Wednesday, March 11, 2009

first hard apple cider

I took the day off and decided to make a hard cider. Well, three hard ciders, as this is an experiment. At The Cellar I picked up three glass gallon jugs to use as primaries, some champagne yeast, and a few additives. I eluded the tantalizing maw of the cider press, tempting as it was.

My main reference materials were:
  • 3 gallons Columbia Gorge organic flash pasteurized cider, unfiltered, no preservatives
  • 1 packet Red Star Pasteur Champagne dry yeast
  • yeast nutrient
  • acid blend
  • pectic enzyme
  • brown sugar
The only significant cost is the cider itself, at $8 per gallon at Central Market. I went with the dry yeast rather than the Wyeast cider smack-pack mainly because the latter didn't seem cost effective for an experimental three gallons. I asked about using citric acid for some tartness and was told that the acid blend would be better. I was told that the pectic enzyme is entirely optional but will aid clarification.

The yeast nutrient was also suggested. In reading Palmer's section on yeast nutritional needs I see why it's important. Malted barley provides the nitrogen and amino and fatty acids that yeast need. A wort (or must, in this case) lacking these elements, which I think is going to be the case with cider, would be more conducive to good fermentation with the addition of the nutrients.

All three gallons include 2/3 teaspoon each of yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme. Gallons 2 and 3 also contain the acid blend. Gallon 3 also contains eight ounces of brown sugar (dissolved in cider on the stove).

The additives were all dissolved in the jugs in a bit of cider. I proofed the yeast before pitching, then topped up with cider fairly noisily to achieve a little aeration. None of the cider was up to room temperature at this point, so I expect it may take a little longer than usual for fermentation to begin.

The original gravity of the plain cider is about 1.055. The gravity of the cider with brown sugar is about 1.069. Expected final gravity is 1.000, from what I've read.

I think I'd like to make all of these sparkling rather than still. Bottle-conditioning just like beer should do that. Guy at The Cellar also mentioned that the more it's racked the clearer it will get.

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