First batch of cider

Hello. I am new to brewing and before moving on to all grain beer I wanted to make a batch of cider. I started it last night and just wanted to share my process so far and open it up to any advice.

So I started with 5 gallons of local cider from a health food store (Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco). It has zero additives and was cold pasteurized.

I poured it all into a large kettle, checked the OG (1.07) then heated it around 180 - 190(f) for 45 minutes.

Once it was up to temperature I added 2lbs of bakers cone sugar (because I had it around, and wanted to raise the end alcohol level a little) and let it simmer for the rest of the time.

While it was simmering I made a mixture of 1tsp of Acid Blend + 1 tsp Pectic enzyme + 1/2tsp. yeast nutrient in a cup of cool water. the Pectic Enzyme is to clear the cloudiness, and I read that the acid blend was good to make the cider a little dryer. The acid blend was suggested in a few recipes, I did not do a PH test on my water. I also read that the the yeast nutrient is usually helpful for ciders.

After 45 minutes on the heat I put the whole kettle in my sink, full of cold water. I added the little ice I had and monitored the temperature. The ice melted off pretty rapidly, and the temperature dropped down to around 135 pretty quickly. I added the cold mixture when the temperature was around 100. I continued to change out the water for about an hour and finally got it down to 73f.

I then transferred the cider to a 6 gallon carboy with a siphon. I aerated it as much as possible via the siphoning and shaking up the cider in the carboy as it filled.

I took a tube of white labs english cider yeast out of the fridge when the process started, it was at room temperature when i got the cider into the carboy, so I shook it up well and opened it. I lost probably 1/4 of all over my counter, it was pressurized from the shaking. I I poured the remaining yeast into the carboy, shook it all up a bit, and put the airlock on filled with diluted sanitizer solution.

I finished the process around 2am, and when I got up this morning there was pretty much no action. Just a small touch of bubbles in the middle.

When I got home this afternoon around 7 it was going crazy, there is a 3/8" cake on the top, lots of movement below the surface, and the airlock is bubbling every three seconds or so.

So, it seems like thinks are going well, it has been staying right around 70 degrees. I am going to let it work itself out for a week or two then rack it into a smaller carboy with less air space the continue to age.

Any tips are appreciated, I will keep you all posted.

Sounds like you are on your way to a good batch. So, your OG was 1.07 before or after adding the 2lbs of sugar? If it was before, what was the OG after the sugar? Yeast nutrient is important to a healthy fermentation. I actually have used raisins and/or dates cut up and simmered with a little water on the stove until they are completely broken down. I saw this in one of the brewing forums before and figured I would try it. I will have to say, that the fermentation didn’t appear to go any different than previous ones of the same recipe, but the taste was very different. Definitely more delicious than the other batches.
After a week of fermentation, I transferred mine into another container to finish up. Once the airlock was bubbling once every minute or so, I checked gravity. One batch I let go down to 1.000 and it was nice and dry. The other one I stopped and cold crashed it when the gravity was 1.010…leaving it slightly sweet. after having them sit in the cold garage for a month I would have to say, that both are very good.
Did your yeast pack recommend fermenting at 70 degrees? I have been doing mine at a temp of 63 to 65 degrees.

Good catch, the gravity was after adding sugar, I tried to take a reading before but my hydrometer jar was leaking. I fixed it and took a reading after the cider cooled.

Second day update: its continuing to ferment like crazy, tons of movement in the carboy, the top is very foamy, maybe 1" thick and moving a lot, and the airlock is bubbling less then every second. My kitchen is starting to smell like bad eggs a little bit, so I moved the fermenter down to a closet in my garage. It stays dark and cool there. The carboy temperature dropped down to 68, and will probably drop a bit more in the garage. The yeast seems to be liking it.

Day 3 -

Fermentation slowed to about a bubble every 2 seconds out of the airlock. It is cooler in my garage closet (closer to 62) so that may have slowed things down. The cake at the top of the cider is about gone, replaced by a lot of foam. It stinks in the closet.

The sulfur smell is pretty common and fades in a couple weeks.

The first thing I ever brewed was a Cider. well actually without knowing what I was doing I made a cyser as I dumped in 5 lbs of local honey. In fact I found NB when I was looking for a good yeast to use for it and now 6 months later I’m brewing beer like a mad man too. Been doing a batch a week almost.

Mine turned out strong at 11%abv and that is with using the semi sweet yeast strain which kept it at 1.010 it was very good I want to add cranberry next time.

Mine had that sulfur smell. it had a few strange smells actually and at one point I was beginning to worry about it but It end up being great

I lost this thread, glad I found it again.

Here we are at the end of the year. The 5 gallon carboy is still in the garage. I seem to have lost my log notebook, glad to have found this forum again, as it has my

A couple months after fermentation stopped (or dramatically slowed down) the cider was still very cloudy. I racked it into a secondary 5gal carboy, and continued to check it every couple weeks. It remained cloudy.

