cider

Ciders coming along

Over the past few weeks, I have made about 5 gallons of cider. I will be doing a 101 history and tasting class on this and probably start it at Chieftains in February.

So far I have:

  • Cider made from Old Orchard Apple Juice Concentrate
  • Cider made from Louisburg Honeycrisp Cider (so sole source of apples)
  • Cider made from my local orchard’s sweet cider
  • Cider made from local orchard plus apricot juice
  • Cider made from local orchard plus peach juice
  • Cider made from Old Orchard plus pineapple juice

All of the ciders are ~6 to 7% ABV.

I have tried to backsweeten them but a few apparently still had live yeast in spite of a healthy dose of camden tablets. So I will have to cold crash, rack, and try to backsweeten again.

I have tasted all of them. You can make a surprisingly good cider from Old Orchard Concentrate. That makes it really cheap too. I calculate it at ~%0.67 per pint or ~$0.50 per 12 oz bottle. Using sweet cider from my local orchard comes in at ~$0.66 per 12 oz or ~$0.88 per pint. One of my local bars sells that same thing, a cider made from the very same local orchard’s sweet cider at $5.00 per pint.

My friend CJ recently went to his local orchard and bought apples to make a great cider. I am not sure how much he paid for his apples though. Pricing apples at my local orchard would come in at ~$1.50 per pint for “standard” apples.

So a local friend of mine apparently has apple trees. Still trying to figure out what they are. Maybe Early Crisps based on when they are ripe. So free is a great price for apple cider 🙂 That is next year’s project.

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

From A to V – cider and vinegar

Sometimes when someone asks me about vinegar, I mention how there isn’t much depth to it. It is a basic ingredient. It is like flour. Yes it is from time immemorial. You could get that special volcanic rock from Germany to grind the grain. But past that, it is grain ground down into a powder.

Vinegar is much the same way. It is a bacteria eating alcohol. It is hard to make it more complicated. Like varieties of flour, you can make it from a lot of different alcohols but at the end of the day. it is what it is.

Compare to one of my other hobbies, paper making. Paper making is also simple. But it has depth. This culture used this fiber, beat it this way, and cast it using these materials. A different culture used a different fiber, beat it a different way, and cast using different materials.

To add depth, I need to backtrack how the base materials are made. I don’t mean research, I mean agriculture. I have one example where I made the wine from canned wine grape juice. I was thinking of planting grapevines but grapes are picky. I then moved to ciders and apples. Apples come in faster and I can specify the variety grafted to rootstock.

But then I discovered that a friend of mine has apple trees and pear trees.

Still trying to identify the types. I have asked the Illinois Extension but no answer so far. I will keep hunting though.

I can take the apples, press them into sweet cider, make a hard cider, then make a vinegar. That is about as much depth as I can do with vinegar.

Actually, I can take it one more step. I have made a faux balsamic vinegar with Pinot Noir. I can do the same process with the apple cider vinegar.

So that is the plan. That is as complex as I can make vinegar. Starting with fruit, make the alcohol, make the vinegar, and reduce it to something like balsamic. Give me a year.

cider, SCA Life

This is going to take CONCENTRATION

In researching what it takes to make cider, I priced equipment and apples. A good commercial cider is ~ $10 per 6 pack. That is ~$90 for 5 gallons.

The apples I priced out the grocery store (~$2.00 per pound). That won’t work. That is nearly $200 per 5 gallons to make cider. Nope.

The local orchard (assuming I have equipment) anywhere from $60 to $160 per 5 gallons for the apples. Better, sometimes much better. But need the equipment to juice apples.

Store bought juice anywhere from $25 to $60 per 5 gallons. With frozen concentrate being the $25 option. It is a good and inexpensive place to start. I believe Conal (Jim Hart) made his Lemonade cider from frozen concentrate.

Planting my own trees and getting the equipment, I can get the price down to $20 per 5 gallons, once the equipment and trees are in, producing fruit, and that stuff paid for. Long term goals.

cider, SCA Life

First Cider

I started my first cider this weekend. It was an easy recipe so I am confident it will come out okay. I bought a high-end apple juice and used a packet of what says it is cider yeast. A little pectin enzyme to clear things up and wine tannin and acid to balance things.

In the meantime, I had some very good ciders. The Blind Pig, a local brewery, has a cider that is a short term goal. They used the soft apple cider from the local orchard to make their cider. I want to do the same in the near future.

I had a blueberry cider that was just dreamy. I have read about peach ciders as well.

I foresee a small orchard in my backyard once I get good at this.

I also talked to several potential new members of my shire recently as well.

Slowly, the list is getting worked on.