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Cider Digest #1544

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Cider Digest
 · 9 Apr 2024

Subject: Cider Digest #1544, 17 December 2009 

Cider Digest #1544 17 December 2009

Cider and Perry Discussion Forum

Re: Cider Digest #1543, 10 December 2009 (Bill Rhyne)
Re: Sweet Mead Yeast (Dick Dunn)
Racking question ("Casey Sayre")
Chinese apples (Greg Kessler)

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Digest Janitor: Dick Dunn

Subject: Re: Cider Digest #1543, 10 December 2009
From: Bill Rhyne <>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 10:49:57 -0800 (PST)

RE: Michael Pollan's book and now video "The Botany of Desire", a PBS program.

Last night, the local PBS station, KQED, aired Michael Pollan's video based
on his best selling book, The Botany of Desire, where he tells the story
of man's relationship with the potato, the tulip, marijuana, and the apple.

For the apple segment, they had on-camera comments from Frank Browning,
another apple book author and apple farmer, as well as interviews with
Steve Wood of Farnum Hill Hard Cider and Poverty Lane Orchards in New
Hampshire. They also talked to the folks at Geneva Station in New York,
where they have a repository orchard to preserve apple seeds, DNA and so
on. The cider history information discussed in the program is most likely
known to all of the readers here on the digest but one hopes that this
program might reach a larger and potential cider consumer market and spur
more interest in the product category.

Check your local PBS station to see if they are showing the program in
your area.

Happy Holidays!

Bill Rhyne


Subject: Re: Sweet Mead Yeast
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 00:37:34 -0700

Andrew Lea <> wrote:
> Chris wrote:
> > I've made quite a few ciders with Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast because I wanted
> > the residual sugars. It tends to work very well
> I have seen that remarked before by others. Is it a verifiable fact?

IMvmNHO, no. Although my experience with Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast is
rather dated--because it was so annoying to work with that I quit using
it--what I found is that it's just a weak yeast. It ferments slowly,
and the fermentation goes ever-slower and s l o w e r as time drags on.

I wasn't able to decide whether the weakness was due to intolerance of
alcohol vs need for more nutrients. My judgment that it's a weak yeast
is based on the fermentation rate (SG over time): It didn't ferment to
some point and then stop; it just got progressively slower. (I have a
note in one of my melomel fermentations: "6 points in 37 days is
ridiculous..." and that was relatively early on in the ferment.)

In a practical sense, perhaps that's good enough: If it slows to a crawl
at the level of residual sugar you want, you can rack (reduce the yeast
population a lot) and bottle, store the bottles cool, and enjoy them
before the fermentation creeps along too much farther. But I could not
convince myself this was safe.

Andrew continues:
> What residual SG does the fermentation stop at, and under what
> conditions? And why, exactly, given that all sugars in cider (except
> traces of sorbitol and xylose) are in theory fully fermentable by most
> normal strains of S. cerevisiae?...[and more questions]...

The manufacturer's claim that it leaves 2-3% residual sugar--as if it
were some overly-polite guest at a dinner, saying "thanks, I've had
plenty" as the food ran low--is of course nonsense. Yeast don't work
that way--they don't sense that there's some potential lack of food in
the distant future. Rather, the reason they slow down is some adverse
(to them) environmental factor in the immediate present.

beyond that one specific Wyeast strain:
I spent some years (and dollars) using the reputedly-best liquid yeast
varieties...not only for cider but mead and ale...before deciding that
today's dry yeasts are more reliable, in some cases cleaner, and offered
a wider selection. (The 5x price reduction was nice too, but it wasn't
a motivating factor.)
- --
Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA


Subject: Racking question
From: "Casey Sayre" <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 13:02:58 -0800

I have 15 gal of a blend of Porters Perefection, Dabinett and Yarlington
Mill. The cider had a starting S.G. of 1.051, a PH of 3.8 and Acidity of
0.35 (On the edge with low acidity but so far no problems with molds, etc).
I added pectic enzyme then add yeast (WLP 775) the next day. No nutrient has
been added. The fermentation has been going quite slow as the yeast was
added on 11/07/2009. The S.G. most recently on 12/10 2009 was 1.035. The
temperature has been maintained above 50 degrees F with the electric heater
in the pool house where I have been fermenting the cider. Some sunny days
the temperature gets higher. The fermentation seems to be consistent
although slow. There is quite a thick layer of lees and pectic precipitate
that dropped to the bottom of the glass Carboys. Should I have any concern
that with the slow fermentation the cider will sit on the lees too long?
Would it be advisable to rack the cider at this high of a S.G. or rack and
add some nutrient? My inclination is to just be patient, but as noted I'm a
little concerned about sitting on the lees.

I have another 30 gal of various cider apples blended with Jonagold to get
the PH to 3.4 and it fermented to dryness in about 3 weeks. All of the cider
apples in both batches are from the same orchard but the jonagolds were
culls from a commercial operation nearby. I did rack this cider off the
pectic precipitate before adding the yeast. I did not do so for the 15 gal
in question.

Thanks for any help or advice.

Casey Sayre

Beaverton, Oregon


Subject: Chinese apples
From: Greg Kessler <>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 12:25:02 +0000

I read in USA Today that China is the leading apple producer in the world,
with 58.8 billion pounds per year (compared to 9.8 billion in the US which
is second). Anyone know if there are any cider-worthy apples grown in China?


End of Cider Digest #1544

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