2017 Apple Harvest Cider Thread

Discussion in 'Wine & Cider Brewdays!' started by MattH1973, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Sep 24, 2017 #1

    MattH1973

    MattH1973

    MattH1973

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    following last years trial run (there is a thread) and about 8 litres of delicious cider, we got a bit more serious this year, but not in Freesters league...

    winter pruning meant a vastly increased apple harvest and we had 6 potato sacks full to crush and juice

    got through 4.5 sacks today, juice was delicious, pH 3.2 and the IG reading pointed toward 9% cider..... at that point we had about 18 litres of juice so decided to stop and top up to 25 litres with water, aiming for a 6% ish cider...

    i have another 10 litre fermenting bucket, so will do the rest in a week or 2.

    pics to follow
     
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  2. Sep 24, 2017 #2

    freester

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    Keeps us updated. 9% potential apple juice... Nice one I'm hoping my last batch is a tad stronger...
     
  3. Sep 25, 2017 #3

    MattH1973

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    some pics - sadly none of the trees....

    sacks of apples ready to go. 4.5 now done, 1.5 still to do so hoping for another 10 litres or so on the next press
    [​IMG]20170924_155137 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    the press. I love the early stages of freshly scratted apples when you get a torrent of juice...
    [​IMG]20170924_161958 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    my daughter operates the scratter, she was actually really helpful. The kids loved the juice....my son asked me tonight to "make some non alcoholic cider" .....
    [​IMG]20170924_164002 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    in the cellar. I put the yeast and nutrient in tonight. Interestingly the airlock levels moved quite a bit simply with the juice sitting for 24 hours. natural fermentation ?
    [​IMG]20170924_205644 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    so the yeast is in now and we will leave it in the cellar for a couple of weeks....better buy some more demijohns....
     
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  4. Sep 25, 2017 #4

    MattH1973

    MattH1973

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    found some of the trees, but from winter.

    in this first one there are 2 (Hunters Hall ?) trees we were given about 8 years ago - they produced over 100 apples last year, less this year, and a new crab apple we planted this winter to help fertilisation...
    [​IMG]20170226_153259 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    the next are of this winters planting operation, some old trees that have been there 100s of years we think, with new ones in the foreground. interestingly, one fell down but then sprouted a load of new growth and started fruiting again, I am therefore thinking of cutting an old one right back where the fruit is too high to pick...
    [​IMG]20170226_152512 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20170226_152502 by MattH3764, on Flickr
     
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  5. Sep 28, 2017 #5

    MattH1973

    MattH1973

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    in the cellar - which I am guessing is about 15-17 degrees - it is now bubbling away nicely 2 days after adding yeast. One bubble per second, maybe a bit faster. I used Youngs cider yeast. I hope this will bear out that you don't need to overheat it - an even temp is more important.
     
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  6. Sep 28, 2017 #6

    freester

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    All of my cider has been in the garage this year. The last batch was well below 20 deg. Admittedly it is affected by temp fluctuations day / night.
     
  7. Oct 1, 2017 #7

    MattH1973

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    another press today using the rest of our harvest plus a few from the parents in law from yorkshire. Got 15 litres of juice that should ferment out to about 6.5-7 % cider.
    [​IMG]20171001_163651 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    I also discovered one of my hydrometers is reading high - meaning that first batch wasn't 9% diluted down to 7% but actually 7% diluted down to 5% ish - never mind.....

    it seems to be fermenting well in the cellar, after a week the rate of bubbles has slowed suggesting it is nearly done. I have some new demijohns on order so will rack into those next weekend......

    took a pic of two of the trees post picking, with one of the new crab apple trees in front....
    [​IMG]20171001_170838 by MattH3764, on Flickr
     
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  8. Oct 1, 2017 #8

    MattH1973

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    it's hard work. Next year I'm considering investing in an electric crusher, as Freester has demonstrated one that can take whole apples can save a lot of time.....

