Making Hard Cider

We went apple picking on the last day of the season over at Rock Hill Orchard on 10/27/2012.  Their trees were pretty young, which was a little disappointing.  I can’t tell if in my youth apple trees were gigantic because I was small, or if they were actually relatively large trees. 

Either way we got a number of varietal apples.  I had read on the internet that getting a variety of apples leads to a more complex flavor, which sounded good to me.  I had also read that you do not want to use all sweet apples, or all sour apples.  It is better to do a 2:1 ratio towards the sweetness or tartness that you’re looking to achieve.  That said, if you’re going with a bunch of people given the directive to pick some apples, its hard to control your ratios.  I think we got some granny smith, green delicious, red delicious, pink lady, and some stayman.–about 40 pounds worth.  They charged us about $1.10 per pound, which I believe was a little expensive.  There were plenty of apples on the ground, and were I to do this again I’d probably be less picky about whether the apples were on the trees or on the ground when making cider–I’d more important that they are not rotting.

I rented a 30 pound apple press from Maryland Homebrew.  This cost 15 for 3 days, though I got it for 6 since we rented it on Sunday and I wouldn’t be able to return it until the next weekend.   It took us a little while to figure out how to operate the press effectively. There were a couple basic problems that made this a little bit difficult:

  1. 40 pounds of apples is not nearly enough apples for using in the press.
  2. They did not give us enough wooden blocks to help push down the apples.  We ended up using ~10 books stacked on top of the press to help out.
  3. It was beginning to hurricane outside, so we were doing this in the kitchen.  There was just barely enough space in the kitchen to operate the press.
  4. Initially we just chopped up the apples, and through them in the press.  This did not work.  Afterwards we blended up all the apples, and discarded the cores.  This worked awesomely, though was incredibly time consuming.

After getting the apples all pressed we had about a gallon and a half of a dark brown cider.  This cider was absolutely delicious.

The Original Gravity was around 1.06.

We pitched an dry English Ale Yeast (I forget the name–I’m a bad brewer).  After pitching the yeast, the cider got a milky caramel color to it.  It is incredibly opaque.  I have read on the internet that the way to get good clarity is to put it outside (assuming the temperature is about 40 degrees, which is pretty bad assumption in Maryland) after fermentation is complete–this will kill off the yeast, and cause a lot of the stuff to settle out.



Some notes for next time:

Quality Control Notes:

10/28/2012 — Original Gravity 1.06

11/11/2012 — Racked.  Gravity 1.01.  ~7%.  Airlock is slightly bubbling still.


November 4, 2012 • Posted in: Brewing

One Response to “Making Hard Cider”

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