Dark Fruits Cider

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Ciderman62

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I currently have circa 70 litres of apple cider fermenting & around 30kg of apples still to juice.

I am wanting to experiment with different flavours one being a dark fruits. I have around 10 - 15 kg of blackberries raspberries, loganberries & blueberries in the freezer which were frozen within 24 hours of picking from the allotment.

the question is do I

  1. Rack off a batch of the existing cider and add the berries before it stops fermenting
  2. Wait until the cider has finished fermenting rack off & then add the berries
  3. Start a new fermentation with the remaining apples and add the berries from the start
alternatively, I could press the various berries and add as juice rather than whole berries however given they are frozen they should break down very quickly once defrosted as a result of the ice crystal which would have formed in the fruit when freezing so this could be a very messy process.

Regardless of which of the three I go with what quantity of each of the berries should I add per litre of cider/apple juice

The wife is also wanting me to make a cinnamon & vanilla cider I have seen recipes online suggesting one cinnamon stick & the seeds from one vanilla pod to a 4.5l demijohn but again it was not clear at what stage in the process this should be done.

I am thinking for both the dark fruit & the cinnamon cider the additions would need to be in the cider for at least two weeks prior to bottling in order for them to impart sufficient flavour into the final product but again not sure. (Probably less time if I add as juice) A lot of the YouTube videos seem to be based on trial & error, so any advice greatly welcomed
 

Chalkyt

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I am going down a similar path with some trial 2 litre (1/2 gallon) batches of apple/cherry and apple/blackberry cider. I have an abundance of frozen blackberries from earlier in the year and am trialing some commercial cherry concentrate (my two large cherry trees have died from root rot due to excess rain and flooding so I will be without my own cherries for a few years). I have just started the primary apple fermentation so it will be some weeks before I have any results.

I have made "fruit infused" cider before, and FYI I have learned the following...

- Somewhere between 10% and 20% by volume is about the right amount of added fruit.

- A primary fermentation of the apple juice (down to 1.020 - 1.030) is a good place to transfer to secondary and add fruit. Adding the fruit to secondary (where the fermentation is slower) gives you some control over how much flavour is taken up before removing the fruit or decanting for bottling.

- The fruit will add sugar so this will also be fermented, adding to the ABV.

- If fermentation continues down to 1.000, all the sugars will be consumed and so the result will be a dry/tart cider with only traces of the fruit taste, so for me, stopping fermentation at 1.010 or below keeps some flavour and sweetness (which you probably want with apple/fruit cider.

- The fruit (even if frozen) may contain undesirables such as pathogens, mould etc, so I have added it after gentle stewing ( i.e. add a small amount of water and possibly sugar then gently heat and stir up to about 65C... keeps the fruit somewhat whole and keeping the temp below 80C shouldn't set pectin. Alternatively I believe you can add SO2 to control pathogens but I would expect this to interfere with the residual yeast).

- Add the fruit to secondary in a steeping bag (a big tea bag or wrapped in muslin) so that you can get it out if you want to and avoid having a multitude of seeds and floaters to get rid of (cherries are fine but blackberries and raspberries can be a bit of a pest if not contained, and I imagine that spices may be the same).

-Having the fruit in a bag lets you jiggle rather than stir to distribute the flavour, so reducing secondary exposure to O2.

-The bulk pulp will take up some space and be discarded so a gallon of secondary will yield less than a gallon. No big deal, you just allow for this.

- Some fruits float (especially things like hops) so a bag may need to be weighed down.

- If the fruit is in a bag, you need a wide mouthed secondary fermentation vessel that you can get the bag in and out of.

-If you want some sweetness and carbonation then you will have to bottle and pasteurise above 1.000. (I use heat pasteurising... see my post of 1 Feb 2021 for some information about this)

This isn't a "how to do it" but does cover some of the mistakes that I have made and things I have learned. Hope it helps.

Good luck!
 
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Casa De Oro

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My recommendation is to do both.

Since you already have some of your juice fermented, once completed, juice some of your fruit and add it to it in test quantities and batch up.
This method will produce a much more fruit forward cider and by addition, a lower abv cider. I recommend doing a test batch that is a factor of your your total quantity to make the batching up easier.

With your remaining unpressed apples and fruit, press them separately and again add them together in an unfermented test batch to find a flavor that you think, once all the sugar is gone, would taste good.

Doing it this way will reduce the "shot in the dark" factor and get you closer to where you want to be right off the bat. Then you can dial it in tight after your educated guess finishes fermenting. This method will also allow for figuring your SG/Brix
 

CKuhns

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Some great advice above from both @Chalkyt & @Casa De Oro .

Some additional thoughts.