    ....the flipside of that is that the chopping is a good chance to get rid of the numerous bugs that infest our apples. I feel I'd rather not use chemicals - I guess I will just fish any bugs out of the juice next year - hopefully the camdens will avoid it being affected......
     
  9. Oct 8, 2017 #9

    MattH1973

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    racked to secondary today....

    The 25 litre batch that had been diluted fermented out to about 1.002. Having adjusted for the original dodgy hydrometer reading I think this batch is at 5.2 %. Hydrometer sample tasted OK - similar to last year at this point which then greatly improved after bottle conditioning. Racked to 5 demijohns...

    [​IMG]20171008_131942 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    sort of regretting using 5 vessels rather than a single big one as siphoning will be a pain when bottling and I will lose more cider..... a lesson learnt I guess

    I also racked the 10 litre batch that had only been in primary for week, since the lack of bubbling in the airlock suggested the bucket didn't seal very well. That one hadn't been diluted pre fermentation and had fermented to 1.004 - about 7% and certainly tasted like it when I drank the hydrometer sample.....

    both batches are still bubbling periodically - suggesting slow fermentation is ongoing....

    my stomach is bubbling too after drinking all those yeasties.....

    in summary we now have
    - 25 litre diluted batch at about 5.2% following 2 weeks in primary, now in secondary
    - 10 litre neat batch at about 7% following 1 week in primary, now in secondary. I topped up the demijohns with a bit of water so probably now at about 6%
    - 5 litre neat batch still in primary (1 week in)

    the latter two batches had pectolase added pre primary fermentation - will see if those clear faster....
     
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  10. Oct 15, 2017 #10

    MattH1973

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    bottling today......., all 40 litres now done.....all threw quite a few lees in secondary, but then it hasn't been fermenting long. my worries about oxidisation and carbonation make me prefer the bottle conditioning route.

    25 litre batch, diluted down to just over 5%. Youngs cider yeast. No pectolase. 2 weeks primary, 1 week secondary. Made it down to 1.002. Tasted OK, a bit tart, bottle conditioning should improve it like last year. used 1tsp sugar per bottle.

    10 litre batch, diluted down to 6% ish. Youngs cider yeast. Added pectolase. 1 week primary, 1 week secondary. Made it down to 1.002. Tasted better than the above batch - maybe due to strength and / or pectolase, bottle conditioning should improve it like last year. used 1tsp sugar per bottle.

    5 litre batch, left as neat juice to aim for 7% ish cider. Last years love brewing champagne yeast. Added pectolase. 2 weeks primary only. Made it down to 1.000. Tasted similar to the 10 litre batch.

    I'm optimistic that malolactic fermentation will help all 3 batches.

    Main lesson as I already mentioned is to get some larger secondary vessels to reduce siphoning losses and save time. I made a bottle with the dregs of each demijohn and we will see if this one clears !!
    [​IMG]20171015_195413 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    other pics as the bottles make their way to the cellar....
    [​IMG]20171015_195507 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20171015_195520 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    i'm much better with the siphon this year. primed it by sucking through some sterile solution and then cleaned the end - managed to then keep it primed for all 8 demijohns therefore minimising time and cider losses re-priming. trick is to turn the tap off at the first sound of gurgling at the bottom of the DJ.
     
  11. Oct 15, 2017 #11

    MattH1973

    MattH1973

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    ps - another lesson - dont reply on the contents of the boxes of your amazon deliveries. i got quite stressed when opening the box of bottles that had been in the porch for a week, as since I had all my kit out I would have been screwed had anything been wrong with the contents - thankfully 40 bottles and lids all there and I used every last one....

    started to save my glass beer bottles for future years......
     
