måndag 26 september 2016

How to make Homemade Apple Juice/Cider

We've lived in our house for 2 years now and I've wanted to brew my own cider from day one. Last year our apple tree produced the might number of 3 apples in total, so no cider for me.
This year, a totally different story as you can see in the picture below.

apples in the tree

This is the first time I try to do this so the process might not be optimal and I am sure that things could be done better.
The goal of this post is to have at least one bucket that has started the fermentation process.

Things you need

work table rigged for apple cider production

  • Sturdy buckets, heavy duty. Not the $1 ones.. it has to be able to take a beating
  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Fruit press
  • Ladle
  • Some nails and a wood stud (45x45 mm)
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Fermentation bucket with a lid (I used 30 litres)
  • Fermentation lock
  • Yeast
  • Cup (for tasting!)

First we need to create the tool to use for crushing the apples
home made apple crushing tool
The apple crusher
There are many tools that can be bought for crushing the apples but why waste the hard earned money when all you need is some wood stud, a saw, a hammer and some nails to create your own crusher.
home made apple crushing tool in action
Home made apple crushing tool in action

The process

Apple juice flowing into a fermentation bucket
Apple juice flowing into a fermentation bucket
  1. Collect apples
  2. Cut apples in 4-8 pieces depending on size, throw them in a sturdy bucket
  3. When you have a 2 or 3 layers of sliced apples it is time for the crusher. This part is good training.
  4. When you have crushed apples, Pour them into another bucket.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you have a filled bucket
  6. Fill the fruit sack in the press, try pressing a little with the ladle
  7. Use the press
  8. Repeat 6 and 7 until you cannot move the handle
  9. Empty the fruit sack in your compost.
  10. Repeat until you have filled the fermentation bucket.

The Yeast

A fermentation bucket on a wooden floor
Fermentation bucket in action
Yeast eats sugar and produces alcohol and dicarbon oxide. The higher sugar rate of the in going liquid, the more alcohol there will be.
The yeast is added to the fermentation bucket, read on the package how to do it. Some require some pre-activation steps. Also read what temperature your yeast works best in and store the bucket in that temperature.
I decided to use champagne yeast for my batches. There are hundreds of different yeast cultures to chose from, but this felt right for me.
Add the lid and the fermentation lock. Fill the lock with water to the line and wait.

My plan is to do 3 batches. 

picture of 223 grams of hops being weighted
223 grams of hops being weighted
  • Über hopped apple cider (24 liters and 223 grams of fresh hops)
  • Hopped apple cider (24 liters and 70 grams of fresh hops)
  • Apple cider (just 24 liters)
So. The first two batches need hops, luckily enough we planted some last year and it is ready for harvest now as well. We did a little pre-tasting of the hops last weekend and we think it could be cascade but I am not sure. We found it in a private garden and they did not know what kind it was.
So, remember that I've never done any of this before so it is a little bit experimental. Reviews on the outcome will come later. 

OK, so I could read up on how to dry hop cider but where is the fun in that. My best guess is to add the hops into the fermentation bucket after the yeast has been added, before the lid is put on. And then filter them out during after the fermentation is done. That way they should be protected from oxidation by the fermentation lock.

Apples in a wheelbarrow
Apples in a wheelbarrow
So. Now to continue with batch 2 and 3, the wheel barrow is full and waiting :)

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