I have plenty of hard cider I made at around 6% alcohol content stored in demi johns.
1) So I was going to make a bunch of mulled cider, bottle it and give it to people as Christmas gifts in screw capped wine bottles. Just trying to think of the best way to do it.
Clearly there is no guarantee that people will use it over christmas. Provided I leave out things that can putrify like apples and oranges, and anything that can ferment like honey, would it not just keep as long as regular cider would given that it only has some spices in it like cinammon, allspice, cloves and ginger?
Should I even bother heating it up to infuse the spices? Does heating it reduce it's storing qualities? I know they'll probably heat it any right, but thought the flavour might be better if I heat it before giving it to them.
2) Similar question. I will probably make some mulled cider with honey, oranges, apples etc plus the spices for myself. If I have any leftover, how long will it keep?
I have seen some comments online about it only lasting 3 days even if I refrigerate it. This seems a bit short to me. Why does it go off so quick? If I remove the fruit chunks, would it last longer in the fridge?
Can I even re-bottle it in a demijohn?
You might have to pasteurize it. Otherwise the microbes will turn starch/fruit to sugar to alcohol then to vinegar. Plus alot of weird aromatic compounds, amino acids, vitamins and sulfur compound. Possible even bad microbes, but even without bad microbes the smell might get to you.
I don't think 6% is enough to make it safe if you put it into unsteralised bottles and then add unsteralised spices to it, but you could make a little bag of the spices and tie it round the bottles neck instead of putting it in.
Whether it will re-ferment if you add a food source depends on the yeast you used and if you killed it or if fermentation stopped naturally, if the cider is very dry it will probably re-ferment if you add any food source as it wasn't alcohol content that stopped fermentation originally.
On the second question, when you heat it you remove most/all of the alcohol so then it will only keep as long as any other fruit juice in the fridge, and unsealed the alcohol evaporates as well.
You can make mulled cider from the start, add the spices you want into the juice before fermentation or half way through, that way you get a keep-able cider, and if you pick a low alcohol yeast you can add the honey/sugar at the end of fermentation as well, bottle it straight into your gift bottles and you're all sorted.
This years cider here is at 12% phew.. something one must remember when drinking it!
Hubs & I make water kefir, and various fermented foods regularly, and have played around with mead & cider - including mulled cider. When you put sugar of any kind, including fruit sugars and dairy/lactose, in any non-oil liquid, it will sour and ferment. This doesn't mean it's unsafe to drink, but that the flavor and alcohol content are going to change. What you use, in what proportions, at what temperatures, and your own personal taste are what will combine and typically determine whether it is palatable, or not. Eventually, it will begin turning to vinegar. Some taste better than others, at this stage, but even then, you're not looking at toxicity - you're looking at vinegar. It just is the natural course - the bacterial circle of life. Refrigeration will slow it down some, but not for long. This is why wine goes 'off', why beer gets skunky, etc. If you attempt to freeze it - depending on which stage it is at, when you put it in, it might explode. In fact, the container you choose to try this in should be heavy software, or plastic with some give - or make a habit of burping it, or leave the lid loose or cover with cloth, or invest in a carboy, and just accept that you won't be able to give it to the kids, or anyone sensitive to alcohol. I've lost track of how many bottles and jars we've had explode, because it was forgotten, for 1 extra day (including those heavy duty ones, meant for canning). In the case of the water kefir, that can happen in as little as the first 36 hours of fermenting, after sealing.
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As far as the first question goes, I'll play it safe and just tie a bag of spices around the neck of the bottle and supply a pot of honey. Not worth taking the risk on the spices or I might end up with a fizzy cider, or something that tastes a bit off,
And as far as storing leftover mulled cider, I'd leave it in the fridge for a few days and then consume or throw it out. As has been pointed out to me, the alcohol may evaporate either during cooking or when in the fridge, and things may ferment further now that the honey has been added so the flavour probably won't improve. I guess in theory if it will ferment, it could go back in the demi-john. An experiment to be had I suppose.
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