I am starting my first cider this weekend. I am making 4.5 gallons of fresh apple juice blend from:
Ribston Pippin (20%)
I plan to add the raw juice directly into a sanitized 5gal fermenter with 5lbs honey, then pitch it with .5 gal starter made from store bought apple juice + dry champagne yeast.
However, I have a few questions that I would really appreciate some help with:
1. Does juice or juicer need to be sanitized? Since I am using raw juice and I don't plan to heat it, will there be a sanitation issue? Should I spray the apples in sanitizer before running them through the juice extractor?
2. How long should I let the juice ferment? I've read 2-4 weeks online, but I have a book I bought at my local store that says 9-12 months. I can't figure out why such a huge discrepancy. Also, if its long-term, should I do a secondary?
3. Anyone have a preference between backsweetening or adding lactose before fermenting?
3. Bottle or keg?