Raising pH (lowering acidity) with precipitated chalk, do I even need to?

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I just measured my juice with a digital pH meter after calibrating and it said that my juice has a pH of 3.11. Now, I read the ideal pH is 3.2-3.6, but is there an acceptable range for being under? I imagine a pH too low inhibits yeast activity but is 3.11 that far over? I'm looking to make a cider with a FG of 1.015 with abv 6.5-7% (apparently 6.7% but I'm not sure I can be that accurate), so would this greater acidity contribute to the final flavour or do I need to raise the pH?

Lastly, I read that "Precipitated chalk will lower the acidity add approximately 1 teaspoon per gallon, it will reduce the acidity by 1½ parts per thousand." but since pH is logarithmic, how does this translate from getting from 3.11 to 3.2 or 3.6?

Thank you in advance!
 
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EnglishWoodsman
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Although the pH is 3.11 and the real risk of a low pH is an unpalatable cider, since this juice was sold for drinking, should this pH be acceptable or does it becoming an alcoholic beverage change the palatability of acidity compared to apple juice one might have at breakfast?
 

Rick Stephens

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I now take all my ciders to as close to 3.4 as I can get them. I use a combination of ascorbic and malic acids for taste. I use the strips, not a gauge, have no idea which is more accurate. I'm not sure I could tell the difference between 3.4 and 3.11.
 
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A fair shout. I feel I should not be gambling with my first proper attempt though. I have heard the digital ones are more accurate, but the accurate ones aren't cheap (if they are, they're probably crap).

I'm gonna bring it up to 3.2 and see how it turns out, just for the sake of science.

I just have no idea how much precipitated chalk per L results in a rise of a certain number.
 

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During fermentation CO2 in suspension adds carbonic acid which lowers the pH. If it gets below 2.8 or so there's the possibility that the ferment can stall. Experts say to address low pH if it starts below 3.0. You can mitigate the effects of CO2 by stirring (degassing) the must a couple times a day if it worries you. Mead makers do this all the time.
 
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During fermentation CO2 in suspension adds carbonic acid which lowers the pH. If it gets below 2.8 or so there's the possibility that the ferment can stall. Experts say to address low pH if it starts below 3.0. You can mitigate the effects of CO2 by stirring (degassing) the must a couple times a day if it worries you. Mead makers do this all the time.

I wanted still mead and when I made it I had to spend aaaages degassing it, having never degassed anything before it felt like forever. Doing it *during* the ferment sounds like I might lose desired carbonation mind.
 

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I wanted still mead and when I made it I had to spend aaaages degassing it, having never degassed anything before it felt like forever. Doing it *during* the ferment sounds like I might lose desired carbonation mind.
I'm not sure understand that paragraph. I get that you degassed your mead. If you then are discussing the cider, degassing during ferment doesn't have much to do with how much carb you end up with. There are several forum members, and many in the greater cider world who really degas during ferment, as in a bunch of times a day during active fermentation. Several I know do this to rid the must of the waste product. Only allowing final carbonation from prime and bottling/kegging to stay.
 
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Oh right, I understand that excess carbonation produced by the ferment that cannot dissolve is pulled out to meet an equilibrium with the air, but isn't there a risk that you'll degas the drink of final carb? How would you know when to stop to allow final carbonation to build up?
 

Rick Stephens

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What answers the question is what happens when you age a cider for months? It self degasses. You can have virtually no CO2 present, add your prime and know exactly what CO2 you are wanting to achieve. The final carb is from the yeast processing the prime, not from the dissolved CO2 during primary.
 

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Although the pH is 3.11 and the real risk of a low pH is an unpalatable cider, since this juice was sold for drinking, should this pH be acceptable or does it becoming an alcoholic beverage change the palatability of acidity compared to apple juice one might have at breakfast?

To add to this, a couple of things -

First, pH doesn't impact the taste. pH is the strength of the acids, not the quantity. What we perceive as taste (sour) has to do with the quantity of acid, not it's strength. There is another test for that, called Titrateable Acidity (TA). That is a percentage of acid in your cider, usually in the 5 g/l (0.5%) range. At about 7 g/l is when you have a real acidic cider. There are ways of dealing with that.

Secondly, some bite from the malic acid in apples is actually a good thing, as it gives some character. Acid and tannin are desireable traits in hard cider.

And finally, when your ferment is done and all the sugars have been converted to alcohol, any cider will taste tart. Some people like it that way, dry and tart. This can be reduced by sweetening.
 
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To add to this, a couple of things -

First, pH doesn't impact the taste. pH is the strength of the acids, not the quantity. What we perceive as taste (sour) has to do with the quantity of acid, not it's strength. There is another test for that, called Titrateable Acidity (TA). That is a percentage of acid in your cider, usually in the 5 g/l (0.5%) range. At about 7 g/l is when you have a real acidic cider. There are ways of dealing with that.

Secondly, some bite from the malic acid in apples is actually a good thing, as it gives some character. Acid and tannin are desireable traits in hard cider.

And finally, when your ferment is done and all the sugars have been converted to alcohol, any cider will taste tart. Some people like it that way, dry and tart. This can be reduced by sweetening.
That's really helpful, thanks! I had no idea. In future I might experiment with adding tartaric and malic acid to create interesting flavour profiles.
 
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