I’m trying hard cider for the first time. I just started a 1 gallon batch. I’ve seen a few videos/articles on carbonating. What do you think is the best way to carbonate?
The most important thing is to make absolutely sure that fermentation is done to completion before deciding to package. Depending on if it’s straight cider at 5% or you added sugar to bump up the ABV, and also depending on how nicely you treated your yeast, this could take anywhere from 3 weeks to a couple months. Dave Taylor, whom I really trust when it comes to cider, recommends racking off the lees (sediment) every time it reaches 1/4 inch thickness, until it’s not producing anymore.
I like to use frozen apple juice concentrate for carbonation. I use 1 can for a 5G batch, so for 1 gallon, cut it down to 20%. Others prime with a little sugar as you would a beer. Bottle, keep warm for 2-3 weeks, then chill. Cider gets better and better over the following year. Don’t drink it all in the 1st 2 weeks (although with only a 1G batch, it’ll be hard to save any).
I consider myself lucky because I like bone dry sparkling cider. I just let it ferment all the way down, prime, and bottle. If you want it sweeter, it gets complicated… what kind of cider are you after?
Uberculture is right, dry cider can be carbonated exactly like you would do beer. If you want some sweetness, it gets complicated. Easiest option would be to stabilize using campden and sorbate, then sweeten with apple juice or sugar, and artificially carbonate in a keg.
The other harder option would be to use champagne method, which takes a year between bottling and when it is ready to disgorge, sweeten and then drink.
Or you could simply mix some sugar into the glass when you pour.
I know this is not an option for everyone but I keg my cider then have a glass every day until it’s at the level I like it then I disconnect it and bottle it
Gee whiz, I left mine in the keg over the winter a few years ago and it was good. I think this year will be apple season here! Eager to have some! Sneezles61