I’ve got another cider almost ready to bottle. Just a few more ‘blops’ to issue forth from the airlock and I reckon we’re ready. It’s been a long fermentation, this one. It’s a combination of the 1kg extra sugar I added, and the lower fermentation temperature.I set it at 22 deg, where my previous ciders (without the benefit of temperature control) have been up around 26 deg. Last time out I used a little lactose to take the edge off the ‘dryness’ but this time round I want to make something a little sweeter tasting altogether.
I think I would have to add about half a cup of lactose to each 750ml bottle to achieve the level of sweetness that you get in your Rekorderlig, Orchard Thieves etc and I think that would probably give you the shits to boot. Alternatively, I could kill off the yeast somehow, before all the fructose is used up, but that a) sounds like a hassle and b) gives you flat cider.
So, I was contemplating searching for some artificial (non fermentable) sugar substitute when I suddenly thought of stevia. The wonder drug. The new, natural Saccharin. Why not? I wonder how easy it is to obtain? Two minutes of Googling and I’m out the door, heading down to the local healthfood store. “Sure, we have stevia powder. Here it is in this jar and it’s only $86 per kg”. WTAF?? This is going to make my home made cider super expensive. The lady said “you don’t need much”. I should fucking hope not, at that price. So, I very carefully ladle out 100g of this fairly unpleasant looking green powder into a baggie and head up to the counter. I know healthfood shops aren’t generally the place to buy cheap stuff, but this is ridiculous. Still, let’s give it a go!
What does it taste like? Fucking horrible. I literally dipped the very end of the tip of my little finger in, and it made my tongue recoil in terror. This is sweeeeeeeeeet. Really insanely sweet, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This is going to require very careful handling. The basic consensus of opinion on the net is that it’s 12-15 times stronger than sugar. At least that’s what all the bakers say, couldn’t find anything definitive on a brew forum.
So, by my calculations, half a teaspoon of this shit is going to be the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of sugar, which is what I would imagine there is present in a bottle of sweet cider. Half a teaspoon is the smallest measuring spoon I can find in the kitchen but I want a quarter so I have to make do with a rough guestimate of half a half teaspoonful. I added a little lactose to each bottle too, in the hope that it softens the stevia’s bitter aftertaste.
This is going to be an interesting journey. It could be unpalatable, only time will tell…