Specific gravity of cider

So apparently for safe cider making you need to have a specific gravity of at least 1.045, and mine adjusted for temperature is 1.041, so I’ll be needing to add in some sugar. Though I’m curious if my vessel isn’t letting my hydrometer go as far down as it needs to, as it’s already hitting the bottom.

Information from this web site:



Hardening the cider

So I went to Strange Brew today and got some champagne yeast for the cider. While I was there the guy helping me (probably should have gotten his name) suggested that I combine them into one gallon jug, so I decided to do that.

First – sterilize everything with Star San which the most difficult part was figuring out how much to add to the little bit of water I was using. I eventually converted to milliliters (as it’s supposed to be one ounce per 5 gallons of water, so 1/5 an ounce in a gallon, 1/10 of an ounce in half a gallon… which basically translates to 2 milliliters, which I could measure and extract using a syringe without a needle.) The other hard part is waiting for everything to air dry.

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While things were drying I proofed the yeast, which was also complicated as the packets are for 5 gallons, but I think I got about 1/5 of the packet. Strange Brew is getting in a shipment of unpasteurized cider the first week in November, so I think I’ll probably pick up some then. Excitingly I can get it in 1 to 5 gallon increments.

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Once the cider was all in the jug, I then tried to use a hydrometer to figure out what the sugar content was.. And er, I still have no idea, but I think it’s good? I added a little extra water to get the level up to where the glass comes in to reduce the air space, and added a little sugar to see if I could move the hydrometer at all (nope) so I decided to let it be.

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I then filled the air lock with vodka, using my syringe again.

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Now the waiting!

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While waiting for everything to sterilize dry, I also made some spice cookies:

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Spoon progress – hatchets help

So today I took out the hatchet, also some leather to protect my leg, and more puncture proof gloves. And it helped a great deal. I actually ended up using the side of the garden box as a steadying surface, with the leather protecting it. I managed to get off most of the wood, now I need to make some decisions regarding the bowl and the handle.

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Wine and mead update

Both were transferred into new containers, filtering out some more of the lees from the fermentation process. They both went into freshly sterilized jars and got new three piece airlocks, filled with vodka. I tasted both and they aren’t bad, but they need some more maturing time.

The mead also got some brewer’s yeast added, at the suggestion of the guy at Strange Brew who also helped with the rest of the new accoutrements.

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I made cider! (it’s still fresh though)

I started with 10 pounds of Cortland apples. Washed them, cored them, and macerated them in the ninja. Then they got put into my homemade cider press.. Turns out the bottom bucket needs to be cut down further as I can’t get it to fit in the screws when the follower is added. But it worked pretty well, so I’d say the concept worked. Tastes pretty good too, tart and acidic, but a bit sweet.

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I’m up to 3/4 of a gallon now. I feel like I might be able to get a full gallon, but it’s much harder now that it’s pretty much dried. It needs to be massaged at this point to get juice out. But the pomace is still giving off juice! I’m putting the juice in the refrigerator until tomorrow as I’m going to add yeast (!!) and probably a real air lock, but I need to go to the brewery store.

Spoon progress

So I got some cherry turning wood from woodcraft, and used a terribly dull band saw to cut it in half (See blackening on the back).

Then I drew on the shape I wanted to rough out:

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Then using a wood carving knife from my deceased grandfather (Along with his sharpening stone) I started to rough it out. This didn’t go so well, so I switched to my Niji set which are way too small for wood this dense, but I did eventually make some progress. And along the way I snapped one v-blade and pretty much dulled all the gouges, and somewhat successfully resharpened them. After about 2 hours of work I ended up with this:

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So I asked around and was told of the marvels of hatchets for roughing out work. So I went to sears and got a sportsman’s axe We’ll see how that performs tomorrow. I’m a little scared it’s going to take off way too much wood. I also got a new pair of leather gloves as apparently mechanics gloves don’t have leather in the spots where I keep stabbing myself. (Which includes my right thigh, the new gloves won’t help with that)

mini apple pies for breakfast

mini apple pies for breakfast

So this was an interesting experiment, I cooked the apple pie filling before I put it in the crust, so the cooking time in the oven was only 25 minutes to cook the crust. They are a bit messy as I tried to squeeze too much apples in each, and I should have cut the apples smaller, but they are delicious. Cleaning that stoneware pan is going to be a nightmare though…


Wooden spoon

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after much sanding and carving and then covering in beeswax and burnishing



So last week in pewter class I tried to make a sculpy spoon, but it broke in a few places when it came out of the oven. So this week I started to whittle a spoon from a piece of basswood. It’s coming along, it really needs a lot of sanding currently, then perhaps some more carving. I also need a gouge of a slightly different shape, but I think I have one in my kit.


I can’t decide if I want to use sandpaper or my dremel to sand it.. I like the control of the sand paper, but it is hard to get round shapes to come out right.

Once my spoon is done, we are going to cover it in Vaseline and put it in a little Lego box and pour bondo around it to make a mold for the pewter spoon.

Back of wooden Spoon Front of wooden spoon

Fruit Wine update!

So I added in sugar to the cider varieties a few days ago. Today I decided to rebottle them without the fruit pieces, which lead to the death of the honey crisp cider (nothing happening!) and I decided to let the cran-apple one live, but added in a little more sugar – the same with the ginger gold cider.

The two fruit wines seem to be fermenting nicely. I rebottled both without their fruit and put a balloon air lock on one and just the paper towel cover on the other. I also rebottled the mead, and used the balloon air lock there as well. I tasted the mead and it’s definitely becoming quite good.

I also started two new ones – apricot/mango and apple juice with gingerade kombucha. I have no idea what they are going to do. The fruit one is very high in sugar as it contains a ton of pulp, and the other one, well, that’s not what kombucha normally eats, so er, I haven’t a clue what it’s going to do.

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