. Given enough time I figured all the yeast would have to die without the ability to survive or reproduce. Do you happen to know the flaw in my logic?

What would you suggest that I do? Go grab some sorbate and campden tablets...Would you be confident enough in that if it were your batch?

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Old 04-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #4
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Yeast will only die from alcohol poisoning, otherwise they go dormant. Resilient little buggers!

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Old 04-21-2013, 06:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by drewmey View Post
Dang! Oh Well...

Not doubting you at all, just curious about the science behind it...I thought of yeast as a living thing that would need nutrients to reproduce/survive. Therefore, my batch would eventually run out of sugar, its nutrient, and reproduction would stop. Given enough time I figured all the yeast would have to die without the ability to survive or reproduce. Do you happen to know the flaw in my logic?

What would you suggest that I do? Go grab some sorbate and campden tablets...Would you be confident enough in that if it were your batch?
Well, it's not flawed logic. But yeast don't need to eat to survive a long long time. They are just dormant, and some will die. But not all of them.

And in theory, ONE yeast cell can reproduce enough to ferment a full batch of cider. The idea behind stabilizing is to not kill the yeast (only freezing and/or high temperatures can do that) is to inhibit yeast reproduction.

There are a couple of keys- one is to make sure the cider or wine is completely clear (less yeast in suspension) and no longer dropping lees after at least 45-60 days (again, to ensure no yeast laying on the bottom). Then, crush one campden tablet per gallon, and mix that in some water with 1/2 teaspoon of sorbate per gallon.

Put that solution into a new carboy, and rack the cider into it. Wait a couple of days (to ensure it's had a chance to mix and "work") and then sweeten to taste. Let that sit a couple of days as well, just to make sure fermentation doesn't restart, as it's not always 100% successful if there are still alot of yeast in suspension.

If fermentation doesn't restart, then it's safe to bottle.

I've done this many times, with complete success, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again if I wanted a sweet wine or cider.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post

Well, it's not flawed logic. But yeast don't need to eat to survive a long long time. They are just dormant, and some will die. But not all of them.

And in theory, ONE yeast cell can reproduce enough to ferment a full batch of cider. The idea behind stabilizing is to not kill the yeast (only freezing and/or high temperatures can do that) is to inhibit yeast reproduction.

There are a couple of keys- one is to make sure the cider or wine is completely clear (less yeast in suspension) and no longer dropping lees after at least 45-60 days (again, to ensure no yeast laying on the bottom). Then, crush one campden tablet per gallon, and mix that in some water with 1/2 teaspoon of sorbate per gallon.

Put that solution into a new carboy, and rack the cider into it. Wait a couple of days (to ensure it's had a chance to mix and "work") and then sweeten to taste. Let that sit a couple of days as well, just to make sure fermentation doesn't restart, as it's not always 100% successful if there are still alot of yeast in suspension.

If fermentation doesn't restart, then it's safe to bottle.

I've done this many times, with complete success, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again if I wanted a sweet wine or cider.
+1

This is my preferred method as well.
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:45 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice and info everyone. I believe I am going to go with the method Yooper mentioned. One last question though...as I own a large chest freezer I have to ask about the freezing thing that you mentioned. Would that effect the taste of the cider? I'm a little scared of the fact that the chemicals only halt and don't kill. My mind wondered into the possibility of using your method but freezing the cider then thawing before adding the campden and sorbate. Yay? Nay? Maybe?

Edit: Also, would my chest freezer even get the temperature low enough for the required range to kill the yeast?

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Old 04-23-2013, 10:35 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the advice and info everyone. I believe I am going to go with the method Yooper mentioned. One last question though...as I own a large chest freezer I have to ask about the freezing thing that you mentioned. Would that effect the taste of the cider? I'm a little scared of the fact that the chemicals only halt and don't kill. My mind wondered into the possibility of using your method but freezing the cider then thawing before adding the campden and sorbate. Yay? Nay? Maybe?

Edit: Also, would my chest freezer even get the temperature low enough for the required range to kill the yeast?
I would advise against this for a few reasons. The liquid will expand during the freezing process, possibly breaking your carboy. Also, the freezing will seperate some of the cider from the rest, which may take some time to 'put back together' after it thaws.

Campden and Sorbate will do the trick. Experience tells me so. ;-) Just give the cider some time after adding them. You can't add them, then immediatly turrn around and add more fermentables.
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