Large batch crab apple cider vinegar

One more thing off the to-do list!

This afternoon, I got the fermentation bucket from our wine making kit sanitized and set up to make more crab apple cider vinegar. I brought two of the three bins of crab apples in from the old kitchen. The apples got cut in half, de-stemmed and any damage I found was cut off. Since I picked the apples by shaking the tree, then picking them up off the ground, there was bound to be bruising to get rid of. All the pieces went into the giant enameled bowl that was ready with water and lemon juice, to keep them from browning.

Each bin held the equivalent of a 5 gallon bucket, full to overflowing. Once the apples were cut and trimmed, however, they took a lot less space. The line that you can see in the bucket is the 5 gallon mark, which is what I was shooting for. The basic instructions for making ACV in jars was to fill them 3/4 full with apple pieces, so that’s what I what I did with the bucket. After finishing off a bin and transfering the pieces from the water to the bucket, so I could see how much more I needed to cut up, I added sugar and commercial ACV with “mother” as a starter, using the same ratios that were used when we did them in 1 gallon jars. Then I cut more apples from the second bin until I reached about 3/4 full.

We buy filtered drinking water in refillable 5 gallon jugs, as our well water has developed a taste to it. I used one of those to fill the bucket to the 5 gallon line, which used up about 3 gallons from the water jug. It all got a gentle stir to dissolve the sugar and mix in the ACV mother.

The apple pieces now needed to be weighted down.

I just happen to have a large serving dish I found in a Goodwill store, years before we moved out here. It was the perfect size, and heavy enough that no other weight was need once the air pocket under the (sanitized) dish was removed.

Finally, the whole thing was covered with cheese cloth that was snuggly tied in place. Then, because we have cats, the lid was put loosely on top. It now sits next to the carboy of fermenting hard apple cider.

This now needs to ferment for 3 weeks before it gets strained off, then left to ferment another 3 weeks.

The down side of fermenting crab apples is, it attracts fruit flies. It turns out they love apple cider vinegar! So I made a couple of fruit fly traps using some of the commercial ACV in small jars topped with plastic wrap with holes pokes in them. One went into the big aquarium, where the three 1 gallon jars of ACV are fermenting. The other is now in between the fermentation bucket and the carboy.

Even after removing a small bucket of apples for my mother, we still have about a bin and a half of apples! We need to do something with them quickly, before they really start bruising.

I’m considering cooking them up and straining them for their juice. I think we’ll get a lot more juice of them that way, compared to using the juicing machine! Or maybe make some jelly? We’ve made apple jelly before, but the jars had to be kept in the fridge because we didn’t have everything we needed to water bath can them.

There are SO many apples, though, we couple probably make a few different things!

The Re-Farmer

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. 😊

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

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, small harvest, preserving – and another change in plans

I had plans for today.

Honest. I did.

But first, the cuteness.

My plans for yard work would have had to change, anyway, as we are now getting a steady rainfall right now, but there was plenty to work on indoors instead.

The kitties were getting pretty wet, so I left the sun room doors propped open. I’ve discovered why I’ve been finding things knocked out of the top shelf of the shelf shelter. Despite the two bottom shelves being set aside for the cats, some of the little kittens have been climbing up into the top shelf, where all sorts of miscellaneous stuff are kept, and sleeping on some pieces of rigid insulation in one corner! So I am leaving the sun room available for them to shelter in, more comfortably.

Because I’m a suck, when it comes to the kitties! 😁

Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to my brother on the phone, in between his attempts to call my mother. He started trying early enough to catch her before she went to church, but she wasn’t answering. It turned out she was watching her religious programming on TV and wasn’t answering the phone. Then she went to church, and stayed out for hours after.


I got a message from him after he finally got through to her, well into the afternoon. My mother’s apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs again.


She was wondering about staying in a hotel again, since she has to stay away for 12 hours.


So I called her, but her Polish program was on. It was almost 4, so when she said she would call me back when it was done to talk about the bed bug spraying, I said fine.

