The autumn time is the traditional time to make Cider (or if you are from the US, Hard Cider) and this year Richard Dixon and I didn’t want to be left out.
We had been offered as many apples as we could pick from a friend’s orchard so we set about getting all the equipment together to make some cider: A 56 gallon oak barrel was sourced on ebay, 2 x 48 gallon food grade barrels were located at a local garden centre and a second hand garden shredder was modified to use as a Scratter. Richard has his own metal works so he built a hydraulic ‘rack and cloth‘ press and we were ready to go.
Saturday afternoon saw us visiting the orchard with a boat hook, a trailer and plenty of plastic bags. After a few hours we had filled all our bags and calculated that we had collected about 600 lbs of apples. We both ached that night!
Early on Sunday morning we were ready to press, and soon discovered an issue with our Scratter – if you put whole apples in it worked very well as a peeler but didn’t actually pulp the apples. It turned out that chopping the apples in half made a big difference, so that was my job for the day.
The process is pretty simple and goes as follows:
Here is a rough video of the process from start to getting the juice in the fermentation barrel:
From our 600 lbs of fruit we managed to collect approximately 46 gallons of juice which is an extraction rate of better than 75%. The Specific Gravity was measured as 1.050 which we later raised to 1.055 with the addition of some sugar. The pH was slightly lower than we would have liked at 3.1 but it was close enough to the desired range (3.2 – 3.8) to not worry about.
An SG of 1.055 should give us an alcohol content of up to 7.2% in the finished Cider.
We had decided to ‘Sulphite’ the juice with the addition of campden tablets at a rate of 1 per gallon, then introduce some known cider yeast 24 hours later so that we could be sure of getting the correct type of fermentation.
The facts and figures for all those technically minded people:
Apples Pressed: 600 lbs
Juice Volume: 46 gallons
Pressing date: 3rd October 2010
Specific Gravity: 1.055
Sugar Content: 12.2% (approx.)
Potential Alcohol: 7.2% (approx.)
Campden tablets added: 46
Yeast added: Young’s Cider Yeast, 50 grams.
If you are interested in making your own Cider there are several great resources on the internet, below are two that I have found most useful: