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Old 04-13-2010, 05:04 PM   #1
PolskiFil
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Default New To Cider Making - Need Advice

Hello Brew-masters!

So i recently got addicted to drinking cider after my last ski trip to Vermont and decided i wanted to start making my own. I have been reading through the forum and looking at tutorials to get some general knowledge and feel i have a good base to start off of.

I acquired some brewing equipment from an uncle that makes wine. He gave me a 5 gallon tank along with an airlock and some tubing for racking. I am planning on using organic apple juice for my first few batches to get a feel for things and then plan on pressing my own apples.

The process i was gonna do is simply poor the juice into the jug along with the yeast, Let it ferment out till the bubbles have slowed down (like i have read) them to bottle Carb them in some grolsch bottles that i have.

Could you guys give me any pointers or things that i should look out for that beginner's usually experience? Also if i want the cider to be a little more alcoholic do i have to heat the juice with the sugar before i put it in the jug or can i simply mix the sugar in the juice without heat?

Thanks For any help! Zdrówko!

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Old 04-13-2010, 05:29 PM   #2
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The great thing about cider is that there is no boiling, so the basic idea you have here will work to make cider, so lets look at a few details that will give you a better chance of making great cider.

1. Clean and sanitize. This is the single most important part in making sure that you get a good batch. I use, and so do many other brewers, a PBW and Star-san regiment. Soak items in PBW (power brewery wash) for 24 hours, rinse and then soak in Star-San for 3 mins and let air dry. This is a sure fire way to make sure you are clean and won't get an infection in your cider.

2. Get a liquid yeast culture for cider. This will help give you a nice apple flavor. Warning some of these have a sulfer smell, it's normal and will go away. White labs and Wyeast both have varieties. Link

3. Add some yeast nutrient. This will make sure you have all the stuff the yeast will need. Link

Anybody else have suggestions / agree?

Cheers!

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Old 04-13-2010, 07:25 PM   #3
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thanks for the info!

The 5 gallon tank that i have is one of those plastic Poland spring water jugs. Is that ok to make cider in or should i go for glass?

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Old 04-13-2010, 08:27 PM   #4
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Its referred to as a carboy. Toss the poland spring bottle. Use either glass or a Better bottle.

The blue water cooler tubs are designed for water, and so the companies that produce them are not interested in how other chemicals are going to react with them. They also are not concerned with how oxygen may permeate through the plastic.

Not to say the blue jug couldn't be used, but its not designed for it.

Spend the few extra bucks and buy a glass carboy or better bottle.

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Old 04-14-2010, 03:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolskiFil View Post
Could you guys give me any pointers or things that i should look out for that beginner's usually experience? Also if i want the cider to be a little more alcoholic do i have to heat the juice with the sugar before i put it in the jug or can i simply mix the sugar in the juice without heat?
Mind you, if you add sugar to increase the alcohol, it will mask the flavor of the cider. Most ciders are usually around 6%, and very few reach 8%. Other thing to consider is that if you heat the juice, it will taste "cooked."

Basically, add sulfites 24 hours before yeast, and pectic enzyme to help clear it 12 hours before yeast. Yeast nutrient is also go. Try to have the pH between 3.2 and 3.8. Don't rush the batch. It is just now starting to be bottling time for commercial producers from last year's harvest.

This is a good read: http://www.cider.org.uk/frameset.htm
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:14 PM   #6
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Get a hydrometer, it's really the only way to be sure your cider/wine/beer/mead is done fermenting. Should run you about $5, it's easy to use & will help to save you some possible grief later.

No need to heat the juice, quite the opposite, you should avoid heating the juice. As Candlewine said, it can give your cider a "cooked" flavour, and it will set the pectins, causing the cider to remain cloudy. If your juice is raw, you should hit it with campden tabs (potassium metabisulfite) 12-24 hrs before adding yeast, if it's already been pasturized, no need to sulfite.

Most importantly, relax & enjoy this new hobby. Some things take longer than others, but it's worth the wait. Regards, GF.

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Old 04-14-2010, 04:03 PM   #7
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thanks for all info so far guys!

im going to try and get a glass carboy instead of that poland spring bottle, so hopefully the homebrew shop in brooklyn has some left.

As for you guys mentioning sulfites and pectin, do i have to add stuff like that or can i go a more natural route?

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Old 04-15-2010, 02:27 AM   #8
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You can go totally natural, and you can also use the water bottle as long as you don't age it in there. Your organic cider is probably already pasteurized in some way or another, and may also (very likely) have Vit C added as a preservative. Don't cook it right off the bat. Pasteurization may be something you'll want to know more about later.

The $5 hydrometer is much more important than the $50 glass carboy, in the case of cider.


1: Before you add sugar, measure the gravity of the juice itself. You may not want to add sugar if it's already over 1.050.

2: Read up on tips for reading a hydrometer. There are little tricks like spinning the tool to release CO2 bubbles to accurately read a sample... and other things.

3: I agree with the first reply, except liquid yeast can be ..... moody. I've never had a bad experience with liquid, but dry yeast will work no matter what. Dry yeast will get the job done. For yeast choice, there's noone here that knows better than Cville's post that is posted at the top of the forum.

4: Whatever pieces of info you pick and choose from: Do not bottle the cider until it's totally done fermenting (hydrometer), and bubbles in the airlock mean nothing. If you want to sweeten it, carbonate it, etc, when bottling, welcome to the discussion.

