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Thread: Fruit juice and cider

  1. #1
    Biscuitgazer
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    Fruit juice and cider

    I've been trying my hand at making cider out of the many apples we have growing, but it's not nice at all. Has anyone here made cider successfully?

    My first batch, a few years ago, was palatable (just), my second years turned into rather nice ACV, last year's batch was particularly horrible and the process got off to a bad start with a stained ceiling when an airlock got blocked and caused the cork to pop under the pressure...

    I'm thinking maybe I should give up on cider, and juice my apples instead. But they are very sour, one of the trees is a cider apple tree, and also I'd have to throw away a lot of apples.

  2. #2
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    I have absolutely no experience with making cider from raw materials - in fact the cider that I made wasn't even that good from shop-bought kits (my opinion).

    Instead of throwing away the fruit, maybe contact a 'microbrewery'. They may be grateful of your offer, and might even give you some 'freebies' in return.

  3. #3
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    The sourer apples, even down to crab apples, are usually best for making sauce, jams or jellies. Don't forget apple pies.

    Dry cider is also an option, I'm not sure why yours is being so variable.
    Could simply be down to the weather we have had any particular year. (always affects wine grapes as well).

    Remember there are lots of yeasts and other moulds/blooms growing on the skins, again just what will depend on the weather.
    Unless you are relying on these yeasts to do natural fermentation then you need to wash these off well before pressing.
    I would also look at how you are pressing and straining the apples, are you getting the impurities out?

    I've goy to say it's a while since I've done cider but I never used an airlock setup.
    Just fermented it in lidded barrels like you would beer (using a bottom yeast) and then bottled it with half a teaspoon of sugar.
    Lost a few exploding bottles due to too much sugar but that's part of the fun.

    When it comes to jams one of my favourites to make was apple and blackberry jam, the blackberry helped to counter the sourness of the crab apples used.
    Even better all the apples and blackberrys were free, picked from the hedegrows, only had to pay for the sugar and a jar of pectin.

    If you can manage to do cider from scratch then jams and jellies should be fairly easy for you as well.
    Last edited by nukecad; 29-11-16 at 12:43.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    The teen and I had mulled cider a couple of days ago
    A great way to leep the cold out!

  5. #5
    Biscuitgazer
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    Yummy, deebee. Did you brew it, mull it or buy it?

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    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    Marks and spencer I am afraid,just came home and warmed it slowly after crimbo shopping

  7. #7
    Biscuitgazer
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    Nuke, what is bottom yeast? I used champagne yeast for its alcohol tolerance, and I have added sugar one year, but I still got horrible cider, only with more alcohol. Problem with all these things is that they are all so very apple flavoured, as well as chock full of sugar! Though we do make good apple & custard and apple & other fruit jam, I must say.

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    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    I love a crumble!........

  9. #9
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biscuitgazer View Post
    Nuke, what is bottom yeast?
    In beer brewing there are top yeasts, usually used for ales and darker brews.

    There are also bottom yeasts, usually used for lighter brews, lagers, etc. which work at slightly lower tempratures.

    The names come from where the yeast sits in the barrel, top yeasts float on top - bottom yeasts sink to the bottom.

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/101/yeast/

    I'm not sure what a champagne yeast would be classed as, that's more wine brewing than beer brewing.
    Having said that, as wines are usually made in warmer climates I suspect that they would use top yeasts?


    From what you said before about airlocks it suggests that you have been using wine making methods, maybe you might do better using beer making methods?

    It seems that these days you can buy yeasts specificaly for cider, I always used to use a lager yeast.
    http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/...der_Yeast.html
    Last edited by nukecad; 29-11-16 at 20:10.
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  10. #10
    Biscuitgazer
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    Here's my guideline, if anyone wants to try brewing. I got a book from the library and followed it slavishly at first, but these days I do it by guesswork and memory. About 2 big (20 litre) buckets of apples makes about a gallon of juice. It's a 2-person effort for us. We both pick up windfalls or sometimes pick the apples (though the previous resident here cut off all the easily-reached branches, which makes things difficult) and wash them. Then I sterilise all the equipment while my mother does a lot of cutting up and cleaning up the apples, she discard any brown marks, codling worms, bruises, black skin etc. so we're left with basically perfect apple, which I feed, skin, pips and all through our long-suffering masticating juicer. Then, juice poured into demijohns, I measure the sugar level, nod wisely at the result, add yeast, wait some hours for the crazy fermentation to settle, put in bungs with airlocks half full of vodka to keep the bacteria out, and leave it in the dark for a couple of weeks until it goes clear.

    Then it's time to rack it off, that is, siphon the cider off the sediment and gunk in the old demijohns into new demijohns to carry on fermenting. I test the sugar again and once imore nod wisely at the result. You're meant to start with a certain specific gravity and end with a lower amount as the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, but I don't do that control. But my cider making book says I must test the sugar, so I do. Then I leave it for a few weeks in the new demijohn, then either rack it again or bottle it.

    Racking is a horrible, messy process (so is bottling) and it causes arguments in our house. You put a siphon tube down into the demijohn as far as the layer of gunk. You hold the tube absolutely still so the gunk doesn't swirl up into your nice clear liquid. You get ready to put the other end of the tube in the bottom of a sterile demijohn. You complain at your assistant for allowing the first end to move and swirl up the sediment. You suck the end of the tube to prime it (yuck) and as soon as it's primed you put it in the new demijohn. You have to exclude air as best you can to prevent bacteria getting into it because the bacteria gives it “off flavours”. (Apparently it's possible to have cider that tastes worse than mine.) To exclude air, the siphon tube ends must always be at the bottom of the bottles or demijohns, not the top. And always, from the outset, you have to make sure the fruit flies never, ever touch the cider or it will turn into vinegar.

    After I've gone through one or two fermentation cycles in the demijohns and my sugar measuring gadget says it's fermented enough, it's time to bottle it into sterilized bottles, which is the same as racking only more fiddly. I leave it in the bottles until I am afraid the bottles might explode. I don't put in chemicals to halt the fermentation, but fermentation generally slows down gradually and the yeast dies when the alcohol gets too much for it, so there's not really much risk of exploding bottles. I was advised by my neighbor to leave it in the bottles until spring to mature if I wanted better flavour. I tried that one year, but the flavour was no better. So ours is normally polished off by the end of January.

    Year before last I decided to try making a batch of cider made out of season with apple juice from Asda. It was a complete failure as the juice killed my yeast and went rotten. And I discovered I can get handy bits of equipment to help with racking and bottling, I've bought self priming siphons and all sorts of things, but racking is still a pain and the cider is no better for all the extras. If I've forgotten to write key things here, I probably always forget it, so it might be another reason for my cider not being delicious! But it's always magical to see cloudy, ugly juice transformed into clear, golden cider.

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