Cider Newbie - cider pressed...now what?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

EJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
418
Reaction score
126
Location
Woodinville
Hi - I'm an experienced all-grain beer brewer, but my wife wants cider and sourced applies before I sourced knowledge :) So I have lots of brewing equipment but not a lot of cider knowledge. So the apple cart is before the horse, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm hoping a kind soul will answer these newbie questions or direct me to an article or something. I've read a lot here but have a few unanswered questions.

We pressed a little over 5 gallons today. I have it in a fermenter in my fermentation chamber, and I have it cooling down...because I'm not sure what else to do next. I've added nothing at this point (no yeast or anything).

I'm ultimately after a semi-sweet carbonated cider (I have kegging equipment). She'll probably want to add some blackberry or something later - I can do that after-the-fact right?

I have on-hand right now campden tablets, yeast (Safcider and a bunch of beer yeasts), acid blend, and yeast nutrient. I have to go to the LHBS tomorrow to return the crusher I rented, so if I need anything else, I'll be there tomorrow.

Specifically : Should I add campden right away? 1 tablet per gallon?

My beer tends to do very well when fermentation is temperature-controlled. Is cider like this? What temp should I dial in?
How long then to pitch? Add yeast nutrient? How much?

Once fermentation is done, I do .... something ... to inhibit further yeast activity, pop it in a keg, and carbonate right?
 

FLYPacNW

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
46
Reaction score
11
Location
The Palouse
My advice...and I'm no veteran of this business, would be to:

1) RIGHT NOW (We'll call this Day 1) Add the Campden - or Potassium Metabisulfite now. Crush the tablets into a powder. Pull a little juice out, mix it with the powder and then blend that slurry back into the cider. This will buy you some time to source your knowledge, come up with a plan and get the apple cart behind the horse. With the cart in front the damn horse will eat all the apples...and then what? Pissed Wife. Depending on the room temperature in your house, cider can kick off a wild fermentation really quickly. Ask me how I know. You'll need to wait a few days to add any yeast until the Campden has gone inert or you will kill the yeast. Once you've added the campden go on Amazon and order this book. People here are gonna get sick of me recommending it, but I **** you not, it's the key to the dungeon.

2) Day 3: If you desire a clear cider in the end, after about 2 days add some pectic enzyme.

3) Day 4: Pull a little cider let it come to room temp and check pH, and SG then pour into a small glass dish. You can skip checking Titratable Acidity on your first cider, but if this becomes a thing for you I recommend you get a kit and do it on future batches. Add your yeast (I recommend SAF Cider) and gently stir it in. Cover loosely and let the chapeau braun or the little foam hat form. Once that is done, pour it back into your cider and seal her up with an airlock.

4) Place your fermenter in it's place and let 'er rip. You can leave the cider at room temp until you see the fermentation has clearly started, and then put it someplace cooler to slow the fermentation. I have my batch right now going at 36F which will result in a much more flavorful and apple-y cider. Fermenting too fast results in a substantial loss of flavor. Not sure what kind of setup you have, but if you have a chiller, use it. Remember cider can be made wild and lots of people just put it in their barn over the winter...the take away is that it's a cold fermenting drink, but it's also not going to ruin it if the temp varies a little bit. If you want consistency, set a temp of 38-45-ish with a hysteresis of 3 or less and you'll be in for a long, steady fermentation with excellent results.

5) If you ferment to dryness (1.000) the fermentation will generally stop, but there remains the possibility of malolactic fermentation which is another conversation. You'll want to bottle before you get to 1.0. If you want to stop fermentation in it's tracks you can always add a little more Campden but you should research how much to use in this case as I haven't done that.

6) I would definitely wait until you have a finished cider to see what you have before you start adding flavors. You can always order a concentrate and add it a little at a time in a glass to enjoy that way. We have a commercial cidery near us that makes a Huckleberry Cider by adding huckleberry flavor (I don't know if its juice, concentrate or steeped berries or what) to an already sweet cider. If you know huckleberries, they are SWEET. The result is a huckleberry cider that I can't stand...it's WAY too sweet. Sweeter than Angry Orchard - which is saying something. I made a semi-dry a while back and would use an eyedropper to add some cranberry juice concentrate (the real stuff, not Ocean Spray). It was ridiculously good, dry and tart. It was nice because we didn't need to make a whole batch of cranberry.

Good Luck!
 
Last edited:
OP
EJay

EJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
418
Reaction score
126
Location
Woodinville
Thank you so much. This is hugely helpful. I added campden just now. The whole thing is in my fermentation chamber now set at 46F (for no particular reason), so I figure that will slow down the growth of anything for a bit to but some time.

this advice is great. Can I check sugar with the same refractometer I use for beer? I have a hydrometer around here somewhere if I need to use that.

I have a ph meter too so I can check that.
I plan on kegging this to avoid the whole issues with bottle carbonation.

I’ll get that book ordered.
 

FLYPacNW

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
46
Reaction score
11
Location
The Palouse
Awesome! 46 is a good temp.

You sure can use that refractometer. Many orchardists carry one in the field to check brix right off the tree, so it'll definitely work. You might want to use your hydrometer along with the refractometer the time around just to get a point of calibration.
 
Last edited:
OP
EJay

EJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
418
Reaction score
126
Location
Woodinville
Update - just added pectic enzyme and pitched yeast. Temp set to 50 which is lower end of recommended by Fermentis for this yeast. Also added yeast nutrient at half the label dosage. That smelled terrible but a quick search of the forums confirmed the ammonia smell is OK.

Ran into a problem with my fermentation chamber (small fridge/freezer) - my fermenter doesn't fit with the drip tray in place around the ice box area, and without it, the condensation drips and collects in my bucket lid (using a 7.8G HDPE bucket). So I had to jury rig a system to collect.

Checked OG with refractometer and it was 1.045. The book arrived today and I'm reading through as fast as I can. So far I don't see anything that makes me believe I screwed anything up too badly.
 

FLYPacNW

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2018
Messages
46
Reaction score
11
Location
The Palouse
Awesome! It sounds like you nailed it to me. For what it's worth the initial SG on my most recent batch was 1.049. My explanation in my first response to you was basically a battlefield summary of that book. Now that you've got it and the cider is tickin' away you can take your time with that book and take it in. 50 is a good temp, but don't be afraid to run your fermentation colder than what's on the yeast data, as long as you let it start and get going in the published range you can then control the speed of fermentation by running it colder. It'll take longer but the end results will be much better too.

One thing to watch for in the book: Claude is a mechanical engineer by training, and a very good one. There are a few places where he drops a formula that looks weird...these are most likely looking for measurements by weight of a liquid volume (your cider). My wife is a research lab scientist and she had to go to her boss (a double Ph.D.) to have him look at it for an hour and finally go, "Oh yeah! It's by weight." Once we figured that out, it all made sense.

If you really get into this, go to ciderworkshop.com. In the top right corner is an email signup for a listserv forum for cider makers. You can ask questions there and cider makers from all over the world will get it in their email and answer your questions. Claude himself and Andrew Lea (one of the most well known cider makers in the world) are very active and helpful, among many others. I know you're a beer guy, but cider is so easy to totally geek out on.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!
 
Top