/ brew

Got Apples? Make (hard) Cider. 🍺

So this is going to be a short one. By the end of October, the apple tree in the back yard produced a few apples. 😬

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There is only so much pie, apple butter and chutney one can make, so having spent a day in the tree picking apples, I did not want to see them go all rotten.

So, I made some tools on a budget. First we have our PureeMaker™® v2019 from some threaded rod and a piece of alluminium floor transition trim cut to size. This thing goes into a 5 gallon/~20L Home Depot food-safe equivallent bucket with a hole-in-lid, a rubber grommet and maybe a length of pipe to help keep the paddle vertical(ish) so it doesn't scrape the sides to much.

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Next, we have a make-shift press from some left over framing timber and a pressing bucket with a hole in the bottom and a perforated stainless steel mesh (3mm holes) to stop the pulp from coming with the juice. I used pop rivets through the bottom of the bucket to secure the mesh to the plastic. I also drilled some more 3mm holes at the bottom of the bucket to help more juice come out. Not shown is a piece of timber floor joist cut to a roundish size to fit loosely inside the bucket, with sides slighly tapered to follow the internal bucket slope. This is what presses on the actual pulp.

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The puree paddle mixer attaches to a mains powered drill and makes this after a minute or so of vibrating bucket action.

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And lastly, I took the hydraulic jack from a 3.5 ton van and positioned it inside the bucket, sitting on top of the piece of our floor joist pressing plate.

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A fresh bucket underneath collects the juice, through a nylon mesh pain strainer.

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🥶After a day or so pressing in the cold garage, we proceed as per the usual hard cider recipie.

In our case, we heat the juice for 45 minutes @ 85C, then pour it into sanitised (with bog-standard bleach) then rinsed buckets and when back at room temperature, pour in our starter yeast solution, which we've made in parallel to pressing/cooking the juice.

The starter, roughly speaking, involves dissolving a packet of dry yeast in 1/2 cup of preservative-free apple juice (no pulp) in a sanitised jar, adding a little yeast nutrient and a little sugar and letting it sit for a few hours, then topping it up again with 1/4 cup juice, a little of sugar and nutrient and letting it sit another 2 hours. Repeating the process enough times, you'll end up with a liter or so of starter solution, which you can divide among your buckets.

Finally, I drilled holes in the orange lids, pushed through some rubber bungs and topped off with air locks filled with tap water. After measuring initial specific gravity, I've put the buckets in our the cold store room, which seems to sit around 15C. The buckets are bubbling, so I guess we'll see what happens if a few weeks...

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Cheers, maybe? 🍻

Anton Belodedenko

Anton Belodedenko

I am a jack of all trades, master of none (DevOps). My wife and I are itinerant. I also ski, snowboard and rock climb. Oh, and I like Futurama, duh!

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