Cider from supermarket apples?

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tobinobin

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Hey all, I've recently made it my mission to make a drinkable cider from apple juice / freshly pressed apples. My question is if you buy your apples from your local store / market, do you try to get the biggest variety to balance the tart/sweet/flat tastes, or do you just focus on one type? I recently made a cider with two varieties of apples. Both were relatively sweet though. Anyone's $0.02 on this is welcome. Also, after 2 days of my cider brewing, I have over 2 inches of lees formed. I think this just pectin that the pectinase I added broke down. Still interesting though.

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hopsalot

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I have been wanting to do this, did you pasteurize or use campden tablets?
 

Devo9

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I used three types of apples in mine. McIntosh, Gala, and Granny Smith. I juiced a variety of combinations (small scale) of these three apples until I found something I liked. I ended up with 6 parts McIntosh, 6 parts Gala, and 1 part Granny Smith. It turned out great, but I'd recommend a little experimentation to find out what you like best
 
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tobinobin

tobinobin

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I have been wanting to do this, did you pasteurize or use campden tablets?
I just heated the mixture with 1 litre of honey water for about 30 mins. Didn't boil, just roughly heated on a medium-low flame. I was just hoping that the yeast I added would overpower anything that survived.
 

Devo9

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I just heated the mixture with 1 litre of honey water for about 30 mins. Didn't boil, just roughly heated on a medium-low flame. I was just hoping that the yeast I added would overpower anything that survived.
I used Campden tablets, one per gallon myself. Left it for 24 hours before pitching the yeast and it turned out great. Up to you what route you want to go.
 
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tobinobin

tobinobin

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I used Campden tablets, one per gallon myself. Left it for 24 hours before pitching the yeast and it turned out great. Up to you what route you want to go.
Yeah, I'd probably prefer to use campden tablets because of the risk of a hazy cider. I was impatient though - I ordered some from ebay and they'll take another week to clear/be delivered.
 

UpstateMike

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My question is if you buy your apples from your local store / market, do you try to get the biggest variety to balance the tart/sweet/flat tastes, or do you just focus on one type?
It's my understanding that you should mix sweet with tart. I used Empire and Rome apples (2 Empire to 1 Rome) and came up with a unique, very drinkable blend that I now call "Roman Empire". Drank 1 gallon fresh, turned 2 gallons into hard, and that batch is now ageing in the bottle.
 

Devo9

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It's my understanding that you should mix sweet with tart. I used Empire and Rome apples (2 Empire to 1 Rome) and came up with a unique, very drinkable blend that I now call "Roman Empire". Drank 1 gallon fresh, turned 2 gallons into hard, and that batch is now ageing in the bottle.
Yes, this! When I mixed the McIntosh was the tart and the Gala was sweet. Then there was the Granny SMith which was extra tart.

I have read that a 2/3 to 1/3 of sweet to tart, or tart to sweet is desireable, however my mix was almost 1/2 and 1/2 and it turned out great. I started off looking for what I prefered (1/3 sweet to 2/3 tart, or 2/3 sweet to 1/3 tart) and ended up 1/2 and 1/2. That's why I suggest playing with it a little first.

Pick your favourite sweet apple and your favourite tart apple and try juicing 1 sweet, with 2 tart and vice versa and go from there.

That's what worked for me anyways. I probably went through 12 apples before deciding upon a mix. I figure it is best to get it right on a small scale then mess it up on a large scale!


Edit:
It might work even better if you juiced them seperately first and try mixing the juices. I'll probably do it that way next time!
 

divi2323

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I pressed about 175 lbs of apples from a local orchard back in October. I've since finished my cider and it's bottled and ready to drink. I know some people think that it needs to sit for months before it's ok to drink, but my tastes arent that picky and I think mine tastes great as is.

back to the point though. I pressed the following varietals and their associated characteristics:

golden and red delicious for a base juice. it's not sweet or tart, it's a very bland tasting apple and very readily available where I live, so getting enough of it to add other things to later down the line was easy.

jonathans were added for tart flavor. granny smiths are great but can quickly overwhelm the tartness. I do love a good tart apple, and the jonathans are tart but not TOO tart to make your lips pucker.

jonagolds are a hybrid apple. they're jonathan apples but crossed wih golden delicious. no joke they're 6-8 inches across when you pick them. They are huge and have the qualities of both brands. very good apple, but juice yield was low compared to original weight.

fuji apples are very tropical in flavor. they were added for astringency (that taste that makes your tastebuds stand on end briefly just before the tart hits you. I like this feeeling more than the taste, but the taste is a good one. Juice yield on these was incredible for me. I got nearly 3 gallons out of one bushel of apples believe it or not.