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Old 04-15-2010, 10:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolskiFil View Post
Hello Brew-masters!

So i recently got addicted to drinking cider after my last ski trip to Vermont and decided i wanted to start making my own. I have been reading through the forum and looking at tutorials to get some general knowledge and feel i have a good base to start off of.

I acquired some brewing equipment from an uncle that makes wine. He gave me a 5 gallon tank along with an airlock and some tubing for racking. I am planning on using organic apple juice for my first few batches to get a feel for things and then plan on pressing my own apples.

The process i was gonna do is simply poor the juice into the jug along with the yeast, Let it ferment out till the bubbles have slowed down (like i have read) them to bottle Carb them in some grolsch bottles that i have.

Could you guys give me any pointers or things that i should look out for that beginner's usually experience? Also if i want the cider to be a little more alcoholic do i have to heat the juice with the sugar before i put it in the jug or can i simply mix the sugar in the juice without heat?

Thanks For any help! Zdrówko!
First and foremost I would say that you need to avail yourself of a hydrometer. Waiting until the bubbles slow down then bottling in glass is a potential recipe for loads of broken glass - potentially in your face.

You need to wait until gravity is stable - this is measured with the hydrometer. You can kill yeast activity by adding sulphites but if you want more natural as you say then you need to wait until the readings are right. I would then recommend waiting some more for conditioning/maturing at cold temperatures if possible). Maturing cider pre-bottling is more efficient than post (although you will still need to leave the cider to carb up and do a bit of conditioning in the bottles).

Don't worry about the sugar or the ABV first time around. Plain apple juice should give you 5 - 6%. If you don't like how it is, tweak it next time. Sugar will bump up the abv but make it really, really dry and tasteless. Naturally fermented cider will already be super dry so don't add sugar unless you think (from experience) that it needs it. If you want a headbanger, mix it with some brandy.

That brings me to the next thing - straight apple juice will give you a dry cider

UNLESS

1. You stop fermentation early by adding sulphites or crash chilling and kegging (if you have a kegging system) or crash chilling and not priming bottles. I would not recommend the last for anyone new to cider and personally I would not recommend sulphites either as I hate them.

2. You add an unfermentable/less fermentable sugar or artificial sweetener.
I use milk sugar (lactose) at the beginning - boil it up with a small amount of water, just enough to dissolve, cool it and add it in. You can add it in after ferment as well but I'd rather give everything time to integrate.

3. You look at keeving which is a really complicated way of doing things that I don't fully understand. Interesting but way to complex for a first cider.

You can also use a less attenuative yeast - champagne and wine yeasts are often used which will dry everything right out. I haven't used it but I've heard good reports from people using the wyeast sweet mead yeast.

As for pasteurisation - Soft cider is subject to infestation from e.coli and may benefit from pasteurisation. Because your cider is to be hard cider and is acidic and alcoholic when finished and dominated by yeast while it's fermenting, e. coli is much less of a worry. Make sure your juice (soft cider) is fresh and your yeast is active and fresh (I make a starter with mine) and there should be no need to worry about cooking your juice.

I aoplogise if the above seems complex - really all it means is

1. get juice, sweeten with lactose
2. add yeast,
3. ferment and measure properly,
4. mature
5. bottle (and mature again).
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Old 04-18-2010, 04:55 PM   #10
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Default the natural way

i've made cyder about 20 times over the last 8 years or so and i'll share with you my technique, which pretty much goes against everything most other cyder makers will tell you:

i strongly advocate wild yeast, especially apple acclimated strains. this promotes bio-diversity, a unique product, and a very grass-roots approach to this honorable american tradition. you can do this one of two ways depending on your apple juice source. if you have unpasteurized cider (strongly recommended), just drink about a 1/4 of a gallon jug so there's some air in there and shake it real good. leave that sitting out at room temperature for a few days to a week and it will begin to spontaneously ferment. when it gets nice a bubbly, presto, you've got yourself a strong starter yeast culture which you can then pitch into a 5 gallon carboy along with fresh juice. if you use the store bought pasteurized juice then you can pretty much do the same thing but it may take longer and you may need to expose it to the elements a bit more - like leaving a cup of shaken juice on the window sill for a couple days. yeast lives everywhere and i believe that when you ingest a ferment made by yeast which lives in your environment you will reap the benefits of that in the form of an extremely pleasant buzz.

if you want a stronger drink, add 1 or 2 quarts of raw honey to 5 gallons of cider and mix well. as someone else said, straight juice will produce a nice DRY beverage. i don't know your preference so maybe you can just experiment a bit and see what pleases you. i like the dry stuff in the summer.. and heavier drink in the colder season.

to some extent, i disagree about the need for a hydrometer.. not that it doesn't provide useful information. it certainly does, but i don't own one and don't personally feel the need to. if you just let your cyder ferment until it's mostly clear - rack once - and then let it FULLY clear, you don't have to worry about exploding bottles.

when racking, take extreme care to avoid splashing or any kind of introduction of oxygen into the liquid. otherwise you will get that off taste - something like a brown bruised apple. just rack it after it slows way down and the last little bits of fermentation will push out any remaining oxygen and you can let it age from there.

if you want it carbonated you might want to look into priming a finished, clear cyder - if you just bottle early you will end up with a lot of sediment and possibly exploding bottles. one way of dealing with this is just crack each bottle for a second after a day or so and see if pressure has built up too much... this way may seem a bit amateurish but it works.

good luck!

billy

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