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AppleFauxIllo

Yes, our new neighbor got as drunk as a skunk. Blootered, bladdered, and blitzed as we Scots say or, in Cockney slang, Brahms and Liszt! He and his partner came along to a cider-themed evening at our house where he was initiated into the Scillonian Road hard cider making cooperative.

We started the evening with a hands-on practical session of how to use my “juice and strain” method to make clear apple juice and crystal-clear hard cider, quickly and with minimal mess. Rather than smash the apples outdoors with a messy, old-fashioned cider press, I use modern centrifugal juicers right on the kitchen table.

Dinner was accompanied by last year’s homemade hard cider (6.5% alcohol by volume), apple wine (15% ABV), and store-bought Calvados (40% ABV). It was the latter that did him the most damage.

The next day our new friend could remember nothing of the evening’s proceedings. He was unable to recall disclosing his lifetime’s accumulated prejudices concerning ethnic minorities, politics, religion, and relationships. Also my introduction to the juice and strain cider method had been lost, as with the spirit vapors.

To save further embarrassment , I said nothing about his verbal indiscretions, but I did re-explain my method to him as follows.

This project originally appeared in MAKE: Vol. 36.

Steps

Step #1: Clean your equipment.

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Kitchen-Table Cider Making
  • Apple juice and hard cider are foodstuffs, and all appropriate food handling and safety measures should be stuck to. Wash your hands, sanitize all surfaces, double-wash the apples, and throw away any bad ones.
  • Sterilize all equipment that will be in contact with fresh apple juice. I use a stock solution of 4 Campden tablets per gallon of water to soak all the relevant parts and buckets for a couple of hours before use.

Step #2: Set up the juicer and strainer.

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  • Lay out a clean towel, rinse off the juicer parts, and assemble your whole fruit juicer.
  • Attach the “juice containment and delivery adaptor”, aka hose, to the juicer’s spout, and feed it into the straining bag, held within a straining bucket that has holes in its base. This assembly sits neatly in the open brewing bucket with a draw-off tap at the bottom.
  • Set up your brew bucket on a stool or box, high enough that you can fit your demijohn or carboy underneath the tap. Apples go in at one end, clear apple juice comes out at the other. It couldn't be simpler.

Step #3: Juice and strain.

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  • Feed apples into the juicer with a steady, even pressure on the pusher. The higher the machine’s power rating, the faster you can go.
  • CAUTION: Whole-fruit juicers are powerful appliances. Read and adhere to the safety and other instructions for your juicer.
  • When the pulp container fills up, discard the pulp. After every 25lbs of fruit, dismantle the machine and clean the pulp off the centrifuge stainless steel mesh.
  • You'll find that the juicing work is done in a flash, although it takes a while longer for all the juice to strain through. I obtain the last 5% of the expected 65% by weight of juice by wringing out the straining bag. Scottish, you see!
  • What’s left in the bag is about 1% of the original apples. This very fine pulp can be used in apple muffins. You don’t want it in your cider.

Step #4: Shoot the yeast.

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  • While the last juice is draining, pitch the yeast into a measuring cup containing fresh, clear apple juice held at room temperature. This will allow the dried yeast to rehydrate and kick-start your fermentation. Use a champagne yeast for simplicity and reliability. A 5g packet is enough to inoculate 5gal of juice.
  • At this point measure the original gravity (OG) with a hydrometer and write it down. Later, this figure will allow you to estimate your cider’s alcohol percentage. If the OG is low, top it up with a little white sugar to reach 1.040.
  • After half an hour, stir the cup to thoroughly disperse the yeast, then pour it into your sterilized carboy or demijohns. Fill these up nearly to the top with apple juice and put airlocks on top. Within the hour you should see bubbles coming out through the airlock.

Step #5: Ferment.

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  • Keep the fermentation vessel(s) in a warm place like the kitchen and after 3 weeks you should have a crystal-clear cider ready to be racked and bottled. Check it with your hydrometer. The reading needs to be 1.000 or less. If it’s still high, let fermentation continue.
  • When the hard cider is finished, measure the final gravity and read off the alcohol content from an ABV chart or online calculator. For reasonably good storage, 5% ABV is considered the target minimum

Step #6: Bottle.

