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HoboTurtle

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Hey all, newbie here so if I’m breaking any etiquette please let me know.

I am about to start my second cider and am planning on using tree top honeycrisp (not cosmic crisp) cider. I have read a few posts that seem to indicate this could give me a somewhat bland end product and am wondering what I could do to enhance it abit. I don’t want to add any fruit as I want to keep it just apple.

My first cider was nothing more than yeast and juice. I have bought some wine tannin, citric acid, and malic acid, since then for session mead brews. Would any of those be beneficial here?

Btw, I am planning on using a saison yeast.
 

Transamguy77

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Are you bottling or kegging? And carbed or still? Depending on that stuff you could backsweeten to bring back some of the apple flavor your looking for. I don’t like a dry cider so I backsweeten all of my ciders.
 
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HoboTurtle

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My plan is to bottle condition. I do have some erythritol that I could use for back sweetening but I haven’t ever used it so idk if it will actually add anything to the flavor profile beyond sweetness.
 

Transamguy77

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I have only used wine conditioner to back sweeten so I can’t speak for erythritol. I usually use campdon tabs and add a gallon of apple juice to sweeten and flavor. Maybe brake down the batch into 2 ways and try some with a sweetener and some with not.
 
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That’s a good idea. I am doing a 3 gallon batch and have a number of carboys. May have to just use this batch for some experimenting in secondary.
 

bernardsmith

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Hey all, newbie here so if I’m breaking any etiquette please let me know.

I am about to start my second cider and am planning on using tree top honeycrisp (not cosmic crisp) cider. I have read a few posts that seem to indicate this could give me a somewhat bland end product and am wondering what I could do to enhance it abit. I don’t want to add any fruit as I want to keep it just apple.

My first cider was nothing more than yeast and juice. I have bought some wine tannin, citric acid, and malic acid, since then for session mead brews. Would any of those be beneficial here?

Btw, I am planning on using a saison yeast.
In my opinion, any cider made from a commercial source of apple juice made as a soft drink OR any apple juice that comes from a single variety of eating apples is going to taste bland. alcoholic cider was always made from a variety of tart, sweet, tannic, and flavor rich apples. To correct for this you will want to bench test additions of acidity (malic), and tannins.
 
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HoboTurtle

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any apple juice that comes from a single variety of eating apples is going to taste bland.
I hadn’t read about this until after buying 3 gallons of this juice lol. Is there any general consensus on a good store bought juice for making hard cider? Making my own from scratch just isn’t a viable option for me.
 

bernardsmith

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Making your own from scratch is a challenge but if you live in a part of the world with apple orchards where the growers know about hard cider then they will either be blending apples to make juice for cider makers or may agree to make a blend to make you five gallons of juice. That said, if you know the deficits of the commercial juice you are buying you can rectify it by adding malic acid and tannin and perhaps blending different blends of apple juice. The one thing you do need to watch for is that the commrcial juice is not made with preservatives. THAT will inhibit or prevent fermentation.
 

Chalkyt

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A couple of years ago we had a poor season for apples so I tried store bought juice before finding an orchard that could supply a variety of juices (I settled on a Granny Smith and Pink Lady blend that worked out O.K.)

However with the somewhat bland store bought juice, I went down the Graham's English Cider path (see Recipes tab above). This uses limes for acidity and strong black tea for tannin and turned out quite good. So as suggested by others above, adding malic acid and/or tannin powder, or following the Graham's recipe should help.

For your information, with my last batches I fermented down to 1.010 (which was the sweetness I was after), then bottled with enough additional sugar to raise the SG by 0.005 then allowed it to ferment back down to 1.010 generating 2.0-2.5 vols of CO2 (around one volume of CO2 will be generated by a SG drop of 0.002). Of course once it is bottled you can't measure the SG so I have used both the "squeeze the soda bottle" and pressure gauge test bottle methods to indicate when the right level of carbonation is reached. I hot water bath pasteurised the bottles to stop any further fermentation.In both cases the result was medium sweet carbonated cider.
 
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HoboTurtle

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So I ended up doing 3 gallons of treetop honeycrisp apple unfiltered juice/cider, added half a pound of honey, and used belle saison yeast. Ended up with an OG of 1.055. My plan is to ferment dry, adjust acidity to taste with malic acid, and then bottle carb. Might also back-sweeten with erythritol, but not sure.
 

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HoboTurtle

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I hot water bath pasteurised the bottles to stop any further fermentation.In both cases the result was medium sweet carbonated cider.
I have been looking into doing this using a sous vide cooker. May have to do another 1 gallon batch just to try that. How sweet do you find that FG gives you compared to actual juice vs fully dry hard cider?
 