An hour later, I finally called her myself. I could hear the TV still going, and there was another Polish mass about to start. She wouldn’t have called me back until ALL her Polish shows were done! Meanwhile, I’d delayed working on supper so I could answer the phone without being in the middle of cooking – and I’d already skipped lunch (I lost track of time and forgot to eat).


My mother has zero respect for other people’s time, but expects everyone else to respect hers.

Ah, well.

We talked about her apartment being sprayed again. She did not want to stay at a hotel again, because it’s so expensive (it was actually very cheap, but she doesn’t know what hotel stays usually cost these days). So, she asks me… What was I going to do with her for the day?


What we finally worked out is that I will wait until I get a call from her, letting me know the exterminators have arrived – which I am doing right now, as I write this. They can show up any time between 9am and 4pm. I will then go pick her up, and we will run an errand for her in the city near my sister’s place, and then she wanted to visit my sister.

Who works a 5pm to 1am shift today.

I told her to call my sister first, to make sure stopping by was okay.

Then we’ll have to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Even then, she’ll end up having to hang out in the lobby or something before she can go back into her apartment. Unlike her neighbours, who can go back after 6 hours, because they don’t have respiratory conditions.

But she won’t stay at a hotel again.


I also had a talk to her about letting me know right away, if her apartment is going to be sprayed again. She got the letter last week, and just didn’t bother telling anyone. I have no idea what she planned to do, had my brother not gotten through to her and then told me.

So my day today is completely gone. I can’t even start anything, unless I can drop it as soon as she calls.

One of the things I wanted to do was get crab apple cider vinegar going. I ended up having to ask my daughters to do it overnight which, of course, changed their plans, too.

They were sweethearts about it, though, and we now have three 1 gallon jars in the big aquarium, safe from cats, fermenting. This time, not only did we stick with just cheesecloth to cover the jars, but the apples are weighted down with slide lock bags filled with water to keep them submerged.

They didn’t use up even half of the apples I picked yesterday!

If I had more jars like this, we’d be making more. As it is, I did have a fourth jar, but after talking to my mother about what we were planning to do with the apples, she asked for a gallon jar so she could make sauerkraut. She wanted one of her old jars in the basement, but those have been sitting for more than a decade. I’ve actually gone through and washed the dozens of jars I found down there, and those particular jars are only being kept because we will used them to make bottle bricks for the walls of the cordwood shed we will be building. I would not consider them food safe anymore. So I’m bringing her one of our newer jars, instead.

So the apples will be used to make hard crab apple cider, instead – though that won’t be started on until probably tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I still did my morning rounds, which included a small harvest.

I had not yet washed these. They are wet from the rain.

There were some summer squash I could have picked, but I decided to leave them to get a bit bigger. I was able to hand pollinate some other squash, though. Which is interesting, when the flowers have puddles of rainwater in them!

According to the long range forecast, we’ve got at least a couple of weeks of hot, mostly dry weather. After that, the overnight lows are expected to be just a few degrees above freezing. I’m hoping that changes. If we have the month of September with no frost, there’s still a chance for some things to mature.

We have more red tomatoes that I should pick later today, or tomorrow morning. The paste tomatoes will go straight into the freezer with the others, until there is enough to start making tomato paste. The others will likely be dehydrated.

Our first attempt at dehydrating them worked, but took a long time. We kept needing the oven for other things. Though my daughter did not slice them super thin, they shrank so much, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them off the rack they were on. They came off surprisingly well, though.

It was just one tray of tomatoes, so it’s not a lot, but I definitely think it is worth doing again.

Along with the red tomatoes, the Yellow Pear tomatoes have something to pick almost every day.

I did break down and taste on of them. After all, I’d been able to eat the tiny Spoon tomatoes without gagging. Maybe I could eat these ones, too?



The Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, are finally starting to turn colour, but it will still be a while before we can harvest any of them.

