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Old 02-17-2015, 04:21 PM   #1
Traceyyt
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Default First timer - overwhelmed

My husband and I jumped into cider making a few weeks ago. After doing a little online research, we bought a three quart jug of organic apple juice and got some cider yeast from our local brew store. All we did was put about 1/4 packet of the yeast into a gallon carboy, bunged and airlocked it. It never got frothy inside the carboy like we saw online, but the airlock bubbled. After about 2 weeks it stopped bubbling, so we racked it back into the glass jug the juice came in and put it in the refrigerator. It actually tastes pretty good, but I feel like there's some steps we've missed. What do we need to do now? It's a little cloudy, but that doesn't bother me too much.

I've been reading here and see a lot of stuff about secondary fermentation, but in my online research (mainly from blogs posts I found on Pinterest) it didn't seem like secondary fermentation was necessary for cider.

Also, if we rack it back into bottles, what are the best options for sweeteners? I can't tolerate a lot of sugar, so is Splenda a good choice?

One more question. Can you put spices like cinnamon and nutmeg into ciders and if so when is the best time to do this?

Thanks so much for the help. There's just so much information out there. We would like to get into this hobby, but on a very small scale. I never anticipate making larger than a gallon batch at a time.

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Old 02-17-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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It's not necessary. There is very little fermentation in the secondary. I transfer to eliminate the bulk of the yeast and give the cider a chance to clear and age. But I've had many a very good cloudy cider that went straight from the primary to the bottle.

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Old 02-17-2015, 06:44 PM   #3
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I think you made homemade hard cider pretty much like most people do.

There are several main methods for making cider, and I'm no expert (I don't really care for that stuff usually), but if you are doing small batches, I encourage you to maybe get 2-3 going at one time and try different flavors. The you have a good comparison going. They can change flavors over several weeks, so testing one after the other is a less accurate way to judge between them.

ANY flavor can be added. Cinnamon, oak, fruit, etc. are all not uncommon.

Sweet cider is a small challenge. if you are doing still cider (not carbonated) you can quickly pasteurize the cider in a warm water bath and kill the yeast before they finish eating.

A stronger cider might shut down at a certain ABV, but there is still a chance that some yeast continue to eat the residual sugars and create a hazard. Plus, the ABV is goign to be really high (Maybe not a problem for some!)

Anything that yeast can't eat is fine. Artificial sweeteners are often used, but I don't think I'd like the taste. YMMV.

A clarifying agent can be added at secondary. Allow cider to ferment until complete, then transfer to a secondary vessel and add clarifying agent such as gelatin, etc. and let it clear in the fridge a couple of days, then transfer to another vessel. Read up on the various fining agents out there and choose one that suits your needs best.

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Old 02-17-2015, 07:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Traceyyt View Post
My husband and I jumped into cider making a few weeks ago. After doing a little online research, we bought a three quart jug of organic apple juice and got some cider yeast from our local brew store. All we did was put about 1/4 packet of the yeast into a gallon carboy, bunged and airlocked it. It never got frothy inside the carboy like we saw online, but the airlock bubbled. After about 2 weeks it stopped bubbling, so we racked it back into the glass jug the juice came in and put it in the refrigerator. It actually tastes pretty good, but I feel like there's some steps we've missed. What do we need to do now? It's a little cloudy, but that doesn't bother me too much.

I've been reading here and see a lot of stuff about secondary fermentation, but in my online research (mainly from blogs posts I found on Pinterest) it didn't seem like secondary fermentation was necessary for cider.

Also, if we rack it back into bottles, what are the best options for sweeteners? I can't tolerate a lot of sugar, so is Splenda a good choice?

One more question. Can you put spices like cinnamon and nutmeg into ciders and if so when is the best time to do this?

Thanks so much for the help. There's just so much information out there. We would like to get into this hobby, but on a very small scale. I never anticipate making larger than a gallon batch at a time.

