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Using Fining Agents to Clear

I made my one and only cider two winters ago. Let it age a good 4 months before drinking. People seemed to enjoy it though it was a little tart for my taste.

Had a question about clearing. So I know you want the cider to fully ferment out. 4 weeks or longer is not out of the question. Then I know you typically want it to sit a few months to clear/age. Can you move the clearing process along by adding some fining agents and then get to the finish product sooner? Can you go from press to glass in 6-8 weeks?

Thoughts?

Yes, you can use fining agents to help. If you dissolve a couple teaspoons of unflavored gelatin in a little hot water and swirl that in, the cider should clear in a few days, if not 24 hours. Then you can rack off the clear cider and bottle quicker.

So is the aging process really just a clearing thing or is there significant impacts to flavor?

I believe aging is primarily for clearing. In my experience, some ciders will change character with age, some won’t. I don’t claim to be an expert, but one example might be for high alcohol ciders, I am sure the hotness or solvent character of higher alcohols will mellow out over time. Now, whether this aging should be done in the fermenter or in the bottle is a matter of debate. Personally I do not think it matters if you bottle right away and age in the bottle. And for most ciders, I don’t think long aging has a great benefit. The standard cider of around 6% ABV is meant to be drunk within a year, similar to beer. I’m not sure what happens if you age it for a very long time as I’ve always drunk reasonably fresh, within a year or so of fermentation.

Thanks! I’m just trying to plan out my schedule. A farm buddy of mine is getting me 10gal for us to split. I’d like to try 2-4 different types with flavors, etc. so based on fermenter and keg space, I’m trying to plan out how to time it to move stuff along so I can ferment, condition, keg, then bottle (to give him his half) in some organized manner.

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