Friday, October 25, 2013

Making cider

I managed to press the bulk of the apples into about four gallons (17.5 litres) of apple juice. I didn’t bother keeping the varieties separate, just let them blend.

It takes around 20lb of apples to make a gallon of cider – no water added, of course. Those who buy a bag of apples from the shops and think they’re going to have a go may do better making an apple wine with plenty of water to bulk it out.

I used my brother’s apple press which takes about 9 litres of chopped fruit at a time. To start with you roughly chop the apples and then put them through a fruit mincer held over the open press.

The press itself is lined with muslin and then squashed. It’s a surprisingly long process and some would question whether or not it’s worth it. But there’s nothing like home-made cider ... no really, there is nothing like home-made cider!

Perhaps the fact that it all gets consumed reflects the effort that has gone into making it rather than the quality. Here, I’m speaking about my own, of course.

My brother, on the other hand, who makes loads of cider every year and bottles it with crown tops, makes some really decent stuff that I quite happily swig of an evening.

The last of mine tends to get used in cooking – pot roasts and casseroles – and here it works really well.

But this time I'm trying a new recipe and making a real effort to produce a decent drink. The recipe I’ve used is here and I've gone with the wild yeast rather than adding my own. I’ll report the results later.

When that will be – who knows? The mysterious art of cider making is a law unto itself! In the past cider makers used all kinds of techniques to determine when their brew was ready. One method was to add a one-cubic-inch nugget of pig iron to the fermentation. When this had completely dissolved the brew was ready.

And if pig iron was in short supply they turned to sheep – that’s a sheep, not sheep iron. They’d add a half a sheep to the fermentation vat and when the carcass was removed and no meat remained on the bones then the cider was ready.

Since I’m using demijohns, neither method holds much promise so I’ll stick to waiting until it is cleared (which hopefully it will).

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