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Old 09-23-2010, 02:05 PM   #1
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Default Extracting cider without a press/fermentation bucket/room temp?

I would like to try my hand at making a gallon or so of hard cider, and have a Time Life Good Cook series that gives the basics. I do not have a wine press. When I extracted juice from raspberries and strawberries, I simply put 'em in a processor, then pushed the mess through a sieve.

I'm thinking apples would be a tiny bit harder to press through a sieve. Do I need a wine press or cider press? If I cut the apples and process them, can I push through a sieve? Or how do I go about extracting the juice without picking up pricey equipment? (not sure if I like hard cider, so would rather try a small batch first before spending cash).

I've read posts about starting with apple juice or preservative-free cider and may go that route if I can't figure out how to do it from raw materials. Which brings us to another question. I have a 7.5 gallon fermentation bucket. Would that be too much headspace with the lid closed and airlock in place? Should I just ferment in a one gallon glass jug?

And finally - I live in Georgia. I will not be able to ferment inside the house (not a Georgia thing, just a SWMBO thing!). I will be clearing a space in the garage. I have a thermometer there, and the temps have been a steady 75 degrees. Do I need to wait until it gets a little cooler?

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Old 09-23-2010, 02:19 PM   #2
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I don't have a press either! What I do is freeze the apples first in big plastic bags. It makes it easier to smash them up. You don't want to use a food processer, because you don't want to crush the seeds.

After they are frozen, you can take them and put them in big mesh bags. They are available at any homebrew store. I got the great big ones that line my primary. I weigh the apples, then pour them still frozen into the mesh bags. I tie off the bags, and let them thaw. I use a heavy mash paddle (sanitized) to break them up. I then add the campden (sulfites) in a tiny bit of boiling water and stir well. Twelve hours later, I add the pectic enzyme, and twelve hours after that I add the yeast. I stir and smash a couple of times a day, and after about 5 days I pull out the bags and just squeeze them until no more liquid drips out.

It's not that much of a pain, but it can be messy! Just make sure everything that touches the apples is sanitized- your hands, a strainer, etc, whatever you use.

I use an open primary with tons of headspace- that's fine. It makes it easier to stir and to squeeze out the mesh bags. I do it indoors, though, so my primary is just covered with a towel. If it's in the garage, you may have to worry more about fruitflies and other insects so you may want to cover it with a lid and airlock.

After the fruit is removed, the juice can be then be transferred to an appropriately sized fermenter. Be advised that at this first transfer apples throw down a TON of lees. I have some cider now that probably has 3 inches of lees in a 5 gallon carboy after the first transfer! On the next transfer, though, it should be far less in the way of lees. I'd save out some apple juice for "topping up" during these transfers. Some frozen juice from the original "smashing up" would be ok, or you could top up with some commercial juice. After that, you should be fine!

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Old 09-23-2010, 05:32 PM   #3
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Thanks! Picked up mesh bags, pectic enzyme, camden tablets. Will just go between my fermentation bucket and one gallon jug for transferring. Will hold off on a carboy for now. Apple season is starting in the North Georgia mountains - so trying to decide between visiting an orchard (and maybe taking a nice long country drive in my '65 Rambler sedan!) or just visiting the grocery store.

I'm thinking heading to apple country might make the whole process a lot more fun.

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Old 09-23-2010, 06:48 PM   #4
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You need a ton of apples to get much juice. I think they say 11-15 pounds of apples per gallon of juice. Grocery store might get a bit expensive like that.

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Old 09-24-2010, 01:49 AM   #5
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I press 70-80lbs of apples to fill a 5 gallon bucket.

callmebruce, if you're headed out to "apple country" anyhow, why not find an orchard that's pressing cider and just get some from them? Most places will fill up a pail or carboy right from the press, and usually at a discount from what they charge in their shop.

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Old 09-25-2010, 08:35 PM   #6
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Didn't make the trip to apple country, darn. Did make a run to The Whole Paycheck store (Whole Foods). Picked up some Honeycrisp, Gala, Mcintosh, Red Delicious and Rome apples. Also picked up a gallon of fresh-pressed cider for topping off.

Used it as a good excuse for picking up a heavy mash paddle!

Next time I'll get cheaper apples. I just weighed the time and expense of heading "up country" versus heading to the grocery store.

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Old 09-28-2010, 10:39 PM   #7
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I chopped up 10 pounds of apples and put 'em in the bucket. I added a quart of fresh cider from Harry's Farmer's Market (Whole Foods). Added 1 campden tablet crushed with a little bit of boiled and cooled water. 12 hours later added pectic enzyme (just a couple drops - wasn't sure how much to use). Then figured, what the heck - and simply added the whole gallon of cider. Added Nottingham Ale yeast 24 hours after putting the mashed up apples in the bucket. Added a tablespoon of lemon juice.

It's happily bubbling away. I opened the bucket yesterday to mash up the apples a little more (with a sanitized potato masher). Will open the bucket once a day to work the apples with a sanitized masher.

Well - not sure if I'll get juice from the apples I cut and tossed in. Hoping I do good at extracting juice from them. But at least I KNOW I have a gallon of good cider in there and hope opening the bucket once a day to work the apples with a sanitized masher won't introduce any bugs into the mix.

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Old 10-02-2010, 05:20 PM   #8
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Reading 1.004 at 65 degrees. I took some out of the spigot, popped it in the hydrometer tube, measured it and tasted it. Getting there! Sour - but from reading the wiki and stickies, that's to be expected this early in the game. Hoping I measured right - first time using a hydrometer.

Planning on hooking a syphon hose to the spigot, running it through a funnel and filter and popping it into one gallon glass bottles tonight or tomorrow. For the pulpy stuff, I'll squeeze it in the mesh bag to try and pull some juice out of it.

I picked up some Mott's Natural Apple Juice today. Should I use that to top off the glass bottles, giving me a full two gallons, save the Mott's for bottle carb'ing it, or skip the Mott's and maybe pick up another bottle of fresh cider from Whole Foods Market to top off tonight, and save some for bottle carbing? I tried some Woodpecker cider - and liked that. Haven't tried other ciders - so not sure if I prefer sweet or dry. I'm thinking sweet.

Back to reading wikis and stickies. I think I should have read more before starting!

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Old 10-02-2010, 06:21 PM   #9
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You don't want to bottle it like that! You'll oxidize the heck out of it. You wait until the solids fall to the bottom and then gently siphon off of the sediment. Not to mention that since it's not done fermenting, you'll have bottle bombs.

Wait until it starts to clear and until you can tell that it's done by stable SG readings,

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Old 10-02-2010, 10:56 PM   #10
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Dang. Listen to Yooper and other mods. Wait for an answer.

Well, rather than being smart and waiting and listening, I siphoned to sanitized one gallon glass bottles. The chunky stuff was in a mesh bag. I squeezed that out. Kept the juice, left the pulp behind. Came out to just under two gallons. I put fermentation locks on both bottles and am hoping I did not over aerate it.

My plan is to let them ferment in the one gallon glass bottles with locks for approximately two weeks (or when they look clearer and readings stabilize), then put them in 12 ounce bottles.

The mesh bag did the trick - I got about 3/4's of a gallon of juice out of the 10 pounds of apple pulp in the mesh bag after squeezing. Could have got a little more, but decided that was good.

So - 1 gallon of fresh squeezed cider, and appr. 3/4's of a gallon from apples that were cut thin and mashed daily. And a big ol' bunch of pulp. If it is over oxidized, will I taste it early (like next week after taking another reading), or will it not show up until the process is complete?

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