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First Time Cider - Next Step

I’m a 1st timer. 5 gal juice/yeast for a month. Seems like fermentation slowed or stopped… no bubbles in airlock for 10+ minutes.

What is my next step? I want to back sweeten a bit with something (maybe xylitol?). Do I add that before priming sugar? If so, how much in advance? Do I just add sweetner, mix, then immediately move on to priming sugar for carbonation?

This is why you need to move to kegging. Then you can stop the yeast with potassium sorbate (if you want) and backsweeten in the keg. I like to use 2 cans of AJ concentrate/5 gallons. Just be sure to roll and mix that keg up, or your first pull will be pretty much straight concentrate!

I’ve found that I don’t even need to add the sorbate when I keg, because it’s stored so cold that the yeast can’t really get going again. And any pressure that does come from any small amount of renewed fermentation is released as it’s poured.

To answer your question though, I think the best advice is to just bottle the cider in its dry state without backsweetening. Then you can add sweetener in your glass at serving time. We had fun doing this and trying different sweeteners. For instance, you can add about a shot of any juice concentrate to your glass, then pour the cider on top and it will look like an Italian soda. Very fancy, it’ll impress the ladies. Cranberry juice is pretty darn good. You can also keep it simple and add apple juice.

This allows you to adjust the level of sweetening to individual tastes. My buddy Steve mixes his with Sprite and calls it Sprider.

So that’s what I’d do, if I didn’t have a keg setup. The dry sparkling cider is really an interesting beverage - it’s cool to get all that apple flavor without the sweetness. Really tart and refreshing. Enjoy.

Thanks! I like the idea of adding different stuff to the cider. What I might do is bottle half of it dry and sweeten the second half (I’m in the trial/learning stage obviously).

Do you think I’m ready to bottle if it’s not bubbling? Or should it be at a certain gravity first? I’m coming up on 5 weeks.

I’d bottle based on clarity. Mine took a long time to drop clear. I think I bottled most of them after about 6 months, although I didn’t keep records of my cider batches like I do with beer. Should have!

As long as your bottling techniques are sound and you’re not oxidizing it, your cider should improve with age over several years. I recently had a couple bottles of mine that were from 2008 and they were still great.

You could always cold-crash it by putting the fermenter in the fridge for a a week. That should clear it up a bit if it’s still cloudy. Part of the appeal of cider is that it’s so sparkling and clear, so it’s worth bottling a clear product. Depends on how patient you are though!


Thanks Captain! Any suggested recipes for my next batch without kegging system?

All of my batches have just been straight fresh-pressed cider with no added sugar, acid, etc. I also just make it with apples that I can scrounge for free. Once you start looking around, it’s not too hard to find people with apple trees who just don’t use the fruit.

I’ve tried a variety of yeast strains and have had the best results with Cote des Blanc wine yeast. It’s recommended for apple wines too. It preserves the apple flavor very well. Good luck!

I like to bring the SG to 1.060 with honey in my ciders. And have had very good luck using a blend of 50% sweet /35% acidic/15% astringent apples.

Anyone ever use a wine yeast, then backsweeten with DME? Since the wine yeast can’t eat all the malt sugars, that would leave some residual sweetness. Once the yeast finishes you could prime with simple sugar (which the wine yeast can eat), and be left with a sweetened, carbonated cider.

Haven’t tried it myself, but the recent threads on Graff had me thinking that this could work.

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