Cider making...

10 April, 2015

Over the long weekend one of the main tasks to complete was to make cider.

And make cider we did.

There are many how-to's for cider making available on the interwebs, so this post is merely intended to run you through our current cider making process.

First, get your apples. My lovely mother and I scrumped around 80kgs of roadside apples a few weeks back, which had since been quietly softening ready for cider making. It is better to make cider/juice apples that have been picked a while ago, rather than straight from the tree, as the softer apples are easier to press and yield more juice.

Said apples, ready for washing and chopping.

These apples were merely washed briefly in tap water to ensure any dirt, dust and bird droppings were not an unwanted cider additive. Some had gone bad and were chucked, but others with only a little rot had the bad bits chopped off and the rest used.

Then the chopping. Oh, the chopping. Our current method is by Thermomix.

My mum and I both have Thermomixes (Thermomixi?...) amongst other family members, so these were used to chop the apples. These were both set up on a table next to the press, with a nice flow of apple from box, to chop, to press.


We chopped the apples into quarters or eights, depending on size, then filled the bowl and chopped on 8-9 for 5-6 seconds. Sometimes large pieces remained but mostly it was a pretty apple-y mush.

The mushed apples almost filled the press.


Now blocks went on top of the apple mush and the pushing and pulling began.

Pretty soon we had a decent flow of juice.


Yes, some apple bits came out the sides of the press, but the juice was sieved as it went into the carboys so no matter.

This time around I've done two batches, one (in the clear persex carboy) with an added champagne yeast, and the other (in the closed carboy) with no added yeasts with the hope the natural yeasts in the apples will ferment the cider.


It may all turn out badly, but at least I've hedged my cidery bets. So now I just wait until the brews stop bubbling then taste tests, wracking off and further bottling will occur.

Until then I am enjoying the glooping noise of air passing through the airlocks and the dreams of many litres of hopefully delicious cider to come.

Do you home brew? Any tips or tricks you have come across?

13 comments:

  1. My mom and dad occasionally home brewed things in my youth. I don't remember much about it though. And they never brewed apple cider.

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    1. My grandmother has told me about her father who used to home distil plum brandy, which I think is just awesome. It looks like the home alcohol gene skipped a couple of generations.

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  2. Is this the first time you have made cider? Where did you get that wonderful apple press? I am waiting in suspense to know how this turns out...

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    1. This is the second major operation involving a lot of apples and a press, but many a small brew has been previously created. The apple press is an old wine press that my step-grandfather ( a lovely Italian gentleman who passed just over a year ago) had and which I am eternally grateful fell into my hands.
      I have already had a sneak preview of the champagne yeast brew and it's looking good. Still too sweet for my taste and has a bit more alcohol creating to do, but its promising. :)

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  3. Fantastic! The worst thing that can happen is that the must will get a bacterial infection and you'll end up with 10L of apple cider vinegar, but in my profession opinion (!) you're on track for cider success :-) Crushing by thermomix sounds like bloody hard work, but. If you're cidering again next year and want to borrow our crusher, I'd be very happy to see it used (by more people than us). I guess my only other tip is if all your apples are sweet 'uns with no mouth-puckering edge and you were hoping for a wine-y taste: you'll be needing tannins. In the absence of tanniny apples (crab apples are good, but not usually very juicy), you can drop a couple of teabags into the ferment. This year we've found a stand of about ten Asian pear trees in All Nations Park in Northcote. The fruit are as big as nashis and just as juicy, but they're absolutely inedible because they're so astringent. A great addition, then, to a batch of cider made with nothing else but sweet apples.

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    1. Ha, I already have had that experience. Actually I am still using up that vinegar. It's rather nice. Waste not, want not.
      I would be absolutely delighted to borrow your apple crusher. It wasn't all that bad crushing my thermomix but I'm sure a proper crusher would be better.
      I will definitely be adding the teabag tannins - thanks for the tip. I had read about that, but was thinking it'd be an experiment for another brew. Now you've got me thinking I'll decant some more (what is another carboy on the bench, after all) and add some teabags and then compare. Do you think the tannins need to be added now, or could go in for secondary fermentation?
      It's funny how you mention pears. My mum has found a heap of small pears (look like nashi's, but are much smaller, about 10c piece size, and quite sweet) on council planted trees near her work place which is in an industrial area. We had talked about harvesting some and trying a perry. If I could add some of these as well I reckon it might be quite a nice brew. I think some more scrumping is in order ;)

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  4. That's a beautiful old press you've got there...I'm envious. Also very brave of you to try a batch with just wild yeast...we only have used champagne yeast. A trick we tried was to freeze then thaw the apples...that softened them up nicely. Happy imbibing!

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    1. It is lovely, and I'm very appreciative that I ended up being its next caretaker. The wild yeast batch took a little while to get going but is now bubbling along nicely. I'll probably do a taste test this weekend. Stay tuned :)
      I like the freeze and thaw trick. I shall use that! Cheers.

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  5. That's a beautiful old press you've got there...I'm envious. Also very brave of you to try a batch with just wild yeast...we only have used champagne yeast. A trick we tried was to freeze then thaw the apples...that softened them up nicely. Happy imbibing!

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  6. Very interesting. I hope it comes out delicious.

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    1. One taste test in on the champagne yeast batch and it's looking good :)

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  7. WOW!!!!! i'm just thinking of how long it would have taken to chop without those thermomixes (in the old days!).
    just as wonderful to read the input of some of your learned readers.

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    1. I know! I'm very happy to live in modern times which technology that can do it for me :)

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