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Old 18-11-2017, 11:12 AM   #1
pomme homme
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Default 2017 - an 'annus mirablis' for cider?

The following originally was posted on MattH1973's thread entitled '2017 apple harvest cider thread' but, on reflection, maybe it would have been better for me to initiate a discrete thread, rather than 'hijack' his. Hence this approach.

I'm wondering whether what started as an annus horribilis (a late frost in May, when the apple trees were in flower, resulting in much less fruit) will turn into an annus mirabilis (the recently pressed apples yielding ABV of between 9.7% and 10.5%). If so, it seems that the cider will reflect what a local viticulteur told me of his 2017 grape harvest - significantly reduced yields but offering the potential for amazing quality wine!

I started my pressing on Tuesday and finished on Thursday. I had only 550 litres (by volume - that's seven dustbins full) of apples (exclusively Clochard) which produced enough pomace for two pressings (the volume of my press is just under 0.7 m³) which yielded a little over 70 litres of apple juice.

Now I'm agonising over whether to dilute the apple juice to an ABV of around 6%. But even though to do would increase the amount of cider made, adding water to pure fruit juice is an anathema to me. So I think that either I'll add a little commercial sugar to the juice, with a view to making an apple wine of about 12% ABV or, more likely, I won't ferment out all the natural sugar so that I make a very strong cider with a residual apple sweetness - that is unless someone has some good alternative ideas with which to persuade me to follow a different course!
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Old 18-11-2017, 04:48 PM   #2
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Personally, I would probably dilute the juice down to a "drinkable" level.

As an impoverished young man I loved the kick available from a couple of pints of original scrumpy, but nowadays I like my ABV to be around the 3% to 4% level; and drink a lot more of it.

I presume that the commercial makers use a dilution process to hit their ABV targets, especially if the apples are producing high sugar content juice.

Having said that, I'd still be very tempted to brew some "au naturel" and treat it with the respect that it will obviously deserve!

Good luck on your decision!
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Drinking
Coopers Stout Kit + Grain (15/06/17)
AG Vienna Lager with Hallertau (12/11/17)
Wilco's Hoppy Copper Bitter (12/11/17)
Wilco's Pilsner with Lowicz Cherry Syrup (12/11/17)
AG Low ABV Pale Ale (19/11/17)

Carbonating/Conditioning
Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Fermenting
Golden Pumpkin Ale
AG Oatmeal Stout

Note:
(**/**/**) = Date ready to drink.
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Old 18-11-2017, 05:17 PM   #3
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Au naturel won out. So I'm fermenting the juice as it came out the press - with neither sugar nor water added. But I suspect that I'll follow your advice, Dutto, and treat the finished product like a pomological barley wine, drinking it with moderation rather than quaffing it by the pint!
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Old 19-11-2017, 01:36 PM   #4
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I'll bet you wish one of these would turn up in your local Tesco Car Park!

In "the good old days" the mobile distillery turned up and distilled your cider to produce Calvados! A mate of mine keeps me supplied with the neat liquor but I daren't ask him where he gets it from!
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Dutto

Living more in hope than expectation; and seldom disappointed.

Drinking
Coopers Stout Kit + Grain (15/06/17)
AG Vienna Lager with Hallertau (12/11/17)
Wilco's Hoppy Copper Bitter (12/11/17)
Wilco's Pilsner with Lowicz Cherry Syrup (12/11/17)
AG Low ABV Pale Ale (19/11/17)

Carbonating/Conditioning
Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Fermenting
Golden Pumpkin Ale
AG Oatmeal Stout

Note:
(**/**/**) = Date ready to drink.
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Old 19-11-2017, 05:33 PM   #5
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In my neck of the woods, mouvipress wouldn't get a great deal of business. Those who don't have the means to scrat and press their apples chez eux can take them to a village, about 20 minutes drive away, where the commune has a unit on the local trading estate which contains not only large scale scratters and hydraulic and centrifugal presses but also the equipment for pasteurising and bottling apple juice (strangely, in this area there is greater artisanal production of apple juice than cider). It operates on a communal basis and when sufficient people have booked in a sufficient quantity of apples. Then the group works together, with an expert leader, to produce apple juice which is taken away pro rata to the amount of apples brought in by each person.

