Originally Posted by ziggy203
Thanks alot guys. I think I'm just nervous about my first batch but from what I've seen on here I should just jump right in and learn from my mistakes.
One question I have is can anyone give me a very simple one line explaination of how to make a cider sweet/dry, still/sparkling and most of all (I know it'll be in the books) what exactly is back sweetening?
Sorry for all the ignorant questions but thanks alot for the advice!
I am new to this hobby as well, so I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong....but to reiterate, if you want to get into the questions you are asking, the hydrometer is an invaluable tool.
To that end: Whether your cider is sweet or dry will mostly depend on the final gravity, or, how much sugar has been converted to alcohol. If most of the sugar has been converted, it will be drier, if less has been converted, it will be sweeter. The ways to stop the yeast where you want it are to let it ferment out to a final gravity (FG) of about .980. If you bottle it then, it will be still and dry because there is nothing left for the yeast to eat and poop.
If say you bottle it at 1.005 and let it finish in a room temp spot, it will keep fermenting. The bubbles can't escape through an airlock and gets forces back into the cider so it will be dry and sparking.
If you like it sweeter and still, say 1.020 you can put it in the fridge and the yeast will rest. Be careful though because if it warms up the yeast will wake up and you could have little bottle bombs.
If you want sweeter and sparking, you can bottle it, but put some in a small plastic bottle (like a club soda bottle) when the club soda bottle gets firm you either put it in the fridge (see prior warning) or pasteurize it (see sticky thread)
Back sweetening is when you let the sugars become exhausted, and then add a sweetener like frozen apple juice concentrate or splenda. The AJC will give the yeast more sugars so you either have to refrigerate it after or kill off the yeast through pasteurization. Something like splenda, the yeast can't eat.