Should tannin be added before or after fermentation?
Before is best. But it's near impossible to gauge how much you will need in the finished product unless you are repeating a recipe. Otherwise just add it to taste right before bottling. Be sure to stir well and keep an eye on the bottom of the bottling container, tannin has a bad habit of not dissolving well and settling at the bottom.
I use it both before and after, depending on how much I need. You can add it any time, but it's often best to add it at racking to make sure it mixes. You can take out a little of the cider with a sanitized turkey baster, stir the tannin in well, and gently add it back also. That works well.
You don't need much at all, so start with a tiny amount at first- like no more than 1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallons- and then taste 12 hours later. Add more if desired. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it out!
You can add tannin both before and/or after.
Adding tannin in cider is similar to adding tannin in wine.
There are two types of tannins and both have their place ... one is the type of tannin from grapes and the other type is from wood - usually oak.
The tannin powder most people get from the brewers/winemakers store is generally the *grape* type unless specified otherwise.
Grape tannin is typically added before ferment (particularly with wine) ... Oak tannins typically after ... although if all you have is the grape type, you could use that after as well to carefully adjust to taste.
Grape tannin in particular adds a more bitter element as it is derived from catechins in the stems and seeds of grapes.
This is why if you are *not* getting the tannic bitterness from the apples, and decide to add grape tannin powder, you should be careful with the additions. Grape tannin can make your wine or cider bitter quickly if overdone.
You should also be careful if you add oak tannin too, even though the “hydrolyzable” type of tannins that oak adds are softer and add more favorable flavors and aromas without the tendency to quite as much bitterness.
While the bitterness of both types of tannin will mellow over time, the corresponding rise in astringency in that molecular change as it ages will seem greater with the grape tannin because it already has added more astringency to begin with. (astringency is the perception of dryness in the taste of wine or cider - or if really too astringent, "roughness")
For taste, having an adequate amount of tannin can balance and improve the brightness of the cider without necessarily having to add additional acid, as tannin tends to slightly reinforce the taste of acidity. Both acidity and bitterness (and astringency to some degree) are what avoids a cider being insipid or “flabby”.
Tannins also help protect against oxidization and the oxidized browning of cider by scavenging oxygen ... especially after fermentation. A good thing if you expect to hold or age the cider at all.
Personally, when I add tannin after fermentation I add the type of tannin from oak ... either oak cubes, chips or powder but I like cubes the best.
You still have to be careful when doing this ... err on the side of too little rather than too much. A half ounce medium toast french oak (or American) cubes for 3 to 5 gallons in the secondary and let sit for 2 to 4 weeks, tasting periodically to gauge the speed that the oak is taking effect. Then, rack off the oak when it is to your liking.
Importantly, not every addition works the same and keeping track by taste is important.
Oak cubes give out their effect more slowly than chips and so you can control them more easily. I’d suggest avoiding oaking *powder* entirely ... but the powder is available too and works ok if you’re careful.
If it’s a big batch of cider and you haven’t oaked cider before, consider making a part of that batch with *no* additional tannin or oaking at all, so that if you have to blend to get the flavor right at the end (that is, blend out some of the effects of too much tannin), you will have part of the batch to do that with.
This is a good idea too if you are adding grape tannin to a large batch that you don’t want to have to correct by fining out the tannin later as well.
Personally, I use grape tannin before the ferment ... and the oak tannin from “oaking” after primary ferment.
You can use both ... but me mindful of the cumulative amount of tannin ... and that if you end up with too much you might need to fine-out (with fining agents) or blend-out excess tannin with cider that has not had it added.
Hi there, first of all let me congratulate you for the lovely forum you have created.
I am living in Bulgaria and the only apples you get here are desert apples which lack natural tannins. The first batch of cider I've made was surprisingly good but a bit more apple wine than cider- nearly 14% alc... Nice!!! :)
For the second trial, I've decide to add some wine tannin to my apple juice.
The worry I have is that, by adding the tannins to the must (at the beginning of fermentation) the oxygen needed for the yeast to do it's magic might not be enough.
Would it be necessary to "turn" the cider (like you do when making red wine) so the oxygen can go in and help the yeast "work"?!
So please share if you have any advice about that issue of mine!
Thank you in advance,
While tannin does bind with oxygen and consequently can assist in slowing long term oxidation, you are not likely to have any yeast-oxygenation problems with adding tannin during primary fermentation.
