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Old 10-16-2013, 05:16 PM   #1
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Default Hard apple cider

Anyone here make their own? I picked about half the apples from one of my trees, and I've got around 70ish pounds so far. So I figured I'd try my hand at a batch of hard cider this year.

I bought a kit from vintners best (ldcarlson), because that's what my local brewing/winemaking supplier suggested. Part #3010dlc if anyone is interested in that part.

Also bought the other ingredients (champagne yeast, campden, yeast energizer, pectic enzyme).

Anyways, just wondering if there's any personal experiences/tips any of you guys may have. I'll be buying a juicer tomorrow to get the process started.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I have always enjoyed Hot Dickens Cider
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Old 10-16-2013, 06:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I see what you did there...
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Juicers aren't very efficient for something on this scale. You'll spend a lot less time and effort while getting a much better extraction from the apples if you wait until you have all the apples picked and just rent a press.

You won't be able to carbonate with that kit, which, if you like still ciders, is no big deal. For bottle carbonating, you'll need to get either a beer bottle capper or a bunch of "EZ Cap" swing cap bottles (like Grolsch beer bottles). Even for still cider, you might find the EZ Caps to be simpler to deal with than the double arm corker.

If you're going to do this a lot, you might want to look into a bottling bucket with a filling wand which has a spring loaded valve, so that it only fills when you have the bottle pressed up to it - the moment you pull the bottle down, it cuts off the flow and, it always fills to the proper level.

And, for the love of god, please, please take that champagne yeast and throw it away, get cider yeast from White Labs or Wyeast (I forget the numbers offhand). Champagne yeast just doesn't give good results, it's just too aggressive a yeast, you really have to keep an eye on it or it'll dry the cider out and leave you with a near flavorless bucket of boozy water.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Thanks for the advice. I was going into it blindly. I understand about the bottling bucket (which I don't have) and fill wand (this kit came with one). If it's something I decide to continue doing, I'll be sure to upgrade the equipment accordingly.

Regarding the juicer vs press: the only press I can rent looks like it could barely fit 2 pounds of apples at a time, and is basically an 8-9" wide by 12" tall perforated metal pipe, and a threaded rod with wooden handles. It's not one of the ones to hook a hose to. I suppose I could do that. I just thought the juicer would be easier.

I'll see what I can do for different yeast. I'm storing the apples out in the garage right now because it's in the 40's. We're supposed to freeze and get snow this weekend, and I don't want to store apples inside for too long.

I knew about the bottle carbonating, but since that's at the end of the process, I left it out for now.

I appreciate the advice. Exactly the type of input I was looking for.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I just looked more closely at the kit you bought, appears that it comes with a bottling/filling wand. All you would need is a bottling bucket and about an inch of tubing.

My stuff is all packed up right now so I can't shoot a photo of the setup, but when you get to that point, LMK, I'll explain the easy & least messy way to do it. Maybe I'll even bottle before then, if so, I'll take some pictures for you.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:02 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Thanks, much appreciated.

I should probably spend the few bucks on the bottling bucket when it becomes time.

The "brand" yeast I bought was LALVIN. The yeast number is EC-1118, and does denote it's for sparkling wine.

I am going to call my local place in the morning and see if they can order in the proper yeast for me. With other local vendors (auto parts, sporting goods, etc.) I've found that a lot of times they can get stuff way quicker than me, and I don't have to pay shipping. I like to keep my money local, so i prefer to deal locally instead of online vendors. Of course, there are situations where that's an impossibility, and maybe this is one of those cases.

I'll do some more digging to see if I can find the numbers of the cider yeasts you are referring to.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Bummer on the press rentals. Living in northern CA, big wine presses are very easy to find & rent, sometimes I forget that other parts of the country aren't as lucky.

A juicer will work, but they can be messy. Some don't extract very well, leaving you with a lot of lost juice in the ejected pulp. Which, if you're into making and giving away lots of jars of apple butter for the holidays, might not be a bad thing.

I also noticed that the high speed juicers tend to leave more large solids / more particulate matter in the juice. It's not a deal breaker, but it's lost space - all that stuff needs to stay in your primary when you rack it. 6.5 gal becomes 4.5 real fast.

I would think that the LHBS would have someone's cider yeast. You can also use red wine yeasts or white wine yeasts, but I've found that white wine yeasts tend to get a bit dryer. You can even use some beer yeasts, just double up on the energizer and add some additional DAP. I would recommend sticking to more neutral yeasts / clean fermenters if you go the beer yeast route - the flavors added to beer by some yeasts can quickly become off-flavors in cider.