I'm loth to respond to your second point, Dutto, because the last time I touched on this subject I got a severe knuckle rapping from the moderators. Maybe things have changed since then (I note that this website now provides a link to what appears to be a US home distilling forum). But as I don't know, I'll limit myself to statements of fact that:

- provided that the all the paperwork is done and the duty is paid, in France it is not illegal to have your cider distilled to produce eau de vie de pomme

- the distillateur ambulante is still a feature of many rural communities in France and ours visits every winter attracting considerable custom (including mine).

Finally you might care to read what tonyhibbett has said on this subject vis a vis the legality of home distillation in the UK (http://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/sh...ad.php?t=73818)
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Old 19-11-2017, 05:50 PM   #6
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I can understand the reluctance to be associated with the process for two main reasons. 1. The process is dangerous. 2. The end product can be dangerous.

I worked in refineries and gas plants long enough to understand just how dangerous the process can be. Last year, in the town of Boston, seven people died in a fire/explosion that occurred in an unlicensed and totally illegal factory.

The dangers from the product itself again cannot be stressed high enough; especially if the method of production is in anyway compromised.

With regard to the "distillateur ambulante" Jean-claude still sheds a tear over the fact that he doesn't come round where he lives any more!

BTW. Thanks for the link. I read it with great interest when it was originally posted.
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Living more in hope than expectation; and seldom disappointed.

Drinking
Coopers Stout Kit + Grain (15/06/17)
AG Vienna Lager with Hallertau (12/11/17)
Wilco's Hoppy Copper Bitter (12/11/17)
Wilco's Pilsner with Lowicz Cherry Syrup (12/11/17)
AG Low ABV Pale Ale (19/11/17)

Carbonating/Conditioning
Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Fermenting
Golden Pumpkin Ale
AG Oatmeal Stout

Note:
(**/**/**) = Date ready to drink.
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Old 23-11-2017, 08:59 PM   #7
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Hence the benefit of the distillateur ambulante. A man who knows what he's doing when it comes to spirit production!
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Old 24-11-2017, 09:29 AM   #8
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back on topic, 2016 (ironically my first year making cider having watched the last 7 apple harvests simply go to waste) was particularly poor in terms of yield. I had assumed that may be because I had never pruned my trees in 8 years (2 8 years old and 2 hundreds of years old). so I winter pruned over Christmas and returned to good yields in 2017.

Both years the quality was pretty good.

I find the home grown cider so much better than anything you can buy, I would always dilute down to the 6-7.5% mark. I did that this year and the drink is not at all weak and watery, and it is way more apple flavoured than any commercial cider.

the idea of apple wine doesn't turn me on. So I'd rather have more of a drink I like !

I will monitor for frosts next year once the trees are in blossom.
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Old 24-11-2017, 11:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH1973 View Post
.........

I will monitor for frosts next year once the trees are in blossom.
I understand that in "the good old days", at the first sign of frost, the orchard owners would start bales of straw smouldering away on the upwind end of the orchards.

Apparently, it wasn't so much the heat of the burning straw that reduced frost damage so much as the tiny particles in the smoke which prevented the formation of frost on the blossoms.

PS

Please be aware that my brain is a constant source of information which may possibly be untrue and therefore useless.
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Dutto

Living more in hope than expectation; and seldom disappointed.

Drinking
Coopers Stout Kit + Grain (15/06/17)
AG Vienna Lager with Hallertau (12/11/17)
Wilco's Hoppy Copper Bitter (12/11/17)
Wilco's Pilsner with Lowicz Cherry Syrup (12/11/17)
AG Low ABV Pale Ale (19/11/17)

Carbonating/Conditioning
Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Fermenting
Golden Pumpkin Ale
AG Oatmeal Stout

Note:
(**/**/**) = Date ready to drink.
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