Acid bomb juice dilemma update

Thanks to all who offered advice regarding my codling moth/maggot dilemma. I’ve started this new “thread” to share the action and methods I have taken in following your advice, and also to solicit your thoughts concerning my new “acid bomb” juice dilemma.

First, I’ve learned I will never again bother sorting and trying to make cider with apples–small or large–savaged by codling moths. Way too much work! Likewise, I’ll never again fail to spray my apples to protect them from those dastardly drilling devils.

Now on to my new dilemma: The juice I made with those apples tastes pretty good. But when I tested the acidity and PH, I was surprised to find a PH of 2.8 and TA of approx. 11.25 g/L, and with an SG of only 1.040.:cry:

And so @LTCider asked, “, I’m wondering if the apples weren’t ripe yet, what with the low sugar and high acid, especially compared to last year… Did you do a starch test before picking?”

No, I’ve never heard of a starch test until now–and now I am learning about starch testing.:sweat_smile: I only used my refractometer for testing, and only tested a handful of apples…some that looked more ripe (and tasted very good), and others that looked less ripe (and tasted good, but more tart). The brix numbers were 15 and 13 for those tested (SG1.061, and 1.052). So I thought I was good, right?! Last year, the apples on that tree hung on and went from flavorful and juicy to dry and mealy/pithy over time–and so I did not want to wait too long. And as I was cutting and sorting them for grinding and pressing the other day, I noticed those with any color were the apples most ravaged by maggots. It seemed–at that time–I was picking just before there was nothing salvageable. :sob:

Regarding the sugar content, @LTCider says: "Definitely get the sugar level up somehow. Sugar, honey, other fruit… something.

Well, last year’s cider I made from apples of a different tree, later in the season, which had a TA of 6.9g/L and SG of 1.038. It tastes wonderful, and better and better with age. And for my wife and myself, the 5% ABV seems enough, and I’m not inclined to add any sugar to increase the alcohol content at the expense of a more natural apple flavor.

Now as to the acid bomb dilemma and blending or other methods to reduce acid content and mask the perception of it, @LTCider has some very good suggestions: blending black currant extract and other fresh fruit fruits, creating MLF, the use of toasted oak chips, and also calcium carbonate, perhaps–a lot to consider. And I did a little reading/research myself about blending other apples–or frozen juice concentrate. I discovered that, under the circumstances, and with so many things to think about, the wisest thing for me to do is not be in a hurry. And so I pitched the yeast into my acid bomb must to ferment it, and so I can decide the course to take later.

Another consideration was that the liquid yeast I had purchased (WLP775 English Cider) had taken 7 days in shipment, rather than the usual 3 days, and so the packets were swollen…and I wasn’t sure the yeast had survived the heat during transit. (It did work, fortunately.)

Anyway, I did find one “study” of titration testing on apple juices (from Toronto) that discussed the levels of acidity in frozen juices. Here is the link: Acid-base titrations: comparing the acid content of low-acid fruit juices to regular fruit juices | Chem13 News Magazine | University of Waterloo

And so I decided to buy some frozen concentrate last night for testing its acidity and PH, and will report my findings when I make the juice.

Meanwhile, I will be waiting for a few friends/acquaintances with apple trees to see if I can get some for blending–and since no amount of time will harm my acid bomb by waiting to take action (now that it is fermenting), I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing there are many options and solutions for my conundrum.:laughing:

Thanks again, everyone!


Okay, made some tests on the “Old Orchard” frozen apple juice concentrate can I bought, the brand recommended as “favorite” by author of bottletobarrel website (available at Safeway, Albertsons, and Walmart in my area)…My wife mixed only a small portion of the can with water in the amounts she thought appropriate, so the test results might differ from the use of a full can of concentrate plus water in the proportions/directions on the label. However, I went with it anyway knowing I could either duplicate or adjust the proportions in order to adjust the test results/measurements.

The TA of the juice was approximately 6.0 g/L, and it had a brix reading of 16.5, or SG 1.068.

Doing the algebraic equations given by Jolicoeur for adding 1.25 gallons of “acid bomb” must and then filling 3 gallon and 5 gallon carboys with juice made from concentrate is as follows:

(1.25 x 9.9 + 1.75 x 6.0) / 3 equals TA 7.625 g/L:
(1.25 x 9.9 + 3.75 x 6.0) / 3 equals TA 6.975 g/L

I amended my earlier measurements of TA down from 11.25 g/L to 9.9 g/L, after re-calibrating my PH meter and deciding it was unreliable. Instead, I went with the color change indication and the instructions given in the TA test kit. (I noticed the pink color change long before the PH meter gave the sought after number of 8.2.)

In calculating the SG using the same formulas:

(1.25 x 1.040 + 1.75 x 1.0676) / 3 equals SG 1.0561
(1.25 x 1.040 + 3.75 x 1.0676) / 5 equals SG 1.0607

Jolicoeur states in his book that as much as 8 g/L can be acceptable “…for some special types of blends…with a refreshing cider, one that is sparkling and festive, or one that will remain sweet.” Considering the cider I made last year had a TA of 6.9, the mixing of 1.25 gallons of “acid bomb” with 3.75 gallons of juice from concentrate might give a similar result, though made with different varieties. And even using the formula for blending a 3 gallon batch as shown above, I might obtain a sparkling cider that is not too sharp.

In either formula for blending, the sugar and ABV content is considerably higher than last year’s batch (which was only 5% ABV), and I would get 6.05% ABV with the 3 gallon carboy, and 6.65% ABV for the 5 gallon carboy.

I am not computer saavy really, and me an’ ol’ Ruth just barely learned ta read, so I had to find me an online calculator to do the figurin’ fer me, and here’s that link:

So I guess fer now I’ll wait ‘n see if my friends er’ a gonna gimmee some of they’re apples fer makin’ cider, or if’n I’ma gonna have ta use that thar frozen canned juice.

Hope this is useful for somebody learning to make cider. I scratched my head so much figurin’ it all out, I’m only gonna need a half a haircut next time I see the barber!:wink::roll_eyes:

P.S. Here’s the link for making “Frozen Juice Concentrate Homebrew Hard Cider”: