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Old 10-20-2011, 05:25 PM   #1
McHaven
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Default Will the Experts Doublecheck My Strategy?

Hey everyone, I've been researching the hell out of cider making, but I want to make sure it all sounds alright to the more experienced around here.

The girlfriend wanted cider. Sweet sparkling cider. So I decided I would make her some.

Since East Texas isn't exactly a land of orchards, I had to use store bought juice. I bought 4 gallons of Musselman's Cider (not from concentrate, pasteurized but no preservatives.) I put this into my carboy, added my Wyeast Cider Activator pack and added a half pound of brown sugar. It has been fermenting for about ten days now. Bubbling has stopped, but I haven't taken a gravity reading yet.

My plan is to put the cider into secondary at the end of the month. I am going to sweeten to taste with Xylitol before I close up the secondary fermenter. I will then leave it in secondary for 2 months. At bottling time, I plan on making a small priming sugar mixture (like I do for brewing) and bottling it that way.

I suppose my questions are:
1. SHould I add more sugar now? Was a half pound not enough at the beginning of fermentation?
2. I planned on using xylitol since its recommended at makinghardcider.com. Is there another nonfermentable I should be using?
3. Is the priming sugar option still safe for cider? Or will even that give me bottle bombs?

The goal cider is a crisp, but sweet, carbonated cider. Sadly, she likes Woodchuck and Strongbow a lot, so I imagine I'll need a big bag of Xylitol.

Thanks
Mick


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Old 10-20-2011, 07:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McHaven
Hey everyone, I've been researching the hell out of cider making, but I want to make sure it all sounds alright to the more experienced around here.

The girlfriend wanted cider. Sweet sparkling cider. So I decided I would make her some.

Since East Texas isn't exactly a land of orchards, I had to use store bought juice. I bought 4 gallons of Musselman's Cider (not from concentrate, pasteurized but no preservatives.) I put this into my carboy, added my Wyeast Cider Activator pack and added a half pound of brown sugar. It has been fermenting for about ten days now. Bubbling has stopped, but I haven't taken a gravity reading yet.

My plan is to put the cider into secondary at the end of the month. I am going to sweeten to taste with Xylitol before I close up the secondary fermenter. I will then leave it in secondary for 2 months. At bottling time, I plan on making a small priming sugar mixture (like I do for brewing) and bottling it that way.

I suppose my questions are:
1. SHould I add more sugar now? Was a half pound not enough at the beginning of fermentation?
2. I planned on using xylitol since its recommended at makinghardcider.com. Is there another nonfermentable I should be using?
3. Is the priming sugar option still safe for cider? Or will even that give me bottle bombs?

The goal cider is a crisp, but sweet, carbonated cider. Sadly, she likes Woodchuck and Strongbow a lot, so I imagine I'll need a big bag of Xylitol.

Thanks
Mick
Xylitol is not cheap but the sweetness is more like real sugar.. I'm using stevia since I can get about 4 to 6 batches out of a $8.00 bottle.... your initial sugar quantity is mainly a preference for alcohol content... Yes, the way you plan on doing it works fine for sparkling cider...


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Old 10-22-2011, 12:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edmanster

Xylitol is not cheap but the sweetness is more like real sugar.. I'm using stevia since I can get about 4 to 6 batches out of a $8.00 bottle.... your initial sugar quantity is mainly a preference for alcohol content... Yes, the way you plan on doing it works fine for sparkling cider...
than. anyone else want to add something ?
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Old 10-22-2011, 12:31 PM   #4
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What you are doing is just fine. Sweet sparkling cider is hard to make if you can not keg it. You are basically going to let it ferment dry and then add artificial sweetness to it. Adding priming sugar is normal and as long as you add the right amount you will not create bombs. The priming calculator I have used actually has an option for cider.
Now my opinion... If she likes Woodchuck AND Strongbow, then she has a nice variety of tastes. I would call Woodchuck syrupy sweet and Strongbow nice and dry. When I compare Strongbow to my dry cider, they are not too far off from each other.
As Edmaster pointed out, adding sugar is primarily for increasing the alcohol content. I brew mine without sugar.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:37 PM   #5
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i guess ill add that you can add a little more yeast with your sugar solution when you bottle it to ensure carbonation!!!
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:12 AM   #6
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Well, tomorrow is bottling day. I didn't get to age it as long as I wanted, but she wants at least some cider ready for when she graduates in December.

When I moved the cider to secondary, we added the xylitol until it got pretty sweet, but there were still some harsh tastes. I'm hoping a month in secondary has helped mellow things out.

We'll bottle tomorrow with a small priming sugar mixture. Probably 1/4 cup sugar in a cup of water. I really don't want to have bottle bombs, so I'm going low on my solution.

Tips or comments?
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:25 PM   #7
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1/4 cup is a little less than i would use, but it should eliminate your worries about bottle bombs. Another poster mentioned adding more yeast, I would disagree with that. You will have plenty of yeast still in suspension, dont add more. The harsh flavors do mellow with time, and it will seem to sweeten with time, so hopefully you didnt oversweeten it. If it is still quite cloudy, you may want to let it clear for longer in the secondary.


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