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Old 08-03-2013, 04:05 PM   #1
Frink
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Default Making cider with Bramleys

Hi all,

I'm planning to make my first batch of cider this year, having spent the last few years looking wistfully at my apple tree and finally deciding that it's time to look beyond apple crumble.

My tree provides a wonderful crop of Bramleys but the research I've carried out so far tells me that I need (at the very least) a sweet apple in the blend and possible addition of crabapples for tannins.

Bearing in mind that my starting point is Bramleys, does anyone have any good advice as to which varieties (and % mix) I should add to them at the juice extraction stage? I have some neighbours with dessert apple trees so could have access to sweet apples without having to raid Tesco...

Any advice will be received gratefully!!

Many thanks,

Frink.

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Old 08-04-2013, 10:07 AM   #2
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"Tesco?" AHA! You're in the UK, you've a fine chance to make some awesome cider! You'll have better access to REAL cider apples/juice in the UK, than we do in the US. The starting ratio is roughly 1/3 bittersharp, 1/3 bittersweet & 1/3 sweet.
You might start with having a look at this:
http://www.cider.org.uk/content2.htm
Regards, GF.

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Old 08-05-2013, 07:09 PM   #3
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Hi,

Thanks for the advice.

Rumour also has it that a mix of 70% Bramley / 20% Cox / 10% Crabapple will do nicely.

It'll be my first attempt so I'm making a list, checking it twice, hoping that the cider is naughty and nice...

Cheers!

Frink.

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Old 08-29-2014, 07:34 AM   #4
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Hi All,

Just thought I'd provide some feedback about the cider I made last year.

Using advice from various forums and brewers sites, I finally decided on a mix of:
70% Bramleys from my garden
20% Sweet apples from some neighbours
10% Crabapples from some local 'wild' trees

I pressed enough juice to make 5 gallons - each with a slightly different method:

Batch 1:
After filling the demijohn, I put in a crushed Campden tablet to halt the natural fermentation
Then, after a few days, I added yeast. I added more yeast a few days later as there was no sign of fermentation.
Fermentation was slow and virtually ground to a halt after about a month so I racked it.
Fermentation stopped completely after another month so I racked it again, added a crushed Campden tablet and moved it to a cold area to clear.
I bottled it a month later. The total time from pressing juice to bottling was around 100 days.
The resulting cider tasted ok but had a 'home brew', sort of 'yeasty' feel to it - nothing like as tasty as the stuff I buy in shops...

Batch 2
For this one, I didn't add a Campden tablet at the beginning, instead I just added more yeast.
Fermentation went crazy at the beginning but slowed down to the same speed as Batch 1.
I racked and bottled this at the same time as Batch 1.
The final product tasted similar (but a little more tastier) than Batch 1. Still not great though...

Batch 5 (we'll come onto Batches 3 & 4 in a minute)
This was virtually identical to Batch 2 (except that my initial mix was to have a higher % of sweet apples in the juice)
Fermentation was the same pattern as Batch 2 also
After second racking, the cider needed more time to clear so I didn't bottle it until around 200 days after first pressing the juice.
The final product was less 'yeasty' than Batches 1 & 2 but the overall taste was rather weak. A smoother drink but with less flavour...

Batch 3
For this one I decided to leave the original juice in a sealed demijohn without added yeast or a Campden tablet. I wanted to see if the natural yeast would be enough to start fermentation.
Surprisingly, it wasn't, so I added yeast after 4 days.
I racked it about a month later and added sugar, racked again after another month and added more sugar.
The fermentation was steady and went on for ages - around 6 months after the first pressing.
Unlike the earlier batches, this time I didn't add a Campden tablet at this stage.
When I bottled it (around 250 days after juice pressing), there was a bit of mild fizz in there.
The resulting cider was great - tasted smooth, lightly fizzy and not at all yeasty!

Batch 4
This was basically the same as Batch 3 except that I used a slightly higher % of sweet apples.
I also added Campden right at the beginning, then added yeast during week 1.
Like Batch 3, I added sugar when I racked and, like Batch 3, the fermentation went on for a long time.
I didn't add any more Campden tablets before bottling.
I bottled it around 275 days after pressing the juice.
Like Batch 3, the result was smooth, had a very slightly different taste but still a mild fizz. Tasted great!

My conclusions are:
Adding sugar during racking and NOT adding a Campden tablet before bottling improves the feel of the cider, making it taste smoother and also seems to give it a mild fizz.
Adding Campden tablets at the beginning didn't seem to make much of a difference.

My plans for this year are:

Use Batch 3 process to make 2 gallons
Use Batch 4 process to make 2 gallons

I'm also going to try a '100%' Bramleys version just to see what the final flavour is like.
Finally, I'm going to add some clear chilli extract to a batch to see if I can make Chilli Cider.
You never know - it might just be the next big thing...

If you got this far, thanks for reading.
If you didn't, then

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Old 08-29-2014, 08:52 AM   #5
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You seem to have a nutrient deficiency more than what is going on with the camden and your yeasty taste might be that you are not letting it clear enough, what yeast are you using? I imagine your Bramleys are pretty acidic and its a good job adding the sweet apples and a few crabs for tannins. We have a bunch of wildlings and crabs on our farm, lots of fun trying to balance all of them together. WVMJ

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Old 08-29-2014, 11:13 AM   #6
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How much sugar did you use when you racked batches 3 and 4? Thank you for following up on your original post and I can not wait to hear how your chili cider turns out...although I have no idea what clear chilii extract is....I would have just racked a gallon onto a half of a sliced up habanero pepper for a week.

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Old 08-29-2014, 12:19 PM   #7
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Some cider really needs to be backsweetened while others need to be carbonated. Are you testing to see whether carbonation and /or backsweetening might improve the taste of the ones you are less happy with?

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Old 08-30-2014, 07:14 AM   #8
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What is chili extract, the juice from a big bowl of chili? Dont see how that would be good. Now if you used chile pepper extract you probably wont be able to taste the cider. WVMJ

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Old 09-01-2014, 06:52 AM   #9
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Hi All,

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and reply to my musings.

Here are my comments to your replies:


WVMJ:
The yeast I used was Vin Classe - Homebrew and winemaking dried active yeast.

No, I wasn't thinking of putting the juice from a big bowl of chilli into the cider! I was planning to use something like this:

http://www.holylamaspicedrops.com/shop/#!/~/product/category=8765301&id=35894292

Yes - if I put too much in I won't be able to taste the cider, so I was thinking of adding a tiny amount just to give the finished drink a little hit of warmth.

JackofME:
Annoyingly I didn't record exactly how much sugar I put in but it wasn't a huge amount - I basically covered the bottom of a small milk-pan with sugar, covered it in water and warmed it slightly to melt. I would guess there was between 1 and 2 tablespoons of sugar in 1 gallon.
I'll do it again this year and make proper notes...
I also thought about putting a raw chilli in the demijohn - I've added a link above to a place that sells chilli extract so, as it's not expensive, I might try this.

Bernard:
Is backsweetening adding sugar AFTER fermentation is finished? If so, no - I haven't tried this. I still have a few bottles of batch 1 and 2 so I'll give it a go... Thanks!


Thanks again all, please feel free to continue to comment!

Kindest regards,
Frink.

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