Sunday, October 20, 2013

#12 Dry Cider

Recipe     -     Tasting

Good news everyone!  My friend Ned will have 7 gallons of cider to ferment!

I don't know a whole lot about cider, but it shouldn't be as hard as beer.  There's a lot that goes into brewing--recipe formulation (selecting grains and hops in proper ratios), mashing (managing mash thickness, temperature, and chemistry to produce an appropriately fermentable wort), boiling (I mean, this just takes time, but still)--that we won't have to deal with here.  The juice is a pre-mixed blend of primarily honey crisp, some granny smith and golden delicious, and maybe a few other varieties.  All we have to do is let the yeast do its thing.

Pitched 10/20/14:
Ok, so maybe a bit more complicated than that.  We started by adding campden tablets as soon as the juice was pressed to inhibit bacteria and wild yeast.  Usually campden tablets are added at a ratio of 1 tablet/gallon to wine but apparently the grape juice binds to a portion of this in a way that apple juice does not, so lower concentrations can be used for cider.  Also, some people are sensitive to the sulfite and it can give off sulfurous odors before it eventually dissipates.  We went with half a tablet per gallon and didn't encounter any infections or unpleasantness, so I feel like that route worked.

After waiting 24 hrs, we poured the juice into two carboys, 3 gal in each (lost 1 gal to sediment), and added corn sugar to boost the ABV.  Since corn sugar is primarily simple sugar, it raises the alcohol content without adding significant flavor.  As in beer, it can lighten the mouthfeel if used in large amounts.  We went with .75 lbs per carboy (.25 lbs/gal) to bring the anticipated ABV up to 8.3%.

(EDIT: Looking back on this we used corn sugar because I had seen it strongly recommended for beer.  Some sources identified a disagreeable "cidery" taste in beers fermented with table sugar as opposed to corn sugar.  While "cidery" would not be out of place in a cider, I already had corn sugar on hand, so we figured better safe than sorry.  I later learned that the dextrose in corn sugar is most similar to the dextrose and maltose found in wort. Fruit juice--including apples and grapes--contains primarily fructose.  The sucrose found in table sugar (either from sugar cane or sugar beet) is a disaccharide composed of a fructose and a glucose unit.  While these are all fermentable by ale yeast and (except maltose) by wine yeast, I suspect that the difference in taste is related to that fructose molecule.  Apparently it must be converted to glucose in the yeast cell before it can be consumed, so I'm guessing this process introduces a byproduct characterized as "cidery," but this is only speculation.  I would be curious to know if this is true, how significant the impact is, and how the final flavors compare in different types of fermentations.)

Then we pitched the yeast.  As mentioned earlier, the must (unfermented fruit juice) was split between two carboys so we could try two different yeasts.  The recommendations online strongly favored Danstar Nottingham ale yeast and Lalvin EC-1118 wine yeast for cider so we did both.  Both yeasts were rehydrated in cool, boiled water and then pitched at ambient temperature.  The fridge was set to 60F for the duration of active fermentation.

At 3 weeks, I racked to secondary.  I noticed the fermentation fridge had a funky sulfury sour smell like with the lemonade I did during the summer.  The cider was then moved to the closet to free up temperature controlled fermentation space.  It took quite awhile for the lees (Yeast and apple pectin? We didn't use pectinase as recommended.) to settle, and when it did they formed a fluffy sludge atop the yeast.  The wine yeast was noticeably more powdery than the highly flocculant Nottingham.

Bottled 1/4/14
Thanks Ned for coming over to bottle!  It was a long cold day of bottling, but it's always great to have a second pair of (frozen) hands.

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