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Old 08-15-2012, 10:35 AM   #1
MattHollingsworth
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Default experienced brewer, first time cider questions

Hey guys.

So, I've been brewing beer for 15 years, so I know all of those techniques. Started making mead last year as well, but have only made 4 batches of that. All are tasty, so working out well.

We bought a little piece of land this year to build our house on in a few years. We're saving the money for building and won't be doing it for a few years and currently on that land we have an apple orchard that was already there when we bought the land. There are a bunch of trees there. Haven't counted them, but I'd guess maybe 15 or so. Seems to be two types of apples, one of them a bit more yellow/green and one of them a sort of mixed pattern with red mixed in there. We're in Croatia and these are local apples. I can ask further about identifying them as my wife may have an idea.

I'm not a huge fan of apples. These taste okay but a bit sour-ish. Not really super sweet or anything.

There's not a chance in hell we can eat all of these apples and they're already starting to fall off the trees on some trees. So, guess they're maybe a kind of early apple as I thought apples were for September. Anyway, since we can't eat all of them, I figured I might make some cider. Yes, I am not really that into apples but I figured might as well make some cider, see if we like it and if not I can give some away anyway.

That said, looking for some advice. I've read around a bit online, but looking for additional info. A lot of noob info is about starting with juice. We'll start with fruit. I don't want to get into mass production, but thought I could make some cider to see if these apples are any good for it. I thought because they're maybe more tannic and sour that they might actually make a good cider with some complexity

That said, if I wanted to make a few test batches of 20 liters or something, here are the questions for now:

Should I just use our kitchen food processor to pulp these guys? If not, what *should* I use? I don't want to spend a bunch of money on equipment.

For pressing, I'll check the price on local grape presses, though might not want to spend the money. I've seen some videos of pressing with cheese cloth and pieces of wood and with clamps and stuff. Ideas for this are appreciated.

Usual brewing technique with cider, ie no splashing post fermentation, aerate well for the yeast before fermentation, etc etc?

I thought I might make a few batches and try the two apples separately, maybe try wild yeast on the apples, a beer yeast and a wine yeast to see the differences. Might try a Saison yeast as I'll be harvesting some from a beer fermentation here soon.

Add sugar or honey pre fermentation, or not? Without these, how strong should I expect the cider to be? Use nutrients for the yeast?

Anyway, any insights, thoughts, links for further reading, etc are all greatly appreciated. Thanks!



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Old 08-15-2012, 11:39 AM   #2
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sour is ok! tannic is great but not to be confused with sour. a blend of sour, sweet and tannic would be ideal. sweet apples give lots of fermentables but often not much flavor.
if your apples are low in sugar and you can't mix in some sweet apples to up the OG you can supplement with sugar. in my experience apples that don't taste at all sweet tend to give juice that is 1.035-1.040 ish, sweeter apples can go up to around 1.060. you can decide what final alcohol percentage you want, and then back calculate through a standard online alc % calculator to determine what OG to start with. the sugar is 100% fermantable, so put in somewhere between 1.000 and 0.996 as your FG (i tend not to measure final gravity but it should be just below 1), and try different OGs until you get your desired abv %. add some sort of sugar to get to that number. if my juice blend gives above 1.050 i leave it, i'm happy with 6+% abv, if it's really low (<1.040) i generally beef it up with plain sugar to give 7-8% abv. for a sparkling dry cider (my favorite) i ferment until it's really slowing down, rack once to a glass vessel with minimal headspace, then age the cider out for at least 6 months. then bottle condition, same as for beer. i have made really nice sharp dry ciders with unknown sour apples (lots of malic acid), a few crabapples (lots of tannin), sugar, beer yeast, 8-10 months. you can add yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme as well but neither is strictly necessary, and it doesn't hurt to sulfite the juice with a small dose of potassium metabisulfite, to 100 or so ppm upon pressing / juicing. your native yeasts can still ferment after this dose but other fungi and bacteria will be knocked back.
i advocate the use of a good old cheap kitchen juicer for smaller scale cider making (i have to make most of my cider in my apartment kitchen). it's not super efficient and it's not very practical if you have 2 trees, but for setting up a round of experiments on 5-10 liter batches it's ok. if you are going to use/make a press bear in mind you still need a scatter to coarsely grind the apples first, you will go crazy trying to do that in a food processor for > 20 L
i don't aerate. without boiling there will be plenty of o2 in solution, especially after a vigorous pressing/juicing.



