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Home Cider Making

Discussion in 'Skills and Smarts' started by dnjan, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    Anyone make their own cider?

    I've made about 5 gallons of cider each of the past three years.

    This year I decided to try making "cider" with the red plums on one of our trees.
    Yesterday I picked about 50 lbs. of plums, and ran them through the apple shredder.
    Put what fit into a six-gallon plastic bucket with a fermentation lock.
    Spontaneous fermentation started, and tomorrow I will probably run it through a press and ferment the juice only in a carboy.

    I am considering saving some of the fermented plum juice (with the dregs) to use as a starter culture when the apples get ripe this fall.

    (I figure that spontaneous fermentation qualifies as a Golden Era skill ...)
  2. galopede

    galopede One of the Regulars

    That's called Plum Jerkum round these 'ere parts!


    A friend and I made about 10 imperial gallons of cider from mixed apples last year for the first time. I was always a beermaker which is far less effort! We got the apples from my friend's garden and also eftover real cider apples from another farmer friend's orchard who supplies Weston's Cider near me in Herefordshire. Weston's is several grades above the usual Bulmer's Stongbow etc!

    My favourite though is perry, a cider type drink made with pears. Another friend has a house with a cider mill and I help him make several large industrial drums of perry every year. Be careful with perry. Too much has a dire effect on the guts!

  3. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    Thanks! I wasn't aware of the name.
    True cider apples can be hard to come by over here. Many of the trees were replaced with "eating-apple" trees when the interest in cider decreased significantly. Now people are drinking more cider (at least locally), but I am told that the delay in getting new cider apple trees into production is at least five years.
  4. galopede

    galopede One of the Regulars

    Where I live, in Gloucestershire,I am almost at the heart of the cider apple growing part of England with Herefordshire one side and Somerset the other and Gloucestershire in the middle, all making great ciders. Here too years ago, cider apple orchards were being grubbed up around the country but they stopped in time so we still have many varied (and strangely named, Handsome Norman anyone?) cider apples and perry pears. The perry is mostly from my county of Gloucestershire where most of the orchards still exist. They have even better variety names than the cider apples, names like Dead Boy and Stinking Bishop!

    The plums for the plum Jerkum come from another neighbouring county, Worcestershire!
  5. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    New England and the northeastern US used to be great cider country. The custom was to plant random apple seeds and whatever grew up, got made into cider. These "wild" apples tend to be tart and sour, and make better cider than sweet but insipid "dessert" apples.

    If you want to make old fashioned cider, there are apple trees all along country roads. People throw apple cores out the window and trees grow in the ditches and fence rows. Around here you can't go 1/2 mile without seeing one or more apple trees.

    I have thought of picking these apples and making cider out of them. You might try the same.

    Incidentally when one of these random apple trees turned out to have particularly good fruit, twigs would be taken off and grafted to other trees. This is how many well known varieties of apples were discovered and propagated.
  6. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    Unfortunately, it is a bit of a drive from Seattle to "country roads".
    We have a couple of apple trees (plus a plum tree) in our backyard. The apple trees had gotten quite overgrown, and have not recovered yet from the severe pruning I gave them a couple of years ago.
    Fortunately, a house about a block down from us has a couple of apple trees in their front yard. After watching the apples falling last year (and being put into the yard waste container) I asked if they minded if I picked them. The people were overjoyed (fewer apples for them to pick up)!

    Ended up with enough apples to make about 5 gallons of cider. Took them a six-pack of 12-oz bottles, which they seem to have appreciated. So I hope I can get apples there again this year.

    Pressed the plums yesterday (got about 4 gallons from 50 lbs of plums), and it is slowly bubbling away.
    (this is from the wild yeast - I didn't pitch any commercial yeast)
  7. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    I remember the smell from my grandfather's cider barrel in his cellar in the 60s. I've been in that housee since, and I swear the scent is still there.
  8. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    You can add some crabapples for flavor if all you have is sweet dessert apples.
  9. What types of presses do you use?

    As a child, my parents had an old wooden and metak press that you hand turned that was extremely slow and tedious. My husband's grandparents took their apples to a commercial hydrolic press (that you "rented").

    We're interested in making cider, but haven't much knowledge of home presses.
  10. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    How much do you want to make? For a gallon or 2 a home juicer will work.
  11. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    I have a small (about 2-gallon capacity) press that you screw down by hand. Takes multiple fillings to fill a five-gallon carboy. I would like to make a larger one (closer to 5-gallon size), but haven't finalized my design yet.
    For apples you also should have a shredder (to rip the apples into little bits so they press easier).
  12. Probably a lot. We'll likely have 8 to 12 semidrawf apple trees and would want to cider our waste apples.

    Also, we really like cider. Especially the hard stuff.
  13. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    I have this shredder:
    Small, but works well as shredding is a continuous process.

    Unfortunately, the cost of presses goes up very quickly as you increase size.

    You will also need (or at least they are helpful) mesh bags to hold the shredded apple pieces in the press.
    Size depends on the size of press you get.
  14. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    there are other kinds?
  15. Hmm, I've made mead in the past, had very drunk deer from my strawberry dregs too. But making apple cidar & hard cidar sound interesting. I grew up near a place that made their own cidar until the state of CT stepped in & said their giant stone press/mill wasn't sanitary enough, making everyone got to pasteurized cidar.

    Now its getting colder cidar making sounds good, mead is too finicky sometimes, I still gave my carboys & vents around somewhere. hmmm
  16. Thank you for the advice. :) we're likely looking at least several years down the line (we have 3 apple trees planted at the new house, we'll likely finish the apple part of the orchard in a year or two). So probably 5 years or so before any production. I'm thinking more along the lines of 8 apple trees... we have a semi-dwarf at the old house and it produces quite a few apples. We'll likely sell some roadside and donate some, but those waste apples would make tasty cider...
  17. I have not tried cider yet but it is on the agenda. Right now we have mead fermenting and just bottled a robust porter.
  18. Braz

    Braz Familiar Face

    I am fortunate to have an orchard nearby that sells unpasteurized sweet cider. Every fall I buy 20 gallons and ferment it out using Lalvin EC1118 yeast. Then after a couple of "renderings" it produces five or six gallons of Calvados (unaged apple brandy). After that it goes into an oak barrel for a nice rest. As long as Mrs. and I can keep out mitts off it.
  19. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

    Finally bottled this year's cider.
    I had about four gallons of apple and five of plum.

    Put them out in the garage when the weather got cold to help clarify them.
    Ended up blending two gallons of the plum with the four gallons of apple, and then bottling the rest of the plum separately.

    The blend is about 4.7% ABV, and the plum is about 5.1%.

    Should be a good afternoon refresher next summer.
  20. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

    Well I've heard that a Perry/Cider blend is a Pyder so you must have invented Plyder?

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