Introduction: Apple Cider From the Ghetto
If you have a large number of apples and don't know what to do with them, here is a refreshing beverage you can make.
The reason I have called it 'Ghetto Cider' is that it won't appeal to purists for the following reasons:
- I don't have a secondary ferment, it goes straight from the bucket into the bottle
- I don't use a cider press to squueze out the mash
- I add sugar
- The carbonation is via sugar charges rather than residual sweetness.
Nevertheless, this recipe will make you a clear, dry, refreshing, apply, alcoholic (4-5%) cider.
And it is dead easy to make!
Step 1: Ingredients
The ingredients you will need:
6-8kg of apples. Make sure the apples are at their sweetest, ie, really soft and almost at the point of going off. This is when they will have the highest fruit sugars and good for cider. Also no-one will want to eat them!
champagne yeast - I used this yeast because it was what I had at hand. You could use brewer's yeast, but if the alcohol content goes up too much the yeast will die and create foulness.
2kg of sugar - for a 'cidery' taste you can use plain table sugar. I used dextrose to give it a clean-ness.
Bucket - the white food safe buckets with a lid are excellent - you can buy these from a hardware shop for $10 or so. Make sure they are food safe, have a handle and a sealable lid.
Racking tube - any food safe tube will do, about 4 feet with an internal diameter of 1cm or so.
Airlock - you can grab these from a brew shop or use a tissue taped to a hole in the lid of the bucket. They look like a chemistry set figure of 8 with two bulbs. Fill them with water and then stick into a hole in the lid of the bucket.
Muslin cloth for filtering out the apple bits.
Cleaner and sterilizer - the best stuff to use is the 'pink stuff'. http://www.grapeandgrain.ca/info/cleanandsanitize.html
Bottles - you can recycle glass bottles if you have a capper, or Cooper's Brewery sell some nice plastic ones which are good enough to use straight away.
Carbonation drops / sugar charges. To make the cider fizzy.
Step 2: Preparation
Chop up the apples and remove the cores and any bad bits. pour boiling water until they are covered and allow to cool. This will remove quite a lot of the wild yeast, dirt, bacteria etc. on the apples. Drain the water and mash the apples until you have something that looks a bit like mashed potato with red strips in it.
A famous winemaker once asked me - "Do you want to know the secret to becoming a winemaker?" I said, "Yes!" And he said, "Washing. 90% of a winemaker's job is washing". In this case it is no different with cider.
1. Use the 'pink stuff' to wash out the bucket
2. Remove all grease and smells by washing with hot water
3. Keep rinsing until it is 'squeaky clean'
4. Clean all things that are in contact, utensils, bucket lid, airlock etc.
5. Once you can't smell anything in the bucket, rinse it again for good measure and you are ready.
Step 3: Ferment
Pour the apple mash and sugar into the bucket. Pour boiling water (about 4 litres) over the apple/sugar mix and vigourously stir until the sugar mix is dissolved.
Add COLD water (25oC) until the bucket is full to the 15-17 litre mark. If you have a hygrometer this is a good chance to measure the initial gravity of your mix. Practice makes perfect here, try several batches until you are happy.
Add the yeast in and stir with a wooden spoon.
Fix the lid. In a couple of days you should hear bubbling from the airlock signifying the fermentation has started. Once this has occured, every day use your hand or a spoon to stir the apple/water mix and push the apples down to the bottom of the mix. This will give extra flavour, avoid spoilage and is a fun thing to do just before that important office meeting at 9am.
Troubleshooting if you haven't got any bubbling:
1. Bucket is in a place that is too hot or too cold. Ensure the bucket is in an environment from about 15oC to 30oC max. Any colder, the yeast will sleep. Any hotter, you should be making rum.
2. You put the yeast in the hot water. The yeast is dead :( start again.
3. The ferment may have finished! especially if it is hot. Taste the mix and see if it tastes ok and alcoholic (warm)
4. Something else has happened. Taste the mix to see if it tastes ok. Be patient. If in doubt, throw it out.
Step 4: Bottle
Eventually the airlock will stop bubbling, which signifies that the ferment has stopped. If you want a sweeter cider, you can stop it early, where there is still some sugar left. You can stop it with 1g of vitamin C in the mixture.
Once it has stopped, open the bucket and use the muslin bag to scoop out the apples. Squash these for more femented juice and put the juice back in the mix, or throw them out. Place the bucket on a stool or other raised platform and wait a day or so for all the stuff/bits to settle out.
Open and arrange all of the bottles near the bucket and open their lids so that you can use the tube to pour in the cider. Add two carbonation drops to each bottle so they are primed for fizziness..
Place one end of the tube about 8/10 of the way into the bucket. Suck on the other end of the tube while you are seated below the level of the stool or bucket base. The cider should start flowing out of the tube into your mouth.
If you are still sober, use your finger to stopper the tube end and fill each bottle in turn. You can use the muslin bag to filter out any 'bits' by taping it to one end of the tube, depending on the weave you will need to experiment to ensure you get a good flow of cider.
Add the bottle caps, invert the bottle then leave the cider in a cool place for a month or two. Resist the temptation to open the bottle early, it is better to wait, the bubbles will be finer, all of the gunk will settle down the bottom and the flavours will develop.
Super-chill the cider and invite your friends around once you have done some quality control.