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Old 11-03-2011, 01:43 AM   #1
charkue
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Default Carbonating Cider - Simple Instructions

Hi all. I brewed some cider in the fall of 2010 and began a batch for this year about a month ago. At this point my cider is in the secondary fermentation and clearing phase. I'd like to bottle it in a week or two and haven't been able to find simple instructions on how to add carbonation. Can someone advise me? Here are some more details about my cider.

Type of Cider Used: Unpasteurized from a Michigan orchard,
Quantity at start: 4 Gallons
Added: 3/4 gallons of water + 1/2 lb 40 Caramel malt + 1/2 lb 60 Caramel malt
When added: After 2 weeks
Process used when adding malt for secondary:

  • 1 gallon of water heated to 160 degrees F,
  • malt steeped for 30 minutes,
  • temp raised to 210 briefly and then dropped,
  • water with malt added to sanitized carboy,
  • cider added on top of malt when cooled

I know that adding a bit of sugar to the cider and then bottling can force carbonation. Naturally I don't want my bottles exploding. What would the appropriate amount of sugar to add be for 4 3/4 gallons of cider? I plan to used sanitized beer bottles with traditional metal caps. Also, I did not take a gravity reading and couldn't tell you what percentage this batch is.

Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:33 AM   #2
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@charkue: I had about 6.5 gallons of local Tennessee cider, 3 pounds of brown sugar, and 1.5 pounds of local honey with Red Star Premier Cuvee wine yeast. I thought my cider dried out more than I wanted it to so I added 1 can of apple juice concentrate to backsweeten, then added 1/2 cup dark brown sugar before I bottled...don't do what I did! It's still premature to say that I got lucky, but for now I've had no bottle bombs.
I was told by the guy I bought the yeast from that it will get me to about 11-12% alcohol. I was just informed, and confirmed on other websites, that it can go to up to 18%. I probably should not have done any backsweetening, and probably didn't to do any priming either because the yeast might not have been finished yet.

I utilized the method talked about in several other posts with bottling a pop bottle with your other bottles of cider and check the firmness of the bottle every so often so get a feel for how carbonated your other bottles are. I finished bottling at 11:00pm yesterday. I got home from work around 6:00pm today and that plastic bottle felt as firm as an unopened pop bottle. When I opened up one of the glass bottles, it didn't do much initially, but about a second after opening, it foamed up to the opening of the bottle,but didn't flow out.

I put all of the bottles of cider in my refrigerator a few hours ago and they are cooled down now. I just opened a 2nd one to test it and this one was foamy like a bubbly champagne when I first opened it. Like I said before, maybe I got lucky and I won't have any bombs or overly carbonated cider, but only time will tell. If I had known the real numbers of what this yeast I used was capable of, I might have tried to cold-crash the entire carboy before attempting any backsweetening or priming, if any backsweetening/priming was necessary to begin with considering the yeast I used and when I stopped it.

Side note, I am from Michigan as well (lived just south of where you are in in Kalamazoo) and I guess I was spoiled by how many options I had up there for all of the different apple orchards and cider mills. I was impressed that Chattanooga, TN had 1 (and yes it is only 1) cider mill. I bought 4.5 of the 6.5 gallons I used for my cider from Fairmount Orchard in Signal Mountain, TN (the rest was from Georgia) and first off, although I have had some better cider in Michigan, this was still some damn good cider. The funny thing was when my girlfriend and I asked if they sold donuts, the first thing the girl at the counter asked me was, "You're from Michigan, ain't you?"




And no, they did not sell donuts

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Old 11-06-2011, 05:20 PM   #3
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Apple_Jacker, it's a small world, eh? I'm sorry Tennessee doesn't sell donuts at their only cider mill. Why don't I pick up a batch and I'll eat one for you

Ok. This is how I'm going to tackle the situation. Come the 18th or 19th of November I'm going to add a solution of 3/4 cups of brown sugar in 1 cup of water per gallon of cider. After that I'll bottle, let sit for a day or two, and then I'll follow the sticky's direction on stovetop pasteurizing. Does this sound feasible? Can anyone out there offer some advice or correction?

I'll probably attempt to run some calculations and perform a test on two bottles (one soda and one glass) to get a feeling for the process. But please, if you can enlighten me I'll be in your debt.

If I don't get any response I'll just update the thread as I continue with testing and bottling.

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Old 11-07-2011, 12:05 AM   #4
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ummmmmmmmm.........I think 3/4 cup sugar for carbing is plenty for a 5 gal batch.

