What is pectic enzyme and why would you add it to your juice or cider. Pectic Enzyme is also know as pectinase, which is an enzyme that breaks down pectin. In other words, it is a protein that acts as a catalyst to degrade the pectin naturally found in fruit. Pectin is a complex carbohydrate found in many fruits that bind the cells together to give it structure. It’s a gelatinous material and great if you are making jelly, but not as great if you are making hard cider. If you make jelly that never sets up, you didn’t have enough pectin in it. You can find the pectic enzyme I use on the recommended products page.
Why would you need to remove pectin from apple juice? Many fruits contain pectin, but apples and pears have a larger amount. This pectin can cause cloudiness, known as pectin haze, in your hard cider because it’s a complex carbohydrate, which is opaque and doesn’t pass light. Pectic enzyme converts this complex carbohydrate into lower complexity ones. These lower complexity carbohydrates will more readily pass light, reducing the haziness of your hard cider. It can also cause you to have a gelatinous sediment in the bottle of your bottles. These are mostly aesthetic issues.
There is another reason to use pectic enzymes besides promoting hard cider clarity. Breaking down the pectin in your pressed fruit juice helps improve the juice yield. I use pectic enzyme and normally yield one gallon of juice from 15-17 pounds of apples ( 1.8-2.0 kg per liter). It depends on the apple, yield decreases with softer fruit, but you could expect needing 1-2 pounds of additional apples without pectic enzymes. That would be around 0.2 kg per liter of additional apples. Beside higher yields, pectic enzymes can also enhance the flavors. Breaking down the fruit releases more flavor compounds found in the juice and it improves filtration because pectin is less likelihood to gum up the filter and block it prematurely.
Like with many things in hard cider making, pectic enzyme, works better when certain conditions are met. Pectic enzymes don’t like highly acidic juices and will not work as well when the pH drops below 3.0. It also doesn’t like alcohol so it is not as effective if you add it post fermentation. If you forget and want to add it after primary fermentation, it is best to double the recommended dose. However, the best plan is to always remember to add it to mix it with your fruit after milling or to your fermenter before you add the juice. Let your juice sit for a bit before you pitch your yeast. There are a few different types of pectic enzymes so you should read and follow the directions on your package versus following a recipe.
Do you have to use pectic enzymes to make hard cider? Absolutely not. However, if you are pressing your own fruit and you like clearer hard ciders, it will be beneficial to your process. I know a lot of cider makers who don’t use it. Unlike some chemicals, like potassium sorbate, I am currently unaware of any country not allowing it under organic certifications as it is not a preservative.
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8 thoughts on “Hard Cider Tip #15: Pectic Enzyme”
I is not clear how the enzyme increases juice yield after pressing. Witch artical seams to imply. Or did I misunderstand and you add it after mashing ? Just before you press ?
Thank you for reading and the question. I tried to clarify the article. Adding to the juice will not improve the yield. You need to add it to the milled fruit and let it sit or macerate for a few hours or even days. It will help breakdown the pectin in the cell walls and also aid in phenolic release from the peel. Adding it to the juice will remove the pectin from the juice but won’t have a direct impact on the press yield. Hopefully, that clarifies the process and thanks for helping me make the information on PricklyCider.com better.
Rather than let the mash sit a days. I would press the mash then add the Pectin and press again to compare the two juices. I have found there differences in first juice that come out in a course mash to then regain finer and press again. It tastes like the first juice is sweeter and richer. Not sure why. But this what I observed a pressing day. Thanks
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Yes. The first pressing of most fruits (grapes, olives, apples) tends to be more desirable and higher quality. Pectic enzymes tend to improve the yield as it helps break down the cells walls and release more of the liquid and compounds. Another great way to increase yield is freezing the apple. A slow freeze will rupture the cell walls. As they thaw, you will get a lot of free run juice. You can freeze the apples whole and not even mills them. Just press them whole. The yield will be significantly higher.
Brilliant. I have read about letting apples freeze ” on the tree” to increase yield, not sure why it may matter where they freeze.
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It only matters if you want to sell it and call it Ice Cider. There are rules for appellation in Canada that require natural freezing (but it doesn’t have to be on the tree). They use it for concentrating the juice by not thawing 100% and pressing. If you let it thaw 100%, you can get much higher yields and concentrations.
Have been reading arron burrs book, uncultivated, and it’s got me thinking outside the box. I wonder if fermenting the mash first and then pressing out the juice might have a positive effect on the flavor. It’s what you do to distill. ? Your thoughts thank you
My research indicates that solids are not positive aromas contributors. You need some level of turbidity but fruitier aromas are developed with clearer juice. Fermenting solids tends to increase vegetal and sulfur aromas. It also tends to increase methanol production, which is not good if you plan to distill the cider into brandy.