Apples, Apples everywhere!
Well this is certainly the case at the end of the summer.
Its surprising how many apple tree's line our countryside and most end up feeding the animals and insects. But with a little effort (sometimes quite a bit) you can turn this fantastic natural resource into a delicious, boozy brew.
The quickest and easiest way to produce cider is to use a cider kit. These can be made up quickly and ready to drink in a matter of weeks. They are also available all year round so a supply of quality of cider can produced at any time of the year.
Alternatively you can do it the hard way and produce ciders from apples. Although this requires quite a lot more effort and equipment, the results are worthwhile, especially if you have an abundance of free apples. Ask neighbours or check hedgerows if your own sources are limited.
The general technique to producing cider is very similar to that of wine making.
1 Extracting the juice
3 Maturation and bottling
The effort is really in the extraction of the juice, which is time consuming, messy and at times back breaking. But its worth the effort and you can recruit friends and family to lighten the load. Like wine making, cider production is led by the seasons so it can become a annual affair, livened up with some of the previous years samples.
Extracting can be done by a number of methods, in our opinion the easiest and most efficient way is using a pulp master and fruit press, although you can use a juicer.
1 Use ripe apples, wind falls are ideal.
2 Leave them for a week or so in a container so that the skins soften
3 Chop them up roughly then pulp using a pulp master (attachment for a household drill) and bucket
4 Squeeze the juice using a fruit press.
Once the juice has been extracted, measure the acidity, you are aiming for 3.9-4.0. To decrease the PH add malic acid, to increase add precipitated chalk.
5 Add 1 tsp of pectolase per gallon (this will ensure the cider clears) this can be omitted but you may get a cloudy cider
6 Check the OG (see measuring alcohol) and add sugar if required to bring it to around 1055.
8 Ferment in a closed fermenter under airlock until complete then rack to demijohns.
The cider then needs maturing for approx 6 months before bottling. You may need to rack off to get the cider off any dead yeast sediment. Additional sugar can be added at bottling to produce a fizzy cider (approx 1/2 tsp per bottle).
It should be ready to drink on the first warm summer evenings. All the hard work will be long forgotten as you reap the rewards.
If you are looking for a complete starter kit for making cider from apple then check out our Delux Starter kit.
Tip - Group together with friends and share the cost of the fruit press. Gather as many apples as you can then split the work and the rewards.
Check our our great brewing forum for tips, advice and brewing banter.