The cider I made two years ago was brilliant.
I’m not being arrogant – that’s just what others told me.
It must have been beginner’s luck as I really didn’t know what I was doing.
I used natural yeasts which are on the apple skin – apparently they’re quite unpredictable and some cider makers kill them off and then add manufactured yeast to start the bubbling process.
We pressed the juice at an apple day here at the garden with the help of Lingwood Care Farm volunteers and some neighbours and produced quite a dry cider.
This year I decided to try again.
But instead of borrowing a hand-powered scratter (apple crunching machine) and small hobby press I decided to try out an ultra efficient electric scratter and hydropress (powered by water pressure) like the one I’d seen used during my brief visit to Axel and Angelika’s in Northern Germany.
I was lucky – I tracked one down at the Good Life Home Brew shop in Norwich.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was – especially with the help of Lee who was in charge at the shop.
They charge £25 for an hour and claim that one of their customers has managed to press one and half tonnes of apples in that time.
I was pretty sceptical but actually it’s a very efficient quick process and well worth the 12 mile trek there to do it.
I took us about half an hour to process six big crates worth (maybe 140kg) and we came away with about 70 litres of juice.
Don and Jane took about a third, I froze a third and the rest is now in a plastic barrel with an airlock in the shed in the first stage of fermentation.
I used a hydrometer, which is like a thermometer, but which measures the sugar levels in the juice.
As the microbes and bacteria really get to work they turn the sugar into alcohol and so the sugar content should decrease.
I will measure the brew again with the hydrometer over the next week or ten days to get an idea of whether the initial and sometimes quite violent fermentation has finished.
Then it’s time to rack off (transfer the cider) to another container where I will leave it to go through a secondary fermentation process.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn to cider vinegar!
We haven’t wasted anything. The pomace (what’s left of the fruit after pressing) has gone to the lovely pigs at Lingwood Care Farm.
What I really loved was the camaraderie between Don, Jane and I.
I met them volunteering at the care farm a couple of years ago.
They drove to and from the home brew shop and helped pick most of the apples two weeks before.
When we got home we had warm quince cake which I wrote about in my last blog post.