To prime or not to prime?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by richardfootman, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. richardfootman

    richardfootman New Member

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    So this may be a dumb question, but I'm new to all this so please do bear with me. I am brewing an apple cider from freshly pressed apples. Added the juice, yeast and sugar, and left it for 10 days, I then back sweetened with fresh apple juice, left it for two more days and tasted, and it was right where I (the wife) wanted it. So I have started cold crashing to stop fermentation and clear the cider a bit. Now my question is this, do I need to add a priming sugar for the bottling process in order to carbonate? Or will the remaining yeast&sugar that did not drop out during crashing, be enough to carbonate seeing as I stopped the process while fermentation was still happening? Any other advise or tips would be appreciated
     
  2. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    Okay. First of all, carbonation of cider has to be handled a bit differently than beer. The problem is that you sweetening sugar will be treated just like your priming sugar by the yeast. If you kill or retard the growth of the yeast to prevent them from eating your sweetening sugar, this also prevents them from eating your carbonation sugar. Here are your options.

    1. Backsweeten with apple juice or other fermentable sugar and chill. Fermentation will slow down significantly, but not completely stop. You will have sweet, but flat cider. Some people like that, but others prefer carbonation.
    2. Leave cider dry and using priming cider or sugar for carbonation. This gives nice carbonation, but no extra sweetness. My wife and I prefer the dry cider so this works okay.
    3. Kill the yeast with potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate. Backsweeten to taste. Put in a keg and force carbonate. This only works if you have a keg and not bottles.
    4. Backsweeten with non-fermentable sweeteners. Many types of artificial sweeteners will work. Prime and bottle. Now you have sweet cider with carbonation. However, this doesn't work if you don't like artificial sweetener.

    So, if you want cider in a bottle, you have three choices: still cider, carbonated cider with no added sweetness, or carbonated cider with artificial sweetener.

    Maybe some others can weigh in if they have another method.
     
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  3. richardfootman

    richardfootman New Member

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    Thank you for the great explanation! That really helps, so if I understand you correctly, and I want a carbonated cider I will have to prime, if you don't mind me following up on my original, do I need to stop the cold crashing process all together, or can I complete this (planned on 3 days in the fridge) syphon off the cider leaving the dredge behind, and then prime and bottle, will there still be enough yeast left? Or would it be better to stir it all up, let fermentation complete naturally, and then prime and bottle?
     
  4. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't cold crash. Cider really doesn't have any suspended proteins to drop out. So, for sweet carbonated cider, I would backsweeten with artificial sweetener and then add the priming sugar and bottle it. Keep in mind that if you try to backsweeten with natural sugar and prime then bottle, you will end up with significantly over-carbonated cider and might explode some bottles.
     
  5. richardfootman

    richardfootman New Member

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    Really appreciate all the advise. Will leave back sweetening, just prime and bottle once fermentation has ended
     
  6. Rex Rivers

    Rex Rivers New Member

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    I agree with not cold crashing. You may notice some initial haze once carbonation is complete, but I've made cider pretty close to what you're doing, and it cleared up after another week or so. Once refrigerated for a few more days, it was crystal clear. Good luck, and enjoy!
     

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