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ScottM

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I figured it would be better to start a new thread instead of adding this to my other thread about ciders. I found this recipe on line:

A really simple three gallon batch
3 Gallons Apple Juice (no preservatives, not from concentrate)
2 pounds Wildflower honey
Nottingham dried ale yeast

This is simple. Just dissolve the honey in about a half gallon of the juice. Heat to 140 F on the stove to pasteurize the honey (the apple juice is already pasteurized), chill to room temperature and mix w/ the rest of the juice in a five gallon carboy. Aerate well by shaking and pitch one packet of Nottingham ale yeast.
After two weeks, transfer two a three gallon carboy for secondary and keep it there for six weeks or, at the very least, until it clears. Bottle w/ one half cup of corn sugar to prime.

It will be carbonated in about a month but really doesn’t reach full carbonation until a good three or four months. It really starts getting good at six months but continues to improve for a long time after that.
Looks fairly straight forward to me. My only questions would be on the amount of honey. This seems like a lot of honey. So should I go with the recipe as is, or should I take a hydro reading of the apple juice and then try to figure the amount of honey I need to add? From other threads I can see that 1.070 is a good starting point for cider. So to get there, is there an online calculator that anyone has seen that would help me figure the amount of honey to add?
 

Tusch

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2 lbs in 3 gallons really isn't a ton of honey, in fact if you ar going for a cyser (apple based mead) then I would suggest you go more like 2 lbs of honey per gallon. If you are going for most of a cider with a bit of extra honey flavor, then this looks like a good recipe to me.
 
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ScottM

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Thanks for the info Tusch. As long as 2lbs of honey isn't a crazy amount, I think I'll go with the recipe as is. This will be my first shot at a hard cider of any kind, and I wouldn't mind if the cider had some residual honey flavor.
 

Tusch

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Go right ahead with it then, enjoy and keep us updated on how it went.
 
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ScottM

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Now that I'm settled with the recipe, I'm going to pick up the necessary supplies Friday and Sunday. This is my first use of a new/used 3gal carboy, so I need to pick up a bung for it. Plus (I hate to admit this publicly) I've got to pick up a hydrometer. I've been winging it for far to long, and wondering why the results weren't the best. I'll try to document this one with pics and stats. From the original recipe the recommendation is to bottle condition for at least 3 months. If I've got my calendar figured right, and I brew this weekend I should be popping my first hard cider at my Labor Day picnic.
 
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ScottM

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Update: I got the batch going yesterday. The gravity of the juice alone was 1.050, with the addition of 2lbs of honey it knocked the SG up to 1.072. I pitched a packet of Red Star Montcharet, and it took off. There was random bubbles within the first hour, and as of this morning it sounds like a grandfather clock ticking away. Sorry no pics. I had the internet service at home shut off because my wife and I hadn't used it in two months. We're on the internet at work all day, so we never use it at home. Unfortunately I can't hook my camera up to the work computer.
 
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ScottM

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Update: So a week and a half into this experiment and the fermentation lock is just starting to slowdown. It ticked away at a bubble per second for the first 7 days and just started to slow to a bubble every 3 seconds. Am I in trouble here? Is this going to be rocket fuel?

I haven't done anything to it except monitor the fermentation lock. No swirling. No other gravity readings. No removing the lock for anything. It's in the kitchen and the house temp is between 65 and 70. It's a 3 gal carboy that is sitting down in my ancient 15 gal ceramic crock. So it's not in "pitch black" but it's also not getting any direct sunlight.

I plan on taking a gravity reading around the 10th, then again on the 12th. That will be 3 weeks in. If it's stablized, I'll rack it off the yeast for 3-4 weeks of clearing. I'm not looking for crystal clear, and I plan on carbonating this with corn sugar. So remaining yeast and fermentables will be accepted in the bottle. Ideally I'd like to crack open a bottle in the first couple weeks of September. I know that may be a bit "green" for some, but my long term plan will be to get a batch going in October of 2009 to drink September 2010. Then repeat this process, so I've always got aged hard cider for the fall each year.

Anything that you pro's think that I'm missing or should be concerned with?
 
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You're fine. Your plan sounds good -- except do you think you'll be able to wait until September to drink???? :tank:
 
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ScottM

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That is a concern, but luckily I've got 2 cases of pilsner carbing up in the basement; I plan on brewing a witbier in the next couple weeks; After that I'd like to try a dark chocolate stout... So I'll just have to pacify myself with beer until the cider is really ready.
 
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ScottM

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Update: So after 3 weeks in the primary, I'm down to 1.012 from 1.072, so right around 8% by my math. The flavor was good, a little alcohol hot, but not unbearable. I sprinkled a little splenda in the hydro sample I was drinking, and that did the trick. I'm happy with that level of alcohol, so I racked it into the secondary after fighting my syphon. I then moved to my basement which is between 55-60 this time of year. There was a nice 3/8 inch yeast cake in the primary. It is giving off some bubbles after 24 hours in the secondary. I plan on letting this rest for another 4 weeks then carbonate and bottle.
 

Freezeblade

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Honey takes a long time to ferment out, and don't bottle untill the cider is crystal clear to help combat this. A story: I just opened up a mead of mine which I had bulk aging for about 6 months, I was pretty clear (as clear as I thought it was going to be) and, wanting it still, just proceeded to bottle it up. I opened one up a few months later, only to find it had carbed up, even though I was nearly 100% sure it was done fermenting. Moral of the story: you can't rush honey fermentation.
 
