Starting hard crab apple cider: a long night!

Last night, my daughters and I got some hard crab apple cider going, with some minor changes from when we made it before.

I started on the apples while my daughter’s sanitized the 5 gallon carboy and set up the juicer. Each apple got cut in half, the stem removed, and any damaged bits cut off. We were able to get to the apples faster than when we made it before, so they had noticeably less bits to cut off this time around. The cut pieces went into a giant bowl with water and lemon juice while waiting to be juiced. We had a small colander set up over a bowl that we would scoop batches of pieces into, that could be kept close to the machine while I continued cutting apples

My younger daughter did the juicing again. We knew we would have more juice this time, so she set up the sanitized carboy with a funnel on a chair under the juicer nozzle; fresh, raw juice went straight into the carboy, instead of first into a pitcher, then into the gallon glass carboy.

The juicing took such a long time.

The machine could only handle getting a couple of pieces put in at a time; far less than when juicing other fruit. These are small apples that don’t have a lot of juice in them, so we didn’t get a lot for the work. After a short while, the sound of the juicer would change, and my daughter would have to stop it, open it up and peel off the shoe-leather strip of accumulated pulp that did not go into the collector, like it was supposed to.

It was past 2am by the time we were done. Which was fine for my daughters, since they are still up at night and sleeping during the day.

This is what the more than 5 gallons of apples got us.

We got about two and a half gallons of juice. We calculated roughly 5 cups of sugar for the amount of juice we had (the ratio is 1-1 1/2 pounds of sugar per gallon of juice). The handy thing about it being only half full is that, once the sugar was added, it was easy to just pick it up and shake it to dissolve the sugar. A half packet of yeast was hydrated, then added and it got another shake before being set up with the airlock.

I didn’t bother taking a hydrometer reading.

This is how it looked this morning, after having roughly 9 hours to settle.

The airlock was bubbling about every 23 seconds when I checked it, and the temperature of the liquid is 20-21C/68-70F. We’re supposed to reach 28C/82F today, so it’s definitely going to get warmer.

I’d hoped to have more juice, but it’s still more than we had last time. We do still have lots of apples on the tree to pick, if we want. We don’t have another large carboy, but we do have the 1 gallon ones, if we want to make more hard cider. I think I’d rather make more cider vinegar, but we don’t have more of the large, wide mouth jars right now. For the amount of apples we’d have, I wouldn’t want to use smaller jars. It would be a waste of jars and space. There are other things we could do with the apples, too.

Now that it looks like making hard crab apple cider is a thing we will continue to do, we want to acquire a cider press. The juicer is great for other fruit, but does very poorly with these little crab apples. There are table top versions that are reasonably priced. Building one is another option. It’s something we wouldn’t for another year, so we have time to figure it out.

I’ve been asking my mother about how my dad made fruit wine. I remember him using the same crock my mother used to make sauerkraut. I remember watching him one year, as he layered sugar, then raspberries, in the crock until it was full, then … I can’t remember. Most likely, he weighted it down then covered it with a cloth, but did he add water to it? And how much sugar to fruit did he use?

I described what I remember to my mother, and she just brushed it off. They just combined fruit with sugar, covered it and let it sit, she told me. They didn’t add water. That’s how she’s got the cherries she picked while here set up, right now. She didn’t have a lot of cherries, so it would be just a small jar. She couldn’t tell me how much sugar they used; apparently, they just winged it.

Well, whatever my dad did, his raspberry wine in particular got rave reviews. I remember picking pin cherries (those trees are now gone) that he used to make wine, as well as the hard little plums that are more stone than fruit, that we still have in the yard (though the trees seem to be dying). My parents had no wine making equipment. They used no commercial yeast (yeast for brewing was not something that would have been easily found back then). I wish I could ask my dad what he did. I don’t think my mother paid too much attention to it, and what she’s doing now is not what I remember seeing him doing. Maybe one of my siblings remembers more than I do. I should ask them. ๐Ÿ˜Š

For now, though, I’m content to make hard cider with our crab apples. I prefer that over wine, anyhow. ๐Ÿ˜

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Starting hard crab apple cider: a long night!

  1. Weโ€™re making wine and cider here now too. We have loads of pears and wild grapes, our cultivated grapes did not do well at all this year, so no wine from them unfortunately. We wanted to do a completely country wine, so we followed this guyโ€™s directions at first. Maybe something there will be helpful for you?
    https://permies.com/t/88530/kitchen/Waynes-mustang-grape-wine
    We didnโ€™t stick to the recipe though, because after the first fermentation it was still so sweet, which I donโ€™t like. So we did end up adding some commercial wine yeast at the racking. The pears will become hard cider. We bought a new heavy duty press which is working great after the first small one broke after one use! Only about 30 gallons to go! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the link! “Country wine” is the search term I couldn’t remember.

      Yesterday, I noticed one bunch of our grapes, starting to turn colour. My brother had already picked his!

      I look forward to the day when we have enough produce to be able to press in such quantities!!! It’s a lot of work, but my goodness, it’s worth it! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

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