Thursday, 15 October 2015

Harvest 2015 and first steps for cider

Over the past few weeks, we gathered up fallen apples, cleared away rotten fruit, and then had two days harvesting everything that was tree ripe. We've left the Boskoop and the Glockenapfel for a little later, as well as one Jonathan tree.

Actually, I had to harvest mostly alone, so used a trick a neighbour mentioned, to save my back some strain, by putting down a plastic sheet before shaking the branches, so I could gather the apples into a pile, and sort them in comfort.

In the end, we had 285kg of apples (including one box of really nice Köstliche aus Charneux (Legipont?) pears. The rest of the pears we gave away for a good cause.

On Monday this week, we then took the fruit to local Safterei Klein, which are a professional outfit with a band press, pasteuriser and packaging equipment.

We basically dumped the apples into a hopper where they were rinsed and fed into a mill, which then deposited the pomace onto the band, where it was pressed to crazy efficiency. The waste is then conveyed away, and is either composted or given away as feed.

Meanwhile, the hose was turned on and I filled six sanitised fermenters to the brim. In total, 202 litres from the 285kg of apples. It took less than 15 minutes to do it all.

Once we got our juice home, it had to be redistributed a little, to give some head space, so my neighbour kindly gave me a 60 litre drum he no longer uses. Then a careful amount of potassium metabisulfite was added to each container and left for a bit over 24 hours.

On Tuesday night, i pitched the yeast. Given I had planned for cider yeast for five 25 litre containers of juice, I had to improvise and use beer yeast in the big one. And that's it! Fermentation has started, albeit slowly, as the cellar is currently 16,2°C, but from what I've read, a slow ferment isn't all that bad, and it's going to be some time before we're drinking it. I'll transfer the cider to thicker-walled plastic drums once the primary fermentation is done, probably in a few weeks, and then turn my attention back to beer brewing, so we have something else to drink while we wait for cider.

And if you're interested, here's a video of the press in action, from Klein himself.

Addendum: I forgot to add that the original gravity of the juice was 1.058, with a total acid content of 7g/L, expressed as tartric acid. So, for malic acid, I think that's 6.3g/L, which seems to be acceptable. Just so I don't forget!