Chalkyt

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Good question re sweetness. Of course it depends somewhat on an individual's perception, however as a guide...
Andrew Lea suggests that commercial medium dry cider SG is about 1.010 so that is where I started. To my tastes that is a little too sweet at around 25g of sugar per litre (straight apple juice is typically a bit above 100g per litre). For "quaffing" cider I prefer around 10-15 g or 2-3 teaspoons per litre (SG 1.005-1.007). A fully dry cider for me is too tart, although some yeasts like S04 can stop at 1.002 - 1.004 and make a very nice cider once it has matured a bit. Certainly a cider with high acidity can handle more sugar.

I use a simple sous vide setup to stop the cider at the sweetness level that I want. Just a 20 litre bucket which takes five 330ml (12oz) bottles plus the heater and a bottle of water with a meat/cooking thermometer in it. I have recorded the water bottle temperature at each minute over several batches and found very little difference between batches.

With the bottles pre heated to around 40C in hot tap water and the bucket water at constant 65C, it takes about 5 minutes for the bottle temperature to reach 60C (which is where pasteurisation starts), then about 10 minutes for them to reach just below 65C. At this point around 30+ pasterurisation units (PUs) are achieved. Removing the bottles and letting them cool results in another 20+ PUs, so the 50 PU cider target is easily achieved and no more residual sugar is fermented.

I like to work with a pasteurisation temperature of not more than 65C because even with 2.5 vols of carbonation, the bottle pressure shouldn't be much more than 100psi which is well below the pressure that bottles can normally handle. My preference is for less than that level of carbonation.

Even without monitoring time and temperature, just roughly following the above will achieve sufficient pasteurisation as it is generally accepted that 30+ PUs is adequate for cider. A typical set of recent figures is attached FYI.
 

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HoboTurtle

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Oh wow, you have no idea how happy I am to finally find someone who can definitively tell me that sous vide can work for pasteurization of brews. I have figured it would, but haven’t found any first hand accounts.

And the chart you provide for me is incredible! I may not know what some of those technical terms mean, but I will definitely be reading up on it lol.

Thank you so much!
 

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I started out making cider...so I have made prolly 50+ gallons. I use concentrate and RO/distilled water to start, ale yeast to keep the ABV about 6% and have gone from bottle conditioning to kegging. Back when I bottled, I would bottle condition using a "test bottle" to measure carbonation and then pasteurize to kill off the remaining yeast. Never had a bottle bomb, and never had a bottle break due to pasteurization...prolly because I would "pre-warm" the bottles before putting them into the how water bath. Here's the steps I would do back then:

1.) 5.5 gallons of RO or distilled water and the appropriate amount of concentrate to make standard "juice"
2.) add pectin enzymes an hour before pitching and take a gravity reading
3.) before pitching yeast, add 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrients and mix well
4.) pitch yeast (either an ale yeast or a specific cider yeast)
5.) cover with a black pillow case and let sit until no activity in the airlock
6.) take final gravity reading to ensure fermentation is complete
7.) add 1 can of apple concentrate to 6 gallon bottling bucket for every gallon for fermented juice
8.) rack off fermented juice to 6 gallon bottling bucket
8a.) add malic acid/tannin to taste
9.) cold crash for 48 hours
10.) bottle and cap
11.) bottle condition for 2 weeks (or until test bottle is too hard to squeeze)
12.) fill sink with the hottest water that comes out of your tap
13.) add bottles and let them sit in hot tap water for 15 minutes
14.) heat water in large kettle to 180 degrees F
15.) turn off heat and add bottles
16.) let bottles sit in 180 degree water for 20 minutes
17.) while bottles are in kettle, pre-heat more bottles in hot tap water as above
18.) remove bottles and store at room temp until bottles have cooled (usually overnight)
19.) add bottles to fridge and chill
20.) drink and enjoy!
 

Chalkyt

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Hi Hoboturtle... have fun! FYI,to help start your research about heat pasteurisation etc, I have attached something that I posted a while ago.(I spent a fair bit of time searching and playing about with bottles of water, times and temperatures etc during Coivd lockdown and this was the result).

Although I refer to carbonation levels of 3 volumes of CO2 in the results, this was to find a practical safe upper bottle pressure limit for this approach. My preference for cider generally is around 1.5 - 2.0 volumes which keeps worst case bottle pressure around 100psi during pasteurisation. As always with heat and pressure it is always worth taking PPE precautions in case something goes "pear shaped".

You might also read Pappers "sticky" at the top of the cider forum, Jim Rausch's post 20 April 2018, and Bembel's post 11 May 2016. Collectively they are the basis of my approach.

Cheers!
 

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I am a fan of wild fermented cider, so I buy organic, unpasteurized, no preservative apple juice at Sprouts (concentrate works too). After several successful batches, I now keep a bottle of culture left over from the last time to kick start it, but that's all I add. Turns out dry, tart, and complex; making up for the potentially bland juice blend and about 6% ABV. It can be bottle-conditioned or kegged, but it takes about 2 months to taste decent and 4 months or more to really shine. A year in the bottle is amazing.
 
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