Pectolyase, pectozyme, and polygalacturonase are three types of pectic emzymes or what are often called pectinases. These are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that breakdown the polysaccharide known as pectin. Pectin gives structure and strength to the plant cells. This structure is what make jelly and jam become firm. For hard cider, it holds juice within the apple flesh and creates colloids that can make your cider hazy. The break down of pectin can also support the creation of esters as well as methanol. While esters can be good, methanol definitely isn’t. Check out my article on pectic enzyme for more details.
The application of pectic enzyme can be done to the fruit and/or the juice. For this Mālus Trivium, we are exploring the juice application. Since you are adding the pectic enzyme directly to juice, it will not improve your yield. Juice application of pectic enzyme increases the breakdown or pectin before fermentation begins. Fermentation will naturally break down some pectin but depending on the variety of apple or pear, it might not break down enough. That can lead to gelatinous globs that look like brains suspended in your cider or at a smaller level, colloids that create a haze that you just can’t clarify. As shown in the above graphic, the pectin can be separated and precipitated out of the juice. You can ferment this juice with the thick layer of pectin and sediment. However, this might lead to increased levels of methanol(1) and esters that are less fruity. Siphoning off the clearer juice and fermenting it will lead to fruiter esters, clearer cider, and slower ferments. I may also lead to stuck fermentations (i.e. residual sweetness) because these colloids that sink to the bottom also contain nutrients used by yeast. Like everything in craft cider making, doing something or not doing something always has trade-offs. If you want clearer, fruitier cider, applying pectic enzyme to your juice and racking off the sediment can give you that but, you may need to add some nutrients if you are worried about your fermentation stopping early.
(1) E. Ohimain, Methanol contamination in traditionally fermented alcoholic beverages: the microbial dimension, SpringerPlus 5, 2016
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