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Old 06-04-2013, 09:10 PM   #1
apatheticsheep
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Default Simple Cider questions

I am new to home brewing I have done only 2 batches of mead, 1 milk stout from a kit and i decided to try my hand at cider - I am not too sure what I was expecting the results of my cider to be but here is what I did.

Purchased 1 gallon each of 3 different types of Apple juice and 1 gallon of filtered apple cider - all varieties had no preservatives.

pasturized at ~170f for an hour and added 1 lb of brown sugar.
cooled to about 90f and pitched Lavlin K1-V1116 champagne yeast.

OG was 1.050

after 11 days (4 days after primary slowed to imperceptible levels) I racked and added pectic enzyme (because I forgot to add it in primary and read somewhere that this would be okay)

Today is my 3 week mark and i am not sure what to do.
I was considering adding like a 1/2 cup of frozen concentrated juice (thawed of course) to re-start fermentation but I don't know what effect this would have.

My original intention was to add priming sugar in a few days and bottle condition for a few weeks but I don't even know if this would work.

I am completely lost and don't know how i should proceed.
I plan to at least check the SG when i get home tonight.

any suggestions?
am i just being a buffoon in how i am going about this?

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Old 06-04-2013, 11:27 PM   #2
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Welcome!
I'll break down your post with my analysis and suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by apatheticsheep View Post
pasturized at ~170f for an hour and added 1 lb of brown sugar.
In the future, skip this step, it's unnecessary 99% of the time when making cider. At best you're just wasting your time, at worst you may set the pectins in the juice and it'll never clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apatheticsheep View Post
after 11 days (4 days after primary slowed to imperceptible levels) I racked and added pectic enzyme (because I forgot to add it in primary and read somewhere that this would be okay)
Pectic enzyme is best added prior to pitching yeast, and works best when no alcohol is present. That being said, it'll still work just fine at this stage.


Quote:
Originally Posted by apatheticsheep View Post
I was considering adding like a 1/2 cup of frozen concentrated juice (thawed of course) to re-start fermentation but I don't know what effect this would have.
This would very marginally increase the ABV, re-start fermentation and stir up any sediment that is settled out. Don't bother doing this unless you want a higher ABV. 1.050 is a great OG for a cider.

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Originally Posted by apatheticsheep View Post
My original intention was to add priming sugar in a few days and bottle condition for a few weeks but I don't even know if this would work.
If fermentation is fully over, then this should work fine, and result in a dry, sparkling cider. Check your hydrometer before bottling to be sure though. If the reading is stable over 4+ days, you're probably good to go without risking bottle bombs. At 3 weeks, the batch is most likely fermented dry.

Looks like you have the basics down and are almost there!
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:36 AM   #3
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Thank you very much for your response.
I have just taken an SG and it's .998 or so. (can't tell my hydro doesn't go that low)
resulting in about 6.8 ABV - which is nice.
if i wanted to add some tang or slight sweetness what should I do?
will priming add any discernible sweetness?
should I prime with corn sugar or concentrated apple juice?
I was think about bottling in 24z - 32z swingtop bottles - should I use 12oz beer bottles or champagne bottles instead - is this totally at my preference? (assuming they are pressure rated)

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Old 06-05-2013, 03:19 AM   #4
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SG of .998 means it's done, and safe to prime.

'Tang' is usually related to acidity. Fermentation will typically increase the pH of a cider by 0.05-0.020. In an ideal world, we would all have access to nice, tart (low pH/high acidity) apples which when fermented would leave a balanced cider, but grocery store juice/cider is made from dessert apple 'seconds' which were too bruised or otherwise inferior to sell to consumers whole. While these apples are delicious raw, the acidity is too low post fermentation. You can bring it back down by adding malic acid, which is the primary acid in apples. Your LHBS may have some available in powder form or you can purchase it online. In a pinch juice from some limes can help adjust the pH back down, but that's mostly citric acid, and IMO doesn't taste as apple-y as using malic.

Priming will not add any sweetness to the finished product, since that sugar will be consumed to create the carbonation. Personally, at home I like to prime with apple concentrate. once can of my 'local' stuff have 180g of sugar which is perfect for a 5 gallon batch. You can use a priming calculator like this one http://www.brewheads.com/priming.php 2.5-3.0 volumes of CO2 is standard for cider, or add about 0.003 in sugar to your batch.

If you want to make a sweeter cider things get more complicated. Since the yeast will eat any available sugar in the bottle whether it's for priming or sweetening you have to stop it somehow as the added sugar will eventually turn your bottles into bombs. Common methods include coldcrashing, or putting the bottles in the fridge once proper carbonation is achieved. Alternatively, bottle pasteurization is popular as well, and where is a great sticky at the top of the cider section describing how to go about that. I always suggest sweetening your cider to taste first, then adding your priming sugar on top of that(SG ~0.003) before bottling, resulting in a sparkling cider with the same amount of residual sugar. Other options included force carbonation and back-sweetening with unfermentable sugars like lactose or splenda. It all depends on your preference and resources.

Swingtop, beer, and champagne bottles are all suitable. But you can't pasteurize swingtop bottles. I use champagne bottles because it's the most traditional cider bottle, and it means less bottles to fill and cap as compared to a smaller beer bottle, also I can get them free so that's a big plus.

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Old 06-05-2013, 05:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBreton

Swingtop, beer, and champagne bottles are all suitable. But you can't pasteurize swingtop bottles. I use champagne bottles because it's the most traditional cider bottle, and it means less bottles to fill and cap as compared to a smaller beer bottle, also I can get them free so that's a big plus.
I've only pasteurized (stovetop) two gallon batches, but I did both 12oz crown caps and 750ml swingtops... I didn't have any issue with the swingtops failing to pasteurize (ie, no bottle bombs), and they had normal carbonation when opened. I had never heard this before... Why can't you pasteurize them? Does the heat affect the rubber gasket? I didn't have them submerged that far, if it makes a difference. Thanks for any info... Don't want to screw anything up in future batches!
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:17 PM   #6
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No first hand experience with swing tops here, but I think there's a few reports of the gaskets leaking in the pasteurization sticky. IIRC, the posts referred to bubbles leaking out around the top, suggesting that they were completely submerged, so that must make a difference.

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Old 06-05-2013, 06:23 PM   #7
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Thank you so much for all your helpful advice and comments.
I think I know what I want to do now but I have another couple questions.
1 - can I add the Malic acid now?
2 - regarding bottle pasteurization - it seems to me that if i want let's say 3.0 volumes of CO2 and the calculator says to use 4.61oz of corn sugar to prime - but I want to pasteurize to leave sugars un-fermented for residual sweetness - shouldn't I add more priming ingredient? if so how much more do i use? (did i miss that in the sticky thread?)

3- if i want to use concentrated apple juice for a priming ingredient what should i set the calculator to? presumably it's still best to use mas not volume.

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Old 06-05-2013, 11:53 PM   #8
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1 - Malic can be added any time. If the original pH is already high I will add some before fermentation, but otherwise I'll just wait until after.

2 - Add your back-sweetening sugars first, right into the bottling bucket to taste, then add your priming sugar on top of that, so when the priming sugar is consumed and you pasteurize, only your original back-sweetening is left, at the exact level you wanted it.

3 - Priming with concentrate is my preferred way of doing it, just takes some math and conversions to figure out how many grams of sugar is in your concentrate and then how much to add. First, since you're using apple concentrate, ditch the 'corn sugar' (dextrose) calculation in favor of the 'cane/beet/granulated sugar' (sucrose) since apple sugars are mainly sucrose.

For example: my concentrate has 72 grams of sugar per serving, and 2.5 servings per can, for a 180 gram total. An oz is 32g so each can has 5.6oz of sugar, which is a little more than you need to prime.

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Old 06-17-2013, 04:16 AM   #9
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Update:
here's what i ended up doing and how it turned out.
6/8/13 siphoned off 3 gallons from my 4 gallon batch into a bucket.
added concentrate to taste - then added what the priming calc suggested and then bottled into beer bottles.
The gallon that i set aside i put into a 1gal glass jug and added 1/2 can of seneca frozen concentrated and some yeast nutrient - placed an air lock on it and watched it's progress.
after a few days the gallon jug started to ferment - giving me hope that the bottled stuff was doing the same.
on friday 6/14 I popped a bottle of the bottled stuff to test for carbonation.
carbonation was at a level that i liked but the bottled stuff had a little more residual sweetness than i was aiming for, so i let it sit for 2 more days.
I tested again this evening and liked the results (either that or i was impatient and didn't want bottle bombs or any number of other psych factors.
but either way i was pleased with the flavor and the level of carb so i pasteurized the bottles - per the procedure outlined in the sticky.
so now i have a little more than a case of palatable cider for under $18 in raw mats PLUS a gallon still cooking.

PLANS for the gallon set aside:
my intention here, as you likely have guessed, is to let it go with the extra sugars until i can no longer see signs of fermentation and then make some apple jack - will update this thread when I have tested that thanks for the help.

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