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Old 09-17-2008, 12:17 PM   #1
brahma
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Default How Much Sugar?

Question from a new cider maker!!

I am about to put my first apple juice into the barrel today but am not sure how much sugar I will need to put in with it. I am going to buy a hydrometer today to measure the specific gravity of my juice (blimey sounds like I know what I'm talking about!) but dont know exactly how to use it!! What meaurement am I aiming for? If my juice is below the required number, how much sugar do I add? Any other tips?

Many thanks,

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Old 09-17-2008, 12:48 PM   #2
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You do not have to add any sugar. Your juice should have a SG of between 1.04 and 1.06. Fermenting to dryness, which almost all ciders do easily, will give you an abv similar to a standard beer.

However, you can add sugar to reach your desired abv. Most hydrometers, if not all, are triple scale. Meaning it lists specific gravity, sugar percentage (balling), as well as potential alcohol by volume. For beginners like us, this allows you to get a feel for what SG's allow for in abv.

Keep in mind that adding sugar will NOT make it sweeter unless you overcome your yeast's alcohol tolerance which shouldn't be till 10-18% alcohol depending on the yeast strain used. It will raise the abv and in fact make it dryer, much like a apple based white wine.

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Old 09-17-2008, 12:48 PM   #3
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It all depends on how much kick you want your cider to have. Most apple juice will ferment out to about 5% abv. You can add sugar to make that higher if you want.

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Old 09-17-2008, 12:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by brahma View Post
Question from a new cider maker!!

I am about to put my first apple juice into the barrel today but am not sure how much sugar I will need to put in with it. I am going to buy a hydrometer today to measure the specific gravity of my juice (blimey sounds like I know what I'm talking about!) but dont know exactly how to use it!! What meaurement am I aiming for? If my juice is below the required number, how much sugar do I add? Any other tips?

Many thanks,
Many of us like cider without any sugar. All the sugar does is add alcohol, so if you're planning on drinking it soon, a lower ABV cider is usually desired. The more alcohol you have, the longer it takes to age out.

You can think about your desired ABV, and then determine what you want your SG to be. An SG of 1.050 would give you approximately a 7% cider, for example. So, if your juice is less than that, you can add sugar. I have a software program I use called "winecalc" that helps figure how much sugar to add, but if you're good with math, it's easy to figure it out. We can always help you with that, too.
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:05 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. There's a new TLA being mentioned here that I dont understand - ABV. Can you tell me what that means?

If I check the SG and its less than 1.050, should I be adding sugar then? OR is it very unlikely to be this low?

Thanks for the offers of help ...

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Old 09-17-2008, 01:09 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. There's a new TLA being mentioned here that I dont understand - ABV. Can you tell me what that means?

If I check the SG and its less than 1.050, should I be adding sugar then? OR is it very unlikely to be this low?

Thanks for the offers of help ...
ABV= Alcohol by Volume

If it were me, I'd check the Sg and just ferment it as is. It's hard to wait for your first cider, and if you add sugar, you'll have to wait for it to age a bit. Just make a low ABV cider the first time (say 4-5%) and enjoy it later this fall/winter. If you boost the ABV too much by adding sugar, you'll be enjoying it NEXT fall!

Maybe check the SG and post what it is, and we'll tell you what we think. (Of course, I'll always be glad to tell you what I think, even without the SG reading!!!! )
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:40 PM   #7
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I know this sounds obvious, but dont't forget that SG is a function of temperature, and that you need to adjust your reading if the sample is above or below 60F

this is an ABV calculator that I like to use

For your cider, somewhere between 0.995 – 1.005 is probably your target final gravity, you can play around with this to see what type of fermentation yields a particular ABV.

However as Yooper was saying, if you want to do more drinking and less waiting, dont add any sugar for the first batch and you'll have a finished cider faster. You probably arent going to wait 6 weeks you should age a 5%abv cider, and you definitely wont be able to wait the 3-12 months appropriate for strong cider

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Old 09-17-2008, 01:42 PM   #8
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On a related topic, I've got a cider (my first) in my primary that I think is finishin up fermentation. From my last hydrometer reading, I think the ABV is going to be around 9.25% (!) due to the 1lb honey and 1lb brown sugar I (following a recipe) put in it. Do any of you veteran cidermakers have an opinion as to how long it might need to age to be tasty, or even drinkable?

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Old 09-17-2008, 01:49 PM   #9
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On a related topic, I've got a cider (my first) in my primary that I think is finishin up fermentation. From my last hydrometer reading, I think the ABV is going to be around 9.25% (!) due to the 1lb honey and 1lb brown sugar I (following a recipe) put in it. Do any of you veteran cidermakers have an opinion as to how long it might need to age to be tasty, or even drinkable?
Honey is a slow fermenter, and takes a while to smooth out. It might be a little hot for the first 6-8 months, or even longer. If I had to guess, though, I'd say about a year.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:06 PM   #10
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Slightly different question - how long can you leave juice before you need to get the yeast in and start it fermenting? For example, can I get my juice ready on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and leave it to Saturday before I get it going?

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