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  • Siphon your cider into recycled, sterilized beer bottles that will take a crown cap.
  • If you want a still hard cider, just bottle as is. If you want bubbles, then add ½ teaspoon of white sugar to a pint bottle, fill up with your hard cider, and cap. After a few more weeks, a secondary fermentation should be complete and you’ll have some fizz.

Step #7: Enjoy.

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  • Serve chilled. Take care when opening. If you've overdone the sugar, it can go off like a fire extinguisher.
  • When serving, you can adjust the sweetness to taste by adding sugar syrup. But I prefer my cider as dry as it can go.
  • Watch the Scillonian Road crew brew a 5-gallon batch at http://youtu.be/Qvc0cCh5r0c.

Comments

  1. Rahere says:

    Zere woz a young laydy vrom Rhyde
    Ated zo many apples she died
    The applez vermented inzide the lamented
    Turned to zoider inzoid’er inzoid.

  2. onslowsdry says:

    Cider Haiku

    Apples go to waste

    Juice and strain will stop the rot

    The cider breakthrough Anon.

  3. Tim says:

    Why the reference to “Hard Cider” are you American?

    1. onslowsdry says:

      Hi Tim,

      I’m Scottish writing for a, primarily, US audience. Over here in the UK, we just talk about apple juice and the fermented product as cider.

      Nevin

  4. Alan Weaver says:

    Hi, I live in Hampshire UK and tried to make cider using a low power juicer and without peeling or coring apples. Unmitigated disaster.

    What juicer should I use. Can you recommend any makes?

    Alan Weaver

    1. onslowsdry says:

      I’ve only used Breville machines. Starting out with a 450W JE2 juicer which worked just fine, I now use the 1200W JE4 model which is a semi-commercial juicer. This machine will juice apples as fast as you can feed them in to it. I have, however, also had good reports for an Andrew James juicer used for this duty.
      I’m demonstrating J&S live on the 17th of Oct., 7.30pm at The Worplesdon Memorial Hall, if this is of interest to you?

      1. Alan Weaver says:

        Thanks for your help. I hope to come along to the demonstration next week.

        Alan

        1. onslowsdry says:

          Hi Alan,

          Thanks for coming along to our demonstration, and for buying one of my tried and tested second hand Breville juicers. Have you any findings to report?

          Nevin

    2. I bought a second hand Philips juicer that worked perfectly with whole apples. I now have 5 liters bottled and am trying to find the patience to leave it for a few more weeks…

      1. onslowsdry says:

        Hi Peter,

        We “lads” of Scillonian Road bottled four gallons of fermented out cider yesterday. We intend to enjoy some of this at Christmas. It’s just a matter of counting out the days!

        Nevin

  5. Nick Sloan says:

    Hi, thanks for the article. I can’t wait to try it.

    Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?

    I’ve looked for a ‘straining bucket’ but not found one. Is it home made?

    What size filtration does it need? e.g. microns.

    Finally, sorry for sounding stupid but how much is 75lbs of apples. Would this be around, say a dustbin full? How much juice does this produce? You seem to have 9 one gallon demi-johns there, could I assume 75lbs makes this amount?

    Thanks again.

    1. Nick Sloan says:

      Sorry, you’ve answered the second question in the equipment list. I hadn’t seen that.

    2. onslowsdry says:

      Hi Nick,

      Ask away.
      Yup, the bucket with holes was home made.
      The straining bag came from the local hombrew shop. I don’t know what the mesh is, I just assumed that it is a standard product.
      75lbs of apples should give you about 5 gallons of juice.

      Nevin

  6. MattFriedrichs says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. My notes from one batch of apple cider and two batches of pear:

    First, the filtration bag gets heavy. I made the apple cider without the bucket with holes and the bag slipped off the larger bucket and fell in, causing me to have to strain everything again.
    Second, my brewing bag gets clogged up pretty fast. Strains really well, but requires a lot of squeezing at the end to get all the juice out.
    Third, the bottled cider flavor really reflects what you put into it. The apples, for example were tarter than my pears (earlier, and although mostly ripe, could have used some sweeter varieties). I’ve only sampled a bit of the pear off the fermenting bottle, but it clearly is going to be sweeter and more palatable to many of the people I’ll share with.
    Fourth, the added sugar added beautiful little bubbles. Haven’t sampled the non-sugared bottles, yet.

