Tuesday 8 September 2020

Apple Cider Day 2020

Our tree denuded of 180 apples.
This year we picked about 180 apples on Saturday, September 5 and turned them into juice for cider. I also took some photographs. Sadly I thought about photographs only after I had finished climbing about in the tree yelling "I'm a monkey."

After collecting our first 130 apples, we popped them into the bathtub for washing and then took them to the kitchen for chopping and mincing. This year this laborious stage was easier because we now have two wooden cutting boards and I got a friend's never-used big food processor out of the shed to add to our little one. Shortly after noon we had filled every large bowl and pot within reach.  

And then, because it was a nice day, Benedict Ambrose carried the fruit press into the garden and bolted it to a wooden pallet. We then began to press the minced apples, attracting the interested gazes of our neighbours, who eventually came outside to see what we were doing.
Chopped and minced.

I was hoping very much for 10 litres of juice from the 130 apples, but as time went on and the fermenting bin filled but slowly, I collected another 50 or so apples and took them indoors for chopping and mincing. In the end, we got just under 11 litres of juice. 

Then there was a large fuss as I tore the flat apart looking for the Campden tablets. Campden tablets kill any nasty bacteria that has got into the juice plus, unfortunately, the natural yeast on the apples. Technically the Campden tablets are optional, but I am always unconvinced that we have been careful enough about touching the juice only with sterilised stuff. Finally B.A. found the Campden tablets on the microwave oven, beside the eggs (see above).
Nectar of the apple gods.

This year I wore plastic gloves, rinsed the spoons with which I crushed the corrosive Campden tables and washed my hands. 

Meanwhile B.A. and I had opened our two last bottles of 2019 cider. One was drinkable, and one wasn't. We think they were from two different batches that got mixed up since both batches went in identical bottles and later got move around. 

Naturally, we hope all the cider from 2020 will be drinkable. I always worry about it because we never obey the "put your cider in a warm cupboard" instruction because we don't have a warm cupboard in September. Ironically we could have a warm cupboard in November when we turn on the bathroom radiator. However, there it is. I put the fermenting bin on the lowest shelf of the bathroom cupboard to "warm up" for 24 hours. 

In reality it "warmed up" for 48 hours, for we went away on Sunday morning and didn't return until Monday evening. I then sterilised an alcohol measurer, two small spoons and a big spoon, took a juice sample, put in 20 drops of pectinase to break down the little bits of minced apple, scattered over cider yeast, crushed 4 vitamin tablets and chucked them in, and gave it all a good stir with the big spoon. Then I put the fermenting bin back in the cupboard, and next Wednesday, if all goes well, we will rack the cider, which means to put it in demijohns for the next stage. We have two 5 litre demijohns.

For some reason our cider is a lot more variable than B.A's elderflower champagne. B.A. doesn't sterilise anything* for his elderflower champagne, and yet it always turns out amazing. Our cider seems to change from bottle to bottle, which is most aggravating.

This is our third September in this flat and thus our third attempt at making cider. This year B.A. was tired after his cider endeavours but not too exhausted to see the pressing to the end. The first year B.A. was still recovering from extreme radiotherapy and the second year...he was still recovering from extreme radiotherapy. But here we are three years later, and he is strong enough to chop, mince and squish 180 apples with me in one day. 

That said, he doesn't want to do it again this year, so I will be harvesting the rest of our apples for pie filling and jelly. I haven't made apple jelly before, but it seems like a worthy project. Apple jelly is a good base for other jellies, too, so we will pick a lot of brambles, too.

*B.A. says he now sterilises the bottles and the fermentation bin for the elderflower champagne, and before he used "hot soapy water". Huh.

No comments:

Post a Comment