From the HBD Archive
Subject: Cider and Perry making
Date: 1992-07-08 18:18:00 GMT

Greg asks for advice for making cider and perry (pear cider). I've
only made the stuff from kits (it was 'orrible); however,
the Institute where I work was founded as the National
Fruit and Cider Research Institute,
although it now specializes in agricultural research (I'm a molecular
biologist working on Arabidopsis thaliana, as un-agricultural a weed
as you're likely to meet). However, the library still has cider-making
books, and I've done a bit of reading.

The traditional way of making
farmhouse (ie. homebrew) cider is simply to crush apples, press out
the juice and allow it to ferment without any additions, even yeast.
Fermentation relies on infection by wild yeasts from the air. You
could try this, but I wouldn't recommend it - there is no guarantee
that a suitable wild yeast will fall from the heavens, and there will
be plenty of other bugs waiting their chance to turn your apple juice
into cider vinegar. Your best bet is to try to sanitize the apple juice
in some way, and then add a starter of pure yeast.

You may have trouble finding suitable apples - in the West of England,
there are special apple varieties of cider apple. These are small and
very tart to taste - inedible, in fact. You may be able to mix cooking
apples (Bramleys?) with a smaller proportion of dessert apples. The apples
should be ripe enough for the skin to break if you stick your thumb in
hard. The cider brewery next door seems to leave the barrels of apples
and pears outside until they get _really_ squishy (and smelly).
Roughly crush the apples (eg in a barrel with a wooden pole) and
leave them to oxidise (this supposedly allows the tannins to cross-link
with proteins which then fall out in the fermentation vat). Extract the
juice using a press. The SG should be 1.045-1.065. You may
then try partly to sterilize in some way. Don't try to sterilize by heating:
this imparts a cooked taste to the cider. You could try a very small
quantity of sodium metabisulphite for a few hours (see recipes for
wine-making from fruit). Pitch the yeast (and I would add some yeast
nutrient) and ferment for about 2-4 weeks. This can be drunk immediately
("rough cider") or racked into secondary for up to 3 months. Don't worry
about the clarity: it's unlikely to drop clear, due to all the pectins. If
you're really confident about your sterilization, cider matures well in bottle.

One way of cutting down on contamination would be to boil a small
quantity of the juice and make up a starter with the yeast - this
large inoculum should compete out any unwanted strains, and the cooked
taste from the small volume of starter won't be noticeable.

A recipe for the best cider ("Nobs' cider") which I found goes:
1 gall apple juice (ie 1.25 US Galls)
0.75lb chopped muscatel raisins
0.5oz root ginger (crushed)
2" stick of cinnamon
Juice of 1 orange

This would turn out more like an apple wine, probably, and I would use
a wine yeast if you can't get hold of any unpasteurized cider to culture from.

Good brewing
Andy "Hope you can afford the postage, Jack" Phillips
Long Ashton Research Institute,
Bristol, UK

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