    Without the suggestion of using a juicer, I might not have made any cider this year. But the above instructions provide a clear and easy path for a first-timer.

    Well done.

    1. onslowsdry says:

      Thank you Matt. I’m glad to learn that juice and strain has worked for you.

      I can relate closely to the full straining bag slipping into the fermenter bucket situation. We started off by tying the bag in place, but this was a nightmare to change over. The straining bucket solved this difficulty, and we now have two. When the first bag has filled up we just swap over to the fresh one and carry on. In the meantime, the first full bag can be wrung out.

  7. Ian Sutherland says:

    This is my 4th year of making apple wine, all from a single, fairly ancient, gnarled tree growing in our garden (variety Newton Wonder).

    Up until this year I used a Breville Anthony Worrel-Thompson centrifugal juice- B19 model I think, about 10 years old. It produces a mixture of clearish juice, with a considerable fruit cap which can be strained through a fine sieve to extract more juice. It’s main drawback is that it’s not gas or juice tight and produces considerable widespread floor and worktop splatter after a 1-2 hour juicing session.

    I used to re juice the waste pulp 2 or 3 times to try and get more juice, but this year I decided to press it in a juice press and am glad I did- 2 full juicer bins worth squeezed tightly can produce around 4-5 pints of very clear juice indeed- about an 80% increase in juice production.

    I have plenty apples, so always ferment 100% juice, with sugar added to get the desired alcohol content

    The first wine I produced (2010) was 14%, amber coloured and with lovely flavour complexity after 2 years maturation the finish being quite different to the initial taste, but it was a little sweet, so I have gone for a lower alcohol levels and a drier wine since then. 2011 was a little disappointing, drier but much less complex flavour- OK but not stunning. Perhaps it got corked or cooked a little in storage (above garage store, gets warm in summer) so the 2012 batch (untasted so far) was stored in a dark shaded part of the garage, with airlocks retained and kept topped up to avoid cork loss if any expansion or secondary fermentation took place.

    For the first 3 years I used Lalvin EC118 yeast. This year I have switched to Gervin GV5 for the whites (Apple, Apple and Plum, Apple and white grape) and GV8 for the Reds (Apple and red grape, Apple and blackberry). Starting SG around 1.090 aiming for a dry 12% wine.

    The grapes are home grown and this year I’ve used about 1.16Kg red per gallon (1.4L red grape juice), and 2.5kg (all I had) of white grapes in a single, hopefully high quality, gallon. I used I kg wild blackberries per gallon, and about 2kg pulped plums in a gallon. We’ll see how things have turned out in about 18 months.

    1. onslowsdry says:

      Ian, interesting to read of your experiences.

      I have a friend who, once he has juice and strained his fruit, will put the pulp through a small basket press. By using this combined method, Rich has reported juice yields above 70% by weight.

  8. Tim says:

    I do something similar every year, but it works better with a low speed masticating juicer works much better.

    1. onslowsdry says:

      Hi Tim,

      Have you any performance data for the MJ? For example, apple feed rate and % recovery of apple juice based on weight of apple used.

      Nevin

  9. omega juicer says:

    Hi all, here every person is sharing these experience, so it’s pleasant to read this
    web site, and I used to pay a visit this website all the time.

  10. MattFriedrichs says:

    Do you ever add sugar to kick up the alcohol content? First two batches (one apple, one pear) don’t seem particularly strong.

    BTW, they turned out great: color is good, fizz is good. Apple is tart, reflecting the apples that went in. And the pear came out slightly on the watery side, but sweeter, tastewise. Take a bottle of each and blend: really good.

    I’m still waiting to taste the final pear batch, which was definitely tastiest when juiced. So it may be stronger, too. I don’t know. Patience to wait for the fruit to be fully ripe is something I’ll need to note for next year.