RG 2006 February

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

February, 2006


The Amazing Enzyme

The other day I decided to rack my 100 gallons of keeved Dabinett blend. When I took the lid off the vat I was surprised and delighted to see that another one inch thick layer of brown cap had formed since mid November. I had originally removed as much as this and had thought that the keeve was completed. Now I am left with a very clear cider that is naturally sweet and has a pleasant flavour. The Sg seems to have stabilised at 1015 but this could have much to do with it being so cold at present. I will have to wait and see if it starts up again in the Spring. PH is around 3.6 due to the inclusion of Brown Snout and Bramley in the blend. This is my first success with keeving so I'm rather chuffed. It really amazes me that such a tiny quantity of the enzyme can have such a big effect.

I've been removing the brown stuff from the surface. It is a straightforward job as the cider is in a stainless cylindrical vat of about 30 ins diameter. I find this easier than attempting to leave it all behind when racking.

Some time back Roy mentioned that he always skimmed the brown cap so I decided to have a go using a shallow cream skimming spoon. I found that the holes in this were too large so I bought a fine mesh stainless steel vegetable strainer. It is 6 inches diameter, like a large tea strainer and is perfect for the job. It is a satisfying thing to do and the roses in my garden now have an odd looking brown collar at their feet. Hope they like the stuff!



Over the last few days I've been doing a tasting trial of cider sweetened with sucralose.

As I think Andrew said when we discussed this a while ago, it is easy to obtain the sweetener under the trade name "Splenda". I bought a 90 g jar of Splenda from Tesco for £1.58 and decided to put it to the test. Splenda has been formulated so that it is volumetrically equivalent to sugar in its sweetening power, ie one teaspoon of Splenda has the same effect as a teaspoon of sugar, even though it's weight is only one tenth that of sugar.

I do not enjoy sweet cider since I normally drink cider that is naturally dry. I decided not to try sweetening to the fully (sickly) sweet level as not only would I find it revolting, but I also perceive that a market exists for cider that is semi sweet. I found by trial and error that this could be achieved by a heaped teaspoon of sugar added to a pint of dry cider. I can't be dogmatic here because obviously it is a matter of taste, but I felt that this level of sweetness was similar to that found in Weston's Organic, which has cane sugar added.

The trial was simply to take two pints of naturally dry cider, one sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar and the other with a teaspoon of Splenda and then to taste the difference. I did this by drinking just half a pint of each on two occasions, two days apart. The idea was to see if my conclusions on the first trial were confirmed by the second. I found that they were. My opinion is as follows:

Sucralose (Splenda) is a perfectly acceptable sweetener that justifies it's claim to taste like sugar. It adds sweetness without having the nasty, easily detectable, side taste of saccharine. I found the cider pleasant to drink and did not feel that it had been spoilt in any way, in spite of my own preference for dry. The cider containing sugar was equally acceptable and the taste was very like that of Weston's,.

Is there a difference? I think there is, but it is a subtle one. It has nothing to do with sweetness, the sweetening effect of each seemed the same to me. Any difference I can only describe as ' body'. The sugar sweetened cider tasted fuller, being slightly syrupy I suppose. The cider containing Splenda had a thinner feel on the tongue, more akin to that of dry cider. Both types were enjoyable. It seems to be down to a matter of perception or quaffability, perhaps!

To sum up. I'm quite impressed with the stuff and may try out some in the summer to see what people think of it. One jar of Splenda could make 180 pints of semi-sweet! As a producer, the attraction of being able to sweeten safely without pasteurisation, is very considerable. This is also inexpensive.

I note that Splenda is mostly Maltodextrin, the Sucralose is only 1%. I was not surprised at this, having seen Roy's posting concerning the very intense sweetening power of Sucralose. I imagine that the Maltodextrin is an inert bulking up agent to give Splenda a volumetric equivalence with sugar for ease of use. ( Andrew will know, I expect .) It will be interesting to hear how Roy gets on with his trial using the neat Sucralose sample. Definitely a case of a little going a long way!

8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg end of February, 2006

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