Questions about use of gelatin

What is the exact amount and procedure you all use when using gelatin to clear cider? I’ve seen a range of amounts and variety of procedures when I did an internet search. Also, do you have to cold crash when using gelatin? Any proof to the theory that gelatin can strip tannins from cider?

 Is cider not affected by sunlight like beer? I was thinking of cold crashing my cider on my porch once it gets cold enough and wondering if I have to keep it in the dark. Thanks.

I use about a pack per 3 gallons – not sure of the exact amount but I think it’s roughly 1 tablespoon. It’s in that ballpark. All I do to prepare it:

  1. Fill a glass with about 2-3 ounces of water.

  2. Microwave until it begins to steam hard or boil.

  3. Stir in the gelatin. It takes forever to dissolve. Stir stir stir. If you use a clean spoon, the water is hot enough to sanitize your spoon.

  4. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

  5. Pour it into your cider.

24 to 48 hours later, the cider is crystal clear.

I don’t worry about temperature. Just ferment it cold, like in the 50s, and keep it cold the whole time. If you fermented warm, you’ll probably get identical results if you keep it warm. I don’t think temperature is a huge factor. But I could be wrong.

Does gelatin strip tannins? I don’t know. If you’re concerned, then add tannin afterwards. I dose mine with about 1/4 to 1/2 the dose that they recommend for white wine. Works great.

Sunlight will not affect your cider at all. However, oxygen can. It’s a good idea to keep your fermenters as full as possible. Since cider doesn’t have much krausen after the first day or so of fermentation, you can top it up real high to eliminate oxygen intake. If you want. It doesn’t matter too much in the short term, but…

If you leave your cider sitting around for several months, it will often turn into vinegar from the oxygen exposure. It’s happened to me twice. Not to worry, though – the vinegar is delicious and if you are resourceful it can be put to all sorts of good uses. Hopefully it doesn’t go to vinegar, but if it does, all is not lost.

Thanks, Dave. I looked for tannin on NB which also pulled up gelatin finings made by LD Carlson. I’m assuming overpriced gelatin? The directions on the bottle are similar to what I’ve read in other forums that you want to mix the gelatin in cold water for an hour first. Other forums have described it as letting the gelatin “bloom” in this cold water before heating it up. I’m assuming this blooming is a rehydration process? Gelatin is a protein, so this would make sense biochemically. Maybe this would help it to dissolve once heat is applied? I have read that you should sprinkle it on the surface of the cold water to avoid clumps.

 Another question relating to oxidation:  I'm assuming that if I purged the secondary carboy with CO2, then I could leave more headspace if I didn't have enough cider in the primary to fill it to the neck?  I don't keg, but I can get CO2 with tank for pretty cheap at a local welding shop.  If I did purge the carboy, how long do you purge for and would you need an inline air filter, or can I assume that since it's pure CO2, there shouldn't be anything growing in it?  Thanks.

I’ve done gelatin with and without “blooming”. I don’t think it really makes any difference. Skipping the bloom saves you an unnecessary step. My humble opinion.

CO2 purge is a great idea. I’ve never done that but I imagine a nice 3 to 5 second squirt of CO2 in there will accomplish what you want.

Cool to room temp? Would it be okay to add to a batch that is cold crashing (35 degrees)?

[quote=“Sarge”]Cool to room temp? Would it be okay to add to a batch that is cold crashing (35 degrees)?

Doesn’t matter in my opinion. I mean exactly what I say. By “a few” minutes, I mean like 10 or 15. Just to take the edge off the heat. It won’t hurt to add it to a large quantity of cold brew, the temperature will quickly even out to be like 3 degrees more than it started with. You could chill it if you want but I don’t believe there’s any advantage or disadvantage to doing that.

Thanks Dave

An even simpler method of preparing gelatin:
Sprinkle 1/2 tsp on maybe 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 1/2 hour or so, then microwave in 10 second bursts until it’s dissolved. 2 or 3 bursts generally is good enough. I then add it directly- no need to cool because it’s such a low volume.
And yes, I started off with the LD Carlson stuff, but now use Knox unflavored from the supermarket.

I read somewhere that gelatin can crash out so much yeast that more yeast should be added at bottling time if you want to attempt sparkling cider or bottle conditioning a beer. Any truth to this? This seems difficult to believe. Thanks.

No, there is still plenty of yeast left after. Instead of a billion cells maybe there’s “only” a million left or whatever – these numbers are made up but you get the picture.

Thanks Dave and JimRMaine for your responses. I finally had time to rack my cider to secondary last night after 2 weeks in primary. Just didn’t have time last weekend. I got a big surprise on the SG: 1.001. Wow, I didn’t think it would ferment down from 1.046 at 55 to 60 degrees in just 2 weeks. I initially did a refractometer reading with NB’s online calculator. Being skeptical, I pulled out the hydrometer, and sure enough, it’s right on. I was hoping to have some sugar left, but it’s pretty much a very dry sour green cider. I know this cider can go down to 0.095, but bottom line, it’s close to being done it’s fermentation already. So I decided to throw the gelatin in last night. Here’s what I did and not sure why this worked as well as it did.

 I decided to split a pack of gelatin between the two 5 gallon batches I have going.  It was the store brand plain gelatin that we just so happened to have in the kitchen.  I sanitized a glass measuring cup and spoon in StarSan (it was right there anyway sanitizing airlocks, etc. in preparation for racking to secondary, so why not?).  I used 4oz of cold distilled water (our tap water is chlorinated) and sprinkled the gelatin on top of that immediately mixing it into the water with the spoon.  Then I threw it into the microwave for 30 seconds.  I gave it a stir expecting most of the gelatin to still be not dissolved based on what you all have experienced.  However, the opposite was true.  Most of the gelatin was already dissolved!  I stirred it again and gave it 10 more seconds in the microwave at which point it was hot and totally in solution.  I threw a sanitized piece of foil over it until I had the cider racked to secondary.  So not sure if it was the brand of gelatin, the use of distilled water, the 1250 watt microwave, the StarSan residue or some other reason why the gelatin dissolved so quickly.  Just wanted to share this with you all in case you wanted to try it this way.

 As others have noted, the gelatin turns the cider milky initially.  I put the secondary carboys back in the ice bath and got it down to mid 40's to lower 50's with a ton of ice packs.  This morning, it's already looking much more clear.

 At this point, I'm wondering how long you all would wait before proceeding to bottle.  Obviously, I want to make sure I reach my FG, but any reason why I couldn't bottle it in 2 weeks and cold store it in my basement for a few months?  Does it have to age in the carboy?  In other other words, is there any benefit to leaving it in the carboys versus bottling if I have confirmed fermentation has ended?  

 I'd like to add spices to one of these batches.  I'm thinking of adding 1lb of lactose to this batch which will require that I boil it in some water first.  So I thought I could add the spices post boil and let it steep 5 minutes before throwing it into the cider.  Any ball park ranges of how much cinnamon, clove, etc. would be perceptible but not overpowering?  Thanks again.

This is precisely why I rack once/week.

Don’t be in a rush or your bottles could go kaboom!

I don’t use spices in cider so I can’t help with exact quantities, but best way to add them might be to soak in a few ounces of vodka overnight or so, then on bottling day, add just a few drops at a time until the batch tastes right.