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Old 10-16-2008, 10:27 PM   #1
CiderPat
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Default Cider fermenting along, have some questions

So, I'm trying to learn to make cider well before my trees start bearing fruit and I can start making it from scratch (all my batches are for test, made in gallon jugs)- Still a little shaky on some items though-

-- I get that "racking" means transferring the liquid to another vessel, but what is really involved here? Does this mean, you're siphoning the liquid from the top of the vessel, to remove any precipitant that has fallen out of solution (mostly yeast, but other stuff as well- I'm guessing yeast produces other stuff besides CO2 and ethanol in its lifecycle, yes?) If so, how low do you go? Basically when do you stop siphoning?

--The cider I get in the store is fizzy and sweet (even though it tastes like a wine cooler). How do I do fizzy? How do I do sweet? More to the point, how do I get a little fizz without the bottle blowing up? How do I get a little sweet without the yeasts eating the sugar, short of exceeding their tolerance and killing them? Ideally, I'd put a mixture in the fermenter for a month, bottle it, and let it mellow for however long its alcohol content warrants, be it months or years- here's my current thinking- let me know if I'm missing anything:

1. Mix up must and put in primary (juice, campden, yeast, brown sugar, spices). Every single thing that touches the must spends a few minutes in a StarSan solution. Wait one month, more or less.
2. Add 1/2 tsp Potassium Sorbate per gallon to must to stop fermentation. Wait 5 days to make sure it's not bubbling at all.
3. Re-sweeten (how much?), rack into bottles (going with 1 liter clear Grolsch). Label, leave alone for an amount of time based on its alcohol content: 6 percent is 4 months, 18 percent is 1-2 years, extrapolate from there.

So, am I on the right track? No bottle bombs or undrinkable results to be found? I admit I'm on the tolerant side for harsh alcohol flavors- I have been known to drink Scotch from the flask, so I'm not too worried if my stuff comes out a little rough.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-16-2008, 10:56 PM   #2
gratus fermentatio
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Originally Posted by CiderPat View Post
-- I get that "racking" means transferring the liquid to another vessel, If so, how low do you go? Basically when do you stop siphoning?

-- How do I do fizzy? How do I do sweet?

1. Mix up must and put in primary (juice, campden, yeast, brown sugar, spices). Every single thing that touches the must spends a few minutes in a StarSan solution. Wait one month, more or less.
2. Add 1/2 tsp Potassium Sorbate per gallon to must to stop fermentation. Wait 5 days to make sure it's not bubbling at all.
3. Re-sweeten (how much?), rack into bottles (going with 1 liter clear Grolsch). Label, leave alone for an amount of time based on its alcohol content: 6 percent is 4 months, 18 percent is 1-2 years, extrapolate from there.

So, am I on the right track?

Thanks in advance!
Hi CiderPat: In anser to your questions: Yes, you understand racking. The idea is to get as much liquid as you can without disturbing the sediment (lees) on the bottom, set the vessel you're siphoning from wherever you need it to be to siphon a few days in advance so the lees have a chance to resettle. Place a small wedge under 1 side of the vessel to tilt it slightly, this helps you to get more liquid. Keep siphoning till you can't get anymore liquid without getting sediment too, a little sediment won't hurt, but a lot defeats the purpose of racking.

There are 2 ways to get "fizzy" alone: bottle condition (carbonation); or force carbing, usually in the form of kegging. To get sweet alone: either backsweeten with unfermentable sweeteners, or use a low attenuating yeast with a high gravity must, this usually means a lot more alcohol than you were wanting though. To do both sweet and fizzy in the same batch: You'll have to back sweeten with unfermentables like lactose, splenda, etc... and either bottle condition, or keg. How much sweetener to add is a matter of your taste, keep adding till you like it, then stop.

Sorbate will not stop an active fermentation, it only prevents yeast from reproducing; the yeast are still very much alive & eating sugars. It's best to use sulfites in conjunction with sorbate & even then the sulfites may not kill all the yeast. The only way to be certain fermentation has stopped is to use a hydrometer & test over a few days.

Do not add yeast at the same time you add camden (sulfites), wait a minimum of 24 hrs after adding the camden (crushed) to pitch you yeast/starter. I'd put any spices into secondary, not primary, a lot of the flavour will be lost/changed in primary. Also, I'd avoid using ground spices, though you could use them in a sort of teabag.

Prime as you would beer: 3/4 cup dextrose (corn sugar) available from your LHBS, or you can also use cane sugar (table sugar). Do not add this sugar (priming sugar) till bottling time.

Other than that, I think you've got the basic idea, any more questions, I'm sure somebody on this forum will be glad to help you out by answering them. Good luck! Regards, GF.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:02 AM   #3
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Excellent advice- thanks for your help!

For the priming sugar, is that 3/4 cup per gallon, per bottle, or per 5-gallon batch?

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Old 10-17-2008, 05:35 AM   #4
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3/4 cup of sugar or 5 oz by weight per 5 gallons

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