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Old 05-01-2009, 11:02 PM   #1
gregbathurst
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Default Making cider from fresh apples.


How to make cider out of fresh apples.

The Apples:

Any apples can make good cider so long as they are sweet and ripe and not rotten. Dessert, cider, cooking, crab or wild can all go in, and windfalls are usually fine because the stem doesn't weaken till the apples are ripe. Cider apples are used because they are easy to process and have known taste qualities. Crab and wild apples can give tannins which add complexity and bite to the flavour. Apples less than about 3cm in diameter are not usually worth processing but it is possible. Dessert pears can be used but not by themselves, preferably no more than 30% pears because they are very low in acidity and flavour.
Fruit should be fresh and ripe so that they are sweet to taste. Firmness is a good indicator of ripeness. If the flesh pushes in easily they are getting ripe. Green apples have a sour, astringent taste. When this sourness turns to sweetness they are ready.In technical terms if you test the juice the brix should be 13 (SG 1.055) or above and the pH 3.0 - 3.6. Apples don't taste sweet until the brix is at least 10 so taste is a good indicator. Another good indicator is fruit fly; when they start to turn the flesh a bit brown the apples are ripe and you better mill them quick. Apples stung by fruit fly are OK if you get them early.
Also recently I heard that waiting till they start to fall is a good indication. when 30% of the apples have fallen, you can harvest the rest. One way is to get a hook on a long pole and shake the branches until the rest of the apples fall. You may not be able to get them to this stage, but if they do start to fall its time to harvest.
Some people say you shouldn't use fruit that has been on the ground. To these people I say "get over it!" All cider apples are harvested from the ground; No-one is going to pay pickers to pick cider apples, the economics just don't work. If an apple has been on the ground but still looks sound it will be fine. Many commercial cider makers don't even inspect their apples. They get a wash and thats it, grubs, bruises etc it all goes in. The earth is the source of all the goodness in cider, its not a poison that has to be avoided at all cost.

Milling:

Once the apples are ready they should be milled straight away.Some people say to leave them to soften but if they have bugs or bruises they are unlikely to improve. If you have let them fall or shaken them down they will be bruised and need to be processed straight away. Cleaning is not necessary unless the apples are very muddy or dirty. It is best to pick in dry weather and fruit that falls on the ground is fine unless they pick up mud. Fermentation is great for settling out dirt and rubbish. Wine grapes are never cleaned but sometimes they are covered in insects and rubbish - it really doesn't matter.

I do the milling with a garden mulcher. Just clean the internals thoroughly with soap and water and a scrubbing brush, then put a bucket under the discharge shute to catch the ground up apple. If you're not sure about how clean it is discard the first bit. If it is clogging or not working, cut large apples in half and this will help them go through.

Pressing:

It is possible to make your own press with a car jack and a sturdy frame. The frame needs two ends to take the pressure of the jack. You may be able to find a ready-made frame, I use an old steel work bench. You need at least 40cm between the top and bottom to fit the jack and the boards. Otherwise make a sturdy frame from timber and steel, or borrow a press if you can. You can google for instructions on building a cider press, and there are good videos on youtube to show how to mill and press apples. Basically, the apple mush is wrapped in cloth (muslin or mossie net) and placed between boards in layers and then pressed. The whole thing has to be off the ground so the juice can be collected. I get a yield of about 50%, ie. for every 10 kg of apples pressed I get about 5 litres of juice, a yield between 40-60% is good.
Pressing is hard work but rewarding. I can press 10-15 litres per hour, this year I made 150L which was a lot of work.

