Part 2 of the Holly Grove cider making experiment began with washing the apples. We are lucky enough to have a large butler's sink in our utility room which makes the job of washing all the apples a little bit quicker and easier. They were quite dirty as most of them were windfalls with only a handful picked straight from the tree, so this was quite a water-intensive process. I would put the used water in our water butts, if they weren't already full to overflowing with the recent rain!
With the apples cleaned I began to cut them into quarters. A useful tip that I picked up whilst researching cider making is to cut the apple horizontally through the middle creating a star-shaped core. This will show up any little creatures burrowing their way to the centre of the apple and allow you to discard/cut out the damage. Once quartered and any damaged flesh removed, it's on to the pomace (pulp) making stage.
It is at this point that I digress from official cider-making wisdom as I'm going to make my pomace in my little food processor; a gift from my Mum about 13 years ago and still going strong; and extract the juice from my apples using my new fruit steamer...and how long will that take you? I hear cider makers around the country cry...well...
|Little Mouli Processor|
|My Shiny New Steamer|
After filling the reservoir of the steamer with boiling water I began to add the chopped apples in batches as they were processed. After about 45 minutes I had filled the fruit steamer to the brim with pomace and then it was just a case of keeping an eye on the water level to ensure the steamer didn't boil dry and running off the resulting juice into the fermentation bucket as it filled its allotted space in the steamer.
|Pomace from the Processor|
Whilst the juice was being generated I made our evening meal and set about a bit (huge pile) of ironing, then after about 3 hours I had my gallon of pasteurised apple juice. As the juice is extracted using steam it pasteurises as it goes. This means that any yeasts on the apples are destroyed, removing the need to use Camden tablets in the cider production. Cider can be made using the naturally occurring yeasts but, by all accounts, this is a bit hit and miss, so I'm using a champagne yeast in my brew.
|One Gallon of Apple Juice|
|Mash after Juice Extraction|
So a gallon doesn't look much but my idea is to experiment this season and learn from the process. Once this gallon is in a demi-john, hopefully within the next 2 to 3 days, then I'll go through the steps again to make a second gallon next weekend. When the Handyman and I saw the mash that remained after the juice had been extracted it made us wish for a pig to polish it off, we settled for adding it to the compost heap. So now our heap smells deliciously of apple!
|Beginning of Fermentation?|
The final step for this part of the process was to allow the lovely deep pink juice to cool down, it comes out of the steamer boiling hot. The yeast, about 1 teaspoon, was mixed with warm water and added to the cooled juice in the fermentation bucket and the lid popped on. Now all I can do is wait to see if the juice begins to ferment.
I know that my process won't do for more than a gallon of juice but it works for me as I love to be in the kitchen and can easily occupy myself with cooking and baking whilst the juice is generated. I suppose that if we wanted to use more of our apples in cider production then we'll have to consider a cider press, but for this season and this experiment the little Mouli and the shiny fruit steamer will do.
I should also credit one of the most useful websites for simple cider making that I found whilst searching for information, refreshingly named - How to make cider.
I'll post more in the next week to update on the fermentation or not of the brew.