Finally we have enough apples to have a bash at cider making! A friend up the lane was selling his cider making kit, and it was perfect stuff to get going with – scratter attachment for a drill (Pulpmaster), small 5 litre spindle press, fermentation barrels, and umpteen bits and bobs that I’m sure are useful!
Whilst I’d hoped to have enough of one or two varieties to go for a more calculated approach, the reality was the number of apples on none trees dictated which were used! A course Suz sent me on earlier in the year gave some great notes, and from those I read that one of their mixes for a cider was roughly two thirds Bramley (cooker) and one third Worcester Pearmain (eater). Well – we have neither in abundance, but I managed to scrat together the following:
3.2kg Newton Wonder (cooker)
6.5kg Lord Derby (cooker)
2.3kg Ribston Pippin (eater)
1.2kg Dabinett (cider)
1.0kg Medaille d’Or (cider)
Heaven knows what’ll happen! Eventually I hope to have a cider based on the local Newton Wonder, mixed with an eater I’ve yet to decide on, but needs must, so we have the above concoction. Tasting some of the pressed juice, it was fresh and quite tart. To give you an idea of the sizes of the apples – the Lord Derby apple (the green stonker) weighed in at around 280g, but was quite a light apple in terms of density. The Newton Wonder, top-right, weighed in at around 320g! Three to a kilo! A very dense fruit, the tree was quite prolific, and they were gorgeous apples 🙂
The actual method was very simple – I washed everything down thoroughly, and sterilised the various plastic bins, demijohns and air locks. I washed the press down with water (it was quite clean to look at), but didn’t want to scrub it as I read that good yeasts can live in the wood. Then I placed a bunch of apples in a big plastic bin filled with water, and one by one pulled them out, checked them over, rubbed them clean with my hands, removed any obvious insects and bad apple. Then I quartered them, dropped them into the scratter bucket. A few turns of the scratter, attached to the drill, and the pulp was ready. The pulp was bagged into nylon mesh socks, laid in the press, two at a time, then pressed.
From all those apples, I ended up with just over one demijohn of juice. The demijohn was filled to within 1″ (2.5cm) of the bung line (the lowest point the bung will reach when then demijohn is sealed), then the bung and airlock attached (not forgetting to fill the airlock with water!). It’s worth noting that you can expect an apple to juice conversion rate of around 25-33%, so from 10kg of apples you could expect around 2.5 to 3 litres of apple juice. As I managed to fill an 8 pint (4.5 litre) demijohn, and I started out with around 14.2kg of apples, that gave me a 32% conversion rate, which I’m chuffed about!
That’s pretty much it so far – it’s in a room that will hover between 10 and 20 degrees celsius, but I may move it to the garage where the temperature is more consistent, albeit at the lower end of that range. Fingers crossed!