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Old 02-18-2012, 05:33 PM   #1
roymullins
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Default non-fermentable sweetener?

Have a nice dry batch nearly ready- want to add just a smidge of sweetener to give it a little pip so my wife will like it- she wasn't a fan of my last bone-dry variety... I do not however want to put some artificial nastiness in my cider... does some one have a suggestion for a natural non-fermentable sweetener that I can use? I am bottling so I have to be mindful of cider bombs... thanks in advance...

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Old 02-18-2012, 05:59 PM   #2
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I like Xylitol from a company called "Nature's Flavours" but I'm sure Xylitol is Xylitol. I have read several places that consuming too much of it will treat your intestines like Olean...I.E. explosive diarrhea. However, I've never had problems with it before. At the same time, when you're just using a little of it, I think you'd have to consume a LOT of cider to notice.

In my last batch, I used 3 Tablespoons per gallon. I know people that put a tablespoon in their cup of coffee! While this batch is not done aging, it's VERY sweet. I'd say too sweet for my liking.

Another alternative for the next time around may be Belgian Candi Sugar. The owner at my LHBS mentioned giving it a whirl several times, so I'm giving some a try right now. However, it's a fermentable sugar but it leaves behind residual sweetness. Last night I tossed 8oz's of it in 3 gallons that I'm fermenting dry with Cote des Blancs. I know that's not really cider, but curiosity gets me every time.

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Old 02-18-2012, 06:04 PM   #3
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Would lactose work? It's not the sweetest sugar but it is unfermentable.

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Old 02-18-2012, 06:55 PM   #4
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Lactose isn't really all that sweet at all, especially not in something that finishes this dry. The "problem" with lactose in a cider or wine is that it adds body, so even if it slightly sweetened things up to someone's liking, I'm not sure it'd give a pleasant mouthfeel.

If you want sweet, and everyone's definition is different, I think the best things to do are:
1) Pick an Ale Yeast that is ester-fruity as I call it. Most palette's are going to taste fruit and even tart and interpret it as sweet.
2) Ferment with Belgian Candi Sugar, Brown Sugar or something that will leave some residual sweetness behind (brown sugar will darken the final product, Belgian Candi Sugar is like .5 SRM or something like that)
3) Back sweeten with something non-fermentable that will not leave a nasty off flavor. I.E. Equal and Sweet'N Low are out. I've heard people say Splenda and Sucralose work well. Xylitol is DEFINITELY the most "sugar" tasting to my palette, but if your digestive tract is sensitive to it, well, stay away!

There are different types of "sweet" too. What someone gets in back sweetening may not be what they're really looking for.

While I'm not overly pleased with the progress of my young apfelwein (not that I expected to be at this point) I will say that there is nothing artificial tasting about Xylitol. Xylitol is also a natural sweetener. It is NOT calorie free, but it is low calorie and a good sweetening alternative for diabetics. It's the only non-fermentable "natural" non-chemical fakeness sweetener I've stumbled across. If you don't want to add any form of sweetener, I'd do some reading on yeasts and try the Belgian Candi Sugar. My next test batch (3 gallons) is going to ferment with Wyeast 1968 Special London, 12oz of Belgian Candi Sugar then go into secondary with some vanilla bean and french oak cubes for a while so we'll see how that sweetens out and what kind of flavors come with it.

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Old 02-18-2012, 07:11 PM   #5
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Xylitol is the only sweetener I have been able eat straight without wanting to spit it out. It tastes mostly like sugar but with an alcohol coldness to it, like it is evaporating off the tongue. The above warnings should be taken into account, though i haven't had any problems with it yet, and i put a whole bag (250g I think) in my 5 litre batch!

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Old 02-18-2012, 09:25 PM   #6
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What do you think of Stevia? Never used it myself but have seen it in some recipes.

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Old 02-18-2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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I have heard that Stevia can leave an almost licorice-like aftertaste. I'm not sure in what quantities or what people have done to get that characteristic (maybe tossing it into primary at the time of fermentation?) but I'm sure everyone's mileage varies.

More than that though, I know that Stevia does not measure cup for cup with sugar. It's a LOT sweeter so it might take some playing with your quantities to get right...which might be why people talk about tasting licorice. They're just over using it?

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Old 02-18-2012, 10:30 PM   #8
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I found if you use the white stevia and not the brown(or some refer to it as green) one you do not get the licorice taste. And I love licorice, but not in my wines or ciders...I just don't taste it when I use white stevia. Truvia is one particular brand that I will use for backsweetening.

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Old 02-19-2012, 01:03 AM   #9
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I just used Truvia (a brand name for Stevia) in my last batch of cider and I don't have any hint of licorice. Just tasting it by itself, it reminds me of maple syrup. In my cider it sweetened it, but it is hard to explain the flavor. In cider it does not taste like licorice, maple syrup, or table sugar and not like any artificial/chemical sweeteners either. I think it has a taste of its own.

I used 9 teaspoons in a 5 gallon batch and we have been happy with the results. Just enough to give a noticeable sweetness, and take a little bite out of the dryness. Like saramc mentioned, a little goes a long ways.

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Old 02-19-2012, 01:29 AM   #10
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Awesome info, I will likely be using white stevia to back sweeten my ginger beer.

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