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therese

Hard Cider

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Last night my husband and I were trying some of his most recent batch of home-brewed beer (very nice, by the way) last night and somehow the conversation got around to hard cider and whether or not it would be worth making.

Anybody with any experience making it at home? My ideal is normandy-style cidre bouché, brut. I should be able to source some interesting apples later this summer.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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My only experience making it at home was a pleasant mistake. I had some home-pressed cider that I forgot in my dorm fridge. After 4 weeks or so, it had fermented into this lightly carbonated gallon of heaven.

My buddies were afraid to try it, so I had it all to myself at one christmas party. I'll place the alcohol at about 6% ABV based on effects alone. Man, it was good. Good. Good. Good.

Jump at the chance to try making it. My advice is to get a lager yeast, and make it in your fridge. Do not do nasty things like pasteurize your cider. Give it a whale of a load of yeast when you pitch it and let it go.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I've made many batches of cider. It's really easy compared to making beer - you don't have to mess with converting starches to sugars - the sugars are already there. It's best to start with real apple cider - the cloudy stuff, with no preservatives (i.e. no sorbates or metabisulfates on the label - they'll hurt your yeast). You can add some frozen apple juice if you want a higher alcohol result, but I don't do that. I like to use ale yeast, at cool room temp (esp. Wyeast 1338, for a little more residual sweetness). And I bottle it with a slight touch of extra sugar, for a carbonated product. And spices in the secondary (esp. cinnamon) can add a lot of interest.

Now that you have me thinking about it, I'm going to have a bottle of cider now.

edited: damn typos


Edited by nr706 (log)

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Any suggested starting points? Either a book or a web resource? How long does it take?


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Can get up to around 8%. If you make applejack (freeze and drain off the alcohol) can get up to 25% or so.

Very easy, just ferment fresh apple juice. No need to add yeast.

Just leave the juice in a barrel fitted with a fermentation lock in the shed for a few months.

May need to add some sugar initially to bring the hydrometer reading up to 1.050, and stop the fermentation early by filtering or adding campden tablets if you like a sweeted cider.

Many resources on the web, such as http://homepage.ntlworld.com/scrumpy/cider/

However the difficulty is getting proper cider apples. They have wonderful names like Dabinette or Kingston black, and are divided into Bittersweet, Sharp and Sweet. The high level of tannins make them not cery nice to eat, but wonderful for cider. Cider made from ordinary eating or cooking apples tends to be insipid.

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Thanks for the link, jackal10. I do anticipate finding appropriate apples a bit problematic, but plan on hitting up some farming friends in the area. I may try the first batch with more conventional fresh cider just to see what I get.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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In my cider experiment, I found that it is a live product and keeps evolving. About 3 weeks in it is perfect-- lightly fizzy, tart, wonderful. After that, it seems that acetic beasts took hold, bringing in a vinegar-y aspect that kept increasing. In the end, I kept a pint of the vinegar that resulted, but it certainly wasn't pleasant drinking.

So, make it in small batches, and consume it quickly... or enjoy some homemade apple cider vinegar.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Any suggested starting points? Either a book or a web resource? How long does it take?

Here's an Amazon link to an excellent book on traditional cider-making (there may be more recent versions, and, yes, the co-author is noted novelist Annie Proulx).

One consideration when making it, in addition to bottle-conditioning it like a homebrewed beer, is to add a little grape tannin and lay it down (especially if you're using ready-made cider, and don't have control over the apple varieties used, and you have to judgge tannin levels by tasting the sweet cider). As I type this, I'm sipping on a ten-year-old lightly carbonated cider, and it just gets better every year (admittedly, when I made it, I might have had a slightly heavy haned on the tannin).

But I think the key to longer lasting ciders is sanitation, bottle conditioning, packaging materials (glass, obviously), and tannin levels. Give it enough time to smooth out those tannins and it can be exquisite.


Edited by nr706 (log)

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Six years ago I made 10 gallons of hard cider from unpasteurized cider purchased at a farm and (I believe montrachet) champagne yeast. I read up on the process enough to do it right without getting overly scientific (specific gravity, etc.).

It was remarkable. Crisp, bubby and dry, with just a touch of sweetness. I think too many of the commercial ciders are entirely too sweet. I used cleaned Newcastle and Guinness bottles, as well as a couple of American sparkling wine bottles, which also accepted a cap. I gave half of it away as Christmas gifts, and the rest barley made it to February. It was easy, and I would love to do it again.

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I experimented once. I purchased a gallon jug full with unpastuerized and preservative free apple juice. Very cloudy, very delicious. I dropped in an 11 gram package of dried champagne yeast, suck a #8 bung and airlock on the jug and let it go at about 14C for 3 weeks.

It was remarkably good. Very likely not good compared to making it from apples with natural yeast, but, I'm not much of a cider fan, and I enjoyed this. I'm definitely going to try it again sometime.

And it was of course extraordinarily easy. No boiling, no sanitizing, nothing.

Mark.

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so if one wanted to make pear cider are there specific varieties it would be best to use?


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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