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I've finished my second batch of homemade cider and I'm a little disappointed to find that it is so cloudy. There are no off flavors, I actually am enjoying it, but it's cloudy. It's not just hazy. When in a pint glass and held up to the light, you can see some motion in the haziness. For background, my ingredients were:

  • 5 gallons of apple juice (no preservatives)
  • champagne yeast
  • yeast nutrient
  • pectic enzyme
  • potassium sorbate
  • apple juice concentrate
  • brown sugar

My process was:

  • sanitize everything (I used San Star)
  • add juice, yeast, pectic enzyme to carboy
  • wait 30 days
  • using a racking cane, siphoned cider into 6 gallon bucket
  • added juice concentrate, brown sugar and potassium sorbate
  • bottled

So, what might I have done wrong to end up with a cloudy cider? What can I do at this point to clear it up? Filter it somehow? Decant?

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1  
Was the apple juice clear to begin with? Unprocessed apple juice is naturally cloudy. –  mdma May 31 '12 at 16:20
    
Yes, it was clear. –  WA Hunt Jun 1 '12 at 3:57
    
Did you boil the juice and juice concentrate? My understanding is that boiling will set the pectin in the apples and make it cloudy. –  Wulfhart Jun 8 '12 at 16:57
    
You may have done this, but I would mix up the juice concentrate and add pectic enzyme. After letting it sit then add to secondary. –  Wulfhart Jun 8 '12 at 16:59
    
+1 for a well asked question. –  nrobey Dec 21 '12 at 15:11

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You just need time. My experience is that making cider requires a schedule more like wine than beer. I usually give my ciders 1-2 months in primary and at least another 3 months in secondary. They turn out crystal clear.

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Wow, that seems like a while. How long does your fermentation last? Yours turn out clear, but are they hazy or cloudy while in the primary? –  WA Hunt Jun 1 '12 at 3:55
1  
Start hazy, 99% clear by the end of primary. –  Denny Conn Jun 1 '12 at 13:47
    
They're hazy in the primary for a while, but they clear eventually. Don't be in a hurry. –  Denny Conn Jul 18 '12 at 2:03
    
@DennyConn When you leave the cider for this long can you still carbonate it at the end? –  WillNZ Oct 6 '13 at 6:03
    
No problem at all with carbonating. –  Denny Conn Oct 6 '13 at 15:50

Other than cold crashing and maybe filtering (although I haven't heard of anybody who has ever bothered to filter), I don't know of any other techniques. Do you think the cloudiness is from the juice (ie, was it there from the very beginning?) or residual yeast in suspension? Residual yeast is more responsive to cold-crashing, while protein/fruit particulates from the cider will probably require both cold-crashing and fine filtering (cheesecloth or something like that).

Frankly as long as the flavor isn't affected I wouldn't bother with anything beyond cold crashing and decanting. Since you've already bottled that is the best you can do anyway. Chill them and let them sit for at least a week and see if anything drops out of suspension.

As an aside, I wonder why you added pectic enzyme? You started with juice rather than whole fruit so I don't see how that would be necessary or even useful. Perhaps it is contributing to the haziness in some way?

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Doesn't the pectic enzyme help clarify a fermentation that's got natural pectin in it? Could it be pectin in the apple juice concentrate added at the end that's the source of the cloudiness? –  Ternary May 31 '12 at 22:58
    
I pretty much added the PE on the advice of a friend who said it would help clarity. The juice was clear, store-bought apple juice. @Ternary I don't know if it's coming from the concentrate because it was like this in the carboy/primary before I siphoned off and added the concentrate and brown sugar. –  WA Hunt Jun 1 '12 at 3:52

I would use gelatin, isinglass or cold crash. If the apple juice was clear to begin with then the only particulate is the yeast, which you can either leave to settle out, or use finings to cause it to settle out faster.

For tips on using gelatin, and other finings, see Fining Agents, improving beer clarity.

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+1 Thank you for the good link. –  nrobey Dec 22 '12 at 14:14
    
I would first use a cold crash of a week to settle out yeast. That should clear it right up. –  leonardo Oct 14 '13 at 13:04

I made cider from store-bought apple cider. I didn't use any pectic enzyme, but I did clear it with sparkolloid after fermentation. It's crystal clear now. I also have a cider from home-pressed apples that is very hazy even after clearing, I should have used pectic enzyme on it but otherwise it tastes fine. I think the clearing (you can use sparkolloid or bentonite for non-animal alternatives to isinglass) is going to be important in getting a nice clear wine.

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