At the start of Autumn, J and our friend L decided to make apple cider. I thought this was an absolutely brilliant idea. We had made a batch last year but only got four 700ml bottles out of all the effort we’d put in.
Last year we put the fruit through a juicer and from 12 kgs of fruit, we got 4 litres of apple juice. This year they decided to make an apple press. L has an incredible mind, and in his spare time, he engineered the contraption, they would later build in his shed.
The apple press was constructed out of two-by-four, some screws and a car jack. The bucket has cable ties around it to ease the pressure of the press, and stop the bucket from splitting.
The boys went on an apple mission and found a local selling seconds apples, the ones off the ground, for $1 per kilo. So 60 kg of apples sat at our back door for weeks. The first step was to crush the apples.
Now the boys did attempt to make a contraption to crush the apples, but sadly that didn’t work. They then resorted to my food processor, which didn’t fare so well (J has since had to buy me a new one).
Once the apples are crushed they go into the cable-tied bucket, inside a cloth similar to cheese cloth. The car jack is then wound, pushing a wooden disk down onto the grated apples.
The juice comes out through the holes in the big white bucket and is collected in the black tub. The boys decided to do a natural fermentation process, so the juice got poured into the bottle and left to absorb the wild yeasts.
The process from here gets pretty technical and the waiting game begins. Every few days the specific gravity is tested in a hydrometer to find out the alcohol content. It has to be tested at the start and then throughout the process.
Once J was happy with the alcohol content (about 4.2%), he bottled it.
How do you feel about homebrew?