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Cider Time

October 18, 2011

As another Oktoberfest has gone into the book, it is now the time to get serious about cider making.

Cider was the drink of choice in the old days as beer was expensive and apples were basically everywhere. Pretty easy to make it was quite popular. Prohibition killed the industry and just now it is coming back.

There are many styles with 2 basic types: fresh apples and sweated apples. I like fresh as it is crisper and yes fresher. I crush fresh apples, add sulphur to kill the wild yeast and other nasties and add yeast. Let it sit for a while and we get cider.

Yeast. This is where I have found the difference to be. I experimented with ale yeast and used champagne yeast. Both gave me a very dry tart cider. Krausening them softened the taste but I wasn’t too happy.

Last year I found the holy grail of cadillac yeast. Liquid and in a test tube, it was cool. but at 16/vial it was about 8x the price. The results have born out the price differential. Much smoother, better mouth feel and not so dry. I used a classic cider and a meade. The meade was sweeter, but not clear and didn’t take secondary fermentation well. The cider was clear and carbonated.

Apples are local from my supplier that I have used for several years. He helped and helps me set the mix to what he has on hand. That my friends is important. As much as I would like to use Sansa and Johnny Macs the just aren’t available in #2’s so I have to substitute. Like bakers I choose #2’s as they are just smaller and at about 1/2 the price. Key to a good product is maintaining the mix during crushing. Currently I blend at crush and not at bottling, though that may be an idea and much easier, but this ear I will mix.

With the pears, I blend 5 or 6 varieties. Key here is to bu them 10-14 days early and let them soften. My first year, I didn’t and it nearly destroyed my press.

Yes, I will have help. Gary from the Essex Wine Review will be here again along with Sambo who wants to crush. He’s a CIA trained chef who has made daredevil cider before so is moving to my methods. Food will be Pulled Pork BBQ and of course beer.

M only fear is that the weather will be too cold. I have pushed crushing till November and get my yeast Sunday. Lord help me.


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