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Episode 11: Cider making

Cider making

Get a few kg of apples - a mix of sweet through to sour rather than all one kind works best.  Gala and red delicious are at the sweet end while Braeburn and Granny Smith's are at the tart - pays not to make a batch entirely of Granny Smith's!  

Do not be tempted to buy apple juice at any point. If you are going to make cider then at least go to the effort of making Cider which tastes of real apples. If you use apple juice you will be dissapointed.

Pulp the apples. There are many ways of doing this. For small volumes you can use an electric kitchen juicer or a blender. The more traditional (and environmentally friendly) method is to stand above a strong bucket half full of apples and hit the apples repeatedly with a heavy object.  It's hard work whether you use a juicer or the manual method.  Be careful because cheaper models of blenders and juicers have very weak motors which can blow.  To pulp the apples, chop into quarters and feed through the blender/juicer pips, skin and all.  The skins have a lot of tannin in them so if you don't like that kind of taste then peel them first.

Pour your juice into a cleaned and sterilized flagon or glass container from a home brewery supply store. You should leave about 12cm at top to allow for the bubbling that happens once the yeast and sugar start partying but be warned having an only half-full container is apparently a sure-fire recipe for vinegar.  Add a packet of brewers yeast and also a 1/4 cup of honey if you like a sweeter cider.  Plug the container with a bubbler/bung (it's one of those S bend type arrangements you get from the home brew shop and fill with a little water to allow air to escape but not enter the container).

Leave to ferment for about 48 hours and then put in the fridge to stop fermentation.  If you leave it too long you will end up with apple cider vinegar.

After a few days in the fridge there will be a lot of sediment on the bottom of the jar.  Gently pour into a new container or siphon off leaving the crud in the old bottle. 

It will be drinkable but not entirely pleasant at this stage.  Leave it for a month or so and it will improve rather nicely.  If you find it isn't quite sweet enough, you can also add a little sugar at this stage to tweak it.