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Bottle Pasteurization?

Howdy brewers,

I’m planning to start making my first batch of cider this weekend. My aim is for a sweeter sparkling cider. But I’ve been finding that people have been pasteurizing their cider in the bottles on the stove top (very carefully mind you). My question is if that’s really necessary. Some say that any remaining residual sweetness going into the bottle would slowly be metabolized over time, getting dryer with age. Wouldn’t pasteurizing also affect the flavor? Has anyone added lactose to keep some sweetness by not worrying about it being metabolized?

I plan to use a cider yeast and am using fresh pressed cider pasteurized with UV light.

Any help on the matter or just tips in general would be appreciated. I’ve spent too long deciding on what yeast to use but gave up and just decided to go with the cider yeast rather than an ale or wine yeast. I also will be using brown sugar to boost gravity initially and as the bottle conditioning fuel. I may extract some cinnamon and nutmeg to add to the secondary.

Thanks guys!

I have never tried pasteurization in the bottle, but I do think it is worth a try if you want to prevent dryness. I might have to give this a shot this year.

One thing I can tell you is not to boil the cider before bottling. I accidentally did this on my last batch and lost all my alcohol, plus the “cider” is cloudy and tastes cooked. Oops. I’ll never do that again. I wonder if pasteurization in the bottle will likewise cause cloudiness. It’s quite probable. But if you can live with a tasty but cloudy cider, then no worries.

I do agree that carbonation and backsweetening is a crapshoot. I kind of gave up on it the last couple of years. Inevitably, the cider is either bone dry and very highly carbonated, or the yeast is too dead to care and the cider stays sweet and uncarbonated. Carbonation is a skill I have not yet mastered. I have gotten lucky at times, but it’s not so easy to control. But perhaps this bottle pasteurization technique is the answer. So it’s worth a shot.

I certainly would not heat the cider beyond 170 F for more than about 10 minutes, to minimize the effects of cooking the cider and turning it cloudy. Ten minutes should be sufficient to kill most if not all the yeast to prevent a lot of refermentation in the bottles. In theory. More experiments are needed.

I have not tried lactose but it might work well. I have tried Splenda though and I HATED the result. Tasted like chemicals. If you drink a lot of diet drinks with Splenda, you might not notice. But I did. If you do try this, be very careful not to overdo the artificial sweeteners. Better to use less than you think you need than to use way too much and be sorry.

I have not tried the cider yeasts, however based on a Zymurgy article from 2013, it actually got the LOWEST scores of any of the yeasts tried. So, I wouldn’t recommend it. My go-to yeast for all ciders is Cote des Blancs. It’s fantastic.

No need to add sugar or spices to your fermentation. I recommend NOT doing that. You’ll get ~6% alcohol just from the plain juice itself. But of course it’s yours, you can do what you think you’ll like, if you want more alcohol then go for it. Personal preference I guess.

Can you keg/force carb, or know anyone that would for you?

I’ve had great results for a ‘balanced’ cider by stabilizing fermented juice with potassium metabilsulfate and potassium sorbate, kegging, carbonating, then adding a high quality unfermented cider to taste when bottling off the keg. Still have 5 750’s from last year and it is phenomenal.

An orchard by us does a single varietal golden russet cider (unfermented) that is just awesome for the backsweetening.

I am unable to keg. If I could…it’d save me the trouble of figuring out a way as I am. I’d just drop campden or something and be done with it. One day though…one day. Unfortunately my house is too small to add yet another appliance or fixture without my wife having a conniption. Plus…I only allow myself $80 to have fun with as we have a fairly strict budget. So that amount has to go towards everything fun I want to do, not just home-brewing.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]I do agree that carbonation and backsweetening is a crapshoot. I kind of gave up on it the last couple of years. Inevitably, the cider is either bone dry and very highly carbonated, or the yeast is too dead to care and the cider stays sweet and uncarbonated. Carbonation is a skill I have not yet mastered. I have gotten lucky at times, but it’s not so easy to control. But perhaps this bottle pasteurization technique is the answer. So it’s worth a shot.

I have not tried the cider yeasts, however based on a Zymurgy article from 2013, it actually got the LOWEST scores of any of the yeasts tried. So, I wouldn’t recommend it. My go-to yeast for all ciders is Cote des Blancs. It’s fantastic.

[/quote]

I saw a tip for gauging carbonation…bottle a single plastic bottle and once it’s tight light an unopened soda it’s good to pasteurize. I’m curious how well that method works because if I can figure out how far along the conditioning process without opening a bottle every couple days, it’d be good.

As for lactose…I did some poking around and more people didn’t enjoy it in comparison. That the amount that would be needed for a desirable sweetness would add too much body for some because of how much less sweet lactose is compared to sugar.

Thanks for the tip on the yeast. I’d be curious where I could find those studies/surveys so I have reference in general for any homebrew. I’ve actually thought about using a sweet mead yeast because it claims to retain 2-3% sugar in the brew. If I can’t get that I suppose I’ll try the yeast you recommend.

Thanks

Here’s an idea I just thought of.

