Cooking apple cider advice please

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Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby MrBoy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 21:14

A neighbour's apple trees have been prolific this year. We've teamed up to make some cider... I've made a couple of cider kits and lots of ale kits but never cider from juice before.

He juiced mostly cookers with a few eaters to produce 18L of juice. The cookers are particularly sweet you can drink the juice and while it's clearly quite acidic it's sweet enough not to be unpleasant.
The OG I've measured at 1048-1050. I don't know what a typical FG might be but ball-parking at 1000 that gives ABV around 6.5% which would be fine. I'm planning to use generic ale yeast, is that a reasonable FG/ABV guesstimate?

Now, I've seemingly got enough sugar and definitely enough acid. But my understanding is I'm missing out on tannins entirely. I think I'll go the teabag route, can someone advise me on how to get an appropriate amount for my batch size?

I added a couple of crushed campden tablets and 3 teaspoons of yeast nutrient already. How long do I need to leave it before adding yeast so the tablets won't kill the good yeast? I'm thinking I'll stick it in the brew fridge overnight (it was chilled previously) so it's up to 21C then pitch the yeast. Is this reasonable?
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 23:08

I left mine 24 hours before adding yeast when I'd added a campden tablet. I added four teabags to a 5L demijohn. Essentially, best way is just to steap a teabag and add the liquid to taste so your apple juice is more balanced. I've got two DJs that are fully fermented out and dropped clear plus a third one I did today that I'm leaving to ferment with the wild yeast on the apples.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby HTH1975 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 23:10

You'll also want pectic enzyme to clear the juice.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby MrBoy » Sun Dec 18, 2016 23:20

HTH1975 wrote:You'll also want pectic enzyme to clear the juice.

Is this purely for cosmetic effect?

Assuming I want to, how much would be added and at what point?
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby HTH1975 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 00:19

MrBoy wrote:
HTH1975 wrote:You'll also want pectic enzyme to clear the juice.

Is this purely for cosmetic effect?

Assuming I want to, how much would be added and at what point?


I've added it both at the start and also part-way through fermentation on different batches - has worked fine either way. The pectonase is supposed to help break the pectin into simpler sugars, which will help with clarification. You will otherwise get cloudy cider (pectin haze).

It's not essential, but I'm glad I did it as my ciders have dropped beautifully clear.

I used a 1g sachet which is used to treat up to 25L, but I used that much for each 5L demijohn.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby oldbloke » Mon Dec 19, 2016 00:53

For 4.5l. I used 3 or 4 teabags in a mug, back before I shelled out for powder tannin, left to get strong but not totally stewed. You have 4x the litres. so 12 to 16 teabags.
Can you measure the acidity? It might want treating
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby MrBoy » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:14

Do I steep in cold water, boiling (like making actual tea) or something in between? Gosh 12 teabags seems a lot, crab apples really have a LOT of tannin ;)

I just remembered I have some soil-testing paper pH strips which I guess will suffice for testing. What is a good range for it to lie in and what's the best thing to use to neutralise it a little if needed? Can I use some typical kitchen ingredient and save a trip to the shop?

What would be the affect on the cider of having too much/too little tannin and too high/low pH? I assume different ciders have different profiles so there's a lot of room for interpretation based on what you want but how will the cider vary as these things change?
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby oldbloke » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:52

Use hot water, as for making tea. Use less than 12 if you think it might be a bit much, but I reckon it's about right. I wouldn't go less than 8. Too little is bland
You want a pH of 3.2 to 3.8. Lower will taste very sharp, higher is susceptible to infection and won't taste sharp enough.
Using an ale yeast can help get rid of excess sharpness
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby MrBoy » Mon Dec 19, 2016 13:09

Cheers I'll take a look at it later today.

A bunch of sludge has dropped out with it standing for 18 hours, bits of pulp that made it through the filter I guess. Should I rack it before pitching the yeast to remove this, or just pitch as normal and end up with more sediment once the yeast has chomped its way through everything?
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby oldbloke » Mon Dec 19, 2016 13:42

Up to you. But there's probably some sugars and flavours in that sludge that you may as well hang onto for a bit
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby Crastney » Tue Dec 20, 2016 13:28

I've been making cider for 12 years and never used pectic enzmye. a pectin haze will only appear if you've heated the juice - this will happen if you use shop brought juice as it's been pasteurised, but your own pressed juice will not have been heated so won't be at risk of pectin haze - if you leave it long enough somewhere cold enough it should drop clear - patience is key. beer can be ready quickly - but cider almost always benefits from leaving it to do it's thing for several months. traditionally it was drunk while harvesting in summer made from the apples from the previous autumn.
you don't need to add tannin - you'll still get cider, but it might not be the flavour you're after. if you want west country farmyard tasting cider, you'll need tannin. if you want cider tasting of eating apples, like you get in Kent, or Normandy, then don't put tannin in.
An ale yeast will be fine, but might finish a bit sweet, which is ok if that's what you're after. traditionally, cider is made from champagne/wine yeast, which finishes very dry.
I wouldn't bother racking before you've added yeast.
lots of different things will affect the flavour, if you're going for repeatability, you'll have to be very precise with note taking.
my advice would be to start simple this time and change things next time.

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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby MrBoy » Tue Dec 20, 2016 15:03

Cheers for all that.

I've ended up throwing in a lowish amount of pectolase on the basis "what harm can it do" as I had some lying around. And slightly under a litre of tea made from 9 teabags. I used a sachet of universal ale yeast from Wilko as a)I had some b)I've heard people say good things about it giving a slightly rounder flavour, slightly sweeter, and needing less time to mature. Also some yeast nutrient.

It's started fermenting after about 12 hours and really whiffs already - glad it's in the sealed fridge - but I gather this is quite normal. Will wait and see... there may be another batch of apples after New Year in which case I might go au naturelle as Crastney discusses.
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Re: Cooking apple cider advice please

Postby oldbloke » Tue Dec 20, 2016 16:17

If you're going to do cider regularly, get Andrew Lea's "Craft Cider Making". Or bookmark his website.
Well worth a read even if, like me, you can't be bothered with real apples and just do turbociders.
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