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  12. Nov 6, 2017 #12

    MattH1973

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    whilst most of it will mature over winter we sampled a couple of bottles this weekend....

    the diluted 25 litre batch (about 5.5%) with no pectolase was alomost fully clear, tasted crisp and fresh, really pleasing.

    the less diluted 10 litre batch (6.someting%) with pectolase was completely clear, a little darker and even nicer drink....

    in both cases, the single tsp of sugar had provided a nice gentle carbonation, helping with storage and giving the drink a but more zing....

    both batches certainly stack up well with craft ciders one can buy, so we are really pleased, but depending on how they mature over winter I think I might use pectolase regularly from this point on......

    suspect my forum activity will now ebb away until apple picking time next year, but I will see you from time to time. Thanks to all those who help and advise......
     
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  13. Nov 27, 2017 #13

    MattH1973

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    drank the "dregs" bottle the other day - delicious and clear.

    Lesson - never leave anything in the bottom of your secondary vessels - tip it into the bottling bucket and do a "dregs" bottle at the end - free cider !
     
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  14. Dec 4, 2017 #14

    MattH1973

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    sampled some of the 10l batch this weekend. Pectolase made it beautifully clear but less apple flavour than the weaker batch with no pectolase. clearly the cider is changing as bottle conditioning takes its course......
     
  15. Dec 30, 2017 #15

    MattH1973

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    the wife got me a capper and some novelty labels.
    [​IMG]20171229_095726 by MattH3764, on Flickr

    drinking wise we have been enjoying the weakest batch this christmas and it has gone down really well, so different to commercial ciders. we may crack open a bottle of the 7% for new years eve.....
     
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  16. Feb 6, 2018 #16

    MattH1973

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    Dry January over, and drinking cider once again.

    - The batches that contained pectolase are wonderfully clear and crisp, with the sediment so well compacted pouring has become a doddle.

    - The non pectolase weaker batch is perfectly clear, but requires much more careful pouring as the sediment is easily disturbed.

    Whilst all the batches are still delicious, the strong apple flavour that was there soon after clearing seems to be ebbing away and the drink is becoming more champagne like. It seems this process happened faster in the pectolase batches. Perhaps my taste is such that malolactic fermentation doesn't really work for me ? or maybe the cider is just slighlly oxidising in the PET plastic bottles (I am storing up glass for this year). Thoughts welcome.

    The 7% batch that didn't go via secondary is no worse for it. I still think I would do secondary for the batches in the fermenting buckets though. But using a demijohn for primary and skipping secondary is apparently also fine.

    No notable difference between the 7% and 6% batches other than strength - it seems that Youngs cider years and out of date (but stored in the fridge) love brewing champagne yeast are much of a muchness. Dare I use the love brewing yeast again this year (2 years out of date) ? - probably not. But based on the crispness and easy pour of the 7% batch I may stick with champagne yeast going forwards.

    In the shower this morning I found myself thinking of this autumn's manufacturing. I must get on and order that electric crusher.
     
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  17. Feb 21, 2018 #17

    MattH1973

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    This bad boy arrived at the weekend.......roll on autumn, when I will definitely be scrumping apples in order to make a batch big enough to pay for it.....
    [​IMG]20180217_144911 by MattH3764, on Flickr
     
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  18. Feb 21, 2018 #18

    freester

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    Oooooooh. What make is it?
     
  19. Feb 22, 2018 #19

    MattH1973

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    it's made by a company called Selections (I hadn't heard of them either) which I found on Amazon. The reviews are reassuringly specific about how much time it saves, and I decided the cost (it's quite a bit cheaper than any other electric high volume crusher I found) warranted giving it a chance.

    if one values proper craft cider made only from juice (no added sugar) at £3 a bottle then it should easily earn it's keep.....

    if it works, I will be selling my manual crusher (2 years use, great for a beginner) this autumn.
     
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  20. Mar 4, 2018 #20

    MattH1973

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    pH tested my soil today, to see if wood ash would help the apples. Good news, got a reading of about 6.3-6.4, and apple trees thrive in slightly acidic soil. Seems I should just let nature take its course.....
     

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