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Old 11-07-2011, 12:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple_Jacker View Post
@charkue: I had about 6.5 gallons of local Tennessee cider, 3 pounds of brown sugar, and 1.5 pounds of local honey with Red Star Premier Cuvee wine yeast. I thought my cider dried out more than I wanted it to so I added 1 can of apple juice concentrate to backsweeten, then added 1/2 cup dark brown sugar before I bottled...don't do what I did! It's still premature to say that I got lucky, but for now I've had no bottle bombs.
I was told by the guy I bought the yeast from that it will get me to about 11-12% alcohol. I was just informed, and confirmed on other websites, that it can go to up to 18%. I probably should not have done any backsweetening, and probably didn't to do any priming either because the yeast might not have been finished yet.

I utilized the method talked about in several other posts with bottling a pop bottle with your other bottles of cider and check the firmness of the bottle every so often so get a feel for how carbonated your other bottles are. I finished bottling at 11:00pm yesterday. I got home from work around 6:00pm today and that plastic bottle felt as firm as an unopened pop bottle. When I opened up one of the glass bottles, it didn't do much initially, but about a second after opening, it foamed up to the opening of the bottle,but didn't flow out.

I put all of the bottles of cider in my refrigerator a few hours ago and they are cooled down now. I just opened a 2nd one to test it and this one was foamy like a bubbly champagne when I first opened it. Like I said before, maybe I got lucky and I won't have any bombs or overly carbonated cider, but only time will tell. If I had known the real numbers of what this yeast I used was capable of, I might have tried to cold-crash the entire carboy before attempting any backsweetening or priming, if any backsweetening/priming was necessary to begin with considering the yeast I used and when I stopped it.

(
What is "backsweetening"? Is it different from regular sweetening with sugar?
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:38 AM   #6
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The simplest instructions to carbonate cider would be to use Priming Tablets purchased at the brewers supply. These are just measured sugar tablets. You just add 4 or 5 tablets to a 12oz cider bottle, or whatever the instructions say, and cap/cork.

I would also add a few more grains of yeast to each bottle as much of your yeast has fallen out of suspension already. Then just make sure you are keeping the bottles at a good temperature (say, 70 to 75'ish F) for the yeast to do it's thing. Open a test bottle periodically to check the progress of your carbonation.

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Old 11-07-2011, 02:58 AM   #7
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Update:

I stopped in at my local brewing supply store and chatted them up again. They gave me some advice and pointed something out to me. I watered down my cider. Greatly. I hadn't tasted it when I transferred the cider onto my malt, but I should have known. As soon as I got home I pulled some of my cider out and tried it and am extremely sad to say that it is quite watered down.

My general plan is now this: Acquire some raw honey tomorrow, say 2-3 lbs. Add this to my current batch of hard cider, along with another gallon of unpasteurized cider. I'll wait about two weeks and then check on the sediment level. If there's a ton of sediment I'll transfer to another "secondary" and then let it sit and bottle after another week.

My plan to carbonate is to dissolve 5 oz of priming sugar in a pint of water, and then I'll add that to the cider before bottling. After 2 days I'll bottle and this should allow the carbonation to occur.

Roadymi, you were right to call out the amount of sugar I was planning on using. I found that amount on a video somebody posted on youtube concerning carbonating cider. I just went with it, but based on what I learned from my supply store that would have been a bad idea.

Thanks for the tip, Jacob Marley. That appears to be what I'm doing. I"ll probably end up re-pitching some yeast when I add all that honey because, as you said, all my yeast has probably already fallen out, especially since I racked the cider.

Once again, thanks for all your help.
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:42 AM   #8
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New guy here with one more thought.

I've heard of people using a portion of a can of apple juice concentrate to add the sugar necessary to bottle, thus also adding a touch of flavor. Rather than add MORE water (what you dissolve the sugar in) you might consider determining the right amount of apple juice concentrate to slightly boost the apple flavor. I'm sure it won't have the flavor of your locally pressed juice, but it should have more than water.

Anyone care to comment on the quantity of juice to add?

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Old 11-07-2011, 06:46 PM   #9
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For Frozen Concentrated Apple Juice that reconstitutes to 1.040, that should contain about 5.25 oz of sugar in the 12 oz can of frozen undiluted concentrate. (also note that some reconstitute to around 1.050, which would be about 20% sweeter)

So, each ounce of the frozen concentrate should contain approx. 0.435 of an ounce of sugar.
1/2 cup of sugar would equal 9.2 ounces of the concentrate.
3/4 cup sugar would equal 13.8 oz concentrate.

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