Oaking AND Backsweetening Process

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Casa De Oro

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So this is my first time posting here. I have absorbed a lot of good knowledge from the well seasoned experts taking the time to answer the curious newbies' questions. So thank you all for that.

That being said, I have been vinting cider for a few years now and have run into an issue that I think I have worked out the answer to but need a little validation from the wisdom of the collective.

I need to know the order or process for both oaking AND backsweetening a cider. Here is my current bullet point theoretical process:

- Ferment
- Cold Crash
- Rack
- Fully Stabilize
- Oak
- Backsweeten
- Bottle


My current process is:
- Ferment (X gal)
- Cold Crash
- Rack

*SEPARATELY*
- Add oak to Zgal juice (juice will be the backsweetening mechanism)
- boil
- sulphite
- let soak for 2 weeks
- rack

LAST STEP
- add oaked juice solution to original X gallons.
- fully stabilize with sulphite and sorbate
- bottle

I vint still, off-dry, unfiltered, cider. So no carbonation factor involved here at all.

I really just need to work out the process/method of oaking the cider AND backsweetening *AND* making sure I do not trigger a refermentation. I believe my above theoretical process is correct, but wanted to postulate it here to double confirm.
 

Raptor99

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I don't cold crash, but I bulk age my cider for about 6 months to let it completely clear. After primary I rack into carboys and add oak chips for the aging process. Since I add only a small amount of oak, I don't need to take it out. I leave the oak chips in the carboy until the next racking, maybe 3-4 months later.

The advantage of adding the oak earlier is that you can get the balance right before back-sweetening. It takes time to extract the complex flavors from the oak.
 

pvtpublic

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I agree with raptors method of clearing. He really hit the nail on the head. It allows for good aging with the clearing. Yeast is necessary for aging, just to help clean up any residual by-products. It wouldn't hurt to cold crash/lager it for a bit after it clears on its own, though not necessary. However, 3-4 months on oak chips might be a bit much (above the amount raptor say he uses), but that also depends on how much was added and how it tastes. My opinion, always oak ciders, it feels so good to put your wood in cider.

Edit: Don't boil any juice, it could leave you with some unwanted cooked flavors.
 

Raptor99

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I usually add about 2 g of oak chips per gallon. After about 2 months, I tasted one of the chips by holding it in my mouth for several seconds. There was no oak flavor left in the chip. At that point I could leave them in for as long as I want since they were no longer imparting any oak flavor.

If I was using a greater amount of oak I would not be able to leave them on for so long.
 
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