Greetings all from Western Australia.
My wife Susy being English we visit UK to see her family every two years and noticed the popularity of cider up there, so we thought to try it out down here in Perth in Western Australia.
Full marks to our local brew shop manager who sent us packing empty handed after we arrived cash in hand to buy some gear. He suggested we do some serious learning before we embarked on this adventure, so we did.
First was the frustration of how to crush and juice the apples. There are many ways but we think we found the best and easiest.
As a subscriber to one of those websites that pops fantastic discount deals in your email box every day, one came up for a "cold press juice extractor". I did some research and discovered that this device was a bit like the old manual meat mincers we used when I was a kid - a spiral shaped wheel squeezes the stuff through holes.
Well this machine was far more advanced than that. It spins at 80 rpm, is almost completely quiet and has two chutes - the juice pours out of one and the compressed waste feeds out of the other.
Now, I am not in any way affiliated with the company who makes this machine, but we chose to try the clean easy way to to crush and squeeze our apples in one simple operation, rather than bang the things with a wooden pole, wrap the pulp up in hessian or net then use a home- made contraption to squeeze the juice out.
So we paid $400 for this Hurom Oscar HU-400 pro juicer, half what it was listed for on the net.
Then we bought a dozen apple dicers on EBay - 11 cheap plastic ones for about $2.00 each delivered from china, and a really good quality German version for about $29.00. Both do similar jobs . They have a ring with 8 stainless steel blades in the ring and a circular blade in the middle . Looks like an old wagon wheel a bit. You put your apple down, take the dicer, put the centre ring on top of the core then press down. In half a second you have eight perfect apple wedges and the core. There is a lot of juice in the core so we used that too.
So Susy and I got into it one afternon after finding a friendly apple farmer in the hills who offered us all the apples we could take for free, as he had completed his harvest and was about to squash any leftovers into the ground. I diced the apples and Susy fed them into the juicer as fast as she could and still the juicer crushed faster than she could feed them in.
Now being a bit of a technical person I logged the entire process and have produced a useful spreadsheet which allows you to put in everything you have done and calculated alcohol levels etc, so here are a few stats for interest:
Weight of fresh Pink Lady apples: 20 Kilograms
Volume of juice extracted: 15 liters
Total time to dice and crush and extract the juice: 1 hr 10 minutes.
Now I reckon that was pretty good going and far easier than wooden logs and buckets to do the job.
As the juice came out of the extractor I poured it straight into the fermenter, through an 8" fine metal sieve, which took out most of the messy froth and the fine bits that had passed through the extractor.
I was using a 15 liter plastic fermenter with a 9" opening at the top, just right to sit the sieve into.
Then I crushed 2 Camden tabs and added 3 grms of Pectinol enzyme.
I took my packet of champagne yeast and put it in a large glass of warm water at 24 deg C and stirred it and left it for 40 minutes, then poured it into the fermenter and put the lid on - be careful with these fermenters as you will have to put olive oil or similar around the rubber "o" ring to seal it or you may get air leaks.
Then, an airlock in the top and into the laundry.
Starting SG was 1.060 for potential alcohol of 7.8%.
Fermentation really started after 3 days at an ambient temperature of 22 deg C.
A week later all was deadly still so I dared to have a taste.
Aaargghh! It tasted like battery acid. What had I done wrong? Well, nothing. Once all of the natural sugars have been fermented of course the flavour is going to change.
So I read somewhere that the cider should be left for some time for malolactic fermentation to start and mellow the product.
So I racked the juice off into glass. The fermenter has a tap at the bottom which is positioned just slightly above the lees and yeast which had sunk to the bottom of the fermenter, so a little bit of yeast came with the juice into the glass, which is apparently important if you want to make sparkling cider.
Then I poured the juice straight back into the now cleaned fermenter, added water to fill it to the top then put the airlock back in and put the lid back on.
Last week I dared to sneak another taste.
Well bugger me - the juice now tasted like..........cider !! Very very DRY cider but a jolly lot nicer than it had the week before.
So we have been sitting the cider or another week, SG is 1.000, alcohol is 7.8% and pH is 3.6, exactly where we want it to be.
Next week we are going to doctor our cider with sugar syrup to take the edge off the dryness, mut not enough to turn it sweet.
Stay tuned for the further adventures of Cliff And Susan 's first batch of cider. Email [email protected]