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Cider cider

So I picked up my cider yesterday, and it smells great. I don’t know what they have going into the apple blend, but I know last years didn’t smell this good going in.
I have the campden in, doing it’s thing, I’m going to pitch my yeast tomorrow morning.
My question is, what is the best bet to use the pectic enzyme. Last year I added it as it went into the secondary fermenter, and it worked out, since the batch came out crystal clear, and is drinking great.
I’ve read all sorts of things, from adding it right in the beginning, to halfway through primary, to at the end, etc. Is there a consensus as to when is the best time to add it?

I’ve never used pectic enzyme so I cannot say when to use it. What I can tell you is that I have had excellent success using gelatin. Dissolve a tablespoon of gelatin in a little hot water and pour it into the cider a couple of days before bottling. Gelatin begins work immediately and will coagulate the haze and bring it to the bottom of the fermenter in about 24-48 hours flat. Looks like a snow globe when you first put it in, it just snows down to the bottom over time, leaving you with crystal clear cider.

I just add the pectinase at the same time as the yeast. After ~3 weeks my ciders are done fermenting and crystal clear.

The Brewing TV Cider episode says Campden, then 12 hours pectic enzine, and then 12 hours later yeast. That’s what I do, my cider has been in secondary now for 4 weeks at 65 degrees and is crystal clear.

Dave has advised the same before and he is right - go the gelatin route!

Thanks – yes, gelatin definitely works. However I might just need to try the pectic enzyme one of these years just to see how it compares. I’m sure it really doesn’t matter too much one way or the other – it will taste the same either way. But one other reason I like gelatin is that it will sweep a lot of the yeast out of the cider towards the end of fermentation, so if done right, you could end up with a little sweeter cider, not so darn dry. That is my goal with my ciders this year – to figure out how to make gelatin work to my advantage to stop or slow fermentation when I want it stopped or slowed.

OK, I may try the gelatin route. I bottle my cider, not keg, so I’ll need it to carb in bottle.
Will there still be enough yeast in suspension to do that?

You can carbonate your cider, but the results are difficult to predict. I have experienced some very highly carbonated ciders over the years. The bottles will be totally flat for about a month, then suddenly a couple of weeks later, they are overcarbonated. What I’ve learned is that at the end of fermentation, you should check gravity, then wait about 10-14 days, then check gravity again. If the gravity has changed in that time by just 0.001, the fermentation is still happening invisibly and you should not bottle yet. So then repeat the wait for another 10-14 days, check again, etc. When the gravity FINALLY stabilizes, which could take a couple of months!, then you will be ready to prime and bottle. But if bottled too quickly, you could have an awful lot of carbonation after a couple months in the bottles. Bottom line is that cider ferments a lot more slowly and more invisibly than homebrewers might be accustomed to, so… be careful about it. But yeah, it will work. There’s enough yeast in there for several months to carbonate your cider.

I did a batch last year, so I think I’ve got an idea on the fermentation. I think it was in about 3 months primary and then a couple more months secondary last year.
I do plan to secondary again, giving it more chance to finish up.
Last years batch does have some light carb to it, I almost wish it was a little more carbed.
Maybe a bit more sugar this year for that. I’m going to leave it in primary for at least a few months, and then see where we are then, probably around New Years.

Also dumb question here: for the gelatin, do I just get a box of plain jello? or is there a certain kind to get / use from elsewhere than the local grocery store?

Sounds like you know what you are doing better than I do, jaygtr. Sure, just increase your priming sugar slightly and you might be in great shape.

For gelatin, look for Knox brand, which is the unflavored stuff. You should be able to find it near the Jello brands. Box is white with orange logo.

I’ve never used gelatin in cider, so I may be wrong on this, but I would recommend the pectinase combined with a lengthy clearing time. That works to give you crystal clear results. The issue with gelatin is that it can work TOO well. It will grab the pectin, as well as just about everything else it encounters. When used with wines, it can actually strip some body and flavor if you use too much, and I’d be worried about the same with when using it with cider.

As far as when to add pectinase, you can do it pretty much any time. Just make sure you add it long enough before bottling to allow the denatured pectin to settle out.

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