Sweet, tart, dry and infinitely attractive….cider brings back childhood memories of drinking it cold or hot along with a freshly made cinnamon donut right at the apple orchard.
After spending the last few weeks doing research on the makings/differences and finesse of making hard cider at home, I’ve finally developed my strategy for the 6 gallons that is slowly bubbling away in a fermentation carboy in my basement.
I had a difficult time locating fresh cider without preservatives (a necessity for successful fermentation). I finally located a minimally processed cider from 2 local farm stands…both had been cold UV treated..which I had read was an acceptable substitute for untreated cider. I had treated the cider as with wine…a little sodium metabisulfate to kill the “bad bacteria”, then the addition of wine yeast (in the absence of champagne yeast from my local wine store, I opted for the traditional Montrachet yeast that he had in stock)….then a good 5 days or so in my open container covered with a thick towel to let the yeast do it’s work.
A quick brix test confirmed I was on my way and the majority of the most violent fermentation fulfilled itself by day 5. The 6 1/2 gallons just transferred to my 6 gallon carboy and I have now left it sealed with a fermentation lock to let the rest of the co2 gases release before bottling.
I don’t anticipate that the results of this year’s batch will be exceptional….it was a bit of a whim to begin with …but I have high hopes that it will be infinitely more palatable than the syrupy ciders that my local liquor store carries.
When I saw the results of last year’s Pinot Grigio white wine production turn out really well it convinced me that an apple wine could be really stupendous to have on hand for a refreshing change of pace. After reading of the basic method in my winemaking book while my neighbor and I were putting up our annual red and wine for the year, I knew it could be an economical and fabulous addition to our brewing collection.
If you’re a dry wine lover, hard dry cider is a fabulous addition to the table too….it is lighter than wine and can bring a brightness to the table that is not achieved by most beers (I am also a big fan of semi cold Belgian sour beers).
So, I will wait another week or so and see how it tastes and then do a 2nd racking to another car boy. At this point, I have a choice….some say you could bottle at this stage….but I am inclined to wait for the 2nd magical fermentation that occurs some 4-6 months from now and allow the flavor to more fully develop before bottling. I am also convinced that a little “bubbly” could add to the character of my apple cider/wine and may add some sugar solution to the final bottles. After all, who doesn’t love a little “methode traditionale champaignoise” occasionally!
I was really amazed at the possibilities offered by cider making….bubbly, flat, apple varietals, length of fermentation, type of yeast, treatment….scrumpy vs clear, apple jack vs. calvados.
Time will tell for this batch…I hope you will join me for the results!