Easy Stove-Top Pasteurizing - With Pics
I've received a few messages asking for more info on the stove top pasteurizing method that I've adopted, so thought I would put up this quick tutorial with pics.
I began using this process to solve the problem of how to do a sparkling semi-dry (not bone dry) bottle conditioned cider. As you will see from other threads, this is a problem that perplexes many, and this process offers a solution that is simple and natural (no additions or chemicals needed). And the result is delicious.
So, you've made your cider (I keep it simple with juice, ale yeast and pectic enzyme) and have it in the carboy. When fermentation slows down, I start taking gravity readings and tastings. When its at the right level of sweetness/dryness (for me, that's about 1.010- 1.014), rack to bottling bucket with priming solution and bottle. Let the bottles carbonate and condition until the carbonation level is right - for me, that is usually about 1 week but for others it could be sooner. Start opening a bottle every two days or so, until you find that carbonation is at the right level. Warning - if the carbonation level is too high, if you have gushing bottles for example, do not pasteurize, the pressure will be too much for your bottles. Ok, now, we're ready for the point of this thread - pasteurizing.
Why pasteurize? Because at this point, you have a bottle of sparkling cider, with some residual fruit sugar left and yeast that is still working. If you just leave it be, you will likely end up with shrapnel rather than delicious sparkling cider. By gently heating the bottles, you will finish-off our yeast friends - they've done their job, they've performed admirably, but its time to say goodbye. Rather then pasteurize, you could cold-crash, but I don't have the refrigerator space for that and also can't give bottles away to other people using that method. I've found that the sparkling cider is very popular with my friends (and swmbo) and pretty much need to keep a constant pipeline of it going. The good news is its remarkably simple to make and takes much less time than brewing.
So, I start with about two cases of bottle conditioned cider, carbonated and ready to go.
Then, heat a large stock pot of water to 190 degrees F. A floating thermometer is a cheap tool that really adds convenience to this process.
When the temperature reaches 190, turn off the heat and add the bottles carefully to the pot. For the size of pot shown, I usually add 6 or 7 bottles at a time, I don't want to "crowd" the pot too much and lower the temperature.
Put on the lid and let sit for ten minutes.
Continued in the next post
If you have 48 bottles, pasteurizing them 6 or 7 at a time, for ten minutes each batch, you can see that this will take you a little time. I usually allot 1.5 hours for the whole process. The balance you are making here is a little bit of time for absolute, stunning simplicity and no chemical additions. During the downtime, I do other chores, like wash the dishes.
After a ten minute soak in the hot water bath, remove the bottles. I use kitchen tongs to pick up the bottle and then transfer to my other hand with a kitchen mitt.
Put them on the kitchen counter to cool. I usually leave them out while I do the next batch, then return them to the case box. You can see in this picture, that I've got the next batch lined ready to go on the other end of the counter. Its just a simple little assembly line.
Turn the heat back on and raise the temp back up to 190. Repeat until all the bottles are done. Let them cool completely to room temperature before putting them in the fridge. Chill and enjoy!
For what its worth, I ask friends at a local pub in Chicago to collect bottles for me, so end up with an eclectic collection.
I've not had a bottle break or crack, although I did have a cap come off in the hot water bath (with the lid of the pot on) once. Obviously, with carbonation pressure and hot temps, you want to be careful. Don't bang the bottles. Don't have heat applying to the pot while the bottles are in it. But, using common sense, this method is really very simple and uses no additives or chemicals.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Added October 26, 2010: Through pm's and other threads, I have been chatting with people who have been trying to pasteurize bottles that are over-carbonated - in other words, they waited too long to pasteurize. Please do not do this, it is extraordinarily dangerous. Head injuries, eye injuries, flying glass shards and burns from hot liquid are all possible outcomes. Use common sense: 1) do not pasteurize a batch if you haven't opened a bottle and seen that the carbonation level is right and 2) if the bottle is over-carbonated (gushing, foam everywhere) do not do pasteurize. Rather, open the bottles and release some of the pressure before your bottles explode.
If you are doing this for the first time, if you are learning how your yeast, your juice, your processes work, test your bottles early and often, to avoid over-carbonation.
Added July 2014: FYI, I've never had bottle break during pastuerizing at 190, but some have, and I've found through experience that using 180F works fine. Also, these days I generally let the cider ferment all the way to dry, then backsweeten and bottle, pastuerizing after a couple of days. I tend to ferment 3 gallons of juice and backsweeten with 1 gallon.
Hey mods what about adding this as a sticky. This is reallyh good stuff here.
I'm planning my first round of cider, I just bought 6 1/2 gallon galss jugs as my fermntors as i want to try different variations to find what i like. How much pectic enzyme do you add to your batch. Are you doing 5 gals?
I was also curious about adding priming sugar to the bottling bucket. Do you think i could skip this step and just let the remaining sugar produce the CO2. I understand this will "dry" the cider up a bit more than when i bottle.
This looks promising and easy.
Louis Pasteur would be proud of you Pappers.
I have my next project lined up now. :mug:
Thanks, I have 3 gallons or so sitting in a carboy, used I think US05 in it and am looking to make it sparkling. I don't keg, and this is perfect. I am going to carb and back sweeten with Frozen Concentrate. Really looking forward to this now!
I've also tried this, and thanks to you, no more bottle bombs! I don't have any pots big enough for more than 4 bottles, so I just pour a few litres of boiling waters over my bottles in the sink and 'steam' them by draping a towel over them, works perfect.
I just have to add, make sure that the caps are on nice and tight. Just before I had a bottle where the capper didn't quite do it's job as well as it should have, and I ended up with a steaming hot gyser of cider all over my hand! Take care!
I also think this should be stickied, mods.
I love the bottle collection. What a great look.
So pasturizing doesn't kill your co2 level/carbonation? I didn't know you can maintain carbonation and still heat it enough to kill the yeast.
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