with the occasional rant about tin openers...

Home Made Cider!

Spring 2014:

Spring is probably pushing it, but the Daffodils are out, so we'll stick with it. Autumn 2012 came and went with hardly a drop of apple juice spilt. 2013 was a different matter. As well as coaxing Ms Homebrew's younger sister the dark side of '5-a-day', we (as a family activity) pressed 11 gallons worth of apple juice using a leaf scratter from Q&B and a home made cider press. Details on the cider press to come.

I also fell victim of the group buy at the National Homebrew Club and bought another 50l of apple juice, which has pretty much converted itself into cider. Adding 1 campden tablet per gallon lowers the pH value of the juice enough to inhibit spoilage bacteria, but the 'correct' sacharomyces yeast is happy enough in the acidic environment and pretty much mucks on. 

After all the natural yeast's hard work I hope I didn't muck it up racking it into a keg.  

Autumn 2011:

The Cider making equipment, in
all it's simple glory.
This year I've mooched apples from two people, and they're the rosiest apples I've ever seen. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were enchanted with something. The apples were a mixture of off-the-tree and windfall, and although last year I left the apples for a week, this time I just went for it.

So, the apples were rinsed, and the really skanky bits were cut off. Then they were sent through my charity-shop fruit juicer, which made short work of everything, including pips, stalk and the odd leaf (tannin, right?). The juice that came out was sweet, thick and very pink, and I'm happy to say, from two washing up bowls full of apples I got 1 gallon exactly of apple juice, which I've now left my sweet-toothed cider yeast to work on.

Following fermentation I'll rack into an airlocked gallon demijohn for a couple of months, before bottling, priming and waiting. I may drink it a little early this time, so I don't end up with ridiculously dry cider.

Cider sunrise 2011
I'm hoping the cider turns out pink looking, like it does in the fermentation bin, but we'll have to wait and see. Last year I added water, sugar and yeast to my pounded apples, this year I've just used applejuice and yeast, and next year I might go the whole hog and simply juice the apples and hope there's enough natural yeast to ferment. It'll take much longer, but at least I won't have to spent £3 on yeast, although I may have to spend more on a new fermentation bin, so that I can still make beer while the cider spends the winter fermenting!

Autum 2010:

Please read the following short article in a West Country accent:

First off, I'd like to explain that this is probably not proper cider, and in no way reflects real cider making processes... well, except for the crushing bit, that probably goes way back. For the purists out there, I can recommend another method. Plenty out there.

This cider has been made on what can only be described as a small budget, largely thanks to my mum. She bought the yeast and the bubblers and stuff, and the apples were off her tree, and I've so far forked out 96p for some sugar. And hopefully all that will produce about 2 gallons of cider...

I started with a bag-for-life crammed with apples, all off the trees. Most recipes asked for windfall apples, because they have a higher sugar content, but as I wasn't sure how long they'd been on the ground I went for the old fashioned scrump, straight off the trees. Dad, weilding a garden cane, and me with my eye on the apple (sometimes literally) caught (most of) them as they fell.

After letting them sit to soften at home for about 10 days, I wrapped the end of a plank of 2x4 in duct tape and proceeded to mash the apples. Nothing more high tech than that! I didn't have the use of a juicer, or a press, or a PulpMastertm, etc, so it's all been a little make do here.

The apples were pulped in a bucket with a Campden tablet, and topped up with about a gallon and a half of hot water, just under a pound of brown sugar and then, once cool enough, the yeast. The 'cider' went upstairs, wrapped in blankets. The spare room is a brewery again!

I won't know if it's worked properly till spring, as it's a long process, this, but I'll taste it along the way, like any good chef.

I couldn't even take an hydrometer reading this time, as the apple pulp is keeping the hydrometer from floating freely, though I doubt it's much... But I'm not after White Lightening, I just want to try it out, really. And I've had the demijohns since spring, so I'm just glad they'll get some overwinter use.

Now comes the hard part, the wait!


Well, I enjoyed making the make-do cider, but I enjoyed finding a fruit juicer for a fiver too. Once the apples had fermented for what I deemed to be long enough (about 10 days), I poured the lot into the two demijohns, via the juicer. What the juicer did, essentially, was to strain the cider, making the first demijohn a little soupy, but with no extra sugars (or not much, at least).

However, by the time it came to filling the second, I started pulping the bits of whole apple at the bottom too, and there were some quite big sugary chunks, if I was to judge by the understairs cupboard the following morning. The new release of sugar gave the yeasts something to munch on again, and the freshly bubbling brew blew right through the airlock and covered a surprising amount of stuff with apple-y pulp. Now, believe it or not, I'd already forseen this problem, and I was going to let it ferment calmly in the bucket first, but when it came to a messy kitchen with cider everywhere, I guess I just forgot. Never mind. I might top it up in spring, but I didn't lose much.

A lot of recipes you'll find online will tell you not to use any metal in the cider making process, but if you use a Campden tablet it will prevent the oxidisation that will occur when using metal (though I think Stainless Steel is exempt from this), as well as preventing natural oxidisation (which is when the apples turn brown once broken). It's like rust, but for apples.

So, The proof, the pudding...
I've one bottle left, and it's been quite pleasant to drink. However, it's attenuated very low, and is so very, very dry. It could probably have been ready to drink sooner, but I wanted to make sure. I gather that apple variety affects the sweetness as well as the taste, so I've my eye on the trees at the back of a friends house. Maybe they'll be sweeter? Having said that, I did like the dry cider, and I think, now I've my super dooper, apple souper machine, I'll be making higher gravity cider. Must remember to ferment in an open fermenter! That's all for this year, check back soon for the Autumn 2011 version.

1 comment:

  1. Grandad will have apples for you in Clonmany :)