Monday, September 1, 2008

Jacked-Apple Cider

My neighbor's apple tree beckoned. Every day I would watch 2 pound braeburns fall to the ground unused -- I almost wept. He was never home, so I could never ask permission. Finally, the Midwest spendthrift in me couldn't take it anymore -- my girls and I took a wheelbarrow and a ladder, and liberated 120 lbs. Mother-in-law came over and we spent 4 1/2 hours juicing with two Olympic Juicers going full blast. Let the press sit on campden tablets for 24 hours, then filtered through a muslin bag and heated to 160 degrees with 2 lbs blackberry honey and 2 lbs. organic brown sugar. Ph tested at 3.8, so no need to balance. Added a little wine tannin for bite, and 2 oz. pectin for clarity. Pitched dry Champagne yeast. Beautiful clear golden cider, plenty of wonderful small bubbles, ended at an over-the-top 12% alcohol. Nice bright English-style dry cider. Incredible. Brewed October 2007.


Annie said...

This sounds yummy.

I have been messing around making some apple wine with a recipe I found online. It didn't call for either heating or filtering and now the yeast etc. is already in it. Too late to heat now but is it okay to still filter it? Or should I just let it go and put it in the jug when it reaches the right specific gravity?

I'm thinking there is too much sugar in this recipe. It called for 1# per gallon of juice. Am I going to end up with a sweet wine?

Hunington said...

Wait for fermentation to be complete, then you can filter, or just cold crash it to near freezing and then rack off the clear liquid into a separate container. Cold crashing will cause most of the sediment and yeast to drop out.

With that much sugar, two things can happen: (1) it will dry out because all of the sugar will be consumed by the yeast and converted to alcohol -- you will end up with a very dry cider that will be high in alcohol; or (2) you will have reached the upper limit of alcohol toleration for the yeast, and the yeast will die out, leaving you with a very sweet and highly alcoholic cider. My guess is #1 if you were using a champagne or other white wine yeast for the fermentation. Either way, don't worry, with time some of the alcohol flavor will mellow, and many people like a sweeter hard cider in the US. English cider makers tend to aim for a dry cider.

At any rate, give your cider plenty of time to finish before bottling -- at least 4 weeks. Unless you've pasteurized, cider will continue to ferment until 100% of the fermentables are gone -- you don't want exploding bottles. If you want sparking cider, you can always re-prime it with additional cider or corn sugar before you bottle. If you use corn sugar, the standard rate is 5 ounces for 5 gallons (or 7 oz. of table sugar). Always dissolve the sugar into a little heated cider before you add it to the fermented cider, and make sure it is mixed in well, or you will have spotty carbonation. If you want perfectly still cider, pasteurize with campden tablets or heat to 150F, then cool before bottling. You can bottle in wine or beer bottles, and don't have to worry about storage temps.

If you want super-fizzy champagne-like sweet cider, you can add as much as 2 lbs. of priming sugar, and then bottle in champagne bottles with cork and cage or use belgian beer bottles with cork and cage. WARNING! Do not bottle this style in ordinary beer or wine bottles, as the thickness of the glass is not sufficient for the pressure -- you will get bottle bombs. Store in cool place after 3 weeks of carbonation/bottle conditioning to arrest the fermentation process.