First of all, in my post from Sunday, which I wrote on Friday, I mentioned that I’d be starting my batch of Sweet Cider later in the day on Sunday. Well, I ended up starting it on Saturday, because realistically, this gives me a better chance of getting the tasting notes done by next Saturday, which is the whole idea for this week of blog posts.
Now, onto the actual brew day. Or whatever you call starting a cider’s fermentation. Anyway, there is not much to add to what I’ve said before about this cider’s recipe. One thing that I do think I should mention, though is that I used Dark Brown Sugar. I normally buy Light Brown Sugar just for general use, but this time, I purposely bought the more flavorful dark stuff. This is what I used the first couple times I made this cider, before I kept anything in the house for cooking, or especially baking needs.
Beyond that, I just followed the count, as I previously described. I will, of course, explain again here, though.
1 pack of ale yeast.
2 cinnamon sticks.
3 pounds of brown sugar.
4 gallons of fresh, no preservative apple cider.
5 days of fermentation.
And if that isn’t enough, here is the step by step:
First, I let the cider get to room temperature. You don’t want to start with very cold cider, but since there are no preservatives, your cider will most likely start to ferment on its own after a couple days sitting out. I find that it normally takes about a day to go from the cold cider you buy to room temperature.
Take a gravity reading for the plain cider. Mine was around 1.055. I use that for a guide, though I’m shooting for the final gravity to be quite a bit lower.. I want the flavor to be similar to the fresh cider, but between the alcohol and carbonation, it doesn’t take as much sugar to taste sweet after fermentation.
Once my cider is up to room temperature, I add the first gallon to a pot on the stove top with the two cinnamon sticks. The heat should be around medium, although it won’t take long to do this step, so it isn’t too important how hot it is. Start adding the sugar slowly, stirring the whole time. You don’t want to scorch the sugar, but the heat will help dissolve it.
Once all the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat down, or off. I like to add another gallon to the fermentor, then add the sugar loaded one with the cinnamon. Just in case the sugar isn’t as dissolved as you thought, this will help mix it a little more. And dump those cinnamon sticks right along with the cider. This portion of cider was barely any warmer than the rest, this time. You don’t want to get it too hot, as it will ruin the fresh flavor.
With two gallons in the fermentor, I add the third to the pot to make sure there is now sugar left, then add it to the fermentor along with the last gallon. Now, take another gravity reading. Mine was up to 1.076.
After you have recorded the gravity, it’s time to add the yeast. Normally, I use a packet of Nottingham dry yeast, this time though, I happened to have some S-05 yeast left from fermenting Moist, though and used that instead. I think this will get it done even quicker than normal.
The cider was visibly fermenting within an hour. I will be checking the gravity and flavor around Tuesday. The plan is to bottle on Thursday, but that could be moved up or pushed back. The fermentation went crazy and I’m nervous that it will be too dry.
Check back later this week for more updates on this batch.