Cider Words: Enzymes

Enzymes commonly found in cider and perry.
Enzymes commonly found in cider and perry.

Enzymes are proteins that act as catalyst for chemical reactions. In cider making, they can enable or speed up these reactions. This enzymes can improve clarification, increase juice yield, extract color, enhance aroma and flavor, and stabilize your cider(1). They can also improve the nutritional characteristics of foods and drinks, which is why they are often used in food processing. Enzymes can make bread, fruits, and vegetables more nutritious without the risk of creating hazardous or toxic by-products. They also don’t pose a risk of over dosage, which helps make them safe for human consumption(2). Enzymes can also be created economically using low cost substrates and even organic by-products like food waste. This makes makes them cost effective and environmentally friendly.

In cider making, several different enzymes can facilitate the conversion of apple juice into cider. Most of these can happen naturally during the process, but the addition of enzymes can speed up these processes and help ensure all the potential chemical reaction actually occur. One of the most important enzymes used in the cider and perry process is pectic enzyme or what is often called pectinase. There are several different types of pectinase compounds that can be found in cider. While there can be a large number of different enzymes, there are at least five types of enzymes that are most commonly found in ciders. These contribute to the organoleptic characteristics of a cider as well as its potential nutritional value.

  • Pectinase: This enzyme breaks down pectin, a complex carbohydrate found in apples that can make it difficult to extract juice and may contribute to haze formation in finished ciders.
  • Amylase: This enzyme breaks down starches into simpler sugars that can be more easily fermented by yeast.
  • Cellulase: This enzyme breaks down cellulose and other complex polysaccharides into simple sugars that can also be fermented by yeast.
  • Protease: This enzyme breaks down proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids, which can contribute to the flavor and aroma of the finished cider.
  • Lipase: This enzyme breaks down fats and oils into simpler compounds, which can also contribute to the flavor and aroma of the finished cider.

(1) R.M. Canal-Llaubères, Managing Wine Quality: Winemaking Technologies and Wine Quality, Chapter 6, Enzymes and Wine Quality, Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2010

(2) J. Singh and associates, Enzymatic Processing of Juice From Fruits/Vegetables: An Emerging Trend and Cutting Edge Research in Food Biotechnology, Enzymes in Food Biotechnology, Chapter 24, Elsevier Inc, 2019

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