I'm brand new to this site. I recently bottled my first batch of cider... well my first batch of anything to be exact. I had watched a few friends brew beer, and since there was so much homebrew beer in my life, I decided to diversify a bit and try a cider.
I'm ashamed I didn't do a lot of research. I used the basics of santizing and brewing I'd learned from watching the beer-making and used this
simple, hard cider recipe as a guide.
My process went a bit like this:
-On December 13, I simmered my 5 gallons of unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider that I got at a local orchard. I'm not certain what kind of apples were used. That's something I'm going to investigate before my next attempt. I dissolved in 2lbs of orange blossom honey at about 200 degrees for 45 minutes, using two pots, one large and one small, stainless steel pasta pot. The small pot formed a cloud of gunk in the middle. I believe this is called a "break"? The large pot did not have this happen. I didn't filter out any of the solids.
-I cooled it to about 90 degrees, using an ice bath in the sink, and my yeast starter of Red Star Cote des Blancs and Simply Apple from the day before was added, already fizzing away.
-I used a "brew bucket" rather than a glass carboy, since it was in good shape and what I had available to me.
-Several hours after seeling up the bucket, I cracked it open, and my boyfriend helped me take the OG, 1.07. We tasted the concoction. It tasted like apples and honey and already smelled like booze.
-After 24 hours, there were no signs of bobbing in the airlock and a distinct sulphur smell. I started to panic, but my boyfriend told me the plastic buckets sometimes loosen up and release the co2 so bobbing doesn't happen, and a quick google search called the sulphur smell "rhino farts", and told me they were pretty common in cider brewing. I calmed down enough to leave it the heck alone for a few weeks. The thermometer on the bucket remained pretty steady between 60-65F.
-I opted not to secondary, largely do to the fact that I didn't have a second fermentor, and on January 10, 4 weeks later, I bottled, adding about 2/3 a cub of honey dissolved into boiling water to the bottling bucket for carbonation. The TG was .998. If the math was right, that gives me about 9% alc. I tasted it. It was still very green, very tart, bordering on sour and a bit watery, but with a rather nice, fresh apple aftertaste. The bottles are stored in a pantry that does not have any radiators, and we keep the house between 60-65F.
-On January 28, after 18 days in the bottle, I cracked one open. It was effectively carbonated. Not a heavy carbonation, but a nice fizzle. A lot of the watery taste it had was gone, and the harsh sour bite it had on bottling day had mellowed quite a bit. It was still tart rather than sweet. It'll be interesting to see how time treats it. Decidedly drinkable, it gave me a buzz comparable to a large glass of red wine.
I've already picked up a few ideas about what I could have done differently such as finding out what kind of apples are used in the cider press and using a different yeast next time around. It also looks as though I could have used a lot more honey. I'm interested to hear your thoughts and suggestions.