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Old 08-04-2009, 02:37 PM   #1
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Default First Cider Attempt - from my apple trees

Hi Guys

I have been doing a lot of Google research and reading round the forum as I wait for my apples to be ready for harvest but I still have a few outstanding questions. If anyone could answer any of them I would be very happy

So far I have brought some


I have also made with bits and bobs round the house
  • An Apple Press

Now my questions
  1. Do I need anything else to get brewing?
  2. How do I work out which apple tree has bitter apples and which one has sweet apples and how many of each shall I use. I have 5 apple trees in my garden all totally different plus many in near gardens which are again different so I am sure I have some good cider apples just telling which one is which is a challenge when I have little apple knowledge. If I do find any that are good people are also more than welcome to come get some! Apples have been a pain to clear up hence the cider making idea
  3. I am aiming for a low alcohol level (4-5%) sweet cider, I have heard that if I just add sugar to the cider it will make the bottles go BANG. Hence I brought the Camden tablets. If I make the cider then add these, then add sugar will it be ok?
  4. How long should it take to ferment - going for this low level of alcohol, also I think the yeast I have is express yeast?


Thanks again and sorry for the long post but I got carried away!
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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It would be difficult to keep the alc. that low unless you dilute, which is anathema to me. Picking the apples less ripe would effect the flavour. The normal level is 6-7% so you shouldn't worry too much about it. One alternative is to sweeten it as you drink it with a little AJ, this would solve both the alcohol and sweetening problems.

You may need a larger container for 5 apple trees!

You need to mill (crush) the apples before pressing, I use a garden mulcher which works well. I got that idea from the river cottage TV show.

Fermentation should be over in a week, I would advise carbonating your cider when bottling.

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Old 08-05-2009, 10:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
It would be difficult to keep the alc. that low unless you dilute, which is anathema to me. Picking the apples less ripe would effect the flavour. The normal level is 6-7% so you shouldn't worry too much about it. One alternative is to sweeten it as you drink it with a little AJ, this would solve both the alcohol and sweetening problems.

You may need a larger container for 5 apple trees!

You need to mill (crush) the apples before pressing, I use a garden mulcher which works well. I got that idea from the river cottage TV show.

Fermentation should be over in a week, I would advise carbonating your cider when bottling.
Hi thanks for your reply

Love the idea of adding extra AJ to weaken it and add sweetness and flavor - is that what companies like Bulmers do then? Because I think there cider is 4.5%?

I think I would need a 1000 liter fermentation tank if I was going to take advantage of all the apples (I clear 2 wheel barrows off the ground is day in apple season)

Even then I know 1 tree is a cooker and one is a hybrid but I am still no further on working out which ones I should use. Any links on working out which apples are which type would be great. Like working out how bitter or sweet they are.

I have an pretty decent food machine that works for pulping - for the first few batches anyway. I will see how well it goes if I goes well the scale can increase

Ok so just to check I

Collect apples when they are ready
take out the stalk and seeds
Pulp them in my food thingy
press them in my home made press
add a Camden tab to kill wild yeast
let it ferment for about a week (but can keep an eye with the hydro meter and it should go to 6%ish)
Then add another Camden tablet and then some more AJ
Then carbonating I need to google
and then I bottel
and then we drink

Thanks
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:35 AM   #4
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A healthy mix of cookers and eaters is the advised way with cider. Personally I'd go for something scrumpy like.

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Old 08-05-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
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How should I go about the mix - trial and error?

Do you reckon if I get a good tasting AJ then I am on the roads to a good tasting cider. So if I press them separately I would try a few glasses of different mixes of juice?

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Old 08-05-2009, 12:07 PM   #6
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my suggestion was to bottle without adding sweetener, then sweeten with AJ as you drink it by adding to your glass. camden by itself won't stop the yeast, you need to use potassium sorbate as well (I think).
I think ciders like bulmers may dilute their juice a bit as well as using concentrate to sweeten. They sterile filter to stop the yeast.

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Old 08-05-2009, 01:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfbf View Post
How should I go about the mix - trial and error?

Do you reckon if I get a good tasting AJ then I am on the roads to a good tasting cider. So if I press them separately I would try a few glasses of different mixes of juice?
I don't think you'd particularly enjoy drinking the juice neat that would make a good traditional cider, it should be a lot tarter than you'd choose to drink.

I think you're looking at a mix of mostly eaters to some cookers, I really don't honestly know the correct proportions as I've only done one cider from pressed apples and they were cookers and the cider was not so good in my eyes, too tart.
I normally use the lidl cloudy apple juices to make my ciders and either add the juice of some bramleys or add in some wine tannin to bring in the tannins and tartness.
I then tend to sweeten it when I go to drink it with some of the fresh apple juice, this makes it a lot easier to do and saves all the stabilisation problems.
That said I go for easy still cloudy scrumpy style ciders and they come out very easy and very good.

Pressing apples is a lot of work by the way, I hope your home made press can manage it.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
my suggestion was to bottle without adding sweetener, then sweeten with AJ as you drink it by adding to your glass. camden by itself won't stop the yeast, you need to use potassium sorbate as well (I think).
Hmm maybe it will not work totally but I think it works quite well from wikipidea anyway...

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablets
Campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulphite) are a sulphur-based product that is used primarily in wine, cider and beer making to kill certain bacteria and to inhibit the growth of most wild yeast
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablets
ampden tablets are also used towards the end of the fermentation process to halt the ferment before all the available sugars are converted by the yeast, hence controlling the amount of residual sweetness in the final product. This balancing between sweet, dry and tart flavors is part of the artistry of wine and cider making.

Quote:
I don't think you'd particularly enjoy drinking the juice neat that would make a good traditional cider, it should be a lot tarter than you'd choose to drink.

I think you're looking at a mix of mostly eaters to some cookers, I really don't honestly know the correct proportions as I've only done one cider from pressed apples and they were cookers and the cider was not so good in my eyes, too tart.
I normally use the lidl cloudy apple juices to make my ciders and either add the juice of some bramleys or add in some wine tannin to bring in the tannins and tartness.
I then tend to sweeten it when I go to drink it with some of the fresh apple juice, this makes it a lot easier to do and saves all the stabilisation problems.
That said I go for easy still cloudy scrumpy style ciders and they come out very easy and very good.

Pressing apples is a lot of work by the way, I hope your home made press can manage it.
Ok so I will aim for a tarter apple juice - then a bit of trial and error. If it is only going to be a week a batch and will get a couple of months of apples I think by the end we may have something good.

What would be the advantage of adding the AJ before drinking rather than at the time of bottling?

And my press should be ok - Would be able to put 2 tons of force on the apples but I reckon my frame should hold between 0.5 and 1 tons so I will go easy and I think that should be enough...

Thanks for all your help guys and I will let you all know how it goes - if anyone has anymore tips feel free to let me know but I will be back for more advice after the first batch is ready!

Cheers
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:42 PM   #9
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Well the advantage of adding the juice before I drink is that I end up with a brew that is about 8.5%, then I can thin this to taste and alcoholic strength without the hassle of having to filter the yeast out or stabilising the brew to stop refermentation when I add more sugar. Basically less chemicals to be added and allows me to mix it to taste.

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Old 08-05-2009, 01:43 PM   #10
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Have a look at Welcome to Jim's Beer Kit! Practical Homebrewing there is actually an article there on traditional Breton cider making, that might help you out. Although as said, personally I like the more scrumpy like brews.

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