We most definitely need a mild September. Hopefully, a mild October, too!

Ah, well. Whatever happens, happens. We’ll deal with it.

Hmm. I really should be making myself something to eat before going to my mother’s, but… Murphy’s Law. The moment I start something, the phone is sure to ring! 😂

This is going to be a very long day.

The Re-Farmer

Hard Crab Apple Cider follow up – I am the queen of procrastination!

We’ve had a busy day outside our living room window!

We’ve had quite a few deer visiting the feeding station, and just plain hanging out. The piebald has been standing around the old junk pile (maybe we should start calling it something else, since we cleared out the junk and there’s just old stacked boards now), chillin’ for at least a couple of hours. Others have just been wandering around the area, sometimes at the feeding station, sometimes nibbling lilac twigs, sometimes among the spruces, nibbling whatever underbrush they happen to be next to.

Keith had front row seating to watch them all, with his ever tragic expression!

Now that Saffron is gone, other cats have been sitting on the warm light fixture over the seedlings. Especially Fenrir and, pictured above, Beep Beep.

It must feel nice on their still nekkid bellies!

Today, I finally got around to sterilizing bottles and equipment, and bottling the second carboy of hard crab apple sider.

The one I meant to bottle months ago!

The other other we had fermenting was bottled back in August. If you follow that link, the post has links to the whole process of making it, starting from when we picked the apples back in September, of 2020. We had no apples in 2021, so no new crab apple brews of any kind, sadly.

So… yeah. This carboy has been fermenting since September of 2020.

When the other carboy was bottled, we didn’t do a hydrometer reading, so I did that from the last bottle we’ve got of it, while preparing to bottle the second batch.

I really hate doing hydrometer readings. I can’t read the tiny numbers and have to take pictures to be able to see them – but the camera does NOT want to focus on the hydrometer.


After – hopefully – reading the hydrometer right, the ABV calculator I’ve got came to 10.5% Alcohol By Volume.

For the second carboy, I did a reading before starting to bottle, and the calculation came to 11.8% Alcohol By Volume.

Not too shabby!

The jug we’re using as the carboy after racking the initial brew was repurposed from a 3L wine bottle. I was able to fill three 750L bottles, plus a 250ml bottle, before it was down to the dregs.

Of course, we had to do a taste test to compare the two.

The first thing you’ll notice in the pictures, is that the cider I was about to bottle is a darker colour compared to the one already bottled.

The previously bottled cider had a strong, almost bitter, taste to it. It tasted stronger of alcohol, too, though it had a lower percentage.

The newly bottled cider had a fruitier, smoother taste.

Both tasted good, but I prefer the one that stayed in the carboy for 1 1/2 years. That extra 7 months seems to have made a positive difference.

I do hope we have crab apples this year. I look forward to making this again!

The Re-Farmer

Ginger Bug, on the Rocks

Okay, I finally got a photo that didn’t totally suck!

Here is our very first Ginger Bug pop.

Our very first attempt at making fermented pop, using a Ginger Bug.

We used a house brand, cranberry raspberry cocktail for the base, which also contained other types of juice in it. The predominant flavour was actually apple.

The juice and ginger bug mixture stayed at room temperature in a plastic bottle for a week. Every day, we would give the bottle a squeeze to see if it was getting harder, which would show that fermentation was happening and gases were starting to expand. Then one morning, I walked past and saw the bottle looking like it was about to tip over! The bottle was rock hard, and the indented base had been pushed outwards under the pressure, causing it start tipping!

I immediately put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process, but not before I opened the bottle enough to relieve some of the pressure!

When we taste tested it the next day, there was quite a bit of pressure release when I opened the jug, but in pouring it out, there was surprisingly little fizz. It’s more like a barely noticeable effervescence, with a light tingle on the tongue.

Honestly, it really just tastes like juice. None of us noticed much of a ginger flavour in there, and the predominant flavour is still apple. I found it very sweet, so when I had another glass the next day, I watered it down, about 50/50. I found it to be nicer that way.

