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Still cider

I made my first cider about 3 weeks ago. I used Nottingham Ale yeast and some yeast nutrient and let it go. I took a gravity reading and it has topped off at .999. My question is, when I tasted the small gravity reading it seemed pretty dry I would like it so be a bit sweeter, I am not planning on carbonating it. Should I add sugar while bottling and if so is there a process?..do I have to heat it up etc. Or should I just let people add sugar/flavoring to their own servings as necessary?

There are many different ways to do this. I plan on using lactose, which is unfermentable sugar, although it is only like 15% as sweet as regular sugar. Some people are trying Stevia this year – I have not tried it yet. I have tried Splenda in the past, but after a few weeks it gave off a very chemical flavor that was not pleasant, so I won’t use Splenda again and I cannot recommend it. I have not tried aspartame but I hate that stuff as it tastes chemically to me right off the bat.

Other things you could try, and that I have not done, is to backsweeten with normal fermentable sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, honey, apple concentrate, etc.) but kill the yeast with either sulfite or heat. One Campden (sulfite) tablet plus 1/2 teaspoon potassium sorbate per gallon might be enough to minimize or prevent refermentation in the bottle, although personally I doubt it and I’m afraid to use much more dose than that because I know Campden tastes like multivitamins – not very tasty.

I am, however, intrigued by the heat method. Basically, bottle all your cider with the extra sugar that you want, cap them, then carefully heat all your bottles to >160 F for 20 minutes or something like that (I don’t know exact times) either in a huge kettle and water bath, or I’ve heard of people using a heated cycle in their dishwasher for this! The dishwasher method, to me, seems the easiest and most intriguing. There are cidermakers out there who swear by this method that it works great. One day I’ll have to try it.

These are just a few ideas that I have seen tossed around. You might want to do a little research on this forum or Google to find more information before diving into any of these methods.

Since you are not planning on carbing, I would just stabilize your cider and add sugar. Dissolve your sugar into a small amount of boiled water and add at bottling time (make sure you have fully stabilized your cider first). You can also use apple concentrate.

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