Just make sure you are using an open-top fermenter (such as a food grade 5 gallon bucket) and providing the other fermenting conditions (temperature, nutrients etc) which is required by the yeast strain you are using.
As far as "punching down" the cap, if you are not fermenting on the apple pulp and skins then no, there is no need to turn the cider. If you had a cap of solids then you do need to turn it under to avoid problems with infection and also to obtain the best extraction of color & flavor etc from the pulp ... but if you are just using cider/juice, then that turning will only serve to potentially over-oxygenate your must/cider.
... and btw: welcome to HBT!
Thank you for the swift reply Jacob,
I'm using apple juice (no pulp) which has a very low pH. The low pH I've compensated by adding tartaric acid(at my previous trial)
Would it be a problem adding tannins considering that I am adding acids to the juice before fermentation as well. (of course I will add yeast and nutrients as well)
P.S. Jacob, wouldn't be risky using an open top fermenter, considering the bacteria which can get in and the abundance of oxygen that can help it thrive...
I assume you mean your apple juice has high pH (that is, not so much acid) ... ? ... and so you added some tartaric.
(And by the way, if you are adding acid prior to fermentation you should have some pH test tape to measure the effect of the acid on pH.)
Too low a pH (that is, too high of acid) can cause your ferment to stall.
As far as tannins and the ferment ... tannins do not specifically cause problems with the yeast being successful.
To help insure the success of your yeast, you don’t want your pH much lower than about 3.4 or so. Adding too much acid can cause it to be too low; and in fact as the ferment progresses, the cider can become even lower pH on its own ... risking your yeast stalling.
A good starting number is somewhere between 3.5 and 3.7 ... you want the number high enough for your yeast to be happy ... but low enough that the pH also helps prevent infection. Like I say ... you need to be measuring the number with test tape if you are going to be adjusting the pH. Much more about pH and measuring it can be found on this forum if you read-around.
As far as the open top fermenter:
You would stretch a thin piece of clean cloth (such as a t-shirt) over the top of the bucket to keep things from falling in it ... to keep fruit flies and other bugs out etc.
Bacteria is not specifically more likely to get in with an open top fermenter ... keeping bacteria from taking hold has mostly to do with following all the other proper sanitation procedures with how you clean all your equipment. Some other practices too such as the use of sulfites, choice of yeast, pH, temperatures etc ... much of that information can be found on this website and generally by doing the “homework” to learn it from reading at length.
But again ... avoiding infections has much do with how well you keep your equipment clean and sanitized ... and by not sticking unsanitized things into the cider that will introduce bacteria such as unsanitized spoons, your unwashed hands, contact with unsanitized tubing etc etc.
As far as oxygen getting in with an open top fermenter .... as the cider is fermenting it gives off carbon dioxide which helps prevent the oxygen from the air from getting into the cider and causing problems (generally at the surface). Furthermore, all yeast produce their own sulfites, some more than others; and that also helps protect your cider. Yeast are generally happiest with the exposure to oxygen from the open top fermenter; and the happier your yeast are the more likely they will be able to overcome other organisms with a successful fermentation.
Fermenting cider is notorious for getting an unpleasant sulfur odor if you do not provide very good conditions for the yeast. One of those conditions is having enough oxygen for the yeast to use. Good oxygen is your apple juice having some free oxygen in it to begin with .... this is sometimes done by shaking or stirring the hell out of your juice before you add the yeast ... adequate oxygen is also helped by having your primary fermenter open.
No shortcuts for all the research. Read, read and read some more.
Tannin, pH and oxygen
Thank you Jacob!
Very nice of you taking the time to answer my questions.
I am doing a wine tannin experimentation right now... I've added various amounts to 4 batches and will see what they come out like. Should be interesting.
My hunch is that we generally do not add nearly enough of the stuff. I am generally skeptical that anyone could possibly identify the difference that 1/4 tsp of tannin powder makes in 5 gallons. That kind of dosage is appropriate for wine because the grapes naturally have lots of tannin, but most apples have almost none.
Unless you live in the UK or France, your apple juice will have very little tannin, and all the cider-making books specify that ideal cider juice is very tannic. Some of the apples are even called "spitters" because they are too bitter to eat. So I'm trying out 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 1.5 tsp per gallon in my test batches... can't wait to taste the results!
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