Hi all, sorry for my very long introductory post, but I believe it's best to be as accurate as possible with my situation... And who knows, if it turns out ok this could serve as a recipe! (not holding my breath there though).
I've sort of copied a lot of this 'as-is' from my brew diary for this 'project' hence the maybe overly-detailed description.
So, I've made a couple of beer kits which have been very successful (although they're extract kits, so very simple to do). So, I decided to try my hand at making a turbo perry / pear cider.
I saw some other recipes but couldn't source the ingredients locally so I sort of made my own up as I went along, incorporating some info and techniques gathered from numerous other threads and recipes.
My problem is possibly that I've read so many recipes and threads before even trying this that I've taken the wrong combination of ideas from them.
Semi custom turbo pear and apple cider
Started brew Friday 4th May 2012 at 5pm
--- Ingredients ---
12.5l Tesco 100% Pressed Apple Juice (not from concentrate)
2l Sainsbury's Pressed Apple Juice (Sainsburys only had 7l of Apple and Pear juice... had to get another 2l of Apple to get discount for buying multiples of 3)
7l Sainsbury's Pressed English Apple and William Pear juice
1l Welch's 100% White Grape Juice (from concentrate)
12 small Tesco pears (approx 1650g)
2 Tesco Bramley Apples (approx 450g)
10 PG Tips teabags (for tannins)
1.5Kg Silver Spoon Caster Sugar
5g Youngs Cider Yeast (Bayanus strain)
--- Prep ---
Cleaned and sterilised F.V., juicer, potato peeler, stirring spoon, test jar.
Peeled, quartered and cored all apples and pears - placed into stock pot of +70C water as they were peeled and cut to keep clean.
--- Making the mix ---
Stuck all the peeled, quartered and cored all of the apples and pears in a juicer, producing maybe 1/2 litre of juice and 3/4 litre of quite coarse pulp.
Threw all the juice and pulp into primary F.V. (the F.V. without a bottler as it wouldn't be much use with all the pulp and gunk in this mix)
Heated 2l of apple juice to about 80C in a stock pot and completely dissolved 1.5Kg of caster sugar into it. Poured this into F.V.
Poured all juice except for 5.5l of apple juice and the 1l of grape juice into the F.V.
Heated another 2l of apple juice in the stock pot and brewed 10 teabags in it for about 6-7 mins at close to boiling to add some tannins to the mix. Then poured into F.V.
(Total of 18l of shop-bought juice added... Now only 3.5l of apple juice and 1l of grape juice left - saving that for racking off)
I had thought the apples and pears were going to produce more juice and pulp than they did, so the mix ended up at only about 20l total. I was hoping for maybe 2-3l short of the full 25 as I have read that turbo cider fizzes like crazy at the start and the pulp generally tries to climb out of the F.V., so it's a good idea to add the remaining juice later on.
Measured temperature at 24C, so took a starting gravity reading (had to scoop it into test jar as this F.V has no tap - managed to not get much pulp or floaty crap in it)...
--- STARTING GRAVITY ---
Friday 4th May 2012 @ 8PM - 1.070 @ 24C
---- Starting primary fermentation ----
Temperature was OK, so pitched the Youngs Cider yeast straight away.
Placed lid on F.V and added airlock with vodka in it.
Fitted heating belt for 2 hours to boost the temperature a few degrees (to 25-26C) to give the fermentation a kickstart then removed it.
After nearly 3 days (by 7th May), there was still no airlock activity! so I gave the F.V. a good wobble to slosh everything around. Within about an hour the airlock was bubbling like crazy - maybe 3 bubbles per second. Woohoo!
This lasted until some time the next day, so for the next couple of days I gave the F.V. a good wobble first thing in the morning before leaving for work and first thing when I got home from work. It then bubbled fairly steadily for about 7 days.
On day 8 after signs of fermentation started (11th day total) the airlock activity was down to approx 1 bubble per minute, so I took a gravity reading (siphoned from middle of F.V. into test jar):
--- GRAVITY READING ---
15th May 2012 (8th day) @ 7pm - 1.000 @ 20C
I was hoping it wouldn't go quite this low but I've read that cider will ferment all the way to dryness and will require some method of backsweetening if a sweeter final product is required.
At the moment, it's at almost 9.3% ABV but it's 5l short (NOT including pulp and crap) of the full mix so it should dilute down when topped up.
I had a taste of the sample in the test jar and it was really strong... Quite tangy (and a little lumpy!). Obviously I did not expect it to taste nice at all at this stage anyway though.
There was a lot of pukey looking pulp floating at the top, but I could see there was also a lot of stuff at the bottom... The F.V. is opaque so I can't tell if this is the finer stuff at the bottom and the coarse stuff is at the top (read somewhere that that's when to rack?)
**** THIS IS WHERE IT MIGHT GO ALL WRONG ****
--- Racking to secondary ---
15th May @ 7pm I racked the cider to a secondary F.V.
Sterilised the F.V. beforehand, along with all other equipment - new airlock, stirring spoon, hydrometer, siphon tube. Gave the F.V. a very thorough rinse with cold water to remove any trace of steriliser.
Siphoned the cider into the secondary F.V. trying my best not to rack any crap off the bottom. Placed a sterilised funnel under the end of the siphon hose in the secondary F.V. to catch any lumps... Caught quite a lot.
There was still about 5l of junk left in the primary which I couldn't really get any more juice from without pulling a whole load of lumps with it. So the total volume in the secondary was at about 16l. Yeah, this is a long way shorter than I had originally anticipated.
I topped up the secondary with the remaining juice (3.5l of Tesco 100% pressed apple juice and 1l of Welch's 100% white grape juice). This brought it to 21l.
I then heated 4l of water in a stock pot and crushed and dissolved 3 campden tablets into it and added this to the mix to bring the total to 25l. (Why did I add campden? I don't know... my brain just did some weird stuff and suggested to me that 'it should probably have some')
I took another reading at this point..
--- GRAVITY READING AFTER RACKING AND TOPPING UP ---
15th May 2012 (8th day) @ 7pm - 1.010 @ 20C
So it's gone up 10 points.
The mix is very very cloudy... as I expected it would be - That should clear later.
This is where I think I've made a booboo... That extra sugar in the added juice is now going to also ferment, so the cider won't be backsweetened at all - but I don't think this is the stage for backsweetening anyway.
I'm planning to backsweeten before bottling then attempt to pasteurise it (I've read all 51 pages of Pappers' excellent stove top pasteurisation guide and I think I want to have a crack at that - I've also read various other related threads about the dangers of it too!)
But I digress, let's try some maths...
16l of cider at 9.3% with gravity of 1.000 (so I can assume almost fully fermented?) = 1.488l alcohol.
Diluted with additional 9 litres of juice, so currently, before that's fermented, the mix should be around:
100 * (1.488 / 25) = 5.95%
Once those extra 10 points have fermented down, that'll add about an extra 1.3%, assuming it stops at 1.000?
So a total of about 7.2-7.3%? I'd be happy with that.... But I have a strong feeling that my maths is not very good there...
So, to cut an excessivly long story short, how royally have I screwed this up?
- I think the campden was a bad idea.
- Are my final ABV calculations anywhere near correct?
- Am I going to end up with a horrible appley wine?
Thanks to anyone who managed to read to this point without falling asleep.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated,