2023 Apple Harvest Cider Thread

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MattH1973

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So here we go again, you know the drill, apples being gathered, about 5 sacks so far. I reckon there's one more sack on the trees and then that's it, so it will be about half of last year's bumper haul - 60 litres if I am lucky.

News from the year
- we have been here for 15 years, but this year brambles have suddenly started to over run the old apple trees. Digging them out is very laborious, and I think it has affected this years yield
- because there's a bit, less, and I have been busy, i will do it all in one press this year - scheduled for Sunday.
- last years brewing (see 2022 thread) confirmed that secondary is well worth it so I will do all my cider that way this year - moving to secondary around November and bottling in spring.
- I will do one 10 litre carbuoy without yeast ("Au Naturel" - credit to Freester (who sadly seems to have disappeared) after this went wrong last year - i think i must have put camden in the juice by mistake and it didnt ferment in 3 months. I added yeast after that time and it is broadly drinkable, albeit not great.

20230910_135338 by MattH3764, on Flickr

20230910_135330 by MattH3764, on Flickr
 
pressed today, quite disappointingly there were a lot of bad apples in what I picked (not sure why it was more of a problem this year), but I still got 35 litres. The good news is that it came out as about 9.5% proof (once fermented) so i can probably dilute it a bit at bottling at get over 40 litres.

As usual, we have
- a 10 litre carboy, totally natural that will ferment on its own (I hope)
- a 25 litre fermenter with camden, chalk and pectolase already added, yeast and nutrient to go in tomorrow
- 2 litres of juice for the kids, tastes pretty good...

20230917_122420 by MattH3764, on Flickr

20230917_122420 by MattH3764, on Flickr

20230917_142408 by MattH3764, on Flickr
 
quick update, predictably the big batch with yeast went like the clappers and is now slowing down with a bubble every 45 seconds or so. I will give that one a couple more weeks and then mature in secondary, and probably dilute at that point to fill the vessel. Hopefully that willl give me 30 odd litres of 7% cider.

The au naturel is going much more slowly, and I have been anxious about it after last years stuck fermentation - even though i expect the reason was me adding camden by mistake. The good news is that this one is bubbling very slowly - and the speed is in creasing. Im48s Saturday and Im36 just now. Based on previous years I would hope this will significantly speed up during this week, but i would still expect it to sit in primary until Dec. If I'm in any doubt I might take a sample when i siphon the first batch to secondary.
 
au naturel now bubbling nicely - so it seems yeast will get a batch bubbling in 3 days, and au naturel will get bubbling on 3 weeks - nice symmetry

I will probably transfer the yeast batch to secondary in a couple of weeks, and the au naturel shortly after
 
Trees this year had more blossom and more pollination as conditions for insects at that time were better than last. Not the same drought in summer either which has resulted in many more apples.

only downside is despite precautions, I seem to have had a worse coddling moth problem this year resulting in many more mothed apples. They were falling from august due to moth grubs so actually put my first batch on in 3rd week of August. I think you can see why I call my cider codling moth…

they are now starting to fall with much less moth infestation and should be about to get the main fall.
 
interesting your harvest is so autumnal, VIndicator, and that you had a good crop when many people near me (Cambs) didnt. The drought last year gave me a bumper harvest - but my 3 trees are about 400 years old so the roots go way down I am sure.

The juice is so strong and acidic that I never worry about insects in the apples - they all go into the crusher unless they are brown....
 
This is what I pressed the other week.
It's kept in the brewing display at the museum I volunteer at.
Pinkish ones on left are from a bumper crop of sweet crab apples.
On the right are mix of cookers & apples from the blacksmiths garden
Picture was post pectolytic enzymr & pre yeast, so I need to check on them next time I go in.
IMG-20231009-WA0000.jpeg
 
Siphoned the big batch to secondary yesterday, and added about 3 litres of water. Should still leave me at over 8%. Good exercise lifting it.....
 

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and the 10 litres of au natural siphoned to secondary today, it had fermented all the way and the hydrometer sample tasted very, very smooth - almost to the point of it being bland ! - added about 1 litre of water, so again, it will leave the cider over 8%

20231203_144829 by MattH3764, on Flickr
 
I was round a friends house yesterday and he can't drink for medical reasons so still has a good stash of his own cider now a year old. He made me drink 2 bottles of it while he smiled. One was 8% and the flavour was still fresh and intense then 5% er also very fresh but less intense. I never got my cider to last that long frankly, it certainly has merit so will have to hide 20 bottles somewhere
 
I was round a friends house yesterday and he can't drink for medical reasons so still has a good stash of his own cider now a year old. He made me drink 2 bottles of it while he smiled. One was 8% and the flavour was still fresh and intense then 5% er also very fresh but less intense. I never got my cider to last that long frankly, it certainly has merit so will have to hide 20 bottles somewhere
i find if you use glass bottles and carbonate them it lasts very well - indeed i think mine peaks after about 18 months.
 
Bottled it all last night, the usual drill but a few reflections:
- Secondary is definitely, definitely worth the effort. It was so smooth coming out of the fermenter that topping up my glass every now and then meant it ended up being a very mellow evening......
- people probably do this, but blow out your siphon tubes after cleaning. When i got mine out it had some mold growing in it but I thankfully had some backup tubing
- i had forgotten to refrigerate the yeast so i am bit worried that the pinch i added to each bottle wont be enough to carbonate them (obviously i added priming sugar) but hopefully it will be OK.

So the final scores on the doors:
- 30 ish litres of the yeast batch, diluted down to c8.5% (gold tops)
- 12 ish litres of the au naturel, nothing added other than priming. Was a wonderful clear golden colour, and delicious to drink. About 8.5% (blue tops) [edited as I forgot I diluted it earlier]

20240207_195828 by MattH3764, on Flickr

20240207_185528 by MattH3764, on Flickr

Final thought - I wonder what happened to Freester, I do miss him on here. He was both informed and informative, and enriched this section greatly.
 
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Lol, everyone appears to make cider that's much stronger than I managed.
I guess your trees are a better variety than the ones I'm using.
I might need to add sugar next year.
 
I depends when you pick, as to how juicey the apples are.

You can also add a bit of sugar.

Some years ago I bottled a lightly oaked cider and inoculated for secondary. Very nice are 18 months. Alway said I done have done it in fizz, not beer bottles.
 
Yes, I am fortunate that my apples come out that strong naturally - regardless of when i pick them, within reason. We have acidic soil here and the main trees are 100s of years old we think - which seems to be ideal conditions for apples.

When i first researched cider a few years back, I remember thinking that 4.5% was about the cutoff - if my juice implied a strength weaker than that then I would add sugar - but i am glad I don't have to,
 

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