Cider making continued

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Having cleaned and sterilised everything the night before it was time to squish some apples.

I had already purchased a new big 25 litre container complete with bubble lock and all the rest of the required kit and had this year received as a birthday present a metal cider press. I couldn’t wait to use it. 

I had planned to use a large 6 by 2 inch heavy piece of wood that I had lying around to pulp the apples, and in all honesty wasn’t looking forward to this step. Mummy diy had suggested that I use the food processor with a grater attachment which originally I though was a bad idea as we don’t have the best food processor. But after getting it down,cleaning it up and putting it together it actually worked quite well!

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All the cooking apples were poured into the sink, washed then quartered. These were picked 4 days earlier and some had cracked, some had gone black and soft, but the majority were fine. Don’t worry about taking the core out, or the skin or stalk. Chop em up, and chuck em in.

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The food processor was set up and put onto its lowest speed. You are looking to smash them up a bit, but not completely knock them for 6, you should have no signs of juice after pulping them. If you do have juice running out, you’ve smashed too hard! Bad hulk!

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The attachment I used created long strips of apple and when you pick them up and squeeze, juice literally pours out. This is satisfying!

Fill the press 3/4 full and start turning that handle, all the way until it juice flows then stop and let the press do the hard work.

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Before the juice hits the bucket you will need to crush 1 Camden tablet per 4.5 litres of juice collected. This will stop the juice browning.

After cleaning, grating and pressing all the apples I had (8kg of cooking and 14.5kg of eaters) I had collected around 11 litres of juice. I was hoping for slightly more, but the eating apples didn’t give out nearly half as much juice as the cookers.

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Additives were now added along with cider yeast. Don’t use bread yeast, it won’t taste good at all, and you will have wasted so much hard work and apples.
Tannin has been added to improve flavour as has pectolase powder. Pectolase power brings more taste out of the juice and is also required to produce clear cider.

A hydrometer was used to predict the strength of the cider after fermentation. Originally it was too high so water was added to bring the level down to around 5.5%. Strong cider may sound good but you stand a chance of spoiling the balance. This will be fine for a first try.

One thing I will note is that the kit I bought had nearly everything you could need. The hydrometer is around 40 odd centimetres long and will float in liquid at different levels depending on its relative density. As I only had 11 litres in my big tub the hydrometer was hitting the bottom. You need a long test tube and a sample of the cider ideally, but who has one of those to hand? I used a plastic jug/pitcher which was only just tall enough to float the hydrometer. Phew.

Stick the lid on and half fill the bubble air lock with water. Then I chose the best spot in the house to keep it at a constant 20 odd degrees, the airing cupboard.

See you in a few weeks cider!

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