Primary ferment:

It is good to test the juice for specific gravity and pH before fermentation but not absolutely necessary.
If you can start the ferment straight away there is no need to use SO2 (camden tablets). If you have to leave the juice for more than an hour or two you should add camden tablets for 50ppm to supress wild yeasts which will start to work. It is fine to just add the camden tablets anyway if you want to be on the safe side. Containers for beer brewing are fine, should be thoroughly cleaned.
Champagne yeast is good to use, otherwise any wine yeast should be fine. It is important to rehydrate the yeast in 35 degree warm water, pitching the dry yeast straight in as beer brewers do will work but the ferment will start much slower.
Once the ferment starts it will take a week or more. Keep the cider at an even temperature, 18-25 degrees. You can test the specific gravity with a hydrometer to follow the progress of the ferment. During fermentation lots of CO2 is produced which protects the cider from oxidation and acetification. A fermentation lock, which is an airlock with water in, is a good way to monitor the ferment, when it stops bubblin the ferment is finishing. Once the ferment is over there is extreme danger from oxidation and acetic acid bacteria so leave it alone unless you have to add stuff.

Malo-lactic fermentation:

Apples are very high in malic acid ( the word malic comes from malus, the botanic name for apples). Malic acid has a sour taste and can ferment into lactic acid via various bacteria. It is better to control this ferment because it may well happen anyway with undesirable results. This is called malo-lactic fermantation, or malo for short(MLF). After malo the sourness will be gone and the cider will taste much softer, also the pH will rise. If you like your cider sour then don't do a malo. Malic acid is used in "sour" candy to give it that mouth puckering taste. To do a malo you have to buy special bacterial culture, called oenococcus or lactic acid bacteria ( LAB ). I buy a sachet from winequip which is $35. The amount needed is tiny so if you know someone who works in a winery try to cadge some, a quarter of a teaspoon will do 50L. The bacteria should be rehydrated in warm water.
MLF produces CO2 which will protect the cider, so the end of primary fermentation is a perfect time to add the LAB, you will get a further week or two of protection from oxidation. MLF is not necessary but desirable.

Storage:

After fermentation the cider should be stored to allow impurities to settle. You can rack to a secondary container or leave in primary. Two weeks of storage should be plenty. If you want to leave it longer you should definitely rack to secondary, but carbonation might be more difficult if the yeast all settle out. During this time, exposure to oxygen via air will be very harmful. To reduce air contact the empty space in the container (ullage) should be as small as possible and the container opened as little as possible or never. Camden tablets will help protect the cider but will inhibit MLF so should only be used after MLF has finished. If you have a small airspace and you don't open the container you shouldn't need camden tablets.

Bottling:

Bottling cider is exactly the same as bottling home-brew beer, if you want it sparkling. Sparkling cider will keep better, if you want still cider add camden tablets just before bottling. (Camden tablets are only effective at a ph of 3.8 or lower. add tartaric acid to adjust the ph).I add 1 teaspoon of cane sugar to each 750ml bottle. You can add a sugar solution to the cider direct in one go to save fiddling around with teaspoons. After storage and settling there won't be much yeast left in the cider so the fizz will take a couple of weeks to develop. Leave the bottles in a warm place above 20 degrees for the yeast to work.

Drinking:

Cider will be ok to drink soon after bottling but the flavour will improve with time. If you have used cider apples or crab apples with good tannins, the tannins take months to soften and become more complex so 3 months would be a minimum time to wait before drinking. If you have used dessert or cooking apples the cider will improve with time but not as much, so it is ok to drink the cider sooner. Even if you want to wait for the cider to improve it is good to "sample" it regularly to monitor flavour development.
Cider made from fully ripe apples will have alcohol content of 7-8% so be careful how much you drink!

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Old 05-01-2009, 11:50 PM   #2
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great writeup! Love using the garden miller. Ill have to try that when/if i do a batch with real apples. Thankyou!

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Old 08-20-2009, 01:26 PM   #3
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What type of muncher do you have? Would a tiny electric one work?

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Old 08-21-2009, 06:05 AM   #4
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My mulcher is electric, 1.3kilowatt which is 1.75 horsepower. You should sharpen the blades if you can, clean it well and if you have trouble cut the apples smaller. Some of my apples are quite large so I cut them in half.

