Making Hard Cider like it’s 1903

P1100775CIdermaking at home is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to make your own alcohol. The key to delicious cider, is, of course, the apples! A crisp, sweet, well-rounded cider is made from a variety of apples. Our batch of cider used an old English variety (too old for me to even know what type of apples they are) mixed with Red Delicious, Cortland and some green apples. Very specific, I know. Each press was a different mixture of the apples and tasted a bit different. There are 100s of apples recommended for cidermaking.Apples

If you don’t have access to apples, unpasteurized juice can be used to make natural hard cider. Because of some (quite exaggerated) cases of sickness from people drinking real cider, finding unpasteurized apple juice can be a difficult task. Local orchards, farmers markets, or natural food markets may sell unpasteurized cider. Red Jack Orchards sells jugs of unpasteurized apple cider, when it is in season.

The ultimate way to make your own cider is pressing the apples yourself with a hydraulic cider press, or a screw-type wine press. Luckily we have access to a homemade hydraulic cider press! So, after your apples have been picked and cleaned, the next step is to sanitize, clean, scrub, and wash every inch of the equipment. (Most boring step!)Pomace

2. Feed apples into the grinder box. The whole apples are chopped up into easily squished pieces.

3. The ground pumace drops from the grinder box into a giant tub. This tub is then dumped into the press-which is lined with a wool-cloth. Slatted wooden racks are placed on top of the cloths.CiderPress

4. This process is repeated, stacking cloths and wooden slats one on top of another. The stack is then positioned underneath the pressing mechanism. Holding tank

5. Juice is squeezed out, flows through a tube, and into a holding tank as pressure is applied.Cider1

6. Carboys are filled from the holding tank with the fresh pressed juice.

7. The pressed pomace is composted.

Only in North America does the word cider refer to primarily the unfermented, fresh-pressed juice. Throughout the rest of the world, cider indicates an alcoholic beverage.



The absolute easiest way possible:

-Fill a fermentation vessel- jug or carboy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a cool location out of direct sunlight.

– In a few days, the cider will begin to bubble, froth, and foam over. Clean the sides of the container every day. Once this fast fermentation subsides, usually a week or so, depending on temperature. Fit the jug with a fermentation lock filled with water. Let the vessel ferment for another month or two. Siphon off the cider into a clean vessel, leaving the sediment, or lees, behind. Let the cider mellow for another month, then it should be ready to bottle! Taste test the cider and make sure you like the flavor!

…Getting a little more creative:

Tomorrow I will show you the experiments we did with varying yeast strains, killing the wild yeast, adding flavoring, spices, and using different sugar sources (including mini marshmallows!)

Have you ever made your own cider?! What is your favorite recipe?

Home Brewing! (Update!)

We finally finished and bottled our first home brew! Read about the first steps in our brewing endever here. To quickly catch you up, a couple of weeks ago we started a batch of Coffee Stout. We decided to add a whole bunch of vanilla beans too and ended up with a fantastic beer. It is smooth, complex, and delicious. There are hints of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. Last time we chatted I walked you through steps one, two, and part of three. This post will cover the rest of step 3-bottling and drinking-the best step of all!


After we waited about 10 days we added 8-10 vanilla beans to each of the carboys. We also brewed two pots of coffee using fresh ground beans from The Dali Java and poured one into each 5-gallon bottle of brew. YUM!

So on to the fifth step in STEP 3…Bottling. Our beer didn’t taste half bad, even flat, which is a good sign. In order to add carbonation we needed to “prime” the beer with fermentable sugars. We also placed one carboy of beer straight into the kegerator, which will force carbon dioxide into the beer, therefore no need for priming sugar.

SIDE NOTE: I made my boyfriend a new tap handle for our kegerator. It was inspired by Salvador Dali. There are magnetic labels that can be removed or placed on the tap to label what is in the keg…This isn’t a great picture, but you can kind of see what it looks like.
P1100039Shout out to Naked Dove!
The other 5-gallon carboy filled 53 bottles, which were capped and will be ready to drink in about two weeks!

P1100167P1100163Clementine was such a great helper…And now to enjoy a pint!