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.

Anyhow.

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

Making hard crab apple cider: racking day – what happened? (updated: I found out!)

This morning, after doing my morning rounds, I gave the sun room door frame a second coat of paint. Tomorrow, we hang the door back up.

I had an audience. 😀

Also, while I was painting, I found that Nostrildamus has figured out to jump over the threshold after it’s been painted! 😀

Meanwhile…

Today was finally racking day for our first attempt at making hard apple cider, using our own crab apples. For new visitors, you can read up about that here and here. (links will open in new tabs)

Here is how the gallon carboys looked before I started. As expected, there was a LOT of sediment at the bottom. It’s not just the lees from the yeast, but the sediment from the raw, unfiltered juice.

We had some concerns with the fermentation. Activity in the airlock stopped a while ago. I think the room temperature became a problem. While they were actively bubbling, their temperatures tended towards 18C/64F, though we did also keep them wrapped in a towel and, every now and then, I’d heat up a rice-filled warming pad in the microwave and stick it between them to help keep them warm. We had used an electric heating pad, when making mead, but where these were sitting, there is nowhere to plug it in.

Racking from a 4L to a 3L carboy meant a lot of sediment heavy liquid left behind. Though I tried to hold the racking cane well above the sediment as long as I could, I could still see wisps of it being pulled up the siphon.

As I racked each jug, I made sure to get a hydrometer reading.

I just don’t know what to make of it.

For one of them, the hydrometer pretty much sank to the bottom. I had to add cider almost to the top for it to float enough to get a reading. The other was only slightly better. When they were first tested, it floated quite handily.

Unfortunately, I just can’t get it straight on how to read the specific gravity on that thing. So I write down all three readings.

The readings still don’t make any sense to me. Why would the numbers all drop so much? From what I can figure out, this is basically telling me there’s no alcohol in one, and almost no alcohol in the other.

I did taste test it, of course, and they both have a VERY sour apple taste. It also does taste alcoholic, but that is almost overwhelmed by the sour apple taste. Which is interesting, since the apples we used are actually quite sweet, and there was quite a bit of sugar added to the juice, too.

As for the hydrometer reading this time around, the only thing I can think of that might be affecting it (besides something going weird with the cider itself) is the temperature. Both carboys had a temperature reading of 16C/60F. The ambient temperature in the room is 15C/59C. From what I’ve been reading, newer hydrometers are calibrated for about 20C/68F. I’ve found a site that will calculate the adjustment for temperature, but there is virtually no change in the reading. So what gives?

I have no idea.

Considering that the traditional way of making hard apple cider is to press whole apples into a barrel, set it aside for a few months and BOOM, you’ve got booze, I didn’t expect this to be so complicated.

Anyhow. The 3L carboys are now set up with their airlocks for a second fermentation. As for the liquid left behind with the lees, I ended up straining much of it, and we now have about half a liter of filtered baby hard apple cider.

Hmmm… I wonder how it will go with the ham I will be roasting today?

The Re-Farmer

Update: When I started the hard apple cider, I did it based on this video from CS Mead and More.

There is a reason I included them among my Recommended sites!

I went ahead and contacted them about my readings, and got a very prompt response, and I am very happy!

It turns out, everything is working fine. My problem is with reading the hydrometer, then figuring out what it’s telling me! 😀

And now I know what to do with the information I’m getting off the hydrometer. I may not be using the AVB or Brix to work it out, but I’m writing them down anyway, because I can see those readings better. I can then use the printed out chart that came with the hydrometer to see where that lines up with the Specific Gravity and actually read that number on paper, instead of trying to see it in the liquid. When I take pictures and upload them to my desktop, I can usually zoom in and read it, but sometimes I find the hydrometer moved as I was taking the picture and I still can’t read it. :-/

The formula I was given to calculate the alcohol percentage is to subtract the new reading from the first reading, then multiply the answer by 135. So for one of my ciders it’s:

1.100 – 1.020 = 0.08
0.08 x 135 = 10.8% ABV

For the other one it’s:

1.090 – 1.009 = 0.081
0.081 x 135 = 10.9% ABV

We definitely have booze. 🙂

Crab apple cider vinegar: straining day

After three weeks (and a day) the crab apple cider vinegar has been strained.

For those new to this blog, you can catch up on the process by clicking on the following links. Each should open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place.

Part 1: getting started
Part 2: oops
Part 3: progress

While I have not been checking on them every day, I have been checking regularly, and the last I did, it they still looked like this.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I brought the jars over to strain them, and saw this.

Oh, dear.

Both jars appeared to have mold at the top.

Now, part of what we’re doing this year is seeing if there’s a difference using cheesecloth to cover the top, or an airlock. Theoretically, because the cheesecloth allows oxygen in and an airlock doesn’t, the one with the cheesecloth should have been worse.

When I opened them up, though, there really wasn’t much difference. They both looked like this.

