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First time cider maker - few questions

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matt76

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Hello everyone,

Long time beer brewer but first time cider maker - as I noted the other day in my brew day thread, I made some cider at the weekend...

Basically I juiced and pasteurised the apples before cooling to pitching temperature and then rehydrated and pitched a pack of Lalvin QA23 I happened to have knocking around... So far all seems fine, airlock bubbling away in the FV so I'll leave it and let it do it's thing until it's done...

I have a few questions though that mainly relate to packaging. I'd appreciate it if anyone who knows what they're doing with cider can check my reasoning here in case of any obvious rookie mistakes:

1. I don't have any kegs so I plan to bottle as I would with beer - so obviously I want to be sure I'm not gonna get any bottle bombs!

2. I believe you can add stuff to cider (Campden tablets???) to halt fermentation and then back sweeten. But my plan is to let it ferment out fully for a dry cider, and then batch prime in a bottling bucket as I would with beer. I would calculate the amount of priming sugar same as I would with beer, aiming for around 2.0vols CO2. Any major issues here?

3. As far as I can tell from Googling, cider tends to ferment to a lower FG than beer, somewhere around 1.000 for cider whereas beer typically ends up around 1.010 - is that right? (and yes I know it varies a bit with beer, and presumably cider too! ;)) I guess there are simpler sugars than in beer so the yeast just keep on munching away, right? Obviously in practice I will keep checking the gravity until it's stable, it's just so I have some idea of when it's done or nearly-done.

4. I've seen some suggestions that if you're letting it ferment out like this it can take a while, maybe 3 weeks - does that sound about right? I normally leave my beer 2 weeks, sometimes longer so that's not an issue, not like I'm in a rush. And like I say I'll keep checking the gravity until it's stable, but just to have some idea what to expect.

5. I would fully expect my cider will come out cloudy if I do nothing else - again not a major issue, all my beer is cloudy too. But can you/do folks fine their cider with similar stuff as beer? Specifically I'm thinking of gelatine & kieselsol such as "Kwik Clear" or "Clear It" (actually I'm pretty sure these are sold as beer & wine finings anyway and presumably OK in cider too???).

Thanks in advance,

Matt athumb..
 

freester

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Sounds like you've got this sorted but in answer to your questions...

Basically I juiced and pasteurised the apples before cooling to pitching temperature and then rehydrated and pitched a pack of Lalvin QA23 I happened to have knocking around... So far all seems fine, airlock bubbling away in the FV so I'll leave it and let it do it's thing until it's done...
I add campdens rather than pasteurise. Less faff!

1. I don't have any kegs so I plan to bottle as I would with beer - so obviously I want to be sure I'm not gonna get any bottle bombs!

2. I believe you can add stuff to cider (Campden tablets???) to halt fermentation and then back sweeten. But my plan is to let it ferment out fully for a dry cider, and then batch prime in a bottling bucket as I would with beer. I would calculate the amount of priming sugar same as I would with beer, aiming for around 2.0vols CO2. Any major issues here?
Nope that's what I do. Slightly less scientific a level half teaspoon of caster sugar per 500ml bottle! If the cider has been sat a long time the yeast may have died so I add a pinch of yeast to anything sat around a long time to enable a carbonation ferment!

3. As far as I can tell from Googling, cider tends to ferment to a lower FG than beer, somewhere around 1.000 for cider whereas beer typically ends up around 1.010 - is that right? (and yes I know it varies a bit with beer, and presumably cider too! ;)) I guess there are simpler sugars than in beer so the yeast just keep on munching away, right? Obviously in practice I will keep checking the gravity until it's stable, it's just so I have some idea of when it's done or nearly-done.
4. I've seen some suggestions that if you're letting it ferment out like this it can take a while, maybe 3 weeks - does that sound about right? I normally leave my beer 2 weeks, sometimes longer so that's not an issue, not like I'm in a rush. And like I say I'll keep checking the gravity until it's stable, but just to have some idea what to expect.
Yep it'll ferment on down to somewhere around 0.098 and 1.002. Leave it 2 weeks then measure, and measure the next day. If it's stopped you're good!


5. I would fully expect my cider will come out cloudy if I do nothing else - again not a major issue, all my beer is cloudy too. But can you/do folks fine their cider with similar stuff as beer? Specifically I'm thinking of gelatine & kieselsol such as "Kwik Clear" or "Clear It" (actually I'm pretty sure these are sold as beer & wine finings anyway and presumably OK in cider too???).
Personally I don't bother with finings. Even pretty ropey cider can be quite clear depending on how you poor it. Most of the cloudiness is due to a little sediment at the bottom, or the left over yeast after carbonation. Clarity is more based on what you do before. Adding Pectolase before ferment will certainly aid with clarity!

HTH


Thanks in advance,

Matt athumb..
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matt76

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Thanks @freester , your tips are very much appreciated. It was just a matter of whether there were any detailed subtleties with cider that are likely to trip me up, but it seems like the homebrewer instincts I've acquired over the last couple of years will serve me pretty well for the most part.

Cheers,

Matt acheers.
 

freester

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If anything Cider making is a little less strict than Beer. There are a lot of things you can get away with Cider that you couldn't with beer. I also noticed a mistake above. Cider will ferment down to 0.998 - 1.002 (not 0.098) doh
 

matt76

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I just thought of another question:

Once I've packaged my cider, how long do I leave it for before drinking?

Since I'm priming with sugar similar to beer I'd estimate 1 or more likely 2 weeks to carbonate properly. Is any further "conditioning" time needed beyond that? Beer, especially darker beers, I'd typically leave at least 4 weeks after bottling before drinking, but not sure if the same rules apply to cider.

Cheers,

Matt 👍
 

freester

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You can drink it as soon as soon as you've bottled it if you want, at least give it chance to carbonate which is a week...

The old cider makers however will tell you don't drink any until you hear the first cuckoo. There is some science behind this as the cider warms up in spring it undergoes a malolactic fermentation which takes the edge off the cider. No extra alcohol but a nicer cider!

You don't have to wait that long but save some to see if you can tell the difference!

It doesn't appreciably change much after the spring. Nothing to be gained by leaving it more than a year...
 
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