This year has been filled with many "firsts". I ground and pressed over 50 gallons of fresh cider. I completely wore out the cider press from Cabela's, and had to return it. It had some good design areas, but just bad implementation on other areas of the design. I have designed and will be building my own press this winter.
From all the cider I have three different hard cider batches almost finished. Along with the cider I ventured into wine making with a portion of the remaining cider, and have about 5 gallons of fresh cider in gallon jugs in the freezer for future use or just for drinking.
So, on to the first cider that is ready for bottling, or should I say kegging. I started with 5 gallons of fresh cider and added 1.75 pounds of honey (that was all that was left in the 2 pound jar) and 6 ounces of molasses (again that's all that was left in the bottle). I believe I used the Wyeast 4766 cider yeast activator pack. OG was 1.052.
After a week in the primary, I racked it off the yeast cake, and forced an MLF by adding the Malolactic culture. (spendy stuff) The cider remained on the Malolactic culture for one week then racked to the secondary and kept at 70 - 75degrees for three weeks. I moved the carboy into a fridge at 34* for three days. There was almost no sediment.
I started racking into a clean and sterilized keg, and drew off 2 cups to dissolve 1.75 pounds of Dememera sugar, to help backsweeten the cider. Once the sugar syrup was cool enough, I gently added it to the keg, and finished racking the remainder of the cider on top of it.
I then took the keg and hooked it up to my co2 tank, and pressured it up at 25psi, and shake the heck out of it, (about 60 shakes if I can go that long) then put it in a garbage can with a couple gallons, or so, of water, and drop in several frozen water bottles to help keep everything cold. I shut off the co2, bled the keg, then turned the gas back on and shook it again several hours later. I did that again this morning, and will do it again when I get home tonight. I will let it settle down for an hour or so, then tap off a glass and see how things are progressing. In the mean time, I will put the finishing touches on a bunch of the Grolsh bottles, so I can bottle as much as possible.
The ending gravity was 0.998, and I did not check it after backsweetening with the Dememera sugar. It sure smells wonderful, and the still, and dry sample was pretty good too. I will let you know how this turns out.