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ScottM

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Thanks for the info Freezblade. I was actually planning on carbonating this anyway, just out of personal preference. When I drank the hydro sample, still, in my mind I wanted it to be carbonated. Out of curiousity do you think that the residual honey a month from now would be enough to carbonate it in the bottle without adding priming sugar?

Also, I'm not confident it will go crystal clear without some chemical additions, because the juice I started with wasn't clear. The store called in "natural style." No chunks or sediment, but it was cloudy, and always is cloudy on the shelf.
 

Tusch

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Never ever ever guess at priming sugar. It is incredibly unsafe to try bottling early, so that the remaining sugars will be eaten up enough to carbonate at the level you want. Best case scenarios: no sugar left ends up being bottled still and dry, not enough sugar left ends up being bottled undercarbed leaving you wanting of more bubbles. Worst case scenario, too much sugar equals overcarbonated bottles which will lead to either popping corks or exploding bottles and pain.

You can't know how much of the remaining sugar will ferment for sure and you seemed to imply you wouldn't be taking an SG reading to confirm how much sugar is even in there.

The safest way to do it is to let it ferment to completion. When it is complete (as confirmed by consistent SG readings for 3-5 days) then add a measured amount of priming sugar, be it corn, cane, honey, maple, or juice based. (1 oz per gallon or just a tad more for champagne like levels)
 
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ScottM

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Sorry Tusch, after re-reading my post, I see how I started to sound like I was flying by the seat of my pants, and that's definitely not what I'm going after. I've taken gravity readings at the beginning, and at racking, so I did plan on taking more readings prior to bottling. My question should have been: What gravity should I bottle at to allow enough sugar to carbonate? But after reading your response, I can see it's best not to assume that any remaining sugar will ferment causing appropriate carbonation.
 

Freezeblade

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Sorry Tusch, after re-reading my post, I see how I started to sound like I was flying by the seat of my pants, and that's definitely not what I'm going after. I've taken gravity readings at the beginning, and at racking, so I did plan on taking more readings prior to bottling. My question should have been: What gravity should I bottle at to allow enough sugar to carbonate? But after reading your response, I can see it's best not to assume that any remaining sugar will ferment causing appropriate carbonation.
You never know how low the yeast will take your cider, some end up lower than 1.000, and a 0.002 change in fermentation is enough to carb a batch, but if you have it carb more, like 0.005 or so, then you're in for some trouble when it explodes or is way overcarbed. I was just stressing that you shouldn't count on your honey being fermented all the way down, even after 6 months or more, just let it be and it'll work itself out.
 
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ScottM

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All right so this begs another question. I've been fermenting out at room temp which is between 65 and 70. When I racked I took it to the uninsulated basement which is more like 55 or 60. Do you guys think this will be too cool to properly finish fermentation?

I've got no problem bringing it back up to the first floor. The reason for the move, was to allow cooler temps to help with the little clearing I expected to happen. However, now I'm more concerned about completing the fermentation. I've got 2 cases of 750mL bottles that originally held The Brewery Ommegang's, Witte. I had planned on carbing and bottling in these with champagne stoppers and wire bails to look really sharp for family dinners. I'd hate to risk one of those bottles if I don't have to.
 
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ScottM

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Update: Okay so after a month the Gravity is still stable, so I carbed it up with 5oz of corn sugar in water. I also added 2 tsp of splenda per 750mL bottle for a little sweetness. For a total of 14 bottles. These were old Brewery Ommegang bottles so I plugged them with plastic champagne style stoppers and wire bales. The stoppers seemed to seat nice and tight when I jammed them in, but I've got to say I'm worried about how well these will actually carbonate. If they don't seal up the bottle well enough, I guess I'll just have still cider instead of carbed. I'm going to give it another month in the basement, before I try the first one. The 2 glasses I had left over after bottling were tasty, so if it's still it won't be a tragedy.

Cheers!!
 

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Ok, go with me here, Just finished off a batch of EW apfelwine, LOVE IT, but the wife would like it a bit sweeter and Maybe make it pink!! Ok, I think I get the sweet thing, Add 1lb of Non fermentable sugar and it should sweeten up, but I have also read that you can add one or two cans of apple concentrate. this both adds to the sugar levels and but helps make the wine taste more like apples. So how about this, ill add the 1lb of NF sugar, but also add a Razberry or cherry concentrate to give it an apple/Raz or Cherry taste. This should make the wife happy and fix my sweet problem correct?

Has anyone added another concentrate to change the taste a bit? Kinda like an woodchuck cherry cider. Has anyone done this? Can you help a brewer out?? Thoughts?
 
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ScottM

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This thread is about my first cider, so I'm hardly an expert.

However, from what I've read there's always going to be some population of yeast in suspension. Knowing that, any fermentable sugar you add could restart fermentation. You may want to do that to up the ABV.

If you just want sweetness and color, you'd have to use some kind of chemical to actually stop the remaining yeast before you add the juice. My uncle uses campden tablets to accomplish this when he makes wine. He discovered this trick after blowing up some bottles due to a secondary fermentation after bottling.
 
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ScottM

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Update:

Well I've cracked open 2 bottles and both were flat. I think the plastic champagne style corks didn't make a good enough seel on the Belgian style bottles. Oh well now it's a still cider.

As far as flavor. There's a nice apple taste, and a fair amount of residue sweetness, but more towards a sweet/sour tang, as opposed to a candy sweetness. I drank a 750mL bottle and it packed a heck of a punch. I probably won't do that again.

Recommendations: If you want it carbed better to do it capped in beer bottles to give a proper seel. I'd also skip the splenda next time. Otherwise I like the recipe.
 
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