Apple trees are very, very common in Finland. It's been a real problem to find a good way to make full use of huge annual harvest of apples.
So, why not try to make apple cider?
As I've always been interested in
gastronomy and enjoy drinking good cider, I eventually started making my own
cider. This is a page I set up to describe some of the procedures and share my
experiences of cider making.
Please share also your own experiences!
I've mainly been concentrating on the actual process of cider making. I suggest that you should study what issues should you be aware before trying to do your home brewing. Experience with
fermentation with ex. home wines or beer helps a lot. In other words, I assume
that you're familiar with the basics.
I usually tape my cider manufacturing process, so that I can see how I could learn and study. These pictures are of my 2002 batch of Åkero+Kaneli - apple varieties cider.
TYPES OF CIDER
I've been fermenting two types of cider. More or less traditional English cider and "commercial" type English cider. Finnish commercial ciders are sweet, light and filtered. Some taste like bear-gummies diluted in water.
Even the best ones are usually some sort of strange hybrids made of apple wine. Nothing to strive for here! I do like English ciders best, but they're really
expensive here in Finland. So I decided to make England my source in cider making.
You can also make great commercial type apple cider from normal apple
juice made of concentrate (the usual cheap kind 100% apple juice found in every grocery store). You'll just have to make sure that there is no
preservatives added. This includes C-vitamin, as all kinds of excessive amounts
of antioxidant agents are keen to ruin the fermentation process.
CIDER MAKING PROCESS: The Apples & The Juice
The apples should be of highest quality with enough sugar and acid
content overall. You can use all kinds of apple varieties, and I encourage
you to try all kinds of different apples. For Finnish people, my personal
favourite is kaneli.
You can compensate for the lack of sugar and acidity
in later steps.
Extract the juice from the apples. It's important, that the juice as
fresh as possible. Do not freeze it, or keep it in refrigerator.
juice several times and make notes about the acidity and sugar content. If
your juice is very acidous, you won't need to add any acid in the bottling
phase. But It's usually safe to add some sugar (see starting the
fermentation), even though you might have high sugar content.
juice is strongly sedimentated, you might want to consider doing some kind of
filtering. Traditional cider makers shun all kinds of clearing and
filtering, but it's of no harm to filter the juice though for example a
cloth. It only takes off the largest particles and in my opinion, enhances the
result but is in no way a required step.
be needing 20-25 litres of juice. Now you can choose if you'd like to do
traditional english cider or more commercial type. Both are very good
choices. The difference is that traditional contains only juice and
water is added to produce commercial type cider.
Commercial type is clear
and more gold coloured, traditional is a bit cloudy, strong tasting and dark.
commercial type cider, take about 20 litres of juice and add fresh water
so that you'll get total of about 25 litres.
CIDER MAKING PROCESS: The Fermentation
The additional ingredients.
You will be needing:
- some sort of winemaking dis-infectating washing
- top-fermenting (ex. ale-type) yeast(*).
- approximately 0.7kg of ordinary sugar (or even better Glucose) for
traditional type cider or 1.5kg for commercial type
- 1 litre of water.
It's good to have large mugs, spoons and a large
dipper for mixing.
I'm using pectolase because it improves the final
result. It removes pectine enzymatically and makes the juice more
homogenous.(*) The cultured yeast isn't 100% necessary, but spontaneous
fermentation is always a risky process. I really suggest that you use
cultured yeast. Otherwise you could just ruin your juice.
Starting the fermentation.
- Activate the yeast according to the packages instructions (usually 15
minutes mixed with 30C water)
- Pour the juice in to the fermentation vessel
- Mix the sugar in to the water and make sure it dilutes
completely. You can heat up it in a stove until it dissolves.
- Mix the sugar water to the juice thoroughly
- Mix pectolase to water (check out the package for instructions) and pour
it into the vessel
- Check the temperature for the mixture. It should be 30C or below. If the
temperature is over 30C, wait until it drops.
- Take a firm grip and shake the whole vessel
- Pour in the yeast and gently mix only the surface a few rounds
- Put the vessel to final fermenting place. It should be about 20-25C warm
with a stable temperature. Choose the place wisely, so that you need not
to move it anymore.
Leave the cider to ferment. There is really no need to do anything but to
make sure that the cider really starts to ferment. The length of the fermentation
varies greatly, it can be anything from a few days to few weeks.
The cider has been fermented completely when almost no bubbles come
the airlock and it doesn't taste sweet (you can also use areometer).
CIDER MAKING PROCESS: The Bottling, Secondary Fermentation and Maturing
Washing the bottles.
I'm using old pharmacists bottles and ordinary 1,5L plastic soda bottles.
Make sure all the bottles have very tight and working caps. You can also of
course use standard 1/3L beer bottles, but it's not as well suited for long
term storage. The cider will easily hold up to two years in the 1,5L soda
bottles when kept in fridge temperature.
bottles thoroughly with disinfectanting washing
Bottling the cider and maturing.
Carefully syphon the cider to another vessel. Do not get greedy. Be extra
careful not to get any sediment.
You can consider leaving the syphoned
cider to clear for a few days in a cool place. This is especially a good
way, if you're doing commercial type cider. Then you should naturally
syphon it once more.
Mix the cider
carefully, and taste it. Now is the time to do the acid compensation. I
suggest that you use malic acid, if you can find it, but tartaric acid will do the
trick too. I find it important that the cider isn't flat. It's very hard to
give absolute amounts. Add to your taste, but be careful.
Syphon the cider to bottles. Leave about 5cm of space to the
bottle. Add about one tablespoon of sugar / 0.5L, seal the caps tightly and
shake until the sugar has dissolved.
If you'd like to have more apple
taste to your cider, you might want to use some of the original apple juice
(it can be preserved in the freezer or you can pasteurize it) in this
step instead of adding plain sugar. I personally have found this a very good
addition. Just add about 2L of juice to the
vessel before bottling. You can also add the acid to the juice.
Leave the bottles for 1-2 days
into room temperature - usually one day is enough! Then you can move them to cool cellar or similar
storage. It's very important that you don't keep the cider too long in the
room temperature nor you mature it in too warm place. This may ruin your cider by excessive carbon dioxide
production. After the first step of maturing you should store the
bottles in a temperature of about 5C.
can monitor the amount of carbon dioxide by pressing the plastic bottles.
Compare the feel to the one you felt just after the bottling. When the
bottle feels a bit firm (not rock hard), you'll surely have enough carbon
dioxide. It's better to be on the safe side, as you'll definitely ruin your
cider, if it just showers like champagne!
Always keep the
bottles in upwards position and move them with extreme care.
wait at least for a month. Pour the cider carefully to a large jar so that
the base sediment doesn't move.
Enjoy your fresh batch of cider!
Please, make sure that you tell me how it came out and share your experiences in
the cider book!! Good luck!