In researching how to make this, one of the things I’d read was that, after moving it to the fridge, it needed to be drunk within a few weeks, because it loses its fizz. So far, that has not been true! Every time I’ve taken the bottle out, it’s been rock hard again, and there’s no lessening on the sound of gas being released when it’s opened!

As for the glass in the photo, I admit, this is an adulterated drink. I poured it over quite a bit of ice, rather than watering it down.

I also added about an ounce of our hard crab apple cider!

My goodness, that does work rather well!

The ginger bug drink is very sweet, while the hard crab apple cider is a bit on the sour side, and the two balance each other out quite nicely.

I now have a new bottle of cranberry raspberry cocktail mixed with the ginger bug starter. That’s the last of the juice I got for this. I think next time, we’ll try making a fruit syrup out of what we’ve got in the freezer and see how that works out!

This is definitely something we’re enjoying.

The Re-Farmer

First Ginger Bug Pop: Cran-Raspberry Cocktail

When it was time to feed the ginger bug, I decided it was time to start our first batch of fermented pop (aka: soda).

In looking for recipes and instructions on how to actually use the ginger bug, I found myself with some issues. One was the ratios of ginger bug to liquid, which tended to be for only a quart of liquid. Which seems a ridiculously small amount. Mind you, there’s four of us that will be drinking it, so that might have something to do with my perception. 😉 The most useful I found was to use 1/2 cup of ginger bug to 7 1/2 cups of sweet liquid. Pretty basic.

It was the fermentation container that seemed to be all over the place. Some sights said to ferment the ginger bug in a jar covered with cheese cloth or coffee filter. Others said to put it in a sealed jar and open it up every day, to release gasses. Some said to put it in a container with an airlock. All of these then said to bottle the finished beverage, usually recommending swing top bottles, but sometimes plastic bottles. Then there were those that said to pour the mixed liquid straight into swing top bottles for the fermentation period.

In the end, I decided to use one of my husband’s distilled water containers. We get distilled water for his CPAP humidifier, and I’ve started keeping the empty bottles to use in the garden.

We’re accumulating quite a few of them.

So this gives me a food safe container in a gallon size that has a sealable cap.

We started by measuring out 7 1/2 cups of the Cranberry Raspberry Cocktail I got for the purpose and pouring it into the jug, to judge if we would be doubling the recipe or not. We decided to go ahead and do another 7 1/2 cups, for 15 cups in total.

This is the ingredients list for the Cranberry Raspberry Cocktail. Which also has juices from grapes, pears and apples. The important part is that it has sugar in it, which means I did not have to add any sugar to feed the yeast during fermentation.

Pouring and straining the ginger bug out of the 750ml canning jar we are using would be messy, but we happen to have a ladle small enough to fit into the wide mouth jar, so we used that to ladle the liquid into a measuring cup through a strainer. Very few ginger pieces got caught in the process, so that worked out very well.

I found the amount in the juice bottle odd. 3.78L? A gallon is 4.5L, isn’t it?

Then I remembered; US gallons and Imperial gallons are not that same. LOL That is 1US gallon of juice. The distilled water bottle, however, gets referred to as a “gallon”, but is actually 4L.

Whatever. The end result is, a decent amount of headspace at the top of the water bottle, even after adding a cup of ginger bug liquid.

There was still some juice left behind, so the daughter that was assisting me, chugged it. It may be “cranberry raspberry” cocktail, but she tasted mostly apple!

No matter. It should still make an interesting carbonated drink!

We then replaced the cup of liquid removed from the ginger bug with our drinking water – the stuff we buy, rather than our well water – and fed it with some more ginger and sugar before putting it back in the cupboard, safe from the cats.

Then the fermentation bottle got labeled and dated. I figure we can wait a few days and, if the ginger bug is nice and bubbly after being used, we’ll start another batch.

