Thursday, October 23, 2008

local apple cider

Yapple-dy dapple-dy it's that time of year again! Time to get out the juicer or cider press and get mashin'. Time to preserve some apples. You can sauce them, bake them, boil them and such, but why? Juice them, add some yeast and let it do most of the work. In about two months time you will be drinking one of the most satisfying refreshments to ever touch your lips, because whether your friends drink it or not, you made it. And should it suck, chances have it that some time "cellaring" might take care of the offensive character. I've heard some take a year or more. Well, call it beginners luck but my experiments last year, overall, tasted good right away and only got better. Wish I'd made more.........

Step one: Find a source of apples that need picking. Get a ladder. Or better yet find a friend with a ladder and an apple tree. Bring boxes, bags and buckets. Start picking. I recommend starting with at least a target size of between a three and five gallon batch. Use the rough guestimate of 5lbs of apples equals 1 quart of juice and pick an appropriate amount. (Thanks Paul!) Stop picking when either you have enough or realize that no one has gotten hurt. Remember to put the ladder away and promise to give your friend some cider when the time comes.

Step two: Load all the apples into the ride home. Looking at this now, I think I could have gotten it home on my bike, but I didn't know how many pounds I would pick (about 60 it turns out) so I brought the car. Please make sure to keep all apples securely fastened while driving home for in the case of an accident, well over two hundred fist sized pieces will be flying about the inside of your vehicle. I don't speak from experience, but I do have an active imagination and a deep appreciation for simple physics.

Step three: Juice the apples to a pulp. Or rather, separate the pulp from the juice. Grind them, mash them, spin them amongst countless blades, whatever method you use make sure to extract as much juice as you can. In this case, I filled a container with everything that came out of the juicer and let bouyancy and time do the work. It is amazing what just sitting around can accomplish. Choose the yeast you need that will get the job done.

Step four: Siphon the juice into a large, sterilized glass vessel and pitch your yeast. Affix a one way valve to the top to allow exhaust only. Place a more or less sterile liquid like whiskey into the air lock (and yourself should you care) and then give the contents a mix. Make sure to keep the experiment near 70 degrees until you see some vigorous bubbling and sure signs of fermentation. Make sure to not let monkeys pull the valve off of the container. Should this happen, immediately clean the valve and perhaps monkey and place (valve not monkey) onto the carboy again. Put in a higher location.

Step five: Keep the foamy goodness from coming out the air-lock. Or be prepared to keep cleaning up a sticky mess. Maintain the carboy at nice ambient home temps of around 65. Watch and wonder. Well, especially wonder since this is a lager yeast and I've yet to hear of someone trying such. Last year I used English ale yeast, this year I'm giving a California Common yeast a try. So far, so good, but we'll have to wait about a month before we do some bottling and have a better idea.

Give me a shout if any of this interests you and you have the time!

BOTTLING UPDATE (11/27/08): So, on Turkey day we tasted some from a bit that I stashed in a bottle right before fermentation shut down completely, with the hopes of some completely natural carbonation. The suspense was high as I cracked the seal, but a fine foamy effervescence was what greeted us. Nice crisp apple, but supremely dry. It was a fitting libation to start the thanksgiving feast, a common homemade cider, that was truly from this years local harvest. Thanks once again Paul. We will share one soon.....

And for the few homebrewers who might be wondering:

Does a California common yeast work well for making apple cider? Answer: yes. Very well in fact. Makes for a nice dry product, much like using a dry english ale yeast like Danstar's Windsor or Nottingham. A starting gravity of 1.058 took a month (like the other yeasts) and finished at 0.998, packing an alcohol content of near 8%! Now that, is a merry x-mas.......

3 comments:

Chilebrown said...

all right! I have stuff to trade. I am making muffins tommorrow. You allready do the muffin thing, so, I have other stuff. Stay Looney Tooned!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Chile: There is plenty of beer to trade so let me know when you're in the 'hood.

Anne said...

this is pretty awesome, i must say.