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View Full Version : Sulphites in Cyser necessary?



kedyw
09-26-2013, 08:47 AM
Hello. I have made 3 batches of mostly traditional mead thusfar and wanted to make a cyser since I got my hands on 2 bushels of semi-local apples recently.

Not sure of the entire recipe yet, as I usually prefer more of a hydromel, and havent decided on what gravity to aim for.

My question pertains to starting fermentation with the juice of these apples (i have a juicer and will juice them until i get the desired number of gallons)

With the other meads ive made I did not add any sulfites because I trusted the honey to have its own resiliance to infection, but if I am adding my own juiced apples, will it be NECESSARY to treat it with sulfites prior to fermentation?

I plan on at least washing each apple before juicing, probably scrubbing, or at least wiping down with a rough washcloth. I do not know if this will be sufficient to eliminate enough bacteria to be able to trust that the honey and yeast will be enough to take care of themselves.

On that note, I have access to K1-V116, 71B-1122, and a dry ale yeast called Safale s-04. I was leaning towards the 71B because Ive used it the most and enjoyed the product sooner with it, but more experienced users may have better insights than I on which yeast to use, and if it should factor into whether or not I use sulfites.

To sulfite or not? If I absolutely should use sulfites to prevent the possibility of flushing my money down the drain I will, but are there any precautions I can take to make this not necessary?

thanks a lot!

fatbloke
09-26-2013, 09:44 AM
Well any wild yeast present most likely won't survive a primary ferment with an inoculation of specific yeast, especially if you use K1v1116 as thats got the killer characteristics.

But if you used 71b for its ability to munch some of the malic acid I would sulphite as its not very competitive. Hit the juice with sulphites and leave it for a day or two giving it a stir once or twice a day to help the sulphite dissipate. If the juice looks like its browning a bit you can always use a bit of ascorbic acid for that, the yeast doesn't care about that....

kchaystack
09-26-2013, 09:47 AM
Ken Schramm, in his book, has a recipe for Fall's Bounty Cyser. He says he never sanitizes the must, and has even let it ferment with wild yeasts. I am not THAT brave yet. Haha

I am going to be putting this together this weekend with about a gallon of cider from my CSA apple share, and 3 gallons of fresh cider from a local cider mill and 8 lbs of local wildflower honey.

I plan on using 71B also (he uses D47, but I don't have ability to keep my temps low enough).

I think if you are careful about sanitizing your equipment, and make a starter with your yeast, the pitched yeast should out populate any wild yeast that are hanging around.

anir dendroica
09-26-2013, 10:43 AM
I usually pasteurize fruit juice instead of sulfiting. Heat to 150F for ten minutes or so, then cool a bit and add the honey. Heat can set pectins so I add 1 tablespoon pectic enzyme with the yeast. Have made some delicious pear and apple cysers this way.

kedyw
09-26-2013, 01:46 PM
Thanks for the advice guys!

Since I liked how my other 71B meads turned out and their affinity to malic acid, I think I am going to use 71B. Also I am going to try to keep it on the lower ABV side, since I loved the quick drinkability of a 9ish%ABV hydromel i recently made.

So using the mead calculator, I am going to make a 6 gallon batch with ~3 gallons of my fresh juiced apples(i hope 2 bushels can produce this!) and about a half gallon of honey, filling the rest with water. This should net me a ~9.3%ABV product give or take for the sugar content of my apples.

I am also gonna go the Ken way and say no to pasteurization and no to the sulphites as well, since it doesnt seem like surefire disaster and I am fairly confident in my sanitation routine.

Vance G
09-26-2013, 02:06 PM
I don't pasteurize honey ever and haven't seen a problem in a dozen batches using my raw unheated honey. With your low OG, be very careful with your sanitation because you are almost down in beer territory. I have used 71B for cyser per Mr. Schramms book and it is very good. If my brewspace is cool (under 68) like it will be now the rest of the fall and winter, I like D47 better because it does a verygood job of not blowing up aroma and tastes and you don't need to worry about getting it racked off the lees.

anir dendroica
09-26-2013, 02:57 PM
I never pasteurize honey but I do pasteurize the juice or water before I add the honey. There are always a few earwigs and many wormy apples in my pressed juice, and I don't want those bacteria contributing off flavors.