For now, this bottle will stay out at room temperature. Every day, we’ll give it a squeeze. As long as it has give to it, it’ll stay out, but once it feels hard, that means it’s fermented enough and will be transferred to the fridge, so it doesn’t explode. From what I’ve read, this can take anywhere from 4 to 10 days. The house is fairly cool, so I predict it will be closer to 10 days.

Once in the fridge, it will need to be drunk within a few weeks, or it will lose its carbonation.

If it tastes any good, it’s unlikely to last that long. Not between four people!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works! If it does work well, we will experiment with other liquids to ferment and keep track of which ones we like. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Ginger Bug Progress

Well, we are into our third day of starting our ginger bug. It got its third feeding last night, and third morning stir today.

Look at those bubbles!

While researching how to make this, I saw sites that said it could be used after three days. Others said to wait four to ten days. All seemed to agree that it could be used once it starts bubbling.

Which means we should be able to start fermenting some pop, any time now!

I picked up some cranberry-raspberry juice to try first. There should be enough for at least two or three 8 cup batches. The recipes I’ve been reading said to use 7 1/2 cups juice to 1/2 cup ginger bug. Eight cups is not a lot, though.

Time to go back over the various instructions I’ve found and confirm the next steps we need to take. Then I have to decide on what container to use. Depending on what we go with, we might do a double recipe. We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

Starting a Ginger Bug

No, I’m not talking about our furry Ginger Bug! I’m talking about using the actual roots.

In keeping with our stocking up on the assumption we’ll have a month or two where we can’t get out to do any sort of shopping, we’ve been thinking not only of essentials, but those little things that improve on quality of life. One thing that we considered is liquid refreshment. Drinking plain water gets boring, fast – and we buy our drinking water. We really should have tested our well water by now, but to get the full testing done is very expensive and time dependent. We’d have to take a sample and drive it to the lab in the city as quickly as possible. Even just getting a sample bottle requires going to another town. One I haven’t been to since I was a kid and went to a cattle auction with my dad. So that will just have to wait again.

Our usual default drink that isn’t plain water is tea, and my older daughter has already taken care of that department. She went through the sale section of David’s Tea and ordered 13 different types of tea! They should arrive in the mail this week.

The other thing we do enjoy is pop (soda). Usually Coke Zero for my husband and I, while our daughters prefer Ginger Ale. I actually don’t like Ginger Ale on it’s own, but love it mixed with fruit juice. There’s something about that carbonation that really hits the spot.

Which is why I’ve decided to start fermenting our own pop. It’s supposed to be all healthy and everything, but really, I just want to make a thirst quenching fizzy drink.

To start the process, we need to make a ginger bug and get the fermentation process going. I meant to start one a few days ago, but got busy with other things, so I finally got it started last night.

The basics of a ginger bug is fresh ginger root, sugar and water.

I looked at a lot of websites and videos, and there is a lot of conflicting information, of course. Some say to leave the skin on the ginger, because that’s where the yeast it, while others say to peel it, and it’ll ferment just fine. Some say to grate the ginger, others say to use a fine shredder, and still others say to just chop it up. Some were very specific about using a wooden spoon to stir the bug, while in some videos, I saw people using metal spoons to stir. Of course, the quantities and ratios of ginger:sugar:water are all different. With all this, everyone seemed to have very successful ginger bugs, so I figured things were pretty flexible! Then there is the container to put it in. As an open ferment, some cover the jar with cloth or a coffee filter, while others keep it in a sealed jar. Which, to me, seems to really increase the risk of an explosion.

So I just sort of took it all in and did my own version.

I decided to chop the ginger into a small dice, going with the sites that said it made it easier to strain the liquid out later. I don’t like floaties, if I can avoid them! I left the skin on, because peeling ginger is a pain in the butt.

As the ginger bug needs to be fed, I chopped extra and put the excess in the fridge.

