RECIPE FOR SCRUMPY-TYPE CIDER
For anyone interested in Husband’s recipe for home-made cider, here it is. Nothing fancy needed, and it makes a strong drink.
Ingredients: apples (naturally), sugar (quantity depends on your taste preferences but you need between 1 – 1.5lb sugar to every gallon of juice), brewing yeast (1 teaspoon per gallon of juice).
Equipment: fermentation jars/barrels, bung & air lock, something to pulp the apples (yes, we use a garden shredder – it works really well), something to squeeze out the juice (we have a fruit press, but you can use your imagination and ingenuity), sundry other jugs/containers/household equipment for collecting the pulp/juice etc and measuring.
First, sterilize all your equipment. You can buy special sterilizing stuff from home brewing stores but we use the liquid for sterilizing babies bottles – you can get it from any supermarket.
Collect your apples and give them a quick wash in water. You can use windfalls and those that are less than perfect, but none that are going rotten or have been attacked by wasps.
Pulp your apples. This is where our old garden shredder comes in very useful, but we are pulping a large quantity of apples. For small amounts you may get away with some household equipment, or even slow but steady chopping and slicing with a knife. Don’t try to miss this stage out, it really does make a huge difference to the quantity and quality of cider produced. By the way, watch out for the wasps, they love the pulp!
Squeeze out the juice. Our fruit press has taken out the hard work involved and does produce a good quantity of apple juice with minimal effort. The juice is collected into jugs then poured into a barrel. This is where teamwork is involved: daughter collects and washes apples, I pulp them, husband puts them through the press and into the barrel.
Measure the juice. Put the juice into your fermentation container making sure you leave enough room to add the sugar. We don’t add any water although we know that many recipes do. With water added we have found that the taste and quality of the finished cider are seriously diminished.
Add sugar and yeast. 1lb of sugar to each gallon of juice will make quite a dry cider, 1.5lb makes a sweeter cider, but it isn’t an exact science. A lot depends on the apples, their ripeness and sweetness, your personal preferences and probably a deal of luck too. Then add the yeast, 1 teaspoon per gallon. It often helps to give it a stir around as the sugar can clump in the bottom of the container. Then put on the bung and airlock.
Wait. Ideally fermentation will start fairly quickly (the bubbles pop in the airlock) but a lot depends on weather conditions. This year it was fairly cool, and as the cider is made/stored in the barn (which doesn’t warm up much) fermentation was reluctant. So husband put the barrel into the greenhouse to give it a boost. Yes, it worked – rather too well. He discovered that there is a fine line between vigorous fermentation and explosions. The offending bomb – sorry, I mean barrel – was returned to the barn where it is now bubbling away happily.
Filter and bottle. Once fermentation has stopped (the bubbling has ceased) it is time to filter your cider and bottle it. Husband is sadly a little vague on how long it takes for fermentation to end, but it is weeks rather than months, and it seems not many weeks either. Anyway, once your bubbles have stopped, filter the cider into bottles (or into another container before pouring it into bottles). Husband filters through folded muslin which seems to do the job more than adequately. He usually does it just the once, but has done it twice on occasions. However, you can filter as much as you want to, hopefully getting a clearer/finer cider every time (though we have no proof of this, impatience being the key word here).
Drink and enjoy. Now you can sit back and enjoy the liquid fruits of your labours. The cider we produce is more of a scrumpy cider than the clear, fizzy stuff you buy in pubs and shops, but it is a potent and flavoursome brew.