Depending on the tartness of your apples and the intended sweetness level of your mead, you may not want to decrease the malic acid. I tend to use D47 for cysers to preserve the acid levels, and I use 71B for sour grapes and raspberries where I want the acid mellowed.

kedyw
09-26-2013, 03:21 PM
the apples are from the beginning of the season, so I believe they are more tart than they could be, but im using a half and half mix of fuji and golden ginger(i think) so I'll have to see how the mix tastes.

You are saying if it is MORE tart, I may want to use the 71B? if its sweeter I would likely go with the K1V? my nearest HBS is like an hour away so I dont really want to make the trip just for some D47. Also note Ive enjoyed my mead more dry thusfar.

If I do end up noticing that I have murdered some bugs with my juicer, I will probably use sulphites, otherwise I am willing to take my chances.

anir dendroica
09-26-2013, 04:20 PM
71B will metabolize around 25% of the malic acid, taking an edge off of the tartness. If you are shooting for very dry and starting with high acid that is probably a good thing. Both 71B and K1V will finish very dry in a hydromel, but the 71B might leave a smidgen more residual sugar. Given your choice I think I would go with 71B. I would also either sulfite or pasteurize the juice, but then again I am a microbiologist so perhaps more concerned about microbial contamination than I need to be.

Honey contributes few if any microbes, so doesn't need to be pasteurized or sulfited. Fruit juice is an entirely different animal. There are far more bacteria and wild yeast in unpasteurized fresh juice than there are in a washed-but-unsanitized carboy, for example.

Now these wild beasties are not entirely bad, and indeed if you were to press the cider and airlock and add no yeast, it would ferment and might end up tasting delicious, or maybe nasty depending on the particular mix of microbes that were present. Wild-fermented cider has a longstanding tradition. So the choice to sulfite/pasteurize depends on how much control you want over the final flavor vs. how much you want to leave things to the whims of nature. Personally I think some of the most delicious ciders have a wild edge, but I still haven't tried it myself.



the apples are from the beginning of the season, so I believe they are more tart than they could be, but im using a half and half mix of fuji and golden ginger(i think) so I'll have to see how the mix tastes.

You are saying if it is MORE tart, I may want to use the 71B? if its sweeter I would likely go with the K1V? my nearest HBS is like an hour away so I dont really want to make the trip just for some D47. Also note Ive enjoyed my mead more dry thusfar.

If I do end up noticing that I have murdered some bugs with my juicer, I will probably use sulphites, otherwise I am willing to take my chances.

kedyw
09-26-2013, 06:45 PM
I just realized that I only have 5 gallon buckets, but i have 6 gallon carboys... I could fill the buckets to 6 gallons but they would likely overflow during primary fermentation, so I just had what could be a great idea!

Since i want a cydromel at about 9%ABV, I can just make it like a normal cyser filling it to 5 gallons during primary fermentation, then when i rack it into a carboy add more water to 6 gallons.

Wouldnt this better my chances of fighting off any organisms i dont want ( by having a period of time pass with higher ABV ~12%) ?

WVMJack
09-26-2013, 08:20 PM
Your a newbie right, wear your helmet until we get the training wheels off:) Sulfite it. For some reason people think honey is totally protected from fermenting on its own, that is right IF its at 18.6 % moisture, above that and the yeast that came from the wild, the yeast that came from the beebread, can start a fermentation on their own. Dilute the honey to 5 times its volume, it has no protection from wild yeasts, how else do you think we can make mead from it? Your apple juice, honestly you are probably not ready for a wild fermentation yet, sulfite it. A little bit of insurance goes a long way. Later comes the carboy farm, the stainless steel appliances just for wine, the big box with multiple kinds of yeasts in it, only to be left in the fridge because now you want to go all natural and let the wild yeasts make your cider, when you can pull that off excellent, or vinegar, but it will be very good vinegar, homemade stuff is always better:) WVMJ

WVMJack
09-26-2013, 08:22 PM
FYI Cyser, not cydromel, there are vocabulary police on here! WVMJ

Medsen Fey
09-26-2013, 09:05 PM
FYI Cyser, not cydromel, there are vocabulary police on here! WVMJ

And you are officially deputized. :)



Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT

kedyw
09-26-2013, 10:56 PM
oh sorry, i meant "Cydromel". See now its a name for this batch, not vocabulary!

I think I'll take my chances without sulphites though, since I got all of these apples(realizing I have a LOT more than I originally thought I did) I might as well try them in their purest form. I can always go out and find pasteurized apple juice in a store anyways or make more with sulphites if things go sour this time.

fatbloke
09-26-2013, 11:38 PM
As an "aside"........

