Winter Project – DIY Hard Cider Making

12 Feb

I’ve wanted to make hard cider for a long time – it’s my favorite drink and it seems super easy to make. A few weeks ago, L and I got some jugs of apple juice from wholefoods and ordered some cider yeast, airlocks, and stoppers. Our homebrewing package arrived last week and tonight we made the time to sit down and start the process.

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We decided to try two different juices – the wholefoods brand apple juice and a Knudsen cider with some spices in it. My current favorite cider is the JK Scrumpy Winter blend and I’m hoping that the Knudsen cider will more closely replicate that.

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While things were sterilizing, we decided to have a little sip of some apple pie flavored moonshine we picked up around midnight last night from a park & ride in Virginia from the cousin of a friend….because that’s how we do, apparently. Tasty!

We also decided to do a “before” tasting of our juices. I actually like the wholefoods juice better right now, it’s pretty plain but really apple-y. The Knudsen has a sort of “fake” taste to it, but it doesn’t have any weird ingredients….so maybe I’m just reading that in from the cinnamon and nutmeg. L thought the WF juice was pretty spicy all on its own and she was “delighted” by the sweetness and thought the knudsen cider tasted pretty similar…. We obviously have different palates. 🙂

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This is the yeast I picked up – I’d actually been hoping for a mead yeast just to leave as much residual sweetness in the cider as possible (what can I say, I have a sweet tooth!) but it was back ordered and the owner of Adventures in Homebrewing swears by this one, so in it went! I may have shaken it up too much because it was fizzing all over and I’m a little worried that I didn’t get enough into the second jug (the Knudsen).

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Adding to the jank factor on the knudsen, the size 10 stopper, which I’d measured and was pretty sure would fit the jug didn’t – so the WF brand bottle has the proper bung and airlock combo but the knudsen has a rubber glove with holes pricked in the fingers rubber banded over it…we’ll see!

So what we have going on now:
Bottle A:
Whole Foods 365 brand apple juice, 1 cup of white sugar, a tablespoon of local (though not my) honey, and a bunch of yeast – S airlock.

Bottle B:
Knudsen Cider & Spice, no additives on our end, a little yeast, a rubber glove with holes in it. I’ve got fingers crossed that this doesn’t fail – but if it doesn’t start bubbling, I can always add more yeast.

All told, so far it’s taken about 10 minutes. Pretty cool! They’re sitting in my kitchen for tonight, but tomorrow will go in the basement until further notice! I’ll be checking on them about every 3 days to see when the bubbles stop and then we’ll rack and bottle…or something. Adventure, as always.

—-a little update—-

They’re both bubbling this morning, A more than B and obviously with the airlock on A it’s a lot more obvious. I set up my indoor/outdoor weather station with a monitor in the basement (my original plan had been to monitor my hive with it, but that’s moot currently) and found out that it’s just a touch too cold down there for proper fermentation, so I set them up in the corner of my living room with a heavy towel wrapped all around them and the sensor for my weather station tucked between the bottles. Right now it’s about 66 degrees in the house and the sensor with the bottles is reading just a touch colder than that. As long as it stays above 65, the yeasts will be happy yeasts!

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2 Responses to “Winter Project – DIY Hard Cider Making”

  1. Norma Bell February 13, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    This was a fascinating read guys but I must say I’m eager to hear about your BEES!
    Have you ordered any yet; time’s running out for nucs. I ordered another Warre hive, think they’re my favorite. Can’t wait for another bee season to correct all my mistakes from last season:-/ Are you excited about next bee season too?
    Norma in Bethesda,MD
    Transplanted New Englander (Concord,Mass)

    • Kelly G. February 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      Hey Norma, thanks for commenting! I’m super excited about this bee season – I’m meeting with the landowners who are hosting my hives in a couple of weeks and will be putting my bee order in once I get everything firmed up with them! I’m not getting nucs, the one hive is pretty built out from last year and the other is a top bar, which I don’t even know if you can get nucs for, but I’m not worried about it – an April start should give them plenty of time! Best of luck with your hives!

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