McIntosh apples... i'm not fond of this apple at all. the smell of them actually nauseates me and the apples themselves are NOT durable at all. I picked about a half bushel of these and transferred them to my home made apple crates for a week to sweat first. most of them ended up being super bruised and damaged. i bet i threw out 10 lbs of rotten mcintosh apples. I'll not use them again. The juice from these is also very bland to me. I'd rather juice up more red/gold delicious varieties for more juice if i needed.

The combination I came up with that I liked was probably more on the tart side, but to each their own. Some people like sweet, some like tart. my recipe is as follows based upon final juice volume, not apple weight:

1 part mcintosh, 2 part fuji, 4 part jonagold, 3 part jonathan, 10 parts base juice (red/gold delicious).

now... having said ALL of that, i took all my leftover juices from my first batch and mixed it together using this formula:

2 part mcintosh, 3 part jonagold, 9 part fuji, and 7 parts base.

The second cider turned out better than the first one did by a LONG shot. I'm here to tell you that the varieties of apples you use do NOT come out in the final product (hard cider). The way you finish your cider (back sweetenting, bottle priming, artificial sweetening, carbonation, spicing) has more to do with the flavor of your witches brew than anything else. i'd say 80% of your product is how you finish it, 20% is the original apple varieties you put in. I'm sure there'll be some disagreement on this but this is my personal experience.

I hope this helps, but there are many books on blending of apple varieties to make the perfect cider. I bought one recently but for the life of me cant find it here to refer to you.

Had i to do it all over again, I would probably ferment each individual variety of apples and then blend them afterwards.
 

divi2323

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One more thing to add here. I added up my cost for all of my apples and their yield. I spent 95 cents per pound for the U-Pick orchard near my place. so my cost was $166 not including the hours drive in gas to get there. (this was more of a family trip together than anything). The total yield was 10.5 gallons bottled into 12 and 22 oz cappers. so a total of 112x 12oz bottles. that's a cost of $1.48 per bottle, not including the bottle itself, yeast, sanitizer, energizer, gas to get the apples, cost of building the press/renting a press. That's some pretty expensive hooch :)

Second time around, I bought 20 gallons of pressed cider from the same orchard for $60 when they were getting rid of the last of their stock. if I can yield 18 gallons of finished product out of it, that's 192 bottles of cider, not including anything additional (yeast, bottles, sanitizer, energizer etc) all for a price of $0.31 per bottle. As you can see, it's a SIGNIFICANT savings to buy pre presed cider at 2.50-3.50 per gallon and go from there.

Now that's not to say that pressing your own isnt rewarding, it's great bonding time with your kids and a nice day of entertainment taking apple sauce in the face from burst pressing bags (yes this happened to me... twice in the same day).

Hope i'm helping more than i'm ranting here.
 

dinnerstick

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Had i to do it all over again, I would probably ferment each individual variety of apples and then blend them afterwards.
if you ever do, please report back!
my 2p:
i generally use about 10% granny smiths, the rest around 50/50 something sweet and something all-rounder ie cox orange pippin, stuff you can experiment with from your local greengrocer, but this year have been adding a handful of crabs per 5L to all my batches and so far (first and only bottle opened two days ago) am very pleased with the results
 

Devo9

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The combination I came up with that I liked was probably more on the tart side, but to each their own. Some people like sweet, some like tart. my recipe is as follows based upon final juice volume, not apple weight:

1 part mcintosh, 2 part fuji, 4 part jonagold, 3 part jonathan, 10 parts base juice (red/gold delicious).

now... having said ALL of that, i took all my leftover juices from my first batch and mixed it together using this formula:

2 part mcintosh, 3 part jonagold, 9 part fuji, and 7 parts base.