Your idea etc about making lower alcohol batches because it seems that they're drinkable sooner ?

It's fair to point out while that would indeed be similar to beers, beer wort has be sanitised by the heating process. Breweries (and home beer makers) can border on the anal with their hygiene routines......for a reason.

Below about 10% ABV, the alcohol doesn't have the protective effect against spoilage organisms that stronger batches do.

Batches like yours can't be heated with a dramatic affect in flavour (cooked taste).

Hence while it entirely feasible it'll come out fine, there's little point in being precious about sulphites as they're produced by the ferment naturally anyway, we just add them at slightly higher levels to enjoy the safety of their presence when they are at that increased amount.

It's less adding chemicals and more protecting your investment (time and money usually).

It would normally be no different than using the wild yeast method of old with cider making or letting grape juice start naturally a little before hitting it with your intended choice of yeast - done for some extra complexity.......

There's little point in some of us being overly dramatic or being patronising about your current new maker position......

I just raise the suggestion the "forewarned is fore-armed" and that most often, a sensible hygiene regime is enough to be able to make a reasonable batch......

And of course, the language, grammar and spelling police would be Brits.... led by someone like Alan Rickman.....because while it's likely that there's a greater range of accent types, it would all be spelled correct in "high" English ;)

WVMJack
09-27-2013, 06:14 AM
It was a trap!


And you are officially deputized. :)



Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT

WVMJack
09-27-2013, 06:20 AM
I think its much better to encourage folks to start out with what should reasonable work to get some product, and then encourage experimentalism, even extreme experimentalism, but you have to make at least one good batch so you can compare your future experimental batches to. Keds already got the skills from making beer, but as FB points out, slight differences in the process go turn into either great cider or vinegar. WVMJ

Medsen Fey
09-27-2013, 09:09 AM
When dealing with cider, I favor using sulfites at some point in the process. I typically add them after the yeast are done. I figure my yeast will dominate the fermentation, and any contributions from wild yeast or bacteria will add "complexity" so I don't typically add sulfites up front.

However, apples are full of malic acid, and they are also covered with lactic acid bacteria that can put your cider through malolactic fermentation. This could be good or highly undesirable depending on what you want. This can occur months after the yeast are done and you think it is finished. A little sulfite can easily protect against this - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.



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kedyw
09-27-2013, 10:01 AM
Your idea etc about making lower alcohol batches because it seems that they're drinkable sooner ?

This is certainly part of it, and probably the part that pertains to the sulphites. It was my understanding that the addition of more sulphites could require longer aging to achieve drinkability. Of course if it becomes vinegar, it also wouldnt be very drinkable.

I also enjoy the fact that I get to drink larger quantities without worry of becoming too intoxicated or exhausting my supply.

I also find that lower alcohol beverages have a smoother taste and go down easier, to some degree regardless of aging. On the taste note I think it might just be my personal preference that I like it dry and "thin"(could be incorrect vocab here). E.G. I like to drink coffee with no sugar or cream, but I also dilute it with quite a bit of water at the same time.


Below about 10% ABV, the alcohol doesn't have the protective effect against spoilage organisms that stronger batches do.

I have a question about this. Is this more about protecting the batch after most of the fermentation is complete, or during primary? I understand if the goal is to protect it during aging, etc, but wouldnt all meads have a significant period of time during the initial fermentation where the must is under 10% ABV, and thereby be equally suspect to infestation?


I just raise the suggestion the "forewarned is fore-armed"

Also duly noted. I really appreciate all of the insights everybody in this thread has provided, and am only trying to discuss the topic in depth.


I think its much better to encourage folks to start out with what should reasonable work to get some product, and then encourage experimentalism, even extreme experimentalism, but you have to make at least one good batch so you can compare your future experimental batches to

Heres the deal, I completely agree with this approach except that I feel I already screwed up on the "get a baseline first for comparison sake" method when I bought all of these apples. Basically I have a not necessarily common combination of 2 different types of apples from an early harvest, so I feel that there are already so many variables flying around, that I might as well just roll with it and see what pops out. I can always get pasteurized juice with which to make a baseline cyser for the sake of comparison later.


Keds already got the skills from making beer
:confused: Also note I have zero experience making beer, and have only made 3 batches of mead as far as fermentation experience goes. But on the plus side, those batches were all extremely delicious according to everyone I have shared them with!


However, apples are full of malic acid, and they are also covered with lactic acid bacteria that can put your cider through malolactic fermentation. This could be good or highly undesirable depending on what you want. This can occur months after the yeast are done and you think it is finished. A little sulfite can easily protect against this - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Would the malolactic fermentation be that which anir dendroica was speaking about earlier with the reduction of tartness? That is, if it finishes fermenting and it tastes a little sour still, I should let it keep doing its thing. If it finishes fermenting and the tartness / sweet / dry level is to my liking, it could benefit from halting any more malolactic fermentation with the addition of sulphites?

Lastly I have another question for you folks if you care to chime in again. Since my apples are quite tart, does this indicate that they could produce a must which is too acidic to ferment?

kchaystack
09-27-2013, 10:32 AM
This is certainly part of it, and probably the part that pertains to the sulphites. It was my understanding that the addition of more sulphites could require longer aging to achieve drinkability. Of course if it becomes vinegar, it also wouldnt be very drinkable.

I have not heard about sulfites causing things to need longer aging. In fact, most of the topics I have read in it here say they dissipate in a few days. Now, after you have finished tour fermentation, and are ready to bottle, I think you SHOULD satilize with sulfites and sorbate. Since you are going for low ABV and the yeast you are going to use have a tolerence of 14-15%.


I have a question about this. Is this more about protecting the batch after most of the fermentation is complete, or during primary? I understand if the goal is to protect it during aging, etc, but wouldnt all meads have a significant period of time during the initial fermentation where the must is under 10% ABV, and thereby be equally suspect to infestation?

More for after your fermentation. You protect during fermentation by sanitation of your kit, and keeping eveything blanketed with CO2 in a sealed container and airlock. But after that is done, you will have O2 come into contact with the mead, and that can allow spoilage organisms to grow.




Also duly noted. I really appreciate all of the insights everybody in this thread has provided, and am only trying to discuss the topic in depth.

That is what the forum is for. Talk all you want, we all have an opinion and are not afraid to share it. :D


Heres the deal, I completely agree with this approach except that I feel I already screwed up on the "get a baseline first for comparison sake" method when I bought all of these apples. Basically I have a not necessarily common combination of 2 different types of apples from an early harvest, so I feel that there are already so many variables flying around, that I might as well just roll with it and see what pops out. I can always get pasteurized juice with which to make a baseline cyser for the sake of comparison later.

Don't think you have screwed up at all. If you taste the juice, and like how it tastes, there is nothing wrong at all. Heck even if you end up with apple cider vinegar, that still is a great cooking ingredient, and makes great gifts for the holidays. LOL. So please don't panic.


:confused: Also note I have zero experience making beer, and have only made 3 batches of mead as far as fermentation experience goes. But on the plus side, those batches were all extremely delicious according to everyone I have shared them with!

And that is all that counts in the end. If you like it, and your friends ask for a second or 3rd glass it is a win.


Would the malolactic fermentation be that which anir dendroica was speaking about earlier with the reduction of tartness? That is, if it finishes fermenting and it tastes a little sour still, I should let it keep doing its thing. If it finishes fermenting and the tartness / sweet / dry level is to my liking, it could benefit from halting any more malolactic fermentation with the addition of sulphites?

I believe this is the case. But I am sure someone who is more knowledeable speak to that.


Lastly I have another question for you folks if you care to chime in again. Since my apples are quite tart, does this indicate that they could produce a must which is too acidic to ferment?

You need to watch your pH with all meads. Honey is acidic anyway, and sometimes you get big dips. Keep some potassium bicarbonate on hand and add a 1/4 tsp. is the pH dips too close to 3.

James

WVMJack
09-27-2013, 12:00 PM
Dude, go for it, no better way to learn than just jump in. Are you one of those supertasters who everything has to much taste so you have to dilute everything down? If so you would probably enjoy many of the commercial meads available as many of them taste very thin to us. WVMJ

anir dendroica
09-27-2013, 12:18 PM
Would the malolactic fermentation be that which anir dendroica was speaking about earlier with the reduction of tartness? That is, if it finishes fermenting and it tastes a little sour still, I should let it keep doing its thing. If it finishes fermenting and the tartness / sweet / dry level is to my liking, it could benefit from halting any more malolactic fermentation with the addition of sulphites?

Lastly I have another question for you folks if you care to chime in again. Since my apples are quite tart, does this indicate that they could produce a must which is too acidic to ferment?

