We have been making cider with our orchard apples for over 15 years now. I find it hugely satisfying and it makes excellent use of an apple crop that would otherwise go to waste.
We try to use a mix of apples. Too many eating apples and you get a rather insipid cider. Too many cookers and it is rather sharp. The beauty is that every year is slightly different depending on the apples available. You certainly don’t need specialist cider apples to make a very drinkable cider.
- First of all make sure that all your equipment is cleaned and sterilised to reduce the risk of off flavours getting into your cider.
- Give the apples a good wash in clear water and cut into quarters making sure you take out any bruised pieces and any bugs! Some people leave the bruised parts of the apple but we like our cider to be fresh tasting and not of old over-ripe apples.
- Put the apple pieces through the crusher. The aim is to crush the apples and not chop them as this releases more of the juice.
- We extract more juice by a short pulse in a food processor. You don’t want to create a pulp as this simply oozes out of the press in the next stage. The pieces need to be crushed but still large enough not to escape out of the press.
- The juice is extracted using a manually operated Vigo fruit press. You need patience for this as you need to give the apple time to release its juice. You then apply more pressure and wait again. (You can always drink the juice at this stage as well – in the interests of quality control of course!)
- Gather all the juice together in a sterilised fermenting vessel with a bubbler.
- We add about 1kg of granulated sugar dissolved in a small amount of water to every 25 litres of juice to increase the alcohol content of the final cider (to about 7%-8%). This means it keeps much longer and will keep up to a year once bottled with no problems.
- We use cider yeast rather than a general purpose wine yeast. Sprinkle the yeast on the surface and allow to soak for 15 minutes or so before stirring in.
- We also add about 4 teaspoons of pectolase to the must to get a clear, fresh cider with no cloudiness.
- Place the cider to bubble away until around December. Keep it in a warmish place at around room temperature. Once the fermentation starts to slow decant the cider off the old yeast deposit into a clean fermenting vessel. Leave to ferment out until the bubbles stop.
- We bottle our cider into normal, sterilised beer bottles that will take the pressure of a secondary ferment in the bottle. We add one teaspoon of sugar to each bottle before filling and then apply a crown cork to seal.
- The cider is then left for its secondary ferment in the bottle. This is important as this secondary ferment will mellow the cider and create the natural sparkle in the bottle.
- The cider will be ready in about February or March but will keep very well for at least 12 months.
- Chill before drinking and enjoy!!
22 October 2017 – Apple pressing completed and fermentation started
9 December 2017 – Racking the cider off the dead yeast as fermentation slows to prevent off flavours developing
31 January 2018 – Cider bottled and stored in cool area for secondary fermentation in the bottle to create the sparkle!
20 March 2018 – Breaking open the first bottle – yum😁