HGCC Quality mark
|100% Fresh Pressed Apple Juice|
|Malic Acid PH Correction|
|SG Correction with Sugar|
|Natural Yeast fermentation|
|Cultured yeast Fermentation|
|Natural MLF Fermentation|
|Cultured MLF Fermentation|
|Matured 6 month minimum|
|Sugar Back Sweetening|
|ABV correction by watering|
100% Fresh Pressed Apple Juice
Commercial cider can have as little as 35% apple content and use apple concentrate. For a cider maker to claim this quality mark the juice used must be 100% pressed apple juice pressed within the same season of the primary fermentation. The juice must not have been through any process such as pasteurisation or be concentrated and re hydrated prior to fermentation. The finished cider in packaged for sale without the addition of water. Craft cider is normally made with 100% fresh pressed apples
Sodium or potassium metabisulphite commonly referred to as Sulphites are a preservative used to supress bacterial growth in cider at the start of fermentation. Sulphites supress the growth of apiculate yeast to allow the saccharomyces or cultured yeasts to grow. The use of sulphites is common in craft cider and helps reduce the risk of spoilage. Some craft cider makers prefer not to use sulphites as it is thought that they also reduce the bacteria that is responsible for malolactic fermentation (MLF, more on this later). They also think the initial fermentation by the apiculate yeast impart other flavours to the cider.
Malic Acid PH Correction
The ideal PH range of apple juice for craft cider is thought to be by most between 0.34 and 0.37. When the juice is outside this range the craft cider maker will ensure this range is maintained by the selection of different varieties of apples such as bitter sharps to reduce the PH. PH can also be adjusted with the addition of commercial Malic acid that is not derived from apples
SG Correction with Sugar
The initial SG of the juice after pressing is an indication of the sugar content. A typical SG range is between 1.048 up to 1.064 although it can be lower or high than this. Adding sugar to the juice will increase the SG and more sugar will be available for the yeast to turn into alcohol so that the cider maker can ensure a constant ABV and product standard. Year to year weather variations affect the apples sugar level and other properties and results in a year to year variation of the finished cider rather like wine vintages.
Keeving is the process of removing nutrients from the juice prior to fermentation. Yeast needs sugar and nutrients to be able to produce alcohol. If a juice is low in nutrient the yeast will not fully ferment the sugar and the final SG of the cider will retain residual sweetness. Keeving juice is a complex process and carries a high risk of failure but can result in some of the very best ciders.
For a more detailed explanation of keeving please follow this link
Natural Yeast fermentation
Natural yeast is prevalent on the skins of apples and grapes. If you press apple juice and leave it the yeast will multiply and the juice will ferment. This is called natural fermentation. You can supress the natural or wild yeasts and then use a cultured yeast that is designed to ferment in a particular environment such as low temperatures and low nutrient levels. Different yeast strains impart different characteristics to the cider. Using a cultured yeast ensures a particular style to the finished cider. There are various different wild yeasts competing for domination during a natural fermentation and it’s a bit of a lottery to know what you will end up with.
A wild yeast fermentation is usually slower and takes longer to reach full fermentation. Some say this imparts a richer taste to the cider. It is up to the consumer to judge for themselves.
Natural MLF Fermentation
After fermentation the cider matures slowly over the winter months and when spring arrives and the weather gets warmer the cider will go through a secondary fermentation where bacteria in the cider transform the malic acid to lactic acid. Lactic acid has a smoother taste to malic acid. A natural MLF is when MLF occurs due to the presence of wild bacteria. A natural MLF gives the cider a smooth rounded taste
Cultured MLF Fermentation
A cultured MLF occurs when the cider maker adds a commercially available MLF culture. This will ensure the finished cider has a given and expected characteristic
Matured 6 month minimum
After the initial fermentation the cider will go through maturation. A log slow maturation is said to give the cider character and body
Cider may be filtered when moving the cider from tank to tank or from tank to bottle. The finished cider may be filtered to ensure a clean looking cider and also to remove yeast so that the cider does not re ferment in the bottle after the addition of sugar to sweeten the taste. Some people prefer their cider to be unfiltered
Pasteurisation is the process of heating the cider to 70 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes to kill off all yeast and bacteria. This is done during the final packaging to ensure a stable product with a long shelf life. It also allows the addition of sugar for sweetness without the risk of re fermentation of the cider. It is thought that pasteurisation affects the taste. It is up to the consumer to judge
HMRC Notice 162: Cider Production states that nothing can be added to the cider to change the colour or taste, however, cider makers do add flavours and this changes the duty states from Cider to Made Wine with a higher duty attached. The cider with added flavours can still be called Cider as it comprises of mainly apple juice. The duty level for made wine at 4% is close to the duty rate of beer. Above 4% the duty rate increases significantly and so it is normal to see flavoured ciders with an ABV of 4%
During the fermentation the sugar in the juice is turned into alcohol. It is possible to halt the fermentation process so that the finished cider has residual sweetness from the juice. This residual sweetness is sometimes preferred over a cider that has been sweetened with sugar or is completely dry. Keeving and Biomass reduction can be used to halt the fermentation process. Halting the fermentation process comes with a price as not all the sugar has been turned to alcohol so the finished cider usually has a lower ABV%
Sugar Back Sweetening
Fished cider can be sweetened with sugar to adjust the taste. Adding sugar carries a risk of the cider re fermenting in the bottle or bag. Filtering or pasteurisation can eliminate this risk.
ABV correction by watering
Cider may have its final ABV% corrected by the addition of water to comply with a duty band or ABV restriction. This is normally carried out for commercial reasons