Author Topic: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid  (Read 197 times)

Offline kgs

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1029
  • Sonoma County, CA
Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« on: March 25, 2021, 04:23:23 PM »
I'm making my second batch of cider ever (despite homebrewing beer since 2009). I'm using 3 gallons of Gravenstein juice purchased frozen last fall from a local orchard. The last time I made cider, which was a couple years ago I think, I added yeast (Fresco), campden, and nutrient to the juice, fermented it at a controlled temp, kegged, and enjoyed it.

For this batch my LHBS encouraged me to test and adjust the acidity, and sold me a small test kit. They recommended tartaric acid (which they sell in granular form), so I bought some. I tested the acidity -- that was fun. Something new to measure! But I am having trouble figuring out how much tartaric acid to add. Should I add, say, a tablespoon, stir, and then test again?
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline mabrungard

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2766
  • Water matters!
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2021, 11:41:52 PM »
While I'm sure that there are desirable ranges for TA in cider, its still going to boil down to your preferences.  The TA test should give you an idea if you're in the ballpark AND if you need to increase the TA.  At that point it seems that you have to perform some test trials with minute additions in a glass of the cider and then tasting.  Figure out what tastes decent and scale it up from the glass dose to the batch dose.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://www.brunwater.com/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Brun-Water-464551136933908/?ref=bookmarks

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6993
  • Chepachet, RI
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2021, 11:47:21 PM »


I'm making my second batch of cider ever (despite homebrewing beer since 2009). I'm using 3 gallons of Gravenstein juice purchased frozen last fall from a local orchard. The last time I made cider, which was a couple years ago I think, I added yeast (Fresco), campden, and nutrient to the juice, fermented it at a controlled temp, kegged, and enjoyed it.

For this batch my LHBS encouraged me to test and adjust the acidity, and sold me a small test kit. They recommended tartaric acid (which they sell in granular form), so I bought some. I tested the acidity -- that was fun. Something new to measure! But I am having trouble figuring out how much tartaric acid to add. Should I add, say, a tablespoon, stir, and then test again?

I use acid blend, but the process is the same.  I start with a small sample of a measured amount of cider (say 4 oz), add a small amount of acid (weigh it first), and taste. Keep making small additions until it seems right.

Once I think I'm at the right level, I like to make a confirmation test. I pour 3 samples. One gets dosed with what I think my target amount should be. One gets 50% more acid and one gets 50% less. This way I can taste them side by side. Your palate can get a bit blind when just tasting sequential additions to the same glass, so I like side by side samples to check myself.

Once you have your target, you just multiply how many grams of acid you needed for 4 ounces by (batch size in ounces)/4 and add it to the batch.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline kgs

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1029
  • Sonoma County, CA
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 07:31:16 PM »
Both methods are undoubtedly the right way to do this. I often have scaling issues when I try the above for other flavorings, no matter how carefully I weigh things out. I must have my thumb on the scale or something! Because I liked my first cider and I also trust the folks at the local LHBS that adding a bit of acid will switch things up (they make cider themselves and even do pressings in season), I put in half of what they recommended, and when the cider is done, I'll see if I want to add more. I also tasted a few grains of the tartaric acid, which was helpful.

K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline pete b

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3771
  • Barre, Ma
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2021, 11:10:31 PM »
In the future you might want to wait until after fermentation is done to think about whether or not to add acid. It might be the apples I use, but I have made at least a dozen batches of cider and I would not have wanted to add acid to any of them, fermentation has always achieved a nice tart complex cider.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6993
  • Chepachet, RI
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2021, 03:21:55 AM »
In the future you might want to wait until after fermentation is done to think about whether or not to add acid. It might be the apples I use, but I have made at least a dozen batches of cider and I would not have wanted to add acid to any of them, fermentation has always achieved a nice tart complex cider.
You're lucky then. About every 3 years or so the cider I make ends up flabby without additional acid. Harvest conditions and the apple varieties in the orchard's pressings make a difference. But I always wait until the cider is done fermenting to decide how much acid and backsweetening I want.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline pete b

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3771
  • Barre, Ma
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2021, 04:49:31 PM »
In the future you might want to wait until after fermentation is done to think about whether or not to add acid. It might be the apples I use, but I have made at least a dozen batches of cider and I would not have wanted to add acid to any of them, fermentation has always achieved a nice tart complex cider.
You're lucky then. About every 3 years or so the cider I make ends up flabby without additional acid. Harvest conditions and the apple varieties in the orchard's pressings make a difference. But I always wait until the cider is done fermenting to decide how much acid and backsweetening I want.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
It might be that I am picking from the same trees every year so the blend of varieties is pretty cosistent. Included in that are some foraged apples and crab apples that are pretty tart.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline kgs

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1029
  • Sonoma County, CA
Re: Adjusting acidity in cider with tartaric acid
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2021, 09:59:43 PM »
In the future you might want to wait until after fermentation is done to think about whether or not to add acid. It might be the apples I use, but I have made at least a dozen batches of cider and I would not have wanted to add acid to any of them, fermentation has always achieved a nice tart complex cider.

Indeed, I wish I had done that. Live and learn...
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member