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How can I sweeten my cider before bottle conditioning?

After many years I decided to get back into home brewing by making my very first back of cider. I checked on it today to see if it had finished fermentation and it had. I gave it a taste and found that it is too dry for my tastes. It has an alcohol content of ~ 11%, lost much of its apple flavor and is now more like wine than I had wanted.

I planned all along to bottle condition this batch but due to its dryness I would now like to know if there is someway I can reintroduce the apple flavors I’m looking for without adding too much sugar when it comes time to priming. I’m thinking of adding a can of apple juice concentrate to boost flavor before priming but then not sure how much sugar to add for priming purposes.

Is this a good idea? Any help would be appreciated

Use a can of apple juice concentrate as the priming sugar (1 can for 5 gallons). Also add some sorbate and sulfite in the recommended quantities (read the bottles) to prevent the fermentation from going out of control in the bottles.

Good luck.

Not exactly sure what you are looking to do here.

Backsweeten, or use juice to prime and carbonate to add more apple flavor?

For sweetness you would have to make sure some or all of the juice does not ferment which would be tricky if you want to bottle condition.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=118819

This is a link to a thread in the winemaking section on a similar topic.

You can add some unfermentable sugars, cut of fermentation with pasteurization, or backsweeten using sorbate and keg condition.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Use a can of apple juice concentrate as the priming sugar (1 can for 5 gallons). Also add some sorbate and sulfite in the recommended quantities (read the bottles) to prevent the fermentation from going out of control in the bottles.

Good luck.[/quote]

Are you saying a certain amount of sorbate and sulphite will allow enough fermentation for carbonnating, but will not allow it to ferment out all the way?

From what I’ve read so far (I have not tried any of it mind you) adding the apple juice concentrate, letting it carbonnate, and then pasteurizing the bottles seems like a pretty solid meathod for this.

@ dmtaylo2 Thanks for the advice I’ll give it a try.

@ Brew Meister Smith - I can live without backsweetening if I can impart more apple flavor into my cider. I will try adding the apple juice concentrate along with the sorbate and sulfites as recommended by dmtaylo2 and see what happens. I may also try a small quantity lactose sugar for good measure.

Thanks for providing the link to the winemaking thread it was informing.

Sorbate and sulfite don’t kill yeast, but prevent yeast from multiplying. It sort of stuns and mames them without killing them. So you’ll still get some carbonation, but not gushers, as the yeast will tend to grow very tired and settle out before it gets to that point. At least, that’s the intention. Results may vary a bit, but it has worked for me in the past.

I’ve heard people using lactose to sweeten since its not a fermentable, haven’t tried it though.

Good idea – that will work too.

Interesting. I knew sulphite was not there to kill the yeast, but I was under the impression the sorbate would stop fermentation completely.

Yep. Correct as always Dave. Did a little reading on it.

You would get minor fermention from what cells remain, but no new cells can be generated to continue any major consumption of the sugar.

Neat!

Interesting, Dave. I never looked into it so always thought that those additives outright killed off the yeasties. I definitely learned something new today.

As far as backsweetening goes I rarely do it, but have experimented around with a few things. One natural way of adding a touch of sweetness after ferment is to use stevia…it won’t be appropriate for some things and will be stellar in others. In any case I think it may be a good candidate for folks who like sweeter cider as opposed to the more traditional dry type. It seems to be pretty much unfermentable and, unlike the suspicious but ubiquitous chemical sweeteners on the market (and the well founded doubts about their healthfulness), stevia is a natural plant based sweetener.
Seems to me that a bit of stevia (it doesn’t take much!) in a fully fermented cider, perhaps with a few grams of malic acid or ‘acid blend’ would probably make a very nice sweet style cider (I think it’s fairly well known that just a a touch of added acid blend really makes sweet wines and sweet meads much ‘brighter’ tasting).

To the OP: you have a perfect candidate batch for transforming into a Finnish style hard cider. The method over here is to dilute with water (to stretch the product I think) and then sweeten with sugar to ferment an apple wine. Then they dilute to 4.7% ABV, sterile filter, back sweeten to make it quite sweet and artificially carbonate it. The lack of anything except a faint apple flavor would be right to style.

I have done this. It works, but I feel it adds a certain mouthfeel that isn’t appropriate for cider. That was just my experience though.

I have done this. It works, but I feel it adds a certain mouthfeel that isn’t appropriate for cider. That was just my experience though.[/quote]

This actually was my concern with the issue originally. I have not actually tried it, but had it recomended by a few people.

Thanks for the feedback on this.

Thanks everyone for the advice. Since there were so may who offered advice I thought that I should post an update on how my batch is going thus far. As I stated previously my finished cider had an alcohol content of in the area of 11% and was quite dry before bottle conditioning.

I refrained from using the sorbate and sulfates as first suggested by dmtaylo2. Seeing how this was my first batch of Cider I ever made (and used juice as opposed to actual cider) I didn’t want to experiment to much.

At bottling however, I used a small amount of lactose (1 cup/5 gallons). I know that this amount more than likely wont add as much back sweetness as I was originally thinking about, but I didn’t want to change the mouthfeel of the cider much either, so I compromised. Instead of using priming sugar, I primed my bottles with 1 can of apple juice concentrate with the idea in mind that the concentrate will add the additional apple flavor I was looking for after first tasting after fermentation.

The cider has been in bottles now for 2 weeks. I am not planning on trying a bottle for at least another 2 weeks to give the cider additional time to condition and mature some. I’ll let you all know how it turned out then :smiley:

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