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Backsweetening Apple cider

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Kozzie

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Hi Everyone - a newbie here. Can you point me to where I can find out how to backsweeten Apple cider? I just read someplace that I need to add p sorbate and k meta 12 hours apart before I sweeten the cider with Xylitol and corn sugar.

I'm not sure that's right, so any help I can get would be great. Thank you!
 

BernardSmith

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I believe that you can add both K-meta and K-sorbate at the same time. Cannot see why adding them 12 hours apart is necessary. I certainly don't and I don't have any problems but I am curious about why you are planning to add a non fermentable sugar and a fementable sugar - smacks of belt and braces as they say in Britain. If the taste of Xylitol does not bother you then why add corn sugar, and if the corn sugar is a problem then why not simply add more of the chemical? You are not hoping to both sweeten (with Xylitol) and prime with the sugar by any chance, are you? Problem is that you also want to stabilize the fermentation with K-meta and K-sorbate. That puts an end to using corn sugar to prime the cider. If you simply want to sweeten the cider - and I am assuming that you are using commercial apple juice - too early in the season here in the USA to have apples that have been touched by a frost to make this year's cider - why not simply use table sugar? Just sayin'..
 

Venatorscribe

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Hi Everyone - a newbie here. Can you point me to where I can find out how to backsweeten Apple cider? I just read someplace that I need to add p sorbate and k meta 12 hours apart before I sweeten the cider with Xylitol and corn sugar.

I'm not sure that's right, so any help I can get would be great. Thank you!
Hi Kozzie, as above in the last comment, a couple of your ideas conflict. Of course that is not your fault. Who ever wrote the article that you are reading is not telling it correctly.
I am a serious cider maker although there are times I wonder why, as i also make a lot of fruit wine. Anyway - cider - if you want your cider carbonated then do not add potassium sorbate. It is the contraceptive of yeast and it's presence would inhibit any carbonation within the bottle - so no fizz , no sparkle. You can add potassium metabisulfite ( k- meta ) if you wish but certainly leave it a couple of days before bottling. Now I suggest you source for yourself some dextrose carbonation drops from your local home brew shop. - for a 330 ml bottle add one drop, for a 500 ml bottle add two drops and for a 750 ml bottle also add two drops. But before you bottle - I would seriously suggest you do not add products like xylitol or glycerol etc.. as these alternative sugar alcohols have a couple of problems. ( I found out this the hard way a few years back by blindly following a recipe) ..... they impart a very metallic / synthetic flavour to your cider and give you mild diarrhoea. But if you use erythritol then you won't suffer or taste any falseness.
Please revert if I can help you. Cider and Wine making is such an absorbing hobby. You will learn so much about food, drink and life by reading this forum. Plus you’ll make some really nice drink for Christmas . Salut.
 
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Kozzie

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Thanks to both of you! BernardSmith - this is a batch of apple cider harvested from my own trees last October, I've racked it twice and have just been letting it sit. It tastes good but its very dry and I would like a little more flavor and fizz. The reason I haven't moved forward is being unsure of how to proceed and when I read that article it left me with more questions than answers. Both of you have provided great information. I also read that some people love Xylitol and others corn sugar so I thought just combining the two would work. Obviously not. So now I have more questions.

Venatorscribe - are you saying I don't need to add K-meta either? If I don't need to add it, I would prefer not to do so.

I can see if my local shop has the carbonation drops. They are slowly phasing out wine making supplies for home brewing supplies. If not I'll need to order them. But I do have corn sugar which he suggested using 10 ounces dissolved in a couple ounces of water for 5 gallons cider, which is what I have. He also said if I do use corn sugar, be sure to stir up the lees? must? on the bottom as that is what the corn sugar needs to mix with in order to give flavor and carbonation. I do have the swing top bottles so I'm already to bottle once I figure out what my next steps are and you are both so helpful.

I do agree about this forum, its been amazing for me. I am working a Liebraumilch that I thought I had messed up and its turning out great thanks to other forum "mentors" so this was the first place I knew to turn to but I didn't find a cider thread.
 

BernardSmith

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I suspect that carbonation "drops" are more likely used by home brewers than wine makers. But be that as it may, 10 oz of sugar/5 gallons . seems like a lot to me. Four ounces of (corn) sugar (depending on the temperature) should give you more than 2.5 volumes of CO2. That is a fair amount of gas.
 

