The First Batch of Cider

Just bottled my first brew: its surprisingly drinkable!  The apples were whatever we could find; windfalls from people's gardens (with permission!) alongside crabs and wildlings from the wood (about 1/3:1/3:1/3).  We unpacked the press and spent a very satisfying day in late October turning the apples to pulp and then juice. Autumn was freakishly mild and the sun was shining. Even now some of the trees still have not dropped their leaves. Theres a great rhythm to to cutting, crushing and pressing the fruit, time flows by as you get lost into the mechanical routine.

The pigs down the road where thrilled to help dispose of the left-over mush. The juice was quite dark and clear but pretty acid, knotting my insides when I tried some in place of my usual juice in the morning.

It took a while for the fermentation to get going and then, when the air lock went in, it gave up completely. But the shock of my taking the lid off and peering in seemed to get it going and soon it was happily bubbling away. There's something mesmerising about the gentle plop of bubbles passing through the airlock as the yeast goes to work making booze.

It was racked off in November when the fermentation had stopped and left until Christmas when I could wait no longer to try it. It is phenomenally dry but the addition of a little sugar makes it actually quite pleasant. It's also a proper straw-like cider colour; I half expected a murky brown brew given the juice at the start.

Measuring the specific gravity of the original juice it should be about 7% but it has quite a strong and quick alcoholic hit. We spent an evening experimenting with different sorts of sugar (makes no difference) and amounts and ended up fairly sozzled. Keen to try and get some sweeter apples to add to the mix next year.

I've got three experiments on the go with some demijohns, seeing how the dry and sweetened mixes taste after four months in a cool place, and what happens to the sweet one in the warmth of the kitchen.

From something so simple; juice and yeast (sugar in this case too), it's amazing the variety the different paths you can take and that's without even changing the apples!

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