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I'm hopefully about to make my first batch of sparkling slightly sweet cider. I have read all sorts of advice about reducing/increase tannin, stabilising and other scientific stuff. I want to keep it simple as possible first time.

Have I got a rough grasp of the process and please correct any steps I have wrong? I will be sterilising all equipment and will try to stay as clean as possible. Based on 5 gallon batch

  1. After juicing add 4/5 campden tablets to 27 litre fermentation bucket, leave in warm place for 24hrs?

  2. Mix in yeast and add cider nutrient and pectolase? Do I add artificial non fermenting sweetner at this point, if so how much? Along with 3/4lbs sugar? Hope to achieve 6-7% abv.

  3. Half fill bubbler air lock with water should I add campden to this solution? Move to storage around 20°C - 25°C for 10 -14 days or bubbles stop. Take hydro reading.

  4. Bottle into glass bottles and add one tea spoon sugar and cap off. Leave for 24/48 hours in warm place, before moving to cooler steady place?

  5. How long before cider is drinkable, I would rather wait rather than rush it. Anything I should do to give it a rich toffee flavour?

If you think some of the process is not required please say.

Please feel free to point out the obvious I've missed. Is the process the same for filling demijohn's I have siphons and bottlers with sediment traps. Do I leave bubbler in demijohn or replace with rubber bung after fermenting?

All advice greatly appreciated.

Cheers
Craig.

  • 1
    Just to make sure, when you say "1-After juicing..." do you have only juice or do you have crushed apples as well? – Philippe Aug 11 '17 at 15:58
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    Hello Philippe. I am using apples from my tree and will be mashing before pressing, I won't be using ready made juice. Thanks. Craig. – Craig Mutch Aug 11 '17 at 20:04
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I don't think it is really necessary to add pectolase to the pressed apple juice at all. This is a modern commercial brewing invention that maximised return when using a vast amount of less than optimal apples in the pressing process. Traditionally English cider was made by mashing the apples and then pressing the mush inside sack cloth "pancakes" often interspersed with straw to enable free draining of the juice. The juice was then naturally fermented (without added yeast or sugar), bottled/casked and conditioned for 12 months. It is still quite possible to make it like this today - and many still do. The flavour comes from the variety of apples used and a mix of apples is often better than using one variety. However all flavours are personal preferences so I encourage people to experiment with different methods and mixes. If at first you don't succeed.... It might be said that the flavour of cider comes from both the apples and the fermenting agents. In naturally produced cider, yeast is just one of the active fermentation agents. Other fungi and bacteria can also play an important role.

  • I think the point you make about "fermenting agents other that yeast" is a very valid one. – barking.pete Aug 12 '17 at 11:32
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  1. IMHO you don't need to add campden tablets to any active fermentation. They are not needed at that stage.

  2. when you have the juice take the OG using a hydrometer. If it is about 1.050 - 1.080 then that will have sufficient sugar to ferment to an alcoholic cider. Only add sugar if the SG is low (say 1.030-1.040). Yeast nutrient is rarely needed and can usually be omitted from freshly made juice ferments. Not much point in adding artificial sweetener at the start - do it after fermentation is finished. Then you will know how much to add for you desired flavour. I recommend Stevia extract. Natural and "organic"!

  3. Bubbles in airlock stopping is not a good measure of the end of fermentation. A stable hydrometer reading over 3 days is a better measure of completion of fermentation. However no real need to measure every day. Wait for (say) 10 days at least and then measure periodically. Even 3 weeks is not too long a time to wait for cider to finish primary fermentation. You can add campden tablet to the airlock but it is not needed.

  4. You can bottle in glass or PET bottles as preferred. One heaped teaspoon of sugar per bottle is not a bad priming measure. Alternatively dissolve 150g of sugar or glucose (better maybe) in 24 litres of cider (75g for 2.5 gals, etc) and then bottle. Leave at least one week in a warm room and preferably 2 weeks for the bottle to carbonate/condition. Many people prefer to bottle a little early and let the bottle carbonate without added sugar.

  5. Rich toffee flavour? You could add caramel, but better to choose the variety of apples to give a desired flavour. French/Normandy cidre has that type of flavour. All ciders should be left for (say) 1 year (yes one year) to condition correctly and nicely. Its easy to drink before that but it will not be very "nice". It will still get one drunk though....

An airlock is always OK on a demijohn - when ever it is. A bung is OK after all fermentation has finished.

  • 3. "... A stable hydrometer reading over 3 days is a better measure of completion of fermentation..." very sound advise. – Mr_road Aug 11 '17 at 20:45
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I agree with Barking Pete you could likely skip step 1, but if you do wish to add campden and let stand for 24 hours this is when I would be adding the pectolase to let it get a good start on breaking down those pesky pectins.

Also regarding step 2 I would not use any yeast nutrient, unless I was going for an extra dry cider. Apples have more than enough FAN to finish a good fermentation, and by not adding any you are increasing your chances of finishing on the sweeter side. Take a look at this paper for FAN provided by multiple apple strains and the effect on completion of fermentation.

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    Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated. I think I was reading too much about the science when all I needed was a few pointers from those who do it successfully regularly. Cheers! – Craig Mutch Aug 11 '17 at 21:00
  • Also checkout this post for toffee flavours in your cider: thehomebrewforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=14909 – Mr_road Aug 11 '17 at 21:01

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