I lost interest and quit checking it up until a week ago. It is clear. I guess it is kind of like boiling water…

So, at this point I am ready to bottle, my hope is to have a dry carbonated cider. Is it safe to assume there is still some live yeast in there? Is there any kind of test I should do before bottling? How much sugar should be used to minimally sweeten it? Is corn sugar best (like with beer) or should I use cane sugar? It has been going for the better part of 11 months, I want to make sure not to sweeten it up, and to just add the carbonation.

Thanks in advance.

I wouldn’t count on the yeast being viable enough to carbonate. At this point, your best bet would be to rehydrate a half packet of champagne yeast and add it to your bottling bucket. Use NB’s priming sugar calculator, either dextrose or table sugar will work fine. I would aim for the high side of your desired carbonation range, as much of the residual carbon dioxide will have dissipated. Regular beer bottles, maybe shoot for 3 to 3.5 volumes of CO2.

The bottling yeast will cloud up your cider, but don’t worry, it will clear up again in the bottle.

Be careful with too much carbonation. 3 years ago I primed a 5G batch of cider with 2 cans of frozen apple juice(comparable to about 3.5volumes according to my calculations at the time). Turned out VERY fizzy, like champagne amount. Actually turned into a bit of a pain pouring into a glass.
Now I use 1 can, and the carbonation is light, just right for me.
By the way, none of the sugar from the concentrate is retained. It does help with a little apple flavor and aroma.

Sure, but after 11 months in the carboy it’ll have a lot less residual CO2 than one that had been bottled after a few months. Even if you prime it at 3.5 volumes, it’ll have considerably less carbonation than 3.5 volumes. This is part of the reason why long-aged beers often end up with less carb than desired. Just err a bit on the high side and you’ll be fine.

I see. Makes sense. :grin:
Off topic- these emoji things are pretty hideous

Definitely creeping me out!

Where can I find a calculator for the sugar or is there a rule of thumb?

Should I use cane sugar, brown sugar, corn sugar, honey, or apple juice?

And how much?

I like the idea of using apple juice or honey, but not sure how much to use.


If you google “priming sugar calculator” you will get the Northern Brewer one as the first hit. And if you don’t like that one, use a different one. They are almost the same, though some do give more options than others for the type of sugar you use.

And you can use any sugar you want, but the amount varies depending on the form. Most calculators use corn sugar as the default, but just multiply that by 0.9 to get the amount of table sugar to use (my default, as it works well and is the cheapest, easiest option). If you want to add some flavor element, you can use almost anything that includes fermentable sugars.

The nice thing about the NB site is it has a very wide varieties of sugar to choose from, but not all. For anything not there, you just have to adjust the amount to compensate for the concentration of sugar present. For example, honey is about 75% fermentable sugar, so you would calculate the amount of sugar you need, then divide by 0.80 to get the amount to add.

I one time used hard candies for priming sugar, and several times different syrups. They will transfer some flavor to the beer, and give you something unique. Not always good, but unique.

I have decided to carb it with concentrated apple juice.

The original gravity was 1.07, I just checked the final gravity and it is sitting just below one, so I would say 0.999 which puts me in the range of 9.3% alcohol. I poured the gravity sample over ice and am drinking it now. It is quite good very dry, retained apple characteristics.

I picked up some organic apple concentrate which contains 26g of sugar per serving (* 6 servings) so 156g of fructose which I have readis the same efficiency as Sucrose (100% fermentable). I feel pretty safe that there is no more sugar in there, and I want it pretty fizzy, so I am going to prime with a whole can, which should put C02 Volume at just about 3.312 at 55 degrees (current temp in my garage) which seems same to me.

I am adding in about 1/4 of a packet of yeast just to be sure (brand new fresh yeast).

Because it is going to be on the cooler side down there I am going to let it go for 6 weeks before sampling. Hopefully that gives it plenty of time to carb up and age a touch.

I will keep you all posted.

Make sure to rehydrate the yeast first - otherwise it’ll just float for awhile and eventually settle to the bottom as a clumpy mess! Rehydrating it first will ensure it dissolves properly.

I used white liquid yeast.

Sounds like this will work very well.
Try your best to get the temp somewhere in the upper 60’s to 70’s which will help keep the yeast active so they can carbonate it. Maybe wrap things up in a sleeping pad, or use a heating pad set on low(I do this anytime my basement temp is below 65).
Good luck, hope she turns out well!

I am keeping them in the kitchen for a week, then moving down stairs. I have a few other brews going down there, and everything is moving pretty slowly. I am not in a rush, and don’t mind slow ferments. Will try one in 6 weeks or so and see how they are tasting.

Here is a pic of the bulk aged cider (on the right) before bottling, next to the new batch I started yesterday (on the left).

Looks pretty clear. It looks darker than the two that I made. What type of apples did you use?