This is my first post here, AND the first attempt by my husband and myself at brewing cider (or indeed anything). It was just about 9 litres (2.3 gallons) from our tree, which I think is granny smith or something similar. It started off quite informally, like the beer and "champagne"s on River Cottage: simply strained juice from the washed and sorted apples, + bought cider yeast, brewing in two covered buckets. We soon started to worry a little more about it, and after a week moved it to secondary fermentation two sealed buckets with air locks. We have a bunch of Grolsch bottles to put it in after a while, when the hyrometer readings are consistent (we didn't measure, or indeed own a hydrometer, at the start of the process and so are now looking for consistency rather than any specific figure).
I plan to experiment much more with this and make it a regular thing, we've bought campden tablets for next time we use juiced apples, and will be buying proper demijohns etc, which is very exciting! This first batch should be quite dry, but we both tend to like cider dry anyhow, and can always balance the sweetness in the glass. I plan to put half a teaspoon of sugar in each bottle when bottling them up, which the man at the homebrew shop said should be about the right amount to make carbonation.
As we were pouring the juice into the secondary buckets, I though I'd try making another small batch with a 3L bottle of store-bought preservative-free apple juice and some of the yeast from the first lot. I hadn't read about saving yeast, so I thought the stuff at the bottom might be waste and instead scooped up all of the remaining yeasty foam I could from the top. A bit of cider came with it as well. Nothing happened for a few days (it's winter here in New Zealand, so I didn't expect fast results), but now there's a lovely bready smell coming from it and I can see a layer of yeasty foam. Still, I don't know how much of this was luck, or indeed if it will turn out OK, and want to refine my process.
I've read through the first 40 page of this thread -
- but, I must admit, got a bit tired after a while and probably won't go through the other 100+ any time soon!
1. Part of this "washing" seems to be removing gunk that includes hops, which cider doesn't have, but I assume it's also necessary with apple cider?
2. I don't plan to make very large batches at a time, so it would be more convenient to transfer yeast from batch to batch. But, would this be discouraged due to gradual changes in yeast?
3. Is there a name for the process of scooping the foamy stuff off the top? Is this something worth experimenting with further?
Basically, those questions all circle around two main ones: For newbies such as ourselves, who will only make small batches, what would you say would be the most efficient way to save yeast? And, are there any cider-specific differences from the thread above that I should be aware of?
Also, as an added question, all equipment we used for the process above had boiling water poured over it to sterilise it, but I'm not 100% on how effective this is - my husband assures me it's fine, but I notice a lot of online sources put a huge emphasis on sterilisation via chemicals and/or prolonged boiling. Any comments on this would be appreciated.
Thanks very much in advance.