Cider or what some call hard cider is normally dry, which means it has little to no sugar remaining. This is because apple juice has about half the sugar that grape juice has and is often made with yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) used for wine. The result is that when fermentation completes, you are likely to have no residual sugars. To make a cider with some sugar or sweetness, you have several options that you can take at different times. These are listed in order of process step (i.e. the first option must be taken at the start of the cider-making process while the last at the end). For additional details on any of these options, just click on the picture to open a related article or send me a question.
- Add pears to your juice blend. Pears contain higher levels of sorbitol, which is a non-fermentable sweetener.
- Inoculate with non-Saccharomyces yeast. Non-Saccharomyces yeast strains (like Lachancea thermotolarens) will create other non-fermentable sweeteners like glycerol. You can get non-Saccharomyces strains from the Cider Yeast Page.
- Attempt keeving. Keeving is a process that removes nutrients from the cider creating a stuck fermentation with residual sugars.
- Encourage malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation or MLF reduces the acidity of a cider, which makes a dry acidic cider seem sweeter.
- Filter your cider and back sweeten with sugar. Use a sterile filter system to remove all yeast and add sugar.
- Back sweeten with non-fermentable sweeteners. You can add sweeteners like erythritol, xylitol, stevia, and similar sweeteners that won’t ferment.
- Back sweeten with sugar and pasteurize.. Adding sugar will restarted fermentation. You can stop is after creating some carbonation by heat pasteurizing.
- Add sorbate and sulfite and then back sweeten. Add preservatives to block the yeast and bacteria from fermenting before adding sugar.
I have also attempted to use carbonation to help to stop fermentation though this has to be used with other options. Lastly, you could create a cider mistelle by fortifying your cider with a spirit. It’s technically no longer a cider but it is another interesting option you can explore.
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3 thoughts on “Cider Question: How to make sweet hard cider?”
Good Day,Just happens I was
As far as I can see correctly, one important method is missing from the list: Second fermentation in the bottle (e.g. with Lalvin EC-1118) with subsequent removal of the yeast (disgorging) and addition of juice or sugar. Champagne is also made in France in this traditional way and you get a wonderfully sparkling and sweet cider. Greetings from Germany!🙋🏻♂️
Greetings and thanks for the comment! There are definitely a number of variations that can stall fermentation and create residual sweetness. The traditional method I have read about in France usually involves the keeving process as a way to reduce the nutrients before letting the cider finish fermenting in the bottle. This is followed by riddling and disgorging. It is my understanding that the lack of nutrients from the keeving (or multiple rankings) limit how much the yeast can ferment. However, the carbonation also aids the creation of some residual sweetness by suppressing fermentation. I’ve done some experiments using high pressure to kill off yeast, which I noted at the end of the article. I planning to visit France soon where I can explore the traditional method more personally!