You could even be daring and use the wild yeast on the apples, but I've never had much luck there, it always ended up tasting like gasoline.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Yeah, EC-1118 is definitely champagne yest. If they only carry Lalvin, you could try for RC-212. I've had mixed results with it - I prefer Red Star Montrachet, the RC-212 is a good yeast, but it can get dryer than I want for fruit wines.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Oh, and if you want a clear wine, grab yourself some some Sparkolloid and use it at the end per the directions. I've treated batches with that and had professionals ask me if I ran it through a filter pack.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

The commercial cider I've tried and enjoyed is Julian, so I suppose that's the dryness I'm shooting for. I guess I'm going for a "carbonated dry chard" flavor, as that's the best I can describe the flavors I got of Julian hard cider. So RC-212 might be right up my alley. Thanks for that insight too.

Yeah, one of the drawbacks of living in a rural community is access to some of the stuff you guys have better access to. The juicer I bought is some $99 jack la lanne power juicer. The pulp does still feel moist, so I may rent the Neanderthal press just to press the leftover. pulp.

I will definitely get the clearing additive. I suppose the pectin enzyme can only go so far.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I can't remember if I've tried an of the Julian ciders or not. I think I have, but I'm not sure. They're semi-local, I'll pick up a bottle tomorrow.

Pressing the leftover pulp, man, that stuff is going to be oxidized something fierce. Don't dump it into your primary until you have tasted the juice from the pressings. Can you get powdered ascorbic acid? You can treat the pressings with that as they come out of the juicer to reduce the oxidation, but too much will drop your pH down too far.

Pectic enzyme and clearing agents work well together. Pectic enzyme you add at the beginning, it's an actual enzyme that breaks down the chain of attached pectin molecules in the juice, which, if left alone, can cause a haze in the juice.

The clearing agents, and there are many, tend to work by ionic attraction. They bond to the larger particles of opposite charge and because of this, they become heaver and sink.

Keeping all of this in perspective, there is no rule that says you must use both together. They work brilliantly together, but it's not mandatory.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #13
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

You are correct yet again about the oxidization of the pulp. I'm not even going to try to press that. I may try to strain what I juice through a cloth before going into the primary, as there was quite a bit of froth that seemed to contain some pulp/solids. When I strained it into a glass, the juice was clear with a pinkish hue. When I didn't strain before, it was the oxidized brown color. I did notice a loss of flavor when straining, so I'm still unsure if it's a good idea or not.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:34 AM   #14
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Though my logic tells me it's better to waste space than flavor.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:17 AM   #15
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I'm keeping an eye on this thread. I'd love to see your results and what if anything you might do differently next time. I have three apple trees, a Jonathan, a Golden Delicious, and an unknown. I've been watching Stephen Hayes videos on YooTube learning how to prune, graft, thin, etc. I'm very eager to graft my Jonathan onto new rootstock which I'm trying to grow from seed of my unknown tree. Anyway, cider both normal and hard are something I'm interested in for future years.

BTW,
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

In the past, I've tried staining with a tea strainer. Wasn't worth the effort for me, I just took the loss in the primary. If you have a racking cane clip, you can use it to keep the bottom of the cane suspended above the lees so you don't pull that much of it into the secondary.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:53 AM   #17
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

I do have a clip for the racking cane. Looks like I'll just do it that way.

357, I wish my other tree ripened at the same time as this one did. It's an unknown to me as well. Actually, all of my trees are unknown, as they were planted by the former owner's husband. She was selling the place after they divorced, and it was her now ex-husband who planted the trees. It used to grow apples with no flavor. But because of the milder fall we had up here, the apples got to mature and actually became quite good. On the tart side, but good nonetheless. My local Farmer's market is tomorrow, so I may go buy some sweeter apples for blending.

I'm also going to add some brown sugar to the mix.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:57 AM   #18
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Adam, I just got off the phone with my local supplier. They do have RC-212. I'm going to be picking that up today.
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:31 AM   #19
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Quote:
Originally Posted by pektel View Post
I do have a clip for the racking cane. Looks like I'll just do it that way.

357, I wish my other tree ripened at the same time as this one did. It's an unknown to me as well. Actually, all of my trees are unknown, as they were planted by the former owner's husband. She was selling the place after they divorced, and it was her now ex-husband who planted the trees. It used to grow apples with no flavor. But because of the milder fall we had up here, the apples got to mature and actually became quite good. On the tart side, but good nonetheless. My local Farmer's market is tomorrow, so I may go buy some sweeter apples for blending.

I'm also going to add some brown sugar to the mix.
Careful not to over do it, too much sugar and you'll be waiting until this time next year before it's drinkable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pektel View Post
Adam, I just got off the phone with my local supplier. They do have RC-212. I'm going to be picking that up today.
Cool. Like I said, I've had mixed results with RC-212, it will leave it a bit dry, more so than a cider yeast will, but if you're going for a still cider, you can always stop the fermentation early when you hit the gravity you want, or back sweeten prior to bottling.
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:41 AM   #20
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Default Re: Hard apple cider

Peter, I didn't know what kind of apples I had either. I'm pretty sure about those two now after reading up a bit here.

http://www.seattletreefruitsociety.com/appleid.php

It helped me ID them. It might help you if you want to try and nail it down.
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