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Old 08-15-2012, 11:56 AM   #3
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have you thought about adding a couple hives to your property? you should talk around and find sum local bee keepers and make a deal for free honey

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Old 08-15-2012, 12:00 PM   #4
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Awesome. Thanks for the info.

So, you're using a kitchen juicer and just getting your juice straight out of that rather than the 2 step process of crushing, then pressing? Works well?

What we have is a food processor and not really a juicer, though I don't actually know the difference. This thing has various attachments. With juicers, I'm only really familiar with orange juicers. What's yours like? Does it just destroy the fruit, tearing it apart and yielding pulpy juice that you then filter?

Talked to my wife about this a bit. She said, for one thing, that those apples aren't ripe yet, so hence the sour note I guess. I am picking up tannin from the skins when I chew them. She said that in the local area, these large groups of trees are usually planted using apples for cooking, not regular sweet eating apples. So, these are likely more intended for preserves, pies and even brandy. She doesn't recognize these specific apples, though. They're sort of smallish in size.

100ppm of meta won't kill wild yeast??? Didn't know that. I almost never use it, only used it once. With meads, I do a no heat, no sulfite technique. Used sulfite in combination with sorbate when I backsweetened a cherry mead, but that's it.

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Old 08-15-2012, 12:43 PM   #5
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centrifugal juicer. like the picture only cheaper. it grinds the fruit on a spinning grater and then spins some of the juice out of it, all in one. small apples go right in, big ones get quartered. it clogs up sometimes, it's not ideal, but it works. the juice comes out really clear, but with a big foamy cap that you want to skim off or it turns mucky. these juicers are great for firm things like carrots and firmer apples, ginger, stuff like that. (those three together make an excellent breakfast drink btw). but i'm sure others will comment about building a nice easy press with a car jack. i would do that if i had the space, and leave the juicer for breakfast. but to do a few side-by-side small batches to test out your apple varieties and some yeasts, it'll do the trick. i would pick some when they're ripe, juice them, taste the juice! if they are like granny smith tart then it's going to be pretty puckery cider, but maybe you can find a nice blend.
from my experience you can sulfite, leave it, and the wild yeast will always take off in a few days.



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Old 08-15-2012, 01:38 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the comments. I don't think I'll buy a juicer for this. It wouldn't likely cost any more to just buy a grape press and I'm not so concerned about space. Electronics are expensive here. I'll check, just in case, though.

But now my concern is how to best pulp the apples. Ideas, anyone? What's the most efficient way?

There are lots of beekeepers here but I don't think there's a shortage of places to "graze" them, as it were. Bit late for this year for apples anyway, but I'll ask around to the guys who I buy honey from for mead. You never know.

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Old 08-15-2012, 02:59 PM   #7
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Quick look online reveals those presses might be hugely expensive. I'll see at the store. But I might go the juicer route afterall. I don't want to spend much money on this.

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:06 PM   #8
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A pulping alternative I have heard is to affix a garbage disposal to a utility sink and put the apples through it into a bucket. Sounds horribly kludgy, but if you kept everything super clean I don't know why it wouldn't work. I'm sure at least one person here has tried this method and can attest to its success/failure.

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Old 08-15-2012, 09:50 PM   #9
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This place offers relatively inexpensive homebuilt equipment plans. http://www.whizbangcider.com/2009/01/whizbang-cider-press-parts.html

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadymi View Post
This place offers relatively inexpensive homebuilt equipment plans. http://www.whizbangcider.com/2009/01/whizbang-cider-press-parts.html
I don't do much mail order from the States, but thanks.

For the moment, I'll see what the local juicers are like. Could be useful for some micro tests.


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