[quote="brewdvm"]I've been working on Drew Beechum's hard cider book, and I have a few questions for you guys that have had bad experiences with the Campden. Drew makes a big deal about adjusting the pH of the juice with things like citric acid, and then based on the final adjusted pH, the dose of Campden will vary. pH should fall between 3.0 and 3.8. The closer you get to 3.0, the less Campden you have to use. He states that if the juice falls below 3.0, no sulfite is needed. Any chance the acidity would help activate and dissipate the SO2 and not leave that taste long term in the cider?
I haven't made cider in 2 years (my trees seem to have gone to a biannual cycle). When I did make cider, I pasteurized it at 165 for 20 to 30 minutes. I felt there was still plenty of apple flavor there. Drew does mention that we should wash the apples and give them a quick soak in a Star San solution before grinding and pressing. I've been debating if that's more work than just pasteurizing the juice from the unwashed apples. Besides, I don't use drops. If I don't pick it off the tree, it doesn't go in my cider. And I hope to finally have my electric brewing system up and running by this weekend when I plan to start my cider, so I'll hopefully have a much more efficient way of pasteurizing that juice. Besides, I have an IC now that I didn't have 2 years ago, so I should be able to chill down that juice fairly quickly.
Last time, I used Cote de Blanc. It fermented down to 0.095. Nice apple flavor but very dry. I was thinking of using Drew's back sweetening process of Campden and then potassium sorbate with added juice or add the above at 1.010 SG as Dave has mentioned before. Do you all feel that using only the Campden post fermentation will still create a long lasting sulfery taste? I sure don't want bottle bombs, and it would be nice to have a nice drinkable lower alcohol cider on those hot summer days.
Any of you guys tried S-04 to give the cider an English flavor? I was thinking of that until some of you stated you liked S-05. I plan on 2 batches, one with Cote de Blanc, and one with something else. I have both S-04 and S-05 in the fridge. Could go either way, so you all tell me what I should use. Thanks.[/quote]
First time I ever made cider I used an English Ale yeast (something from White Labs, don't remember exactly which one) and it came out great. A few years ago I tried S-04 and didn't like the results, but it could have just been the apples. I'm dependent on charity to get my apples these days. Each year I hope someone will give me a bunch, and if I get them I just have to hope they are good.
The book you are reading is on-target for sulfite needs as a function of pH. Winemaker has an online calculator that can be used for this:
But I wouldn't add acid to get below a pH of 3.1 - the yeast start to struggle if you do that, and you will need to pick a strain that is optimized for low pH performance as opposed to flavor profile. In fact, I'd be careful about adding acid to a cider at all, as you don't want to ruin the flavor. And if you did add acid, use malic (the naturally dominant acid in apples) as opposed to citric.