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Brewing TV Hard Cider Questions?

Just watched the brewing TV episode on brewing a hard cider and a felt like a few details had been left out, either that or its just me being new to brewing and did not make the proper assumptions about the apparent lack of information.

  1. How much Campden would you use? I know that 1/4 tab crushed is enough to rid water of chlorine but what amount should be used on a cider?
  2. No Boil???..Im assuming since there are no hops to speak of, the 60 minute boil becomes irrelevant?
  3. Chris Smith says to “let it sit to off gas for about 12-18 hours”…should it be covered or left open to the air? perhaps inside a carboy with tinfoil for a lid??
  4. Chris Smith also mentions pitching a “Ton of yeast”…would one pack of Cider Wyeast be enough or should a make a starter to bump up the cell count prior to piching?
  5. They recommend pectic enzyme but no particular amount…How much???
  6. Also the amount of yeast nutrient was left out…again how much???

Start with the best tasting juice you can find, preferably fresh pressed and without preservatives from a local orchard.

  1. You need one tablet of Campden per gallon, crushed.
  2. I prefer to heat my cider to 170 F for 15 minutes to kill more bugs, but with the Campden this step is optional. In my experience, heating brings about a cleaner and more consistent result. But boiling is not recommended.
  3. Loosely cover to prevent dust ‘n’ stuff from getting into the cider.
  4. One pack of yeast is enough. You can make a starter if you wish, but it’s optional.
  5. You don’t need no stinking pectic enzyme.
  6. You don’t need no stinking yeast nutrient, but if you do, just follow the directions on the package. Some people add a little here and there over the course of fermentation. I don’t. I’ve used yeast nutrient sometimes, and sometimes not. I don’t think there’s any real difference. People have been making cider for thousands of years. 99.999% of them did NOT use yeast nutrient and they got great results and drank it anyway. Same here.

Cider is basically the easiest thing to ferment on the planet. No added yeast or sugars required, honestly – it wants to make good hard cider for you all by itself. The hardest part is juicing the apples, but if an orchard does that for you, then you are all set. All other steps including all those above are purely optional.

Great thanks for the info. How about the addition of brown sugar, does it do much in the way of flavor or is it mostly for gravity boost…and as for amounts of sugar, one cup per gallon seems to be what most suggest

I suggest no added sugar. Plain old apple juice will give you a beverage of roughly 6.5% alcohol – strong enough if you ask me! Brown sugar will add a little color and alcohol, not any flavor.

Last question…on bottling day… priming sugar for a little fizz or a little bit of sulfite?..and in either case do you need to let them bottle condition or are they pretty much ready to go after the nearly 8 weeks or more in fermenter?

Add priming sugar AND sulfite. I use the same priming sugar as for beer, about 5/8 cup of cane sugar for 5 gallons. Follow the directions on the sulfite, or use 1 Campden tablet per gallon. The cider will probably need a good 3 or 4 weeks to fully carbonate. Everything is a little slower with cider than it would be for beer.

At bottling day you say i should add another full campden tablet and the bottling sugar…would’nt the campden be enough to knock the yeast down to make the priming sugar ineffective??

Another question…and again thanks for taking the time to answer all of them…I’m looking to have this batch ready for thanksgiving day, im planning on six full weeks in primary and then straight to bottle for another four weeks, do you think this will be fine or should i really let it go for longer…im not really concerned at all with clarity.

Campden doesn’t actually kill yeast, it just prevents them from reproducing and fermenting like crazy. You should, in theory, still be able to get some carbonation even with the Campden in there. If you’re concerned about it, reduce the dose by one or two tablets and you’ll be fine.

Ten weeks from start to drinking seems reasonable to me. It will probably even be reasonably clear by then.

Hope you like it.

Will the pectic enzyme help it clear? For ‘approachability’ reasons, I would like my cider to be clear for serving.

I don’t know about pectic enzyme. But I know gelatin helps.

One quick question on this topic… Do I need to add sugar or apple juice when I add my yeast or will the natural sugar be enough? thanks

Obviously this is up to you but personally I recommend NOT adding any sugar as the juice has plenty by itself.

When you say “juice” you mean apple juice or the natural sugar in the cider is enough.?

When I say juice I am talking about the liquid that comes out of apples when they are pressed, not filtered and not from concentrate. When I say cider I am talking about the hard stuff.

You do not need to add anything to the juice e.g. the liquid from pressed apples. You will be able to produce a good cider of roughly 6% ABV without any additives.

Thanks for the clarification I am a giant brewbie and just didn’t wanna make a single mistake with the 10gal i have going. Again thanks for your response.

dmtaylo2 when you heat to 170, do you chill immediately or do you let it cool on it’s own before pitching?

I am going to attempt my fist cider soon, when the orchard gets back to me when the unpasteurized cider is available.

I want to keep it simple for this first try, nothing added but yeast.

Sorry to highjack the thread.

I cool mine in the refrigerator. It takes a good 4-6 hours, or overnight, but that’s fine. Just be sure it’s got a lid or loose cap on it to prevent anything from falling in. I say loose cap because it will suck in a little air, which shouldn’t hurt anything as long as you pitch your yeast within ~12 hours.

I just juiced another gallon’s worth of miscellaneous heritage apple varieties again today. OG=1.042. I usually do not add any extra sugar, and won’t today either. Don’t need to add any acid or tannin, either, as I used ~15% bittersharp apples. Tastes very tart, with a unique slightly minty sort of flavor that I can only guess comes from the skins of some of these apples. This will be a good one. Got another batch already fermenting and a third batch ready to bottle, and already bottled my Kingston Black a couple of weeks ago. In 2-3 more weeks, I will pop the first bottle to have a taste and hopefully find out if there is any carbonation at all. If there is, great, if not, I don’t care. Should taste great either way.

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