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Old 08-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #5
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I have been using a food blender - Takes about an 1.5 hours to blend enough for 4 gallons. Mulchers are only about £20 on ebay so maybe next apple season I will invest.

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Old 09-10-2009, 12:10 AM   #6
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I'm getting ready to crush a couple boxes of ripe pears tonight from my Bartlett's pear tree . The pears are huge but really ripe and juicy. Wish me luck! This website has a lot of valuable info scattered around. Sparkling Perry cider here I come!
Fermenter 1!- 5 gal blackberry wine
Fermenter 2- 5 gal blackberry wine
Fermenter 3 - filling tonight! 4 gal. perry

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Old 09-10-2009, 07:02 AM   #7
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In the UK years ago they had a drink called babycham, made from pears. (you can read about it on wikipedia) It was regarded as a girls drink, don't let that put you off.

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Old 11-29-2010, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
How to make cider out of fresh apples.

The Apples:

Any apples can make good cider so long as they are sweet and ripe and not rotten. Dessert, cider, cooking, crab or wild can all go in, and windfalls are usually fine because the stem doesn't weaken till the apples are ripe

Windfalls generally don't fall because they are ripe, they fall because their is something wrong with them, coddling moth, apple maggot, rotting beginning or any list of other ailments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
Cider apples are used because they are easy to process and have known taste qualities. Crab and wild apples can give tannins which add complexity and bite to the flavour. Apples less than about 3cm in diameter are not usually worth processing but it is possible.
Any size apple can be processed - they go into a shredder - what is the didference in 10 or 3 cm?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
Dessert pears can be used but not by themselves, preferably no more than 30% pears because they are very low in acidity and flavour.
Fruit should be fresh and ripe so that they are sweet to taste. Firmness is a good indicator of ripeness. If the flesh pushes in easily they are getting ripe.

This is misinformation - pears ripen from the inside out. To test for ripeness you touch the tip near the stem, if it is soft you pick off the tree. If they are left on the tree too long they will feel firm on the outside and be mushy and overripe in the middle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
Green apples have a sour, astringent taste. When this sourness turns to sweetness they are ready.

All unripe apples of all colors have a sour taste

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
In technical terms if you test the juice the brix should be 13 (SG 1.055) or above and the pH 3.0 - 3.6. Apples don't taste sweet until the brix is at least 10 so taste is a good indicator. Another good indicator is fruit fly; when they start to turn the flesh a bit brown the apples are ripe and you better mill them quick. Apples stung by fruit fly are OK if you get them early.
Also recently I heard that waiting till they start to fall is a good indication.

Waiting until fall or a frost is only relevant with certain apple varieties

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
when 30% of the apples have fallen, you can harvest the rest. One way is to get a hook on a long pole and shake the branches until the rest of the apples fall. You may not be able to get them to this stage, but if they do start to fall its time to harvest.
Some people say you shouldn't use fruit that has been on the ground. To these people I say "get over it!" All cider apples are harvested from the ground;

Simply untrue. The largest producers of cider use "seconds" and never use "drops". I would use drops to make drinking cider, but if you plan to ferment it can cause serious flavor issues. The real issue with drops is the development of acetic yeasts and animal droppings and contamination (ecoli I believe). Using drops is what caused the big cider scare in the states which pushed legislation that disallows the sale of unpasturiazed cider at commercial cideries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
No-one is going to pay pickers to pick cider apples, the economics just don't work. If an apple has been on the ground but still looks sound it will be fine. Many commercial cider makers don't even inspect their apples. They get a wash and thats it, grubs, bruises etc it all goes in. The earth is the source of all the goodness in cider, its not a poison that has to be avoided at all cost.

