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So I've just put my second batch into primary. My first batch was the magnum apple cider which was quite bland and not strong at all. Wasn't sure to what I was doing but have done a lot of ready since then, but still need further help.

Everyone seems to have different opinions of ways to doing things.

So I've used 23litres of 100% apple juice from the local lidl, added what brewing sugar I had left which took the hydrometer reading up to 1.050. And then added a 5g sachet of cider yeast.

I'm going for a sweet, sparkling cider, kind of like thatchers gold.

On my first go I used a pressure barrel, but I have a friend who owns a pub so will be getting plenty of bottles off him :)

So my questions are, - how long do I leave in primary?
- do I have to put it in a secondary? If so how long is best? - can i syphon to bottling bucket then bottle from primary, missing secondary - what's the best way to backsweeten and carb cider, in a big batch or individual bottles?

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The "main" reason to use a secondary fermentation is to separate the largest sediments that could ruin the must (or generate off flavors). Ideally, you should do so before the end of fermentation, for a gas layer can be formed in the container and protect the must during the remaining maturation period. Perhaps, rack at about 1.025 or after 4-7 days depending on the speed of fermentation. This is pretty much what I do with beer.

If your apple juice has been pasteurized, I would assume it is safe not to rack to a secondary fermentor. Personnaly, I have always racked to a second fermentor, so I can only guess here.

If you want to backsweeten, you will need to add some potassium sorbate, otherwize your remaining sugar might ferment in your bottles. Or you can use non fermentable sugars to sweeten the cider (check with your local homebrewing store). It is also possible to heat the must to a certain temperature to kill the remaining yeast, hence preventing refermentation, but I have not tried that so far.

I usually prefer to rack my cider/beer just prior to bottle, to add my sweetener and/or sugar, this allows me to mix everything thouroughly so all my bottles are consistent.

Of course this is only my point of view and I am hoping to see other opinions.

Here is some interesting reading: http://www.cider.org.uk/part4.htm

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