I decided to use:

3Tbsp ginger
3Tbsp sugar
2 cups water

I put the whole thing in a 750ml jar to have room to add more ginger and sugar, and for stirring. I also used some of our purchased water, rather than our well water. If I were to use our well water, I would have boiled it and let it cool to room temperature, first.

I could have used an elastic to hold the coffee filter on, but I find a canning ring is much handier.

The jar itself is now stored in a cupboard. Not because it needs to be tucked away, but to keep the cats from knocking it off the counter or something!

It not needs daily tending and feeding until it gets fizzy.

Which means it will get stirred every morning, then fed every evening.

While that is fermenting, we need to think about what to make with it! Of course, we can make basic ginger ale, but as I mentioned, I’m not really a fan of plain ginger ale. Apparently, you can use sweet tea as a base, so that’s always an option, though I am leaning more towards things like cranberry juice or pomegranate juice. I don’t normally buy juices; I find them way too sweet. There are many options, though, and I’m looking forward to experimenting!

The Re-Farmer

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

Crab Apple Cider Vinegar: bottling day

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you may be wondering what happened with our cider vinegar.

Yeah. The stuff we were supposed to taste test 2 months ago, to see if it was done!

It’s been sitting in the old kitchen all this time.

Given how cold it gets in there, I wasn’t too worried about it.

For those who are new to this blog (welcome! Happy to see you!), you can check these posts out. All the links will open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place here. 🙂

Prepping a cap for an airlock – using the tools at hand
Making Crab apple cider vinegar: airlock or cheesecloth?
I am such a goof: crab apple cider vinegar reboot!
Crab apple cider vinegar, fermentation progress
Crab apple cider vinegar: straining day

One of the issues I had was, what to store the vinegar in? The last time I made it, I could just use a quart jar. What did I have that was big enough, easy to pour from, and that I could close? I discovered that one of our 1 gallon (4L) glass jug that we have for making mead has a top that fits the same caps from the 3L jugs currently holding hard apple cider vinegar (which is also ready for bottling), so I was able to use that.

Once I had the bread dough rising, I brought the ACV in out of the cold!

Both of them had visible mothers, floating on top. There was very little visual difference between the airlock and the cheesecloth jars. The airlock one had some condensation near the top of the jar, and that was about it.

I drew some out of each jar, using a turkey baster, to taste test.

Both of them had a mild, vinegar smell to them. Both of them were also had a VERY strong vinegar taste!

The girls taste tested them, too, and we all agreed that there was a slight difference in taste between them. The cheesecloth one (the girls did not know which glass was from which jar when they tasted them) has a slightly milder, more pleasant taste.

Meanwhile, I did a bit of research on what to do with the mother. We won’t be making this again until next fall. Can the mothers be kept for that long?

It turns out they can.

I was able to remove the mother from the cheesecloth jar before pouring, but didn’t have as much lock with the airlock jar. 😀 So I put a small strainer over my funnel when I poured the vinegar into the cleaned and scalded jug. There wasn’t enough room for both jars in the jug, though. Yes, I mixed them together. I’d have kept them separate, if I’d had another small jug, but I did not.

Which was okay. I read that the mother has to be immersed in vinegar, and kept air tight, for storage. So the remaining vinegar was left in the jar, along with both mothers.

The gallon jug of ACV will go into the fridge for later use.

The jar with the mothers was sealed, and is now back in the old kitchen for storage.

I am quite happy with how this turned out. Having left it for so long, it’s a lot stronger than if we’d bottled it back in October, like we originally intended, but that’s okay. Using our own crab apples, from the one tree with the best, sweetest apples, not only resulted in a gorgeous colour, but it’s own unique flavour.

We will definitely be doing this again! Next time, though, we will just use cheesecloth and skip the airlock.

Now we just have to do a hydrometer test on the hard apple cider and see how it is. It would be awesome to have some of our own hard crab apple cider to enjoy with Christmas dinner! 🙂 Hopefully, I can get that done in the next day or two.

The Re-Farmer