Cider Noob Questions

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Labradork

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So...

I did my first batch of cider today, roughly following the recipe for "Johnny Jump-Up". The recipe calls for 6 gallons of store-bought cider, 12 cups of sugar (6 white and 6 dark), 3 tsp. tannin, 6 tsp pectic enzyme, 10 tsp tartaric acid and 6 tsp yeast nutrient added. The recipe also called for a can of frozen Welches grape juice mix, but I subbed it out for 2 cans of frozen apple juice. The yeast used was a Red Star Premier Cuvee' and my OG was 1.085.

My hope is to split this batch into 5-7 smaller bottles which will each get flavored differently. I am thinking about using ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, maybe some fruits, honey...not all sure yet. Some I willl pasteurize sooner, some I will let get more dry, some I will prime and carbonate, others may stay still. I plan to experiment. I may end up back sweetening some if they come out too dry. Again, this is my first attempt at cider, and only my 3rd attempt at brewing at all, so any help I could get with my questions would be very much appreciated.

My questions:

Should I be keeping the cider in the dark, as I do beer?

What would be the ideal temperature to ferment this stuff? The yeast is good from 45-95 degrees or so, but what would be the best temp to get the best result?

What sort of time scale should I be looking at here? When would be a good time to split this into the 3-4 quart bottles and flavor it? I can use the smaller jugs as secondary fermenters, I have enough airlocks and such. How long until this should be drinkable?

I may have inadvertantly poured in way too much yeast nutrient (not sure, it may have been 8-9 tsp instead of the 6 called for). Will that be a problem?

Anything in particular I should look out for or make a point of doing?

Thank you all in advance for any guidance you can give me.

Labradork
 

Pickled_Pepper

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My questions:

Should I be keeping the cider in the dark, as I do beer?

What would be the ideal temperature to ferment this stuff? The yeast is good from 45-95 degrees or so, but what would be the best temp to get the best result?

What sort of time scale should I be looking at here? When would be a good time to split this into the 3-4 quart bottles and flavor it? I can use the smaller jugs as secondary fermenters, I have enough airlocks and such. How long until this should be drinkable?

I may have inadvertantly poured in way too much yeast nutrient (not sure, it may have been 8-9 tsp instead of the 6 called for). Will that be a problem?

Anything in particular I should look out for or make a point of doing?
I think light mostly effects the hops in beer...but I keep everything I ferment as dark as possible. I'm sure natural light can effect the flavors of just about anything.

I would try and ferment at the lowest range of your particular yeast. This will typically give you the cleanest flavors. It will take longer to finish, but will almost always give you the best final product. There are exceptions however, higher temps on some specialty brews will produce fruity flavors that might be desired.

I personally subscribe to the method of about a week in primary and then rack to secondary. Once in secondary it's a matter of how long you can wait before bottling. Store bought juices and low OG ciders with less complexity might be ready in 2 weeks or 2 months where dry, high OG or complex ciders might need an entire year. That's just a matter of trying different aging lengths to get it where you like it.

I doubt using a little extra nutrient will be a problem, but since I use raisins, I will leave that to someone else to answer.

SANITIZE SANITIZE SANITIZE. Just make sure that anything that touches your cider/beer/wine etc is always clean and has been sanitized with Star San or similar product. No rinse sanitizers are your best friend. ;)

You'll probably get a myriad of other suggestions and answers, but this is my 2¢ worth. Hope it helps.
 

WilliamSlayer

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So...

I did my first batch of cider today, roughly following the recipe for "Johnny Jump-Up". The recipe calls for 6 gallons of store-bought cider, 12 cups of sugar (6 white and 6 dark), 3 tsp. tannin, 6 tsp pectic enzyme, 10 tsp tartaric acid and 6 tsp yeast nutrient added. The recipe also called for a can of frozen Welches grape juice mix, but I subbed it out for 2 cans of frozen apple juice. The yeast used was a Red Star Premier Cuvee' and my OG was 1.085.

My hope is to split this batch into 5-7 smaller bottles which will each get flavored differently. I am thinking about using ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, maybe some fruits, honey...not all sure yet. Some I willl pasteurize sooner, some I will let get more dry, some I will prime and carbonate, others may stay still. I plan to experiment. I may end up back sweetening some if they come out too dry. Again, this is my first attempt at cider, and only my 3rd attempt at brewing at all, so any help I could get with my questions would be very much appreciated.

My questions:

Should I be keeping the cider in the dark, as I do beer?

What would be the ideal temperature to ferment this stuff? The yeast is good from 45-95 degrees or so, but what would be the best temp to get the best result?

What sort of time scale should I be looking at here? When would be a good time to split this into the 3-4 quart bottles and flavor it? I can use the smaller jugs as secondary fermenters, I have enough airlocks and such. How long until this should be drinkable?

I may have inadvertantly poured in way too much yeast nutrient (not sure, it may have been 8-9 tsp instead of the 6 called for). Will that be a problem?

Anything in particular I should look out for or make a point of doing?

Thank you all in advance for any guidance you can give me.

Labradork
Pickeled gave you some great advise. Just to build on that:

You intend to use this batch for tests:

Document and make lengthy tasting notes! The papers you create today will serve you well for years.

Control variables. Things like added ingredients are probally best added after fermentation is complete. Pasturizing at different gravity markings needs constant monitoring of the main batch as fermentation is not a steady arc to compleation.

Measure by weight, not volume. A small grams/ounces scale from your local 'big box' store is a great piece of equipment to invest a few dollars in.
 

WilliamSlayer

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Yes, in that they provide the nutrients that the yeast have been bred to expect in the liquids they are pitched into. But volume is key too. A few tsp of nutrient do the same job as pounds of rasins.
 

Pickled_Pepper

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I used raisins on my very first batch of cider because I didn't have nutrient at the time. (and I had raisins in the house) It seemed to work, so I just never used nutrient after that. If it ain't broke...;)

I use about a lb in 5 gallons and I steep them in some juice to make a raisin tea. My brown sugar gets thrown in while heating to help dissolve.

Good advice about the note taking, William.
 
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Labradork

Labradork

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Thank you all for your input.

Additional question: The morning after I pitched the yeast I see a lumpy brown foam on top of the batch, which I assume is the cider version of a krausen. The foam doesn't cover the entire surface of the cider - it doesn't get to the edges, and it's about 1/4" - 3/8" thick. I have a blow off tube going into a pail of water so I'm not worried about it and I go about my business. By afternoon, the foam is gone. I've only done a couple batches of beer and this is my first cider, but that seemed awful quick. Is that typical with a cider for the krausen to be so minimal and so short-lived? I do see a lot of bubbling going on along the top and outside edges of the liquid, so I'm sure some fermentation is going on.

Thanks
 
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