Ok, let’s calm down and look at this for a moment. Most juice is in the range of 2.9 to 5.2 pH at the very most we are looking for a juice that fits within the 3.2 to 3.8 pH range. We either need to adjust our pH up to 3.2 or down to 3.8. Lets first look at adjusting our juice pH UP.
Adjusting your pH UP
Ok wait for it , waaaaiiit for it, waaaaaaaaaaiiiit for iiiiitttt. DON’T DO ANYTHING! Yes I am serious! Don’t do anything and here is why. Low pH means what? Yes you got it, low pH means that you have a high acid level. In some ways this is good, and you can read more about acid levels on the Blending and Testing your Juice page. The gist of it is that acids protect your cider from spoilage microbes and have a converse relationship with pH. If one goes up the other goes down. During the fermentation process and during the mellowing period the acid levels will naturally go DOWN, that’s right they will go DOWN. If you are not satisfied with your acid levels after the first fermentation then you can blend it down. There are other ways to lower the acid level, but these are really not recommended. But for the sake of being thorough you can add potassium carbonate. However and this is a big however, don’t use much as it can really change the flavor profile of your beverage. The other option you can try is using a yeast such as Lalvin 71B-1122 Yeast. This yeast is known for lowering the acid levels of your cider during the fermentation process.
Adjusting your pH DOWN
The best thing to do in this situation is to blend your juice with a higher acidic juice which will increase the acidity of your juice while lowering the pH of your cider. (Remember pH and Acid have a converse relationship. When one goes up or down the other does the opposite.) Granny Smith apples are a great way to add some acid juice into your blend as they are typically acidic. However if you don’t have any mouth puckering Granny Smiths laying around or you are just not into grinding and juicing yet more apples, there are other things we can do. You can normally get Malic Acid at your local brew shop or you can order some through Amazon. Malic acid is the best acid to add as it is an apples’ natural acid. This is a much better choice than using a citric acid. Remember what I said above? As your cider ferments it will naturally drop in acid, so if you get it a little high here that’s ok. You can also try and get a malolactic fermentation (MLF) in your cider if you are waiting for a while. This typically happens after your first fermentation period in what is considered a second fermentation. If this is a go and blow operation, try your best to get in the middle of your range depending on the style you are after.
That just about wraps it up. If you have any questions please let me know and we will get an answer out to you as soon as possible, and happy crafting, and quaffing. 🙂