Article - Making cider at home Part 2

Making your own cider at home. Part 2

 By Peter Allen  

In the last issue we looked at the proper English and French cider varieties, these are ideal for making single or mixed varietal ciders, but chances are the glut of fruit you have at home are the well known cooking or eating varieties.

What do you need: a vessel to put the cider into, such as a beer brewing kit (these have a nice big opening at the top to make it easy for cleaning) a wooden barrel, a demijohn or a 20ltr plastic water container will do. 

Cider is only a 2 stage process vs. 8 for beer from scratch, apples should be left (about 2 weeks) till they are going wrinkly this increases the % sugar content which lifts your alcohol %, if you use a mix of eating and cooking you will get a reasonable balance of sugar and acid all you need to add is the tannin.

There are a number of ways to get the juice from your apples, first wash in water & 2tss citric acid.

  1. By using the juicer at home or a commercial one will do 100 ltrs per hour.
  2. Or cut up the apples to small pieces 1cm cubes or run them through a garden mulcher to mash them up, then “press” them.
  3. Get them pressed at a juice maker if large amounts such as a 400kg bin.

Either method should produce between 40%-55% of juice per KG. 

Pressing your apple pulp: this is not as easy as you might think, if you borrow you mates wine press you will find you can only do about 4” (100mm) at a time, in “Olde” England they would put straw through the pulp to create runs for the juice to use to escape.

Pack about a bucket full into a cloth bag (called a cheese), press these in a small wine press (300mm wide) or layer them with boards between that have slots to help the liquid run out if you have a big hydraulic press.

Method: Turn your apples into juice; pour into a clean sterilized vessel. Add 3 teaspoons of acid (citric or tartaric) per 25ltrs Add tannin Add “Yeast Must” Seal the container and insert an airlock

After fermentation stops you can rack off the liquid on top to another vessel and seal again to age, discard the spent yeast cells at the bottom (about 10%) 

Making a “Yeast Must” to add to the

Add Champagne Yeast (EC111) 7g per 25ltrs juice

Add this into 200ml of water at 35-40 C let it rest for 20 mins till it froths.

# this yeast will work as low as 10C and givesa good flavour to sparling wines, you can just let nature take over but any thing can happen and its worth getting a known product for the low cost of the yeast.

Supplying tannin: this can be achieved by boiling some black tea bags but it could colour &/or flavour the nice clean product you started with, other methods are to add Grape tannin ( from brewery shops) or add 5% of the juice from either “Crab apples” or the “Perry Pear” varieties in the previous article. 

Bottling your cider:

You can start as early to bottle as you like, the first product is called Scrumpy and can be rough & ready as it has not gone through the second malactic fermentation that smoothes it out. It is still fermenting so it must go in say PET bottles so it won’t explode on you (shelf life 12mths)

Once all fermentation has finished, you can bottle in glass for longer keeping.

If you like “Still cider” then any wine bottles will do to bottle (long shelf life) or even plastic PET if storing for short periods.

But if you want “Sparkling” then you must use a bottle that can handle the pressure created, for this use your recycled stubbies, or the old style beer bottles ( before crew tops) and use a bottle capper 

The best method is to use Champagne bottles and cap with crown seals, this is worth cellaring to improve with age.

Add 1 teaspoon of brewer’s sugar to a stubbie or 2tss for a 750ml bottle to create bubbles.

Good cider takes about a year to make, don’t expect it to taste like the commercial bought stuff it is a product that will vary depending on ingredients.

In a future issue we will look at making other fruit wines simply at home.

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