Yeah. Gross.

It seems the glass weight I used was not large enough to keep all the apple pieces below the level of liquid. Why it was enough to do so for almost 3 weeks, I don’t know.

On taking out the glass weight, I found that the pieces still immersed looked fine.

After scooping out the pieces at the top, the ones below all looked fine. The photo on the left is the jar that had the airlock, the one on the right had the cheesecloth.

I see no difference at this point.

After straining the pieces out, I checked them, and everything still looked fine. It was only the very top pieces that showed mold.

Took keep the experiment going, I made sure to do each jar from start to finish separately, cleaning and sanitizing the jars (and the airlock with its lid) before pouring the baby vinegar back.

The vinegar on the left is from the airlock jar. The one on the right is the cheesecloth jar.

Again, I see no difference between them.

Both of them also resulted in 2L (about half a gallon) of baby vinegar. If I weren’t testing the two different tops, I would have poured it all back into just one jar.

One thing I noticed very quickly when straining them, is that they both have a surprisingly strong alcohol smell. A rather pleasant one! I might have a bit of hard cider going at the moment!

No, I didn’t taste them.

The question is, will the mold that was at the top be a concern? Will the continued fermentation – which is really just controlled decomposition – eliminate any potential problems?

There’s only one way to find out.

Back they go to the old kitchen, for another three weeks. Then it’s tasting time before deciding to let it ferment for longer or not.

These are supposed to stay out at room temperature. Room temperature in the old kitchen is a fair bit lower than the rest of the house – which isn’t particularly warm, either! When I brought the jars over to strain them, I used the temperature gun and they were both at 12C. If we were wanting to make an alcohol, that would be too cold, but is it too cold for a vinegar?

Well, we’ll see how it is in three weeks!

The Re-Farmer

Crab apple cider vinegar, fermentation progress

Today has been one of those write-off days.

Yesterday, we hit 27C/80F. An unexpected result of that is, all number of house flies and other flying insects emerged from wherever they were slumbering in the previous cool, and got into the house.

Which meant a night of cats making a ruckus while chasing bugs all over the house.

I got very little sleep.

Today was much cooler, but rather than being outside, taking advantage of it, I ended up passed out for a couple of hours.

Cuddled by a couple of cats, of course. The buggers! It’s a good thing they’re so cute.

Anyhow.

While puttering about the house, trying to get at least some productivity in, I was in the old kitchen and checked on the apple cider vinegar. It’s been a couple of weeks since I started – or should I say, restarted – them, so I figured it was time for a progress report.

For my new followers (welcome! Happy to see you here. 🙂 ), you can visit our first making of apple cider vinegar with our crab apples here. This year, we decided to make a larger quantity, with some experimentation. You can read about our first attempt here, and after discovering I made a really silly mistake, the reboot is written about here. (All links will open new tabs, so you won’t miss your place. 🙂 )

Here is how the jars look now.

The old kitchen is a very dark room. The south facing window has the sun room in front of it, so it doesn’t get any direct sunlight. The west window, which would normally provide a lot of light at the end of the day, is covered with aluminum foil (which predates our moving here), so there is zero light coming through there. The north facing window is what’s providing what light you can see in the above photo. Without turning the light on in the room, it was too dark to get a photo without moving to the window side of the jars.

This is a good thing. The instructions said to put the jars in a cupboard, and we just don’t have any with the space for these jars, so a room that never gets bright works just fine. The concern I had was how cold this room is. Fermentation requires warmth.

As you can see, there is no activity in the airlock at all. If there had been, the plastic cap on the inside would have been pushed to the top as it filled with CO2.

However, this is not the same as fermenting alcohol, so not seeing activity in the airlock does not necessarily mean nothing is happening.

And things are most definitely happening in there!

Both jars look the same. At this point, I see no difference between the one with the airlock and the one with the cheese cloth. Both have this layer of bubbles at the top, and when turning the jars to check them, more bubbles enthusiastically make their way up the jar. There most definitely is active fermentation going on.

One good thing about doing this in the larger jars like this: it’s nowhere near as messy as our first attempt! The fermenting vinegar had bubbled up enough to reach the coffee filter covering it and leaked a bit, inviting all sorts of fruit flies to check things out. This year, had I not had to throw away the first batch, with the its very full jars, it may well have bubbled up, and the one with the cheese cloth, at least, would likely have had a mess. There may be more headspace than needed in these jars now, but it seems to be better that way.

There also doesn’t seem to be any sign of mold or rot or anything of concern. The glass canning jar lids being used as fermentation weights are doing the job of keeping the floating apple pieces submerged.

So far, everything is looking good!

Next week we’ll hit the 3 week mark and, according to the instructions I’m following, that’s the time to strain out the apple pieces, return the vinegar to the jars, and let them sit for at least another 3 weeks.

I’m very curious to see if there will be a noticeable difference between the two jars.

The Re-Farmer