Do I need to add sulfites?

I have a primary fermenter going with pasteurized juice so I have not added sulfites.

I seem to hear 2 options on secondary, some say add campden, others say it will be just fine without as it will still produce CO2. I plan to leave it in secondary for 1 maybe 2 months.

I am then going to bottle and add priming sugar. As the sugar will make the yeast generate more CO2 is there any need to add sulfites at all? How long can the cider last without sulfites in the bottle?

Cider will last for at least a year, probably much longer, even without sulfites (as a preservative). Maybe use it if you plan to age longer than that. Otherwise, there’s no need.

As I’m racking from primary to secondary, it might leave too much headspace.
Any ideas how to top it up? It’s a gallon jug so I can’t get any more for that batch. Marbles are pretty expensive.

If it’s a plastic jug, you could squeeze the air out and cap it. If not squeezable and you don’t want to add more juice, just don’t worry about the head space and hope for the best. Most likely it will turn out just fine, especially if only conditioned for like a month as you say. Acetobacter and oxidation usually take longer to kick in, if it does at all.

Why does wine go off after only a few days when open then?

Your palate is probably more refined than mine. I’m not a wine guy and I’m also not as much a cider expert as I let on. I might know more about cider than 99.9% of all Americans, but I’m still learning.

Not that much :slight_smile:
It’s just a lot of people say that wine goes off after only a few hours of being left open but then I guess it’s because it’s still.
If bottling a still cider, do sulfites need to be added?

I’m not an expert either, but if there were some headspace left, I’d top it up with some store-bought juice or possibly even some white wine. If you’re going to keep it in secondary for an extended period of time, you really want it topped up to the neck of the carboy. If it’s just going to be there for a few weeks, there’s lots of dissolved CO2 that will slowly off-gas from the cider that should push out oxygen from the carboy.

Wine is degassed, so there isn’t anything to push out oxygen once you open a bottle, leaving it susceptible to oxidation.

I would add sulfite to a still cider for extended storage.

It’s a really good question, and one that I’m probably not qualified to answer since I enjoy my cider just fine without sulfites. Text book answer is probably yes.

So, you really just need to ask yourself, do I prefer to do things by the book, or do I just do whatever I feel like doing, or is this question worth an experiment to find out whether it really makes any difference? Of course, it is your decision, and no one else’s.

I imagine and hope that someone else will chime in. I truly hope that I’m not dissuading others from sharing their opinions. All opinions are valid, especially in areas like this that might not be very well explored, at least not on the home cidermaking scale.

EDIT: Thank you, porkchop.

Presumably that restarts fermentation though, which may or may not add more cloudiness or sediment?

Absolutely, it’ll start up fermentation again and kind of defeats the purpose of secondary. I always try to overshoot my volume, with the remainder going into a half gallon or wine bottle so I have enough to top up later.

This is why you might want to consider using a bottle of white wine - something neutral that won’t affect the flavor of your cider, but also will not re-start fermentation. And don’t worry about racking off the lees constantly - I usually just let it go once I get it off most of the lees. :cheers:

It seems like you might not understand the purpose of adding sulfites. Sulfites are used as a preservative. Sulfites protect wine or cider against microbial infection and oxidation. Sulfites don’t do anything else.

So you can add them or not, it is really up to you. If you plan to drink the cider reasonably quickly (within a few months or maybe up to a year) and you’ve been reasonably conscientious about protecting the cider from oxygen, you can get away without them - and it doesn’t matter if the cider is planned to be still or carbonated.

If you decide to add sulfites and to carbonate the cider, then you should be careful not to add too much. Around 1/2 campden tablet per gallon is about right. If the level is too high, it will inhibit the yeast from carbonating in the bottle. If it is too low, it won’t do anything.

In general, I’ve found that treating cider just like you would wine works very well. For all practical purposes, cider is nothing but a low-alcohol fruit wine.