I prefer to add frozen fruit to a mesh bag in secondary after fermentation is complete. After 4 to 5 days taste it and wait until it hits the flavor profile you prefer.

Regardless of the amount of fruit you use it pretty much gives up all its flavor in 10 to 14 days.

A good rule of thumb for me for flavoring is:
- A light fruit flavor 1 to 2 pounds of fruit per gallon.
- A medium fruit flavor is 2.5 to 3.5 pounds per gallon.
- A fruit "fruit bomb" up to 6 or more pounds per gallon.

For me the trick with cider is to not overwhelm the apple flavor just add enough to balance the flavors well.
 
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Ciderman62

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Thanks for the advice.

Think I will go down the two different routes with small batch sample which will hopefully leave me with a proven recipe for a larger batch next year.

Will add some fruit to the existing cider once fermentation has stopped & taste regularly

I will do the same with the remaining apples but add fruit to the secondary fermentation

really get the sense in the small batch trial as adding fruit to a full 25l barrel could end up with a profile I do not like and spoil the lot

I sampled my first batch over the weekend & identified which I will add the fruits to. At the same time I took SG readings which indicate they are close to ending fermentation Will test again in a few days to see if there is any change before adding the fruits.

On another note I made a real newby/school boy error on two of my first batches by not taking SG readings prior to starting fermenting. As each batch is a different apple combination I cannot simply use the reading from the latest batch to calculate ABV

Is there a way in which I can calculate the ABV of these batches once fermentation ends without the initial SG reading
 

Casa De Oro

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My recommendation would still be to add the fruits to primary to calculate ABV easier. But this is my preference.

So far as figuring ABV after the fact, you can get an alcohol refractometer which is different from a brix refractometer or even a honey refractometer.
 

CKuhns

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Yes, you can estimate the ABV even without a refractometer. ( Altjough a refractometer would be more precise. )

Apple juice Specific Gravity (SG) can vary depending upon the apples used. A decent rule of thumb is to use 1.050 as your Original Gravity. Simple math after that. Wait for fermentation to complete.

Here is the math.
OG minus Final Gravity (FG) times 131.25 equals Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

Example
OG 1.050 - FG 1.000 = 0.050
0.050 X 131.25 = 6.56 ABV

Note: this is not 100% accurate just an estimate and not perfectly linear. The higher the ABV the lest precise. But at lower ABV is pretty close. (Within less than a tenth.) You also musttake into account the added sugars your fruit bring. Same calculation works they are additive.

The 131.25 if i remember correctly is a constant that is derived from the molecular weight (MW) of alcohol and CO2 in suspension.
 

Chalkyt

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As outlined above, FYI both Jolicoeur and Lea suggest using basic OG-FG approaches. In the case of Jolicoeur the multiplying factor for cider is around 130 but he points out that various empirical studies have come up with numbers slightly less than that, and notes that using 125 or 130 would only make 0.26% difference "well within the required precision".

Lea uses (OG-FG)/8, which gives more or less the same result.

If you really want to know the ABV and don't have an OG or how much sugar has been added via other juice or sugar, there is a technique called "The Honeyman Method". This involves a bit of fiddling around with boiling off alcohol from a sample of your cider, adding distilled water, measuring SG change etc. Jolicoeur describes this in Chapter 14.5 of his book and Googling should also cause it to pop-up on winemaking talk.com.

I understand that there are other more complicated methods such as a combination of hydrometer/refractometer readings, ebulliometer, or distillation but these all sound like hard work, after all we are supposed to be having fun.

For practical purposes I think that the (OG-FG) multiplied or divided by your factor of choice is probably good enough for craft cider making. I must say that I usually use the 131.25 multiplying factor but had no idea where it came from... thanks for the enlightement, CKuhns!
 

madscientist451

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Will add some fruit to the existing cider once fermentation has stopped & taste regularly

I will do the same with the remaining apples but add fruit to the secondary fermentation

Is there a way in which I can calculate the ABV of these batches once fermentation ends without the initial SG reading

When you add additional fruit, your fermentation will start up again unless you pasteurize the cider or add stabilization chemicals.
Note that after fermentation your cider will not taste anything like the added fruit. Some fruit tastes better fermented than others.
I don't like the flavor of fermented raspberries at all, blueberries are ok, haven't tried blackberries or Logan berries. Your taste preferences will likely be different. I would suggest getting some 1 gallon glass jugs and do some test batches to see what you like.
ABV of cider varies from year to year and also changes with the varieties of apples used and the degree of ripeness, but its likely about the same as the other ciders you made this season.
Since most fruit is 90%+ water, its likely your ABV will be lower after adding fruit to the cider.
 
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