Malolactic fermentation is generally a wine thing. Rather than converting sugar to alcohol, malolactic bacteria convert malic acid to lactic acid, creating energy for themselves in the process. Lactic acid tastes much less sour to us. It works to soften acidity in wine because there are other acids (tartaric, citric, etc.) also present. With apples, malic acid is the main acid component and if you eliminate it you will be left with an unbalanced flavor profile. So generally you want to prevent wild malolactic fermentation of cider/cyser.

71B is unique in that it is capable of partial malolactic fermentation, converting about 20-25% of the malic acid to lactic acid. That can be a good thing with cysers, depending on how tart your apples are to start, how dry you plan to finish, and how tart you want it to taste in the end. Personally I have not yet had a cyser/cider that I deem to be too sour, though I have had many that could have used more acid. But that is just my taste.

It is always a good idea to measure pH, but I have never seen an apple must too acidic to ferment. The human taste sense is not a good measure of pH. Most people would agree that a tart apple (pH ~3.3) tastes more sour than a can of Pepsi (pH ~2.3), though the Pepsi is actually ten times more acidic.

GntlKnigt1
09-27-2013, 02:27 PM
Have read this article multiple times, but I suspect it goes beyond just taste. You also want to kill strange yeast, maintain pH, and sulfite levels. Perhaps Anir can comment on this, as a microbiologist...
http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FS/FS-52-W.pdf (http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FS/FS-52-W.pdf)

What I distill from this is that ideally, pH should be about 3.0 (I've had fermentation stick at 2.8, so it's a fine line), alcohol at 13% ABV, and sulfite at 13 mg?L (although I have NO idea how to measure or calculate that, but perhaps Anir Dendroica has a way to do it.

For what it's worth, I tend to agree with Fatbloke and others that a killer yeast should be used with any fresh fruit that isn't guaranteed sterile.

You have some real pros giving you advice here. You can't go too far wrong following any of them.

anir dendroica
09-27-2013, 05:19 PM
Looking at that document, it is not listing ideal pH and ABV. Rather it is listing the amount of sulfite required based on the pH and ABV. There are also online calculators and tables for determining sulfite addition:
http://winemakermag.com/1301-sulfite-calculator
http://www.homebeerwinecheese.com/SO2.html

The pH dependence is due to sulfite chemistry; at lower pH more of the sulfite is in the active SO2 form, while at higher pH less of it is in the active form. Thus to provide the same concentration of active SO2, roughly four times more sulfite is required at pH 3.6 than at pH 3.0. The "standard" addition of 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons (50 ppm) is adequate at a pH of 3.5-3.6 or below.

The alcohol dependence is due to biology. Higher alcohol means a more stressful environment for spoilage organisms, hence less sulfite is required to prevent them from reproducing.

Finally, as advice to new meadmakers: Commercial winemakers are very careful about sulfites. For them, each lot of wine may be worth $100,000 or more, and their product needs to pass muster with refined palates that are expecting a particular flavor profile - thus any level of wild yeast flavor could render it unmarketable. It is entirely possible to make a very delicious mead without sulfites. It is also possible to leverage wild fermentation to add desirable flavors, though doing so requires some luck and experience. Mead is surprisingly resistant to spoilage, which is to say that with or without sulfites the chances that your mead will grow fuzzies and become undrinkable are quite low.

WVMJack
09-27-2013, 07:44 PM
I thought we were talking about cyser with raw apples? My crabs have 1.2% TA, we might have to try MLF on this on purpose to drop a little bit of the acid. Some cider makers work very hard to make sure MLF works for them. Of course a trad mead hardly has any acid in it to begin with so there isnt much for MLF to work with, but a cyser is a different beast. WVMJ

Chevette Girl
09-29-2013, 01:53 PM
I only sulphite my apples if there's going to be a long wait before I get the yeast in (ie, shredded apples sitting with pectinase overnight), you should be fine.

MikeTheElder
09-29-2013, 05:32 PM
I always have added 1 crushed Campden tablet/gallon to my must 24hrs before pitching my yeast, just to make sure any nasties like acetobacter are killed off and to stun the native yeasties long enough for my yeast to out compete them.

I've never felt the need to add sulphite after fermentation, everything I make ends up dry as dust so I have no fear of restarted fermentation and I maintain sterility at all times during fermentation/racking/bottling so I'm not scared of any nasties getting in there

That is speaking from years of winemaking, now that I'm trying to become a Mazer and will be occasionally backsweetening, I will have to add some sorbate and meta to stabilize.

It is probably more of a precautionary measure than an absolute necessity though, but better safe than sorry.