Hard Cider Pt. II

on Saturday 18 November 2006 - 21:32:11 | by Tripper
I took the plunge today and mixed up a few batches of cider. It is getting late in the apple season and I figured that if I didn't do it by this weekend, I would have to wait another year. Friday, I was able to drop by a local orchard and pick up 9 gallons of unpasteurized cider. I had the carboys on loan from a friend and the only other major component needed was a sugar. This is how it went down.

First off, realize that pasteurized cider has no active yeast. The process which removes harmful bacteria also kills the much needed yeast for making hard cider. You can add yeast (champagne, brewers, and even bread if you so desire) to filtered cider but I really wanted the au natural version for my undertaking.

I had pretty much decided on my recipes. The basic cider is 1 cup of sugar per gallon of cider. You can use brown or white or corn syrup for that matter. Additionally, you can use 1 lb of honey per gallon which was my sugar of choice, well, for the bulk of it. The idea is to have enough sugar to allow the yeast to work and move the sugars to alcohol. Your yeast ultimately determines the alcohol content. Different yeasts die at different levels of alcohol so once the alcohol level gets to a certain point, the yeast can no longer survive and the alcohol content is at its max.

I have 3 carboys for my project. One 6 gallon, one 3 gallon, and one 1 gallon. This works out for my use because I'm just starting and want to experiment without wasting the entire batch. The 6 gallon unit was just the basic 6 lbs of honey and 6 gallons of cider. I'll bring up a point here which applies to all of my mixtures. I've read and have been told that you can just dump your sugar into the carboy without mixing it. While I'm sure this will work, I feel that the product will work more completely by thoroughly mixing my sugar into the cider. Again, I'm certainly not an expert but this is my opinion and the technique I decided on. I placed the appropriate amount of honey into a stock pot and added about a half gallon of cider. I set the temperature to low and stirred constantly. This took only a few minutes and made me feel like I was doing something productive. Additionally, it made adding the honey much easier than if I had tried to pour it into the carboy.

So, 6 gallons of honey cider blended together and set ready to go. For the 3 gallon, I figured I could get a little daring so I added a can of Welch's white grape peach concentrate and honey as the sugar. Nothing too crazy but I wanted to see if it added a nice flavor. Of course there is also sugar in the concnetrate so it should be a little bit sweeter than the basic version.

The 1 gallon was open game. I figured wasting a gallon and still having 9 wouldn't be to bad, so, I got a little crazy. I had just harvested and dried some peppers my grandmother grew. These aren't habaneros but they are about the same size and about the same heat. I think they were some type of genetically altered jalapeno's. I had pulled the plant about a month ago and let them dry on the branch in our utility room. I placed three of them into the cider to see what kind of bite they would bring. Additionally, I used 1 cup of brown sugar in this batch. I really feel it was important to premix the sugar with cider in this case. I used the same process as I did with the honey and then funneled it into the carboy.

I topped all three primary fermentors with a rubber cork and airlock. I placed them in a spare bedroom on the second floor of our house. We don't use the upstairs so it gets very little heat during the winter months. The temperature remains fairly constant at about 55. Using this space will keep my two-year old from playing with the carboys and also keep a somewhat stable environment. I do have plans for a reserved area in our basement/garage at the new place for performing this type of activity in the future. I'll post some info when I am able to taste it. Should be a few months.


02 Jul : 12:41
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I managed to bottle the hot pepper blend earlier in the year. It came out pretty good with a kick of heat after you swallow. I will definately make this version again however would like to let it age a while longer than I did. The day I bottled it, the flavor was very nice however it took on a little bit of a vinegar taste after being in the bottles. This is probably just because of the introduction of oxygen when I bottled and may go away after it bottle ages for 6 or so months. Unfortunately, it is all gone for the year so I may never know!

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