The second cider turned out better than the first one did by a LONG shot. I'm here to tell you that the varieties of apples you use do NOT come out in the final product (hard cider). The way you finish your cider (back sweetenting, bottle priming, artificial sweetening, carbonation, spicing) has more to do with the flavor of your witches brew than anything else. i'd say 80% of your product is how you finish it, 20% is the original apple varieties you put in. I'm sure there'll be some disagreement on this but this is my personal experience.
This goes to show how different peoples tastes are. I personally wouldn't use Golden or Red Delicious even if that was the last apple type on the planet! I hate them... but I am the only person I know who doesn't like them!

Like Divi said, to each their own. So be sure to try out different varieties to find your favourite mixes!

i generally use about 10% granny smiths, the rest around 50/50 something sweet and something all-rounder ie cox orange pippin, stuff you can experiment with from your local greengrocer
After my juicing experiment, that's the mix I came up with too! I think we might be onto something here! :mug:

I'll have to try the crab apples. My parents have a tree in their front yard... I should pick some next year!
 

dinnerstick

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This goes to show how different peoples tastes are. I personally wouldn't use Golden or Red Delicious even if that was the last apple type on the planet! I hate them... but I am the only person I know who doesn't like them!
if we ever meet, your list of delicious haters will instantly double. but if it works for someone then i ain't knocking it
 

Joe_in_CT

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RED DELICIOUS... How did they ever come up with that name?

Red-Edible would be more accurate IMO.
 

Devo9

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if we ever meet, your list of delicious haters will instantly double. but if it works for someone then i ain't knocking it
Yes, I agree completely. If you like it then all the power to you!

Whenever I make my forever planned, but constantly delayed trip to Europe, (Scotland specifically) I'll have to make a point to swing by the Netherlands to double my list. I'll most likely try to fit in as many countries as I can to my trip with feeling rushed. I'll expect to have to make at least two trips to Europe to see everything I want to! (many more to see everything worth seeing)

I googled "Utrecht, Netherlands" and it looks beautiful there! Definitely worth checking out!
 

ajbram

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if we ever meet, your list of delicious haters will instantly double. but if it works for someone then i ain't knocking it
RED DELICIOUS... How did they ever come up with that name?

Red-Edible would be more accurate IMO.
Couldn't agree with you lads more. I don't like to eat them and wouldn't use them in a cider. My last cider was about 30% Grannies, 30% MacIntosh, 15% Royal Gala, 10% little yellow crabs and 5 % red crabs, all from trees in my yard and neighbourhood. It was DELICIOUS!
 

Devo9

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Couldn't agree with you lads more. I don't like to eat them and wouldn't use them in a cider. My last cider was about 30% Grannies, 30% MacIntosh, 15% Royal Gala, 10% little yellow crabs and 5 % red crabs, all from trees in my yard and neighbourhood. It was DELICIOUS!
Sounds delicious!
 

ajbram

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Couldn't agree with you lads more. I don't like to eat them and wouldn't use them in a cider. My last cider was about 30% Grannies, 30% MacIntosh, 15% Royal Gala, 10% little yellow crabs and 5 % red crabs, all from trees in my yard and neighbourhood. It was DELICIOUS!
oops somehow I only came up with 90% of a cider there... should be 40% Macs
 

divi2323

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It does go to show how different people have different taste :) I only use the delicious varieties for a base juice and flavor it up with other varieties.

My main point though was that I personally can't differentiate between the different varieties used in a cider from the finished product. Before fermentation for sure but not after. This might be a case of my palate not being as broad as others.
 

ajbram

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Fermentation will definitely strip most of the flavour from whatever juice you use. I don't think any of us can really tell which specific varieties were used in a cider from the taste of the finished product, but what you are looking for is a blend of apples that will give you the components of a balanced flavour profile in your finished product. Sugar, acidity, tanins, unfermentable sugars etc. differ from variety to variety. I believe delicious apples are pretty low in acidity, which makes them sweet when you eat them, but I prefer something with a little more bite in my cider.
 
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