The sound of 1000 apples dying…its hard cider making day! :)

Listen closely.. for the sound of 1000 apples dying…OK, so maybe it didn’t take 1000 apples, but here’s a quick rundown of the hard cider making process at Anarchy Lane East brewery.

1- Gather apples – how many? I have no idea. Well, here’s a guideline – 15 lbs of apples makes about 1 gal of cider depending on the apple type. Hard apples like Granny Smith take more, juicy varieties like Honey Crisp take less. What type is up to your taste. We’ve had good results from a mixture of sweet and tart types. This year we’d gotten access to lots of free Granny Smith so we added in some Honey Crisp, and about a pound of sunflower honey left lying around from a previous mead. If you can get some bitter varieties, try those for balance like you would hops in your beer. Next year we’ll be buying the big bags of 2nds – a mixture of all varieties the orchard has. They are far cheaper. And that would be total Anarchy Cider!

2- Smash’em. At our house we use good old Jack LaLane’s Power Juicer. No, that’s not a product plug. It works and we own one. The only drawback is you gotta clean the thing pretty often.  About 10 lbs before it plugs up. I know this isn’t the traditional way of making cider. But honestly, I don’t have the room to store a full size press and scratter.  Keep killin’ those apples till you get the volume you want. We ended up with 5.5 gals, and zero apples left – perfect!

3- Send in the troops: I normally add campden tablets ( 1 per gallon ) and let sit for 24 hours before I pitch my known yeast. You could do a lot of different things here like pitch yeast right away and not kill the wild yeast. Or just naturally ferment. But I think you will find better results by pitching yeast you know will be good. I’ve used many kinds in the past, but this year I am using champagne yeast for a drier cider. Also, the champagne yeast will be very neutral in flavor and keep on chugging through all that sweet juice even if conditions are not perfect. There are some dry wine yeasts that are supposed to also be very good for apples. I have a 1 gallon batch of cider going right now with Red Star Cotes Des Blanc and we’ll see how that turns out. I also add yeast nutrients to the cider, its good insurance for a good ferment. Its cheap – why risk getting off flavors from sad yeast. It took a lot of apple blood to get this far.

4- Ferment till done. I like to let sit a week or so in the primary bucket till the airlock calms down, then rack to a carboy until it clears. Then bottle. Sparkling or still is up to you, but we prefer sparkling with a higher amount of carbonation. Wait a while before you crack the first one. Time is on the side of flavor and balance here. If you make in the fall, springtime is perfect but its up to you. Drink when its good!

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2 Responses to The sound of 1000 apples dying…its hard cider making day! :)

  1. JMan says:

    Leave it to MadMatt to construct a special tower for the machine of deth. looks brutal! the destruction! the gooey aftermath!

    do you let the apples sit until their flesh has softened up a bit before juicing? That is what AppleMan does before he crushes the Kingston Black Apples for me. The apples are small about the size of a crab apple and very hard. the juice yield is very low, so softening plays a role there.

    Who needs a giant press taking up valuable storage when you can modernize, and use a compact multitasker Alton Brown would be proud.

  2. MadMatt says:

    Maybe if a person is crushing the apples by hand into a pulp before pressing, I think you might want to let them sit around a bit. With mechanical contraptions, I think it is probably not that important. Also my opinion is that fresher tasting apples will yield fresher tasting cider. You know what happens to apples as you let them ripen, the flavor changes a lot. Maybe weird science can lend us a hand identifying some of the changes taking place inside the apple. I think pressing when the flavor is right is up to the brewer. There are probably lots of other chemical things going on, more experienced cider makers might be able to chime in.

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