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Suggestions on sweeter cider?

Hey folks,

so I’m attempting to make a basic hard cider from some windfalls. I started with roughly 3 pounds of apples, pureed with a little water in my trusty Ninja blender. I dumped it all into a mesh bag inside my 5 gallon fermenter, topped it up with enough water to bring it to two gallons, added some potassium metabisulfite, gave it a good stir and slapped the lid and airlock on. I plan on waiting a couple of days for fermentation to start, then add my yeast . Which brings me to my question…
I can’t decide between EC 1118, my favorite, or Windsor. I would really like a sweet cider by the time I’m done, and I’m thinking to pull that off I’ll have to add sugar right at the end of fermentation. Am I right? Or do I need to try something else? I’ve made cider before, but it’s been five or six years.

Adding sugar will start your fermentation again… I’m not the cider expert like Dave Taylor is, but I’ve used Stevia afterwards. I worked just fine for me… Sneezles61

You either need to overwhelm your yeast with the ABV (which will be nasty), pasteurize after fermentation to kill the yeast (either chemically or with heat), or add an unfermentable sugar like @sneezles61 says above. I’m personally not a fan of stevia, because I can pick out the taste and don’t care for it, but had great luck with xylitol. Very flavor neutral, and about twice the sweetness of regular sugar.

While chemicals like sorbate/k-meta really aren’t pasteurizing, they effectively do the same thing by preventing the yeast from continuing to ferment any added sugars. Disadvantage here is that you can’t carbonate in the bottle. You’ll need to keg it and force carbonate if you want it sparkling. Same thing if you just keep adding sugar until the yeast die, can’t carbonate naturally. With an unfermentable sugar, though, go ahead and let it ferment dry, add the sweetener to your desired sweetness, and then prime with regular cane sugar to your desired level. The yeast will consume the priming sugar, leaving the xylitol to sweeten the cider. You’ll be left with yeast in the bottle like with beer, but no biggie if you pour the whole thing at once.

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Thats a very good explanation! I never thought about it that way… But with kegs… well, I don’t have to now! Sneezles61

my only concern with xylitol is that a) I think I have friends allergic to it and b) it tends to give people the runs. But I may just keep the first batch for myself and experiment…

Nothing wrong with stevia if you’re ok with the flavor. But yes, gotta keep the side effects of xylitol in mind. Are you trying to bottle sweet sparkling cider? You can go the route of bottle pasteurizing, too. It’s not too difficult - you basically sweeten with sugar to your desired sweetness, prime with sugar, and bottle one in a plastic soda bottle. When the plastic bottle is hard, meaning it has carbonated, you heat the whole batch up in a cooler of hot water and hold it at 150°F plus for 20 minutes or so. This kills the yeast, leaving the carbonation and residual sugar intact. Just practice caution, as it’s possible for a bottle to shatter when heated. Use all plastic, or wear appropriate eye protection when you do it.

If you have a cooler with a drain, you can have all the bottles closed in the cooler and gravity feed the hot water into the cooler through the drain valve. That way everything is contained if a bottle breaks.

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This is genius. I’m trying to time it so that it’s ready for NYE, so ideally I’d be priming up to a week before serving it. If that doesn’t happen, however, I’ll be using this method. So once the sample bottle is ready, I put the batch in a container and then heat the water? Or add the hot water to the container?

I use the cooler pasteurization method. Very easy to do and it’s always worked for me.

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I’ve also done the cooler pasteurization method. I’d like to add that glass shatters when it is exposed to large swings in temperature. I was actually thinking this year of setting up a water circulation system with my electric brewing set up. Start with cold water in the cooler and HLT, heat the water up in the HLT, gravity feed it to the cooler, pump the water from the cooler back to the HLT and continue to do that until I reach my pasteurization temperature (I have done 165 degrees for 20 minutes). This way, the water will gradually warm the cooler and bottles of cider. I was even thinking of trying to have 2 coolers in sequence as I can’t fit a full 5 gallon batch into 1 cooler. I like sparkling cider. I have used jimrmaine’s advice in priming with frozen apple juice for more apple flavor. I highly recommend that.

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That’s a good idea to keep from shocking the bottles. I’ve only pasteurized bottles a few times, and usually only 12 or so bottles from small batches. They go into a water canner, get covered in cold tap water, and I use a sous vide machine to heat the water to 150F or so for a good 20 minutes. It takes the water probably half an hour to heat up, so it’s pretty gradual. Easy peasy.

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