Using Sorbates and Sulfites

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SnyderCider

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So I'm trying to stabilize my cider and I've read that some people use just potassium sorbate and other use potassium metabisulfite added in. I called a local shop and he mentioned that the sulfites help keep away mold from the brew. Would like to know which is the better route for a stabilized cider.

 

Lampy

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So I'm trying to stabilize my cider and I've read that some people use just potassium sorbate and other use potassium metabisulfite added in. I called a local shop and he mentioned that the sulfites help keep away mold from the brew. Would like to know which is the better route for a stabilized cider.

From my reading on this forum, the way to go is to use both K sorbate and K meta. I recently did this for the first time and I used 1 campden tablet and 1/2 tsp K sorbate per gallon. So far, so good, no weird tastes or reactivated fermentations.
 

whattabrau

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You need to decide why you are stabilizing.

Sorbate prevents yeast from multiplying. It can be used to prevent [measurable] further fermentation when added to a clear product: the existing yeast will die of old age before damage is observable. If you add it to a product with tons of yeast in suspension, the yeast may cause observable fermentation without multiplying. Incidentally, if you accidentally add sorbate before fermentation, the "fix" is to use a massive yeast starter with a cell count high enough to ferment the entire batch.

Sulfite stuns and potentially kills micro-organisms (malolactic bacteria) which may feed on sorbate itself. Sulfite is *always* added if sorbate is added -- if you're using pasteurized juice, your product might be free of malolactic bacteria, but there's really no excuse for taking the risk. Sulfite may also stun your cider yeast, but unless you add a major dose, your yeast may be able to power through. Sulfite also acts as an antioxidant. I've never had mold in any already-fermenting/fermented liquid, so I can't say if it prevents mold. Sulfite *may* be used without sorbate, but not for preventing further fermentation.

If you plan to carbonate via priming sugar, you probably don't want to add either.
 

Jacob_Marley

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You do not need to stabilize if you are making a dry cider.

Stabilizing is a way of preventing further fermentation when additional sugars are still present in the cider.

Getting your cider to clear (as possible) does not require stabilizing; it just requires letting the cider finish fermenting to dryness ... letting the yeast settle to the bottom, and then bottling (or racking) without disturbing the sediment. Having a yeast with good flocculation properties helps (the tendency of a variety of yeast to fall out of suspension to the bottom of the carboy, and remain as a stable sediment so that you can siphon the cleared cider off the top.)
Also, "cold-crashing" is sometimes used in conjunction to help stall the yeast, and allow settling and clearing.

As far as "stabilizing" in order to produce a sweet cider ...
Many people do not prefer to stabilize cider because both sorbating and sulfiting can create off-tastes.
There are various ways of creating a sweet cider, the most traditional and best way (and most difficult way) is to remove the residual nutrients in the cider by the process of keeving ... which will eventually result in the yeast starving to death ... but before they have used up all the sugars.
 
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