Venatorscribe

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You shouldn’t, have any problems acquiring carbonation drops at a brewery shop. They are mainly used by home brewers for carb'ing their beers. They are also particularly useful for people like ourselves who are attempting to avoid further mess and ensuring an accurate measurable fermentable sugar as your final act prior to corking / capping your bottles. If it was me - these would be my next steps. 1) rack over your cider into a carboy with the correct quantity of k-meta and erythritol already added. Co-mingling these additions and cider as you rack across. 2) over the next couple of days make any adjustments required to get to the level of sweetness you require. 3) sometime after that start bottling. The carbonation drops will initiate a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Make up a few small trial bottles so you can taste and test over the next few months. 4) your sparkling cider will be ready for drinking in four to six months. The final magic happens in the bottles. The longer you leave your cider to bottle condition the better.

Erythritol I buy off the web. Just get a small 1 kg bag. It will last you forever and is not expensive. I have stopped using sugar alcohols such as Xylitol and glycerol as they have a distinctive metallic taste and as previously mentioned - it can cause a stomach upset leading to minor diarrhoea.
 

Kozzie

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Ok - I think I've got it. Didn't know that about the home brewing and carbonation drops. Rack over to a new carboy with k-meta and erythritol already added.

Question: How much erythritol should I initially add to 5 gallons? I know it's based on how sweet I'd like it, but what's a good starting amount to include? I'll buy the 1 lb bag.

Question - do I transfer some of the yeast/lees from the bottom of the existing carboy into the new carboy?

Question - When do I add the carbonation drops?

I will check out the homebrew site and I apologize for so many questions, but the cider is really good and I don't want to mess it up. I agree about the Xylitrol, I've used it in other products and have experienced its side effects, lol:(
 

Venatorscribe

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1)Erythritol addition. Start with 2 level Tbs per gallon, this will give a hint of sweetness, but maintain a relatively dry cider ( is how I like it), 4 or 5 Tbs per gallon will result in a hard cider in the semi-sweet range. 7 to 9 Tbs per gallon will produce a sweet hard cider. These sugar alcohols are very concentrated in taste so just go slowly. Are you able to break out just one gallon to start and trial with that.
2) There will be dormant yeast cells in solution. So no need to transfer across any sediments.
3) I place the carb drops directly into the sanitized bottles before I fill them.

All the best. Now the more relaxing mode - over the next four or five months - designing your label.
 

Brian Ritchie

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I just read through this thread.
After 10 years of brewing hard cider I have learned to clean everything with potassium meta-bisulphite, use an ale yeast, push the alcohol % up with dextrose, never add sodium meta-bisulphite or potassium sorbate in the finishing steps, carbonate in the bottle with the addition of dextrose and that two or three years in the bottle produces an improved beverage. My last batch was 40 gallons.
 

Kozzie

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1)Erythritol addition. Start with 2 level Tbs per gallon, this will give a hint of sweetness, but maintain a relatively dry cider ( is how I like it), 4 or 5 Tbs per gallon will result in a hard cider in the semi-sweet range. 7 to 9 Tbs per gallon will produce a sweet hard cider. These sugar alcohols are very concentrated in taste so just go slowly. Are you able to break out just one gallon to start and trial with that.
2) There will be dormant yeast cells in solution. So no need to transfer across any sediments.
3) I place the carb drops directly into the sanitized bottles before I fill them.

All the best. Now the more relaxing mode - over the next four or five months - designing your label.
Thank you again! I think you have answered all my questions. My beer brewing shop had one bag of drops and I need two so I ordered another bag. For some reason, I thought you melted the drops (I have no idea where I got that, lol) and she said to put a drop in the bottles but I had thought about the order. Once the drops and the Erythritol come in I'll be bottling - hopefully next weekend! Looking forward to it and I'll keep you all updated.
 

Kozzie

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I just read through this thread.
After 10 years of brewing hard cider I have learned to clean everything with potassium meta-bisulphite, use an ale yeast, push the alcohol % up with dextrose, never add sodium meta-bisulphite or potassium sorbate in the finishing steps, carbonate in the bottle with the addition of dextrose and that two or three years in the bottle produces an improved beverage. My last batch was 40 gallons.
I'm excited about this effort. I just started winemaking last year with grapes off my vines and we had a bumper crop of apples last year, so this is my first effort with cider. More questions than answers obviously and I've learned something from everyone.
 

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