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Old 05-24-2011, 10:52 PM   #1
bpm2000
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Default Malo-lactic fermentation?

I am thinking about giving it a try to make some young ciders drinkable, earlier. While I do like the acid bite when I'm putting down a session cider the young tartness+carbonic acid almost puts it over the top. I'm thinking MLF+small residual sweetness will make the perfect early cider to tide me over while bulk aging goes on with the dry batches.

Generally it sounds like people add it "after the primary ferment" but wondering if in all your experiences you had a more specific gravity or timing that you add the culture at? Or if you have any other notes of detail about cider+MLF (the internet is overrun with wine MLF info!) I would love to hear them.

thanks!

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Old 05-25-2011, 12:18 AM   #2
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If you're going to pitch mlf you need a relatively warm ferment, 60F or above, so your primary yeast ferment will probably be fairly fast, a month or less. My cellar is at about 70F during fermentation so my cider is finished in about a week since I pitch champagne yeast. Near the end of primary I rack to an airtight container and pitch the MLF while racking, just because its a convenient way to mix the culture through. The cider then keeps bubbling for another couple of weeks. You can pitch earlier or later no worries, but its easier to do it when racking and it needs to be finished before adding any so2.
You don't need to use the high pitching rates they use for red wine. So long as you use a tiny pinch rehydrated according to instructions it will go through easy, if your culture is viable. The change in flavor is easy to notice, and the pH will go up 0.2 or so. Because it makes the flavor a lot softer (some say flabby) it is easier to drink without sweetener IMO.

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Old 05-25-2011, 09:01 PM   #3
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Crazy as it sounds... *usually* cider mellows out a whole bunch by itself in the first 3-months of aging.... Start with a Juice that's a nice, balanced juice with a little tartness (Like your typical bottled store juice) and within 2-months it's heading towards apple scented water.....

You did mention the residual carbonation - and that stuff really gives cider a bitter/rough edge that lasts for several months..... I think I would just start by degassing the heck out of it and see where you end up....

Thanks

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Old 05-26-2011, 03:48 AM   #4
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I dont use so2, and can definitely ferment warmer in most of the house if needed. I wil give that a go when I can make another brew supply order.

tj, while i am talking more about early cold crashed ciders here, I have one right about at 3months now and it certainly has mellowed out quite a bit vs at 1mo and 2mo when tasted at secondary and bottling. Still a little bit sharper than I would like, but you can really taste where it is headed. It was graham's cider, and I suppose I could just omit the lime juice in the beginning but then the flavor profile would be less complete. I don't want it gone, just smoother quicker (he states he starts drinking around 5-6 months I believe).

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Old 05-26-2011, 05:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpm2000 View Post
I am thinking about giving it a try to make some young ciders drinkable, earlier. While I do like the acid bite when I'm putting down a session cider the young tartness+carbonic acid almost puts it over the top. I'm thinking MLF+small residual sweetness will make the perfect early cider to tide me over while bulk aging goes on with the dry batches.

Generally it sounds like people add it "after the primary ferment" but wondering if in all your experiences you had a more specific gravity or timing that you add the culture at? Or if you have any other notes of detail about cider+MLF (the internet is overrun with wine MLF info!) I would love to hear them.

thanks!
When to pitch MLF
Some of this depends on the yeast you choose. Some yeasts will allow a malolactic fermentation to occur concurrently where others will not. For example, L-1118 doesn't mesh well with a concurrent MFL, so you should pitch MLF after it is fully done fermenting.

My personal experience is with naturally occuring MLF. I would suggest 55F-65F for your ferment - though it will occur at cooler temps (has in my case). However this isn't rocket science so you will do fine - grab a wyeast pack of the culture and follow the directions

the acid will mellow out to some degree, so I would suggest that you take a PH of your cider after ferment and if it is 3.3-6, you may want to leave it to age (age will likely take care of any harsh acidity). If your PH is less than 3.3, you should consider MLF to help correct the acidity (IMO).

Good luck
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #6
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I looked up the thing about ec-1118 and MLF. seems it is due to high so2 production by the yeast. This is from wine so I don't know if it would apply to a cider must. SO2 is bound fairly quickly during primary fermentation so the actual free so2 levels will not be high. Also malic acid levels are higher in cider so MLF is easier than with wine, winemakers often have trouble getting MLF to completion so try to make everything just perfect, cidermakers don't have to worry so much.

The thing about low pH is important - if your cider is below 3.2 MLF may not work, the bacteria don't like low pH which is ironic because that is when it is really useful. Such low pH would be normally be from fruit picked too early or cold climate fruit. Ptoper cider apple varieties usually have a high pH but some cooking apples have low pH.

As regards the acidity softening with age, malic acid isn't going to change it's flavor unless it gets converted to something else. Malic has a very sour flavor, that's why they use it for sour candy. So long as you have the malic there your cider will have that sour edge, which is fine if you like that, or you have some sweetness to balance it. If the acidity is softening with time it is probably because you are getting a natural MLF.

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Old 05-26-2011, 10:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
I looked up the thing about ec-1118 and MLF. seems it is due to high so2 production by the yeast. This is from wine so I don't know if it would apply to a cider must. SO2 is bound fairly quickly during primary fermentation so the actual free so2 levels will not be high. Also malic acid levels are higher in cider so MLF is easier than with wine, winemakers often have trouble getting MLF to completion so try to make everything just perfect, cidermakers don't have to worry so much.

The thing about low pH is important - if your cider is below 3.2 MLF may not work, the bacteria don't like low pH which is ironic because that is when it is really useful. Such low pH would be normally be from fruit picked too early or cold climate fruit. Ptoper cider apple varieties usually have a high pH but some cooking apples have low pH.

As regards the acidity softening with age, malic acid isn't going to change it's flavor unless it gets converted to something else. Malic has a very sour flavor, that's why they use it for sour candy. So long as you have the malic there your cider will have that sour edge, which is fine if you like that, or you have some sweetness to balance it. If the acidity is softening with time it is probably because you are getting a natural MLF.
Cider is a fruit wine like any other - not a beer.

MLF relies on high acid PH (due to high malic acid) in a natural setting; i.e. PH <3.3 is ideal; 3.2, 3.1, 3.0. The MLF thrives. If you are low acid 3.6+ you have less to gain from a MLF due to lower levels of Malic acid. You make even drive your acid PH up to level which make the cider unstable for storage.

MLF does reduce the perceptible acidity taste. MLF takes malic acid and converts it to lactic acid, which tastes less acidic.

The main reason you do a MLF with cider is to reduce Malic Acid, give the cider a fuller mouth feel via lactic acid and make the cider more stable.


"As regards the acidity softening with age, malic acid isn't going to change it's flavor unless it gets converted to something else."

That statement is absolutely untrue. Age will reduce the perceptible acidity of cider. Try a cider at 1 month, then try it again at 1 year. Bet you the 1 year cider has a less acidic taste to it, MLF or not.
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Old 05-28-2011, 03:05 AM   #8
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I'll most likely be using ale yeasts in conjunction with the MLF, probably dry favorites like nottingham and S04/05.

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