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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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.

fruit wine update

So I’ve been diligently stirring them  every day, and the ones where I added sugar seem to be progressing at a good place (the mead is bubbling a ton), but the cider and fruit ones don’t seem to be doing a whole lot, so I decided to add a quarter of a cup of turbino sugar to each of them, to see if that’ll kick start the bubbling.

Fruit wines/ciders/mead!

So I’ve been reading The Art of Fermentation  and there’s a great deal in there about experimenting with small batches of fruit based alcohols.  I also recently went to visit a friend of mine in Montreal who makes some delicious beverages that he calls “fruit cordials” and he had some suggestions for some directions to contemplate.

I had always thought that I couldn’t make ciders unless I could find unpasteurized apple cider or juice. And Peter thought he had been using some unpasteurized store bought apple juice, so we scoured the grocery stores looking for it, but it turns out what he has been using quite successfully was pasteurized! This opens up a lot of options as living in New England in the fall, I can barely step out of my door without tripping over apple cider.

What Peter calls fruit cordials,  Sandor Katz (in the book mentioned above) calls farm wine or fruit wine. It’s basically fruit with some sugar added and spring water. You let it ferment using the yeasts that naturally occur in and on the fruits. The sugar provides extra food for the yeasts to produce a higher alcohol content. Most fruit left to themselves will ferment into alcohol, but at a pretty low level. (Remember trying that juice that you found in the back of the car that had been rolling around for a few weeks and went fizz when you open it? That’s the basis of this type of fermentation.)

While at the store I also saw a reasonably priced 16 oz container of buckwheat honey, and having recently gotten to that part of Sandor Katz’s book, I knew I needed 16 oz for my half gallon ball jars I bought last week for this purpose.

So I’ve got a few things brewing all at once, in small half gallon batches:
* Cranberry – Honey Crisp Apple Cider (1 cup of frozen cranberries, 1 large apple, rest cider)
* Ginger Gold Apple Cider (3 apples, cider)
* Honey Crisp Apple Cider (1 large apple, cider)
* Raspberry Peach wine (1 cup of fresh raspberries, 15 small, previously frozen peaches, 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, spring water)
* Cranberry Peach wine (1 cup of frozen cranberries, 2 fresh peaches, 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, spring water)
* Buckwheat Honey Mead (16 oz buckwheat honey, 48 oz spring water)

They all got a good stir and then covered with a paper towel and the ball jar ring. They should get stirred often. I’m hoping to do it in the morning, when I get home from work, and then also before bed.

About a week from now (probably Sunday night, maybe Monday,, could be up to 10 days) they should be mostly done bubbling and the fruit comes out. At this point there will be tasting and seeing how they are going, stirring a bit more, or putting them into grolsch bottles to age.


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