Originally Posted by Newsman
I have been thinking of doing this for awhile. At first I was going to use fresh rhubarb, but I got to thinking I have probably a couple pounds of rhubarb that has been frozen, thawed and refrozen (my fridge developed a compressor problem awhile back that I fixed, but not until most of the frozen foods thawed.)
I thought I might try adding a couple pounds of this to 5 gallons of store-bought pasteurized apple juice. Those of you not familiar with rhubarb, let me explain -- it's VERY acidic.
What I would like is some suggestions on how much sweetener to add and what kind. Also, when should I add the rhubarb? I was thinking of putting a gallon or two of juice on the stove and adding the rhubarb as if I were mashing beer -- basically get it up to about 160 degrees and keep it there for an hour or so, then drain the juice off, add sweetener and *cold* juice (maybe even frozen concentrate for additional sweetness) and yeast.
I also thought about possibly adding it to the secondary. I want as much rhubarb flavor as possible, and I'm not sure the best way to do it.
So, really three questions: 1) When should add the rhubarb 2) How do I determine how much additional sweetener I need and 3) what kind of sweetener would you use?
I'm seriously thinking of getting pasteurized frozen concentrated apple juice and just dumping it in there for sweetness and not reconstituting it at all.
You could try a couple of things to adjust the acidity of your rhubarb cider. Calcium carbonate would be my 1st choice. You could also try a malolactic fermentation, or even using Lalvin 71-B yeast as it will metabolize some of the malic acid.
While there is some malic acid in rhubarb, I've no idea exactly how much. The primary acid in rhubarb is oxalic acid, niether MLF nor 71-B will reduce oxalic acid. How much calcium carbonate to use depends on how much rhubarb & what level of acidity you like. You'll need a PH / TA test kit(s) to know exactly what is going on with your cider's acid levels.
You might find this helpful:http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/acid.asp
You could also backsweeten with a non-fermentable sweetener like stevia, or you could backsweeten/prime & bottle pasteurize after carbonation is complete. While I don't know their recipe, Fox Barrel makes a pear/rhubarb/elderberry cider that is almost certainly bottle pasteurized. The sediment in the bottle is a clue. They also use honey in it, but I've no idea if that's to boost ABV, prime or to backsweeten. I think it's a pretty good product, well balanced:http://foxbarrel.com/cider/cider/cidery-reserves/rhubarb-and-elderberry/
What you want to make can be done & has been done, we just have to figure out how. Hope this info helps. Regards, GF.