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First Try at Cider (with pics)

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n8r1

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Hi all,

Yesterday I began making my first batch of hard cider from fresh pressed apples.

I live in Oregon, and although our northern neighbor Washington is known as the apple state, we have our fair share of apple trees as well. There are dozens of trees within walking distance of my house, so I found a few "full" ones and asked my neighbors if they wouldn't mind if I picked a few buckets. Nobody cared, so I picked from 5 different trees in hopes of having a nice, diverse supply to offset any apples that were too sweet or tart.

The picture of the apples is about 75% of my supply. I read that you need 100 pounds of apples to make 5 gallons of juice, so I estimated what I would need. Turns out I have nearly double the apples from what I actually needed to have, so I'm going to repeat this entire process later this week. More to come on that.

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I then used our standing mixer with the slicing attachment to quickly chop up the apples before putting them into the fruit press. Each full press yielded about 1/2 gallon of juice.

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After filling a 5 gallon cooler, I transferred the juice to a carboy, filtering through a sieve and cheesecloth to remove any of the chunks remaining.

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Finally, I added 5 crushed campden tablets to the carboy and put on an airlock. I know that you only need to wait 24-48 hours before pitching yeast, but I'm going to give it 72 hours just to make sure. I'm going to use Mangrove Jack's Cider Yeast.

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Next steps:

Once fermentation is finished, I will transfer to a secondary.

My local homebrew supply shop said that cider is best when aged several months, so I am planning on keeping it in the secondary until after Christmas. Then I will transfer to a keg, force carbonate, and hopefully have cider to drink sometime after the New Year.

Whew!

Like I mentioned earlier, I have enough apples to make another 5 gallons of juice, so I'm planning on processing those later in the week when I have some free time.

Do any of you cider experts out there have any advice for me at this point? Did I miss any steps? Leave out a key ingredient? My goal is to have a keg full of crisp, dry cider; we don't like the sweet stuff nearly as much.

Also, would any of you have done anything differently when processing the apples into juice? I probably won't have time to juice the rest of these apples until Thursday or later.

Thanks all!
 

jrgtr42

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Sounds to me like your process is pretty spot on to me. The only thing I might do different, and this is just me, is to add a bit of yeast nutrient in when pitching. I find I get a little quicker takeoff when i do that, and it doesn;t affect the final product.

So you have 5 gallons going, and you're going to get another 5 gallons going later?
You might, for the sake of experimentation, do something different with the other 5 - add in some brown sugar, use different yeast, age (in secondary) on wood (liquor soaked or not; I like a bit of bourbon oak in my cider), or fruit, vanilla beans, cinnamon etc.
 
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n8r1

n8r1

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Sounds to me like your process is pretty spot on to me. The only thing I might do different, and this is just me, is to add a bit of yeast nutrient in when pitching. I find I get a little quicker takeoff when i do that, and it doesn;t affect the final product.

So you have 5 gallons going, and you're going to get another 5 gallons going later?
You might, for the sake of experimentation, do something different with the other 5 - add in some brown sugar, use different yeast, age (in secondary) on wood (liquor soaked or not; I like a bit of bourbon oak in my cider), or fruit, vanilla beans, cinnamon etc.
I knew I forgot to mention something! Yes, I will be using a yeast nutrient. I also plan on using a little bit of pectic to clear the cider a bit.

I like your ideas for the second batch. A few questions/thoughts:

How much cinnamon would you recommend for 5 gallons?

Because I don't like sweet cider as much, I was going to avoid adding additional sugars or honey.

I read that champagne yeast gives it a really dry flavor. I may go that road. I will definitely use a different yeast for the second batch than for the first.

I also thought about adding blackberries or raspberries to the press in order to give it a different taste.

Can you just add wood chunks to the secondary? I've never done anything with wood before when brewing, but I have a variety of apple/cherry/hickory/mesquite/oak chips that I use with my smoker.
 
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n8r1

n8r1

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One more thing I may try is dry-hopping the second batch. We had some hoppy store-bought cider last month, and while I wasn't a big fan, my wife loved it. I may try hopping the second batch and let her drink most of it.

Does anybody have a recommendation on what kind of hops to add and how much? Right now I only have 1 oz of Cascade hops in the refrigerator left over from a previous brew, but can easily get more.
 
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n8r1

n8r1

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Your yeast will ferment any added sugar(or honey) completely, converting it to CO2 and alcohol. Unless you add a ton of extra sugar, you won't get a sweet cider, just a boozier one.
When would be a good time to add the additional sugar or honey? Right before I pitch the yeast?
 

jrgtr42

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I knew I forgot to mention something! Yes, I will be using a yeast nutrient. I also plan on using a little bit of pectic to clear the cider a bit.

I like your ideas for the second batch. A few questions/thoughts:

How much cinnamon would you recommend for 5 gallons?

Because I don't like sweet cider as much, I was going to avoid adding additional sugars or honey.

I read that champagne yeast gives it a really dry flavor. I may go that road. I will definitely use a different yeast for the second batch than for the first.

I also thought about adding blackberries or raspberries to the press in order to give it a different taste.

