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Old 10-08-2012, 07:08 PM   #1
CodyA
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Default Plan of Action (15 gallons)

Alright, I have finally written up a plan for processing 15 gallons of cider after fermentation. I would really appreciate some input on this though to make sure I'm not screwing anything up here. Post fermentation I plan on placing cider in a 5 gallon keg, lightly pressurize it with CO2 to prevent oxidation, warm it in a pot of 130-140 degree water to pasteurize it and kill all yeast, then add some potassium sorbate to stabilize it. For 15 gallons and only having 1 keg, I would do this 3 times. I would siphon all of it into a food grade, sanitized 55 gallon drum, then add 5 more gallons of juice, concentrate, and sugar to mix it all evenly (for back-sweetening, of course). Afterward, I plan on force carbonating and bottling (I have over 300 empty bottles).... Does anyone see any issues here?

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Old 10-09-2012, 04:44 AM   #2
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Do you have a fridge you can use to cold crash the cider? because if you are going to the trouble of pressing your own apples, letting them ferment down to nothing and then backsweetening seems like a real waste. For all that work, it seems to me that you would be better off plunking down $40 bucks for another couple kegs.

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Old 10-09-2012, 05:29 AM   #3
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Haven't been able to find any ball lock kegs under 55 bucks a pop, fridge will only fit 1 keg, and the 1 keg I have access to I am borrowing. Plus, I'm planning on giving away a good amount of it as gifts, so I'm certainly bottling them.

About it being a waste though, I understand that all the sweetness would be lost and converted to alcohol, but the body, flavor, and tannin of the apples wouldn't remain?

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Old 10-09-2012, 05:31 AM   #4
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Edit: I will cold crash to clear before pasteurization to prevent setting the pectins and clouding. Forgot to mention that part.

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Old 10-09-2012, 07:23 PM   #5
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I understand that all the sweetness would be lost and converted to alcohol, but the body, flavor, and tannin of the apples wouldn't remain?
Not unless you've got traditional cider apples that were grown for cider making, in which case it would still be a shame to add a bunch of sugar after they ferment. For good cider apples that are readily available commercially, its mostly just sugar about 1.010, but once you go below that you are fermenting out the body and flavor. You can get back the body with sugar, but not the flavor.

If you've just got one keg, and are starting out, I'd suggest doing 5 gallon batches or maybe even 1 gallon batches while you work out the process. Leaving the bulk of it in a mostly empty drum while you carb it sounds like a recipe for oxidation and potential spoilage. Cider season is just starting so you have plenty of time.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:40 PM   #6
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Only problem is I'll be renting the press, and at 80 bucks a day or 30 bucks an hour, doing a little at a time will get expensive fast. But I do have a juicer, so the 1 gallon batches are very doable. Thanks for the advice, I think I'll do that before I put all my eggs in once basket and experiment with how hard it's gonna be to halt and stabilize cider at 1.010. I'll keep this board posted as well on my trials and errors with the small batches, as well as my results and process when I'm ready to do my big batch.

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Old 11-14-2012, 05:19 AM   #7
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Took the advice stated above. Got 5 gallons that fermented to 1.002 (perfect in my opinion. Very tart, but not too dry like a white wine. You can still taste the winesaps though!) even though my goal was 1.010. So kind of a good screw up. Threw the 5 gallons in the big chest freezer I have. It gets cold enough to freeze 80 proof Jim Beam solid, so it should make my 6.8% abv cider hard as a rock! I'm doing this to kill most of the yeast in it, reducing the cell count immensely and helping me overall with sterilizing my cider so that it doesn't start fermenting again when I backsweeten (although I'm still going to pasteurize). After freezing, I'm going to transport it to a fridge specifically for cold crashing ferments at my dad's house, let it sit there, rack it off the leese, then let it sit for a couple more days. Rack one more time, keg pasteurize, then backsweeten with a 1 can of AJC, 64 oz of store bought apple juice, and a pound of brown sugar.

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Old 11-14-2012, 06:20 AM   #8
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You should backsweeten THEN pasteurise. You can't backsweeten in a sterile manner, your cider may start to referment when you add the concentrate. Mind you, if you keep your keg refrigerated after it's not so dangerous, not like you will be getting bottle bombs.

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Old 11-14-2012, 01:02 PM   #9
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Good advice with the backsweetening. I'll do that instead.

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