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Last fall I tried to make an Ice Cider. I have bought 3 gallons of pasteurized apple cider in plastic jugs. Original gravity of the cider was 1.050. I assumed, that bringin one gallon of juice to 1.135-1.150 (30-35˚Brix), it would take 3 gallons of unfermented juice (fresh juice is usually 12-14˚Brix).

I froze all jugs in my chest freezer to solid state. Then I started to unfreeze the cider into a pot (turning it up side down). After two hours, I had jug of white colored ice filling it to almost 50% with half gallon in the pot. When I checked the gravity of the iced cider, I was surprised because it was only 1.060.

What was I doing wrong? Is there some sort of secret on how to unfreeze the cider? Was it because the way the cider was pasteurized initially?

Any help is welcome.

  • I don't understand this sentence:" I assumed, that getting one gallon it to 1.135-1.150 would take 3 gallons of regular cider." – brewchez Feb 1 '16 at 13:07
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    Did you ferment the Cider before freezing it? – brewchez Feb 1 '16 at 13:08
  • My bad. I was typing way to fast. I fixed it. No, it wasn't fermented prior freezing. I meant regular sweet cider (not a hard cider). – Trigger Feb 4 '16 at 23:55
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Traditionally the juice IS concentrated before fermentation (2015 BJCP C2C)

The fruit is frozen and pressed, or juice is frozen to just a slurry and strained. It may take several passes with ideal temp control to concentrate from juice.

Not all juices are equal, taking a gravity reading before will help. Most Apple juices are 1.040-1.055 SG.

Sounds like it froze too fast and captured the sugar too. Try to catch it with just the top couple inches as a slurry or close to solid. Remove some of the juice volume to give 1" air space and freeze it upside down. (1" space when upside down). The out sides will freeze 1st, squeeze the jugs so the ice will break off and float to the top.

  • Hm... EvilZymurgist, you're probably right. I just found an article where it says that at 25F it would take a week to fully freeze 5 gallon PET carboy. And you're right, it took me a day to freeze 1 gallon jug. I'll set a temperature to 29-30F and let it stay in the freezer for a week. I'll probably would experiment first with 2 different jugs to see which method (partial or full freeze) is better, and would stick to it. If everything goes well, I'll do a 5 gallons next fall. – Trigger Feb 1 '16 at 20:58
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    This is from Eden Ice Cider guide: "Cryo-concentration is where ripe apples are stored until winter, then pressed and the juice is put outside to freeze. Once frozen, the first 20 – 25% of juice that melts contains all the sweetness and flavor of the fruit." That is pretty strange, because the first thing that melts is the outer layer... which usually freezes first. I thought that the sugary content would have much lower freezing point, making it freezing last. I've got to do another test mini batch (1 gallon) and then I'll probably ask guys from Eden Cider if it won't work. I'm still confused – Trigger Feb 2 '16 at 8:43
  • @RedTrigger this does make sense. If left to completely freeze in a proper container the first ice would mostly be water and float to the top. Then when thawing the first thaw juice should be the the outer and lower parts. – Evil Zymurgist Feb 3 '16 at 15:54
  • So, i guess, it would be better to freeze it in a jug/carboy upside down to make sure that the first frozen ice is on the opposite side of the carboy from the neck... – Trigger Feb 4 '16 at 23:57
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    @RedTrigger seems like that would be the best way for a plastic carboy. I would use a container that flexes more to free ice ads it freezes. – Evil Zymurgist Feb 5 '16 at 0:29
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It sounds to me like you froze the cider first, with the intent of fermenting a concentrated cider after.

The correct process is to ferment the cider first, this creates alcohol with a lower freezing point than water. Then you freeze the fermented product. The water will freeze first and the alcohol will drain out of the icy mass when inverted. People do fortify their cider first with table or honey to get a high gravity/higher ABV.

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    While that is the process for eisbock, it is not the process for Ice Cider BJCP C2C, the juice or fruit undergoes ice concentration BEFORE fermentation. – Evil Zymurgist Feb 1 '16 at 20:22
  • BrewChez, what you describe is a process for creating an apple jack. It is in fact requires freezing the cider after fermentation. I'm talking about freezing the cider prior fermentation to concentrate sugars to increase the SG to at least 1.135. – Trigger Feb 1 '16 at 20:51
  • Well my mistake. Thanks for the BJCP reference, I had never heard of it done that way. My mind however can't wrap its head around how freezing something that is mostly water would concentrate it much. Sounds like there would be a narrow zone between freezing water and not freezing a sugary water mix. – brewchez Feb 2 '16 at 12:40
  • @brewchez indeed it takes on a role of more hydrodamics and physics than zymurgy. :-) – Evil Zymurgist Feb 3 '16 at 15:57
  • The trick is more on unfreezing then freezing... The Eden Cider Guide (they are the leaders in Ice Cider making) states that speed of freezing is not really a factor... faster is better, but they have to rely on natural freezing. They claim that unfreezing is the key, and you have do it slowly and watch until the gravity of the iced juice drops during unfreezing. If something goes wrong, I'll contact Eden Cider guys. – Trigger Feb 3 '16 at 21:57

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