Milling:

Once the apples are ready they should be milled straight away.Some people say to leave them to soften but if they have bugs or bruises they are unlikely to improve. If you have let them fall or shaken them down they will be bruised and need to be processed straight away. Cleaning is not necessary unless the apples are very muddy or dirty. It is best to pick in dry weather and fruit that falls on the ground is fine unless they pick up mud. Fermentation is great for settling out dirt and rubbish. Wine grapes are never cleaned but sometimes they are covered in insects and rubbish - it really doesn't matter.
To optimize the conversion of starches into sugar you should heap the apples for about 4-7 days or so.


I stopped at "primary ferment" because this became tiring. Seriously, if you don't have real knowledge and are reading web postings and pawning off the information as your own, save it for yourself. You had written this article as if it was truth and you were an authority on the subject. Clearly you know very little in application, but think you know it in theory.

It doesn' help anyone when you get on a pulpit and have misinformative rant.

My experience: We press about 200 gallons a year by hand. We ferment about half, keep 20 gallons or more for drinking and give the rest away to friends. We grow our own apples and buy from a commercial seller to supplemement. But hey..., I am probably just shooting from the hip here....
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:20 PM   #9
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Hey, its good to get feedback from a fellow fresh cider person. Since I have posted this I have learnt more about cider and will try to answer some of your points.

"Windfalls generally don't fall because they are ripe, they fall because their is something wrong with them, coddling moth, apple maggot, rotting beginning or any list of other ailments. "

This may be a valid point. One one hand early season or "damaged" fruit will fall early, but late season fruit may hang on the tree for a while. If like me youdon't spray your fruit, most of it will be damaged in some way.

"Any size apple can be processed - they go into a shredder - what is the didference in 10 or 3 cm?"

Just the volume of fruit - tiny apples don't give much juice but require a lot of effort, I don't think they are worth the effort.

"This is misinformation - pears ripen from the inside out. To test for ripeness you touch the tip near the stem, if it is soft you pick off the tree. If they are left on the tree too long they will feel firm on the outside and be mushy and overripe in the middle."

I was talking about apples here, though you didn't notice I started a new paragraph. I think pears should be picked while still firm, they are easier to process then.

"All unripe apples of all colors have a sour taste"

By green I meant unripe, not the colour.

"Simply untrue. The largest producers of cider use "seconds" and never use "drops". I would use drops to make drinking cider, but if you plan to ferment it can cause serious flavor issues. The real issue with drops is the development of acetic yeasts and animal droppings and contamination (ecoli I believe). Using drops is what caused the big cider scare in the states which pushed legislation that disallows the sale of unpasturiazed cider at commercial cideries."

Now here I disagree with you, but it's a cultural thing. The use of seconds for cider is normal for commercial operations, but these apples were picked early and haven't developed full flavour. No grower of fruit for market will let their fruit ripen fully because it won't store that way. In the UK a lot of cider is made from orchards grown specifically for cider, and the fruit is allowed to fully ripen. This fruit is shaken to the ground and harvested by sweepers. Of course if you have animal droppings on the ground thats another matter, but common sense should prevail. I keep my orchard floor pretty clean. And don't forget the difference between cider(juice) and hard cider.

"To optimize the conversion of starches into sugar you should heap the apples for about 4-7 days or so."

Yeah, you can do this, but it isn't at all necessary, and dangerous if your fruit has some insects in it.

"I stopped at "primary ferment" because this became tiring. Seriously, if you don't have real knowledge and are reading web postings and pawning off the information as your own, save it for yourself. You had written this article as if it was truth and you were an authority on the subject. Clearly you know very little in application, but think you know it in theory.

It doesn' help anyone when you get on a pulpit and have misinformative rant. "

Hey man, now your just getting nasty. This is all from my own experience, I just posted it to give people advice from my experience. I have a degree in viticulture and work in the wine industry so I do know some stuff, maybe more than you. I think the term rant applies more to you than me. I don't think a fairly obscure recipe forum like this qualifies as a pulpit.

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