+1 to doing more batches side by side. Also, if you are worried about the haze add some pectic enzyme (also called pectinase). Apples, and most fruits, have a lot of pectins that cause haze. Adding the enzyme that eats those pectins will eliminate the haze and give you a clear cider. It will get especially clear if you cold crash it in secondary. As far as backsweetening goes, you can add potassium sorbate to stop the fermentation and then add sugar of your choice to sweeten it without losing gravity points or re-starting fermentation. It will have to be a still cider though, unless you want to add a few grains of yeast at bottling. You might run the risk of bottle bombs if you try that approach though. Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2015, 07:01 PM   #5
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ANY flavor can be added. Cinnamon, oak, fruit, etc. are all not uncommon.

Sweet cider is a small challenge. if you are doing still cider (not carbonated) you can quickly pasteurize the cider in a warm water bath and kill the yeast before they finish eating.
So do you add the flavors in the beginning?

What about adding a caramel flavored coffee syrup when bottling?
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Old 02-17-2015, 07:43 PM   #6
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Flavors can be added at any time, but the best time depends on the flavoring. I would add a caramel flavored coffee syrup at bottling, but if it contains sugars the yeast can eat, and you are bottling, make sure to kill the yeast first, or only add as much as will carbonate the bottles properly. Adding fruits at primary is a good idea because they contain a lot of fermentable sugars and contain *stuff* that can cloud the cider. If you add at secondary you are really doing a second primary and having to start the clarification process all over again.

Some flavorings are added at boil or primary when making beer, but you aren't boiling when making cider, so it's probably either primary, or secondary, or bottling. Primary can flush aromatics out of the cider: as the CO2 bubbles out, so does the aroma.

So secondary is a good choice so you can add it all at one time and get even distribution. Otherwise if it's easy to add a small amount to each bottle, then go for it. Just remember that sanitation is important whenever you add unsanitary things like fruits, oak, leaves, extracts, etc., there is a chance of infection. Read up on how to add any of those things, or a similar item. Chances are somebody has been doing it already.

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Old 02-17-2015, 07:55 PM   #7
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it is key to start simple. You are doing small batches and cider is cheap, so that makes it easier. Don't worry about flavors and whatnot, first produce a cider you are happy with.

For clarifying, this gets a little trickier, as you need to guess what is causing the cloudiness. Your potential clarifiers will be pectic enzyme, bentonite, and gelatin. All cheap and easy to use. I would start with gelatin. The knox brand unflavored gelatin from the grocery store will work fine. Do some googling to figure out how to use it to clarify a cider (or beer). I know you aren't supposed to boil the gelatin, just get it warm enough to dissolve.

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Old 02-17-2015, 10:45 PM   #8
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it is key to start simple. You are doing small batches and cider is cheap, so that makes it easier. Don't worry about flavors and whatnot, first produce a cider you are happy with.

For clarifying, this gets a little trickier, as you need to guess what is causing the cloudiness. Your potential clarifiers will be pectic enzyme, bentonite, and gelatin. All cheap and easy to use. I would start with gelatin. The knox brand unflavored gelatin from the grocery store will work fine. Do some googling to figure out how to use it to clarify a cider (or beer). I know you aren't supposed to boil the gelatin, just get it warm enough to dissolve.
Thanks. That's good advice. I'm going to do a little experimenting with this batch when we bottle it. I've got a couple of cinnamon sticks sitting in some vodka that I may add to a bottle or two. And I may also add a little sugar free caramel coffee syrup to some bottles.

Right now we have it cold crashing in the fridge. It's been in there a couple of days. Do we leave it in there indefinitely until we're ready to bottle it or should we take it out of the fridge? I haven't decided yet if I'm going to add some gelatin to try to clarify it or not. There's a chance it may clear up on its own, right?
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:00 AM   #9
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Cold crashing for a few days will cause your yeast to fall out of suspension but pectic haze will require use of a clarifying agent like pectic enzyme. I'm no expert but I have read in many other threads that gelatin like they use for jelly making is not what you should use.
And if you haven't you should definitely read yooper's cider making for beginners thread found in the cider forum.

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Old 02-19-2015, 01:16 AM   #10
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+1 to Yooper, but I always give +1 to Yooper. Yooper is the guru of all things cider in my opinion. Send her a PM, and she will answer you back very soon, I am sure.

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