Making hard crab apple cider: bottling day one

For those who have been following this blog for a while, that’s right. We still haven’t bottled our hard cider yet! And yes, it’s been almost a year!

For those who are new to the blog, you can catch up on the progress with these links; all will open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place.

Crab apple picking
Making hard crab apple cider; will it work?
Hard crab apple cider: getting clear
Making hard crab apple cider: racking day – what happened? (Updated: I found out)

We meant to bottle these months ago, but time and space and other priorities kept delaying things.

Today, I finally broke down and did it.

Well. Half of it.

We didn’t want to use corked wine bottles for this, so we’ve been saving up our screw top bottles for a while now. Only recently did we get enough to bottle the hard cider, anyhow. We just don’t buy wine-bottle sized things very often. I suppose that’s a downside of our buying habits. Not a lot of materials left over to reuse.

I only did one of the two carboys we had fermenting. They are 3L each, so I needed at least four 750ml sized bottles. After sterilizing them, I didn’t siphon the cider into them. I have problems with using the siphon. We don’t have an auto siphon, and have not been able to find one that will fit in anything smaller than the large carboy that came with our wine making kit, so it’s gotta be done old school. I always end up disturbing the sediment, and splashing all over when moving from bottle to bottle, so today I just gently poured it from the carboy through a sterilized funnel.

For the last bottle, I added a coffee filter to the funnel, just in case.

It actually worked out MUCH better than fighting with a siphon. Not only did I barely disturb the sediment at all, but there was no mess. I’m sure I committed some major faux pax by not using a siphon to fill from the bottom up, and getting all that air in there, but… it is what it is. I still wiped the bottles with vinegar water, but there really wasn’t anything to clean up.

Of course, I then had to do a taste test!

This was poured from the partially filled bottle, so if there was any sediment that got through, this would be the bottle that has it.

As you can see, it is very clear.

There is a very strong smell of alcohol from this, but you can also really smell “crab apple” as well.

I just love that colour! Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll have many crab apples at all this year, never mind from this particular tree with it’s very red little apples, so we won’t be making more hard cider, nor cider vinegar, with our crab apples this year.

We still have the second carboy to bottle, though, and that will leave us with hard cider to last us a while.

Ah, but how does it taste?

The first thing that hits is SOUR! This is a remarkably sour cider! Not a bitter kind of sour, though. It really wakes up the taste buds. I think this would be good with game. Or with a really strong flavored dessert.

For all that it smells of strong alcohol, there isn’t a strong alcohol flavour. I don’t actually enjoy the taste of alcohol, but I can drink this. And yes, there is a light, fruity apple taste, too.

I find myself thinking this would be nice with a spot of sugar or honey added to it. Perhaps I’ll try some with a bit of our vanilla sugar added. Or to include it in a fruit punch.

I did not take a hydrometer reading. I wasn’t up to digging it out this time. Based on previous readings, it was just under 11% alcohol. After tasting it, I would not be surprised for that to have remained unchanged. This is strong stuff, even if it does take a while to feel it!

This is definitely a “sip it slowly” kind of drink.

It should be interesting to see if the flavour changes after they’ve had a few days to rest after being bottled without a siphon.

The Re-Farmer

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