Can you just add wood chunks to the secondary? I've never done anything with wood before when brewing, but I have a variety of apple/cherry/hickory/mesquite/oak chips that I use with my smoker.
Like Jim said, you won't add any sweetness with those, so don't bother with white sugar or honey. With a couple pounds of brown sugar, you'll get a percent or 2 addition alcohol, plus a bit of maple flavor in there. IMO it goes really well with apples.
Champagne yeast does have a higher alcohol tolerance than regular beer yeast, but I've never had an issue with it fermenting fully. IIRC, apple juice (cider) will have a gravity of 1.055, always. (Plus or minus a couple thousanths, deif the apples are under or overripe.) No beer yeast will have an issue taking care of that, getting to a FG about .998. The only way to get it sweeter is to stop fermentation early or back-sweeten after the fact.

As far as cinnamon, a few sticks should give a little flavor in there. I usually break out a gallon or so and a good-sized stick does what I want.

When would be a good time to add the additional sugar or honey? Right before I pitch the yeast?
Exactly - befor pitching yeast, add those in, and stir well to make sure it's all dissolved. Then pitch yeast and let it be.
 

Maylar

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Because I don't like sweet cider as much, I was going to avoid adding additional sugars or honey.
Let it finish dry, and if you want it a bit sweeter deal with it then. You might like it just as it comes out of the fermentor.

Can you just add wood chunks to the secondary? I've never done anything with wood before when brewing, but I have a variety of apple/cherry/hickory/mesquite/oak chips that I use with my smoker.
Not from your smoker. Wood made to flavor wine + cider is processed specially for that job. Cider responds well to oak.

Nice photos, BTW. Not many people press cider in their living room.
 
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n8r1

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Nice photos, BTW. Not many people press cider in their living room.
Thank you! Yeah, next time I am going to try and do it outside. Yesterday was COLD though, so I decided to run the operation in the kitchen. It was messy, but at least I was warm :)
 

Chalkyt

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Sounds good to me. A couple of hints from experience if you decide to dry hop... I have used Cascade dry hops for a hopped cider and found:

- Taste, taste, taste. The cider takes on the hop flavour quite quickly, so no more than a week steeping in secondary with tasting each day is usually enough

- I hop with about 3 grams (2 tsp) per litre (about 1/2 oz per gallon). Any more than this and the flavour gets taken up very quickly

- Dry hops float and disintegrate quickly, so put them in a large teabag or wrap in muslin with some marbles or stainless steel nuts to make them sink... and this does take up space so avoid overflowing the secondary carboy.

Have fun!
 

SnowDogCider

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My favorite yeast for a nice dry has been “Premier Cote des Blanc” from Red Star! Last batch fermented totally dry! Best batch yet!
Good luck!
My only suggestion is to let the apples sit for about a week and let those sugars get happy.
Great idea for the slicing! Lots of work but well worth it in the end.
Jeff
 
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n8r1

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**Update**

After waiting 3 days for the Campden tablets to do their thing, yesterday evening I dissolved some yeast nutrient in hot water and added it to the juice along with some pectic enzyme. Then I pitched the yeast and hoped for good results.

A few hours later I checked on things and there was no action. This morning I went out and checked again, and still nothing.

Then I realized that my juice was only at 54 degrees (it was out in the garage). I figured that was too cold, so I brought it inside and have it in our spare bedroom with a space heater blowing on it in order to get the temperature up higher. It's currently at 64 degrees and I'm going to turn off the heater once it gets to 70.

I'm already seeing a little action from my yeast!

IMG_2053[1].JPG
 
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n8r1

n8r1

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Hi all,

First and foremost, thank you for the help and advice as I work toward my first two batches of hard cider! I really appreciate everyone's input.

Second, I'm about 4 weeks into my first batch and 2 weeks into my second. The one on the left was pressed 4 weeks ago, has been fermenting for 25 days, and is still bubbling, about 3-4 times per minute. The one on the right has been fermenting for 12 days and is bubbling every 7 or 8 seconds. So there appears to be some fermentation still taking place in both, although much more slowly than when I first pitched the yeast.

The one on the left has Mangrove Jack's Cider Yeast, and the one on the right has Champagne Yeast. Is this what is causing the difference in color? Everything else is the same, so it's the only thing I can think of that would make them different.

Once the bubbling has completely finished, I'm going to transfer them to 5 gallon carboys and add some cinnamon sticks to the one on the right. I may add a couple of vanilla beans as well; I haven't decided yet. Then they will go out to the garage where they will (hopefully) age and clear for a few months. I'm hoping to keg them, force carbonate, and start drinking sometime in the January-March range.

Cheers!
IMG_2236[1].JPG
 

brew_darrymore

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The one on the left has Mangrove Jack's Cider Yeast, and the one on the right has Champagne Yeast. Is this what is causing the difference in color? Everything else is the same, so it's the only thing I can think of that would make them different.
The batch on the left is 2 weeks ahead of the batch on the right. Most of the yeast has already flocced down, as you can tell from your picture, look at the bottoms of the two fermenters.

There's a lot more yeast in suspension in your right batch and, hence, the colour is "milkier".

The two batches will likely look the same once yeast floccs down in a few weeks.
 
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