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Old 11-02-2007, 06:05 AM   #1
Nov 2007
Posts: 1

Ok, I'm new at making cider but have successfully made several batches of beer that all turned out fairly well. I found a great cider recipe and proceeded to make following the directions. I used 'organic' apple cider, no preservatives. I let it sit for 24 hours (with a fermentation lock) and then pitched the yeast as the directions said to. There was very vigorous activity within the first day so much so that I had to use a blowout tube. The activity continued for almost 10 days and was fairly exhausted by the time I bottled. The alcohol content was around 7% at time of bottling.

So now all of that's said my question is this:
Is it possible to over ferment cider so that it results in a very tart, dry cider instead of a sweet cider? The recipe had a lot of sugar in it so I assumed it would be sweet. When I tasted my cider it almost tasted like a dry, white wine...something that would go well in fondue, but I really wanted to make a sweet hard cider. Is this a matter of bacterial contamination or simply too much fermentation? Are their any recipes that anyone knows of to make a hard sweet cider?

I'm kinda bummed about it because I've had such great luck with beer, but I want to try again and need to know what might have gone wrong. Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 11-02-2007, 11:46 AM   #2
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Oct 2007
Montreal, Canada
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Just wondering, have you bottled it yet? If not great.

So basically, your yeast has fermented out all of the sugar. Now you could kill the yeast with a few Campden tablets (or metabisulfite), others will tell you how much, and then add a bit more sugar. Since the yeast will be dead, it won't ferment the added sugar and there you go, sweet hard cider. Now, the problem with this is you may have wanted a carbonated cider, with this method if you are using bottle priming, it won't work.

The amount of sugar you will want to add will very greatly, but others will be able to give you a ballpark figure.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:25 PM   #3
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Jun 2006
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When you add sugar to cider, you are not adding sweetening, you are boosting the ABV, since sugar is completely fermentable. You probably did make apple wine if your sg was over 1.070 or so.

That's no problem, it'll just take a bit longer to age. Now, as mrfocus said, you can sweeten if you want now that it's done fermenting.

You would use 1 campden tablet per gallon along with potassium sorbate. The sorbate should be used at 1/2 teaspoon per gallon. You can dissolve these in a little boiling water in the microwave, or heat up a little bit of your cider and dissolve it and then add it to your carboy. This will stop refermentation and allow you to sweeten. You won't be able to carbonate the cider, though, after this step. If you want a sweet cider without stabilizing, or you want to carbonate, you can add splenda to taste.

You can't "overferment" anything- when it's done, it's done. Most ciders and wines will ferment to .990 or so (dry) unless you add so much sugar you overwhelm the yeast. Then you'd have an 18% (depending on what yeast you used) rocket fuel cider!

I hope this helps!
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:27 PM   #4
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Nov 2006
Central PA
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Hi Brewgal and welcome!

First off, Cider almost always finishes dry unless you intervene. A degree of tartness could come from apple choice, but more than likely you'll end up with something totally different than what you may have been expecting first time around! Additionally, pretty much all of the sugar you add going into the ferment will be consumed and converted to alcohol and C02.

mrfocus has pretty much given you the proper rundown on what to do if you want to sweeten it. Just be sure to use enough campden and if you aren't confident let the sugar sit in the carboy for a few days to make certain you don't have fermentation kick back in because if you sugar and then bottle and the yeast isn't dead you could get bottle bombs.

The process is fairly simple, after you have arrested fermentation, just dissolve sugar into your batch and as you go sample the beverage until you find what you are looking for in terms of flavor. Be sure to use a thief or turkey baster when pulling out samples so that you don't contaminate the batch. I am not sure what proportions though. Stay away from sweetening with anything heavy in flavor. Table sugar is probably a good route to go I am guessing. They also sell an 'acid blend' which is useful for correcting the acid balance when you sweeten. Sometimes just adding the sugar isn't enough, you need the tartness to bring back balance.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:27 PM   #5
Sep 2007
Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 69

I've run into the same "problem" if you will. I want mine to be sparkling, but also a little sweeter than it currently is. I haven't bottled it yet (6 gallons). I've seen on the forum that I should add Splenda, because it sweetens it, but it won't ferment. So I'm probably going to add a little sugar (enough to carbonate) and Splenda. But how much Splenda should I add? should I buy the packets, and add 1 per bottle, or buy the bag and pour a bunch of it in?

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Old 11-08-2007, 06:51 AM   #6
Nov 2007
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I just bottled my still cider today and I used mason jars. I put a 3 teaspoons od Splenda in the bottom before filling. Try one jar/bottle and keep adding a measurable amount until you get what you want.

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Old 11-08-2007, 11:14 AM   #7
Sep 2006
Auckland, New Zealand
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You don't just have to use a synthetic sugar like splenda, you can also use a non-fermentable sugar like lactose (if you not lactose intolerent that is). I like to go with route myself, cos I just don't trust those sugar substitutes with their possible carcinogenicity and sacharrin and such. Just btw. Oh and you should be able to find lactose in like a health food shop if you can't find it in your LHBS or so I'm told...

As to the 'how much sweetener to add?' question, zoebisch01 pretty much said it all. Or you could do it a slightly different way. Just take a few measured amounts of your cider, like 50ml for example in a few glasses, and add measured amounts of sweetener until you get the sweetness you want, for example maybe 5g of sweetner is just right for the 50mls (note I'm puling numbers out of my behind, so it might be tottaly off) then I'd try 100mls with 10g, just to make sure you measured right - cos you never know how well your instruments are calibrated. All you need to do is then scale it up. Using this example, you'd assume that the volume of your cider would be around 23L (5gallons-ish IIRC), minus say 500ml that you consumed with this exercise etc. This leaves 22.5L = 22500ml, then divide this by your test sample volume (here 50ml), so 22500/50 = 11250, so you would need 11250X5g of sweetener for the desired sweetness, which equals 56.25Kgs (using my brain ), lol so that just shows how way out those numbers are, but you get the point.
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:30 PM   #8
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Sep 2007
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Yeah, Someone else who works in Metric...

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Old 11-13-2007, 08:12 PM   #9
Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by JeanLucD
... which equals 56.25Kgs...

I just pictured a 5 gallon carboy off apple cider stuffed with 125 pounds of splenda.

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Old 12-11-2007, 05:32 PM   #10
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Sep 2007
Apex, NC
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Originally Posted by Yooper Brewmistress
You would use 1 campden tablet per gallon along with potassium sorbate. The sorbate should be used at 1/2 teaspoon per gallon. You can dissolve these in a little boiling water in the microwave, or heat up a little bit of your cider and dissolve it and then add it to your carboy. This will stop refermentation and allow you to sweeten. You won't be able to carbonate the cider, though, after this step. If you want a sweet cider without stabilizing, or you want to carbonate, you can add splenda to taste.
Yooper, thanks for the insight. I have a similar question. I have a cider that is down to 0.96 if I'm reading my hydrometer right. Dang Anyway, it is very dry and not quite what I was shooting for. Next time I'm not adding dextrose and will go with a less attenuative yeast. I've tried adding lactose to measured amounts to see if I could get it back where I wanted it but I'm not wild about the taste.

What I believe would work is to dilute my 4.5gallons of very hard, very dry cider/apflewein with a couple of gallons of fresh, unfermented cider to regain some of the apple flavor and a little sweetness. I know I have to kill off my yeasts to do this. That's fine. I have potassium metabisulfate on hand, do I need sorbate as well?

Thanks for your help.
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