For the sake of experimentation…Why not pasteurize a few bottles every couple days and keep track so that when I crack on open I can take note of how sweet it is. That way…down the road I can just let it go until that marked day and BOOM…just how I like it.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]

No need to add sugar or spices to your fermentation. I recommend NOT doing that. You’ll get ~6% alcohol just from the plain juice itself. But of course it’s yours, you can do what you think you’ll like, if you want more alcohol then go for it. Personal preference I guess.[/quote]

6% just from the apples?! That’s pretty darn good. I was thinking of adding that brown sugar not so much for gravity boost but for the complexity that the brown sugar would bring. I could just add a bit of molasses to get the same result without adding nearly as much gravity (as brown sugar is just table sugar and molasses…that’s how it’s made).

The spices were for a complexity thing as well. I drank Woodchuck for a while and while I like it…I’ve had my fill on just apples (with the exception of the summer variety with blueberries…best one btw). Plus it’s fall…and who wouldn’t want liquid apple pie?! I wouldn’t want much…just boil one cinnamon stick, and some sliced nutmeg, maybe a single clove, maybe some allspice…because I can HA.

The sweet mead yeast works well. I’ve done that before. However be warned, it doesn’t turn out as sweet as you might think. Instead of the cider quitting fermentation at a specific gravity of like 0.992-0.994 for wine or champagne or cider yeast, the sweet mead yeast might kick out just slightly higher at 0.998 or thereabouts. Still quite dry. If you want more sweetness, then rack your cider often, and check gravity, and when specific gravity hits about 1.010 or whenever it tastes good, then remove the yeast with Knox gelatin, then add sulfite and sorbate to further hurt the yeast. It doesn’t kill them outright but it helps prevent the yeast from getting out of control and fermenting all the way to dryness. So then maybe final gravity will be closer to 1.000 to 1.005, which in my opinion is exactly where you want to be.

If adding sugars, I would go the route of molasses. A little goes a very long way. Only add like an ounce or two for several gallons. If that doesn’t seem like enough, add a couple more. You shouldn’t need more than 3-4 ounces for sure. Also go easy on your spices. Use half as much as you think you need. You might thank me later. Hopefully.

I am unable to keg. If I could…it’d save me the trouble of figuring out a way as I am. I’d just drop campden or something and be done with it. One day though…one day. Unfortunately my house is too small to add yet another appliance or fixture without my wife having a conniption. Plus…I only allow myself $80 to have fun with as we have a fairly strict budget. So that amount has to go towards everything fun I want to do, not just home-brewing.[/quote]

right, i guess i was thinking if you didn’t, maybe another local fellow homebrewer who did might be able to let you keg it on his/her system and bottle off of that once carbed.

Wife conniptions are not good. For anybody.

[quote=“Mobius71”]Howdy brewers,

I’m planning to start making my first batch of cider this weekend. My aim is for a sweeter sparkling cider. But I’ve been finding that people have been pasteurizing their cider in the bottles on the stove top (very carefully mind you). My question is if that’s really necessary. Some say that any remaining residual sweetness going into the bottle would slowly be metabolized over time, getting dryer with age. Wouldn’t pasteurizing also affect the flavor? Has anyone added lactose to keep some sweetness by not worrying about it being metabolized?

I plan to use a cider yeast and am using fresh pressed cider pasteurized with UV light.

Any help on the matter or just tips in general would be appreciated. I’ve spent too long deciding on what yeast to use but gave up and just decided to go with the cider yeast rather than an ale or wine yeast. I also will be using brown sugar to boost gravity initially and as the bottle conditioning fuel. I may extract some cinnamon and nutmeg to add to the secondary.

Thanks guys![/quote]
I have to agree with Dave(and others) in that creating a semi-sweet carbonated cider is real difficult. Unless you do something to kill/slow it down, the yeast will always ferment all simple sugars to completion resulting in a dry , almost wine-like cider(in fact it’s a good substitute for dry champagne). So, the options are 1. start with some unfermentable sugars- that’s the origin of graf 2. add a nonfermentable sugar/ sugar substitute, then prime 3. prime, then keep in fridge once you get acceptable carbonation- risky because any time it warms up you run the risk of continued fermentation, 4. prime, then pasteurize. For my last year’s graf, I used a ‘cooler’ pasteurization method found on another forum: put the bottles in a cooler, add hot tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes to prewarm the bottles, drain, then add 170* water and let sit for 15 minutes(actually I let them cool down naturally). It did work, and flavor was not affected. In fact I’m drinking one now and it’s great!
Oh- and I have used Nighthawk’s(at least I think it was him) soda bottle method. It does work. Once the bottle is firm, I knew I had decent carbonation and pushed the pasteurization button.

Jim, thanks for sharing your experience. I think I might have to give this bottle pasteurization a try, maybe this season!

You’re welcome Dave. Especially considering I consider you a cider guru.
By the way- I used the wyeast Scottish ale yeast on the graf last year. It worked great in that(as well as in the porter and the wee Heavy that preceded the graf)

I’m by no means a cider guru. I have a passion, but not a ton of experience, not yet. I’m working on it, though! I just pitched 4 different yeasts into 5 different batches today, and matter of fact, one batch is 1728 Scottish. Looking forward to tasting them all!

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