So I'm just getting into homebrewing, and my wife wanted to try her hand at making cider (her preferred drink). She picked up this fine piece of equipment for a steal yesterday at an auction:
Everything but the handle was there and surprisingly clean and sharp, so we decided to break it in right (used a ratchet for the handle). We cleaned it inside and out last night, including all of the auxiliary equipment (bucket thingies, wooden press thingies, etc). This morning we soaked the whole thing in Star-san as well as a 5gallon glass carboy and the transfer pans/funnels. Then we filled her up and cranked away. This thing makes a bucket of apple slop in a hurry, and the press is still in good shape and turns that slop into juice and applebiscuits in no time. We squeezed a bushel of empire apples and a bushel of golden delicious for our first mix. The juice coming out tasted amazing:
Out of the two bushels, we got about 6 gallons (more than I expected). The first 5 went through a strainer into the carboy to become hard cider.
The other gallon is getting ready to disappear. This is really good stuff. Pasteurization sucks!
We're going to try to make this first batch without sulfides (I think). We added about 2 lbs of dextrose to the bottle and a packet of montrachet yeast to the carboy and gave it a good shake. After about 2 hours, it blew the rubber stopper and airlock out of the carboy. I put it back on with less vodka in it so that it hopefully bubbles instead of pops off. So far so good!
So who thinks that we'll get skunked nasty cider? That old cider mill/press has about a million places to add contaminants to the juice. I'd like to try to avoid sulfides, but I don't want to throw away 5 gallons of hard earned goodness.
I have all kinds of questions now. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can provide.
1. Since I'm dealing with pulverised fruit, should I rack into a secondary after a week to get the fluid off the fruit?
2. If the cider starts heading south, can I sulfide it and rack what's left into a secondary and start over?
3. Any advice for a cider novice?