Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Hard Cider Experiment

Who knows if this will work. But for $2 worth of apples, it's been fun trying to make alcohol with as little resources as possible.

A few weekends ago I purchased some apple "seconds" for the October foodmakers potluck.

For those unfamiliar with bargain farmers' market shopping: when fruit or vegetables are bruised or misshapen, they are sold as seconds to canners and other foodmakers who don't necessarily care that food is supermarket-perfect.

Tomatoes and apples can be bought very cheaply by the bushel to make economical tomato sauce and applesauce. Plus it's fun rescuing the unwanted fruits from being wasted!

I ground up and froze the apples to maximize their juice output. Here is my fancy pressing system:

The defrosted apple bits are wrapped in a cheesecloth in the colander, with a weighted saucepan pressing down to extract the juice.

The chickens have been eating a lot of apple mash!

I was a little cautious about the food safety of my apples since they had been ground up and then sat outside in the warm sun for several hours during the potluck. I decided to pasteurize them by boiling the mash on the stove for about ten minutes.

Of course, I then consulted a book after doing this and learned that you only need to heat the apples to 170 degrees to pasteurize them, you don't need to fully boil the apples. Boiling (which is about 212 degrees) gives your apple cider a cooked taste.

The apple cider did taste cooked.

So I kept reading to see if I could ferment the cider. My favorite reference books right now are The Encyclopedia of Country Living and The Backyard Homestead. Thinking about it now, I suppose I could have checked out Wild Fermentation too.

The Backyard Homestead gave me what I needed: an old-school recipe for fermenting cider at home with bread yeast.

I know that most beers and wines are made with special yeasts, and probably could have gone to a brew store to buy yeast for the cider. But of course, I wanted to make something right then, with things found around the house.

So I thought I would experiment to see which method would work best. Which takes us back to the photo above.

Jar #1: store-bought cider with no added yeast

Jar #2: home-made cider with no added yeast

Jar #3: home-made cider with 1/2 tsp bread yeast

Jar #4: home-made cider with 1 tsp sourdough starter

Luckily Chicken Man had some latex gloves around the house from the lab, so I used those as airlocks for the jars.

So far #3 and #4 have obviously been giving off more gas, since they had the added yeast. We vented #3 at some point, and the glove actually blew off #4 at some point.

Now all I do is wait. I'm guessing I'll wait for about a month, then decant the homebrew into new jars. Maybe I'll add some raisins into bottles when I cork the brew (the added raisin sugar makes it fizzy...). I might try half in a few months, then save half to try a year from now.

This could be totally disgusting. But it could also be homebrew apple cider for $2!

Either way, it will be a few months before I know. Can't wait.

1 comment:

Christine said...

So glad I followed you over from Homegrown.org... and SO excited to see how this cider experiment turns out. Keep us all posted, I'm crossing my fingers for the $2 hard cider :)

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