Backsweetening and flavoring

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AaronHartwell

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Hey everyone,

I've been making cider for a while and this winter I've been working on my post-fermentation technique to backsweeten and enhance the flavor of my ciders. I work in 5 gallon batches which get kegged and force carbonated. My two biggest hits this year were a peach mango cider and a pear with madagascar vanilla cider. I just kegged a habanero pineapple cider which I think will be really good when I'm done with it.

My backsweeten and flavoring process right now involves doing things in stages usually during the week it's taking for the keg to get force carbonated. I try to limit the number of things I'm changing at once. First step involves getting the flavor I'm looking for. I always start with an apple cider base but then I'll add flavors to bring in the other fruit flavor I'm trying to introduce. In the instances above, I introduced mango, peach, and pear and on the batch I'm working on now, pineapple. I'm experimenting with extracts, whole fruit, fruit juice, and frozen concentrates and am seeing the pros/cons to each. Once I have the right level of fruit flavor popping I try to balance sweetness with tartness which usually entails me increasing the tartness. I use malic acid generally. I've tried using my TA kit to be scientific but I find that I'm not good at reading the color change and that taste is the best way to go for me. There's also something about the balance between sweetness and tartness that isn't quite captured in TA numbers. The more sweet the cider the more I find I need to increase the tartness. Might just be me.

It's been a lot of fun.

Question... if anyone follows a similar process, I'm curious to get your take on how you deal with fruit puree / residue settling out at the bottom of the keg. For example, I'm finding that fruit juices or frozen concentrates give the most natural real fruit flavor but when the keg sits, as kegs do, much of the fruit settles to the bottom of the keg. I don't mind pulling a cloudy glass occasionally but the flavor is settling to the bottom too. I guess it's not particularly surprising as I've had minute made orange juice frozen concentrate do the same thing in a pitcher in the fridge. Shaking the keg every time I want to pour someone a glass doesn't seem like a workable solution. It's possible some concentrates are more liquid vs. solids and I just need to do research to find the ones that really dissolve into pure liquid. I would love to hear from those of you who've worked through this.

Thanks!

Aaron
 
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CKuhns

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I just add fruit in a mesh bag before kegging. Pull it when it hits the flavor profile i like. Adjust sweetness with Zyletol (not much, i prefer a dryer cider) and tartness with malic acid and clarify by cold crashing and if needed KC Super Kleer. Then keg.
 
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AaronHartwell

AaronHartwell

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Yeah, I guess I need to try the mesh bag and fruit. Like you, I almost always cold crash and I use Super Kleer, both in secondary before kegging.
 
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