Archive for December 1st, 2020

Diary #544

It’s always satisfying when one does something for the first time and it goes without a hitch.  When it came time to press my apples for juice, I knew I wanted to ferment most of it into cider so it would keep longer.  But when I tried to locate the instructions for doing so online, I discovered a lot of websites advising me to wash off all of my apples’ natural yeasts and introduce champagne yeast instead.  Given that people were making cider for millennia before fancy packaged yeast became commercially available, I knew that this was both overcomplicated and plain wrong.  So I kept searching and eventually found a site written by a woman with a small backyard orchard who gave me what I was looking for:  yes, there are already sufficient yeasts on the skin of raw apples to cause fermentation.  So after pressing my crop into juice, I simply filtered the debris out and put the juice into a clean glass carboy (like the one in the picture), put in a stopper fitted with an air lock, and placed it in the cool, dark pantry under the stairs.  The air lock allows the carbon dioxide produced by fermentation to escape without letting air in, and as the alcohol content of the cider increased it killed off any other bacteria that might be present.  After nearly two months, I decided on Thanksgiving that it was time to check out the results; since the foam seemed to have died down, I filtered the cider through cheesecloth to remove the top foam and precipitates, and transferred the result into a clean carboy.  The result?  A perfect balance of sweet and tart, with an alcohol content so smooth it didn’t even make my nose wrinkle up.  I had a big glass with my Thanksgiving dinner, and another the next day with leftovers; there is still some slight fermentation going on, because there’s a satisfying hiss of escaping gas when I unscrew the top.  My family likes it so much, I’m afraid it won’t last long.  But I bought a set of four carboys, so next year I’ll gather a lot more apples and make four times as much!

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