This fall (2017) my cousin contacted me and said she was going to Washington and bringing back apples. Could we make cider? Absolutely. We are still in love with the small batch we made in 2016, 22 bottles of sparkling clear apple cider. We’ve been hoarding them all year!
Cider is the easiest thing to brew. Just juice plus yeast, however you can get there. Pectic enzyme will help break down the pectin, giving you clear cider, but it’s not necessary. Yeast nutrient will help your yeast stay healthy through the fermentation, which means they will be able to go back and process some early byproducts that create off flavors. Last year, before k-meta, we brought the cider to 160 and kept it there for a certain length to sterilize it. This can activate the pectins and make your cider forever cloudy though. I like the idea of a never-cooked cider. We’ll have to taste test to see how they compare!
We used the meat grinder and the apple press and Toby, my cousin Hollie, and my friend Kara made it through 3 huge boxes of apples, Honeycrisp, a local tree, and a Golden Delicious hybrid. We pressed on September 17, 2017. All the juice went into a 7 gallon fermenting bucket, and we added k-meta to stop any yeast or bacteria. Fresh apple juice…it should be illegal.
Day 2: Added 6 tsp pectolase and 6 tsp yeast nutrient to the primary fermenter, then sprinkled Premier Blanc champagne yeast on top.
Day 7: Racked into 6 gallon glass carboy, added 1/2 gallon from ‘reserve juice’ that didn’t fit in the primary fermenter.
Day 35: Amazing aroma! Last year we bottled after 1 month, but I thought this batch still looked a little cloudy. We’re going to let it settle out.
Day 67: Bottled 2 gallons of plain apple cider and split the rest of the batch into 1 gallon carboys. Boiled 1 cup each of blackberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and peaches and added them to the carboys. Sanitized 1/8 cup French oak chips for 30 seconds and added to the 5th carboy.
This wasn’t planned, but don’t you think this will make a great 6 pack of cider? I don’t even know which one would be my favorite! I’ll let you know how the taste test goes in about 6 months!
Day 60: The rhubarb cider is already crystal clear, even more clear than the original apple cider. It can’t be just the rhubarb, since the rhubarb wine is STILL cloudy after 5 months, but some interaction is working out nicely!
Day 64: Bottled both the rhubarb and French oak ciders. I would have waited longer on the oak, but we needed the carboys and the other fruits are still cloudy. The yield for both was two 22 oz bottles and 7 12 oz bottles, although that was a stretch for the rhubarb…we had to strain the last of the liquid through a fine strainer, and we labeled that bottle separately. The oak cider had great vanilla flavor, giving a little fake sweetness. Next time maybe American oak for a little more tannic backbone. (I brought an oaked cider back from Oregon this fall and it was SO GOOD!)
Day 65: Added about 1 Tbsp of bentonite to each of the remaining ‘flavors’. They are all still fermenting a little bit, so it’s a good time to add because the carbon dioxide rising will help stir up the clay particles and then those charged particles will help drag other particles in the cider down to the bottom. Shook them all gently.
Day 97: Bottled the blackberry cider.
Day 114: The remaining ciders have almost stopped fermenting but they are still slightly cloudy. Racked the raspberry and peach ciders into new carboys, topped off with apple juice.