Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cider: Another Interlude

In the past year I've become quite enamored with cider, or as some people refer to it: hard cider. Certain female friends of mine who drink cider helped to spur my interest in cidermaking and, as I had all the equipment already from brewing, I decided to try my hand at it. Working with pasteurized, store-bought cider is a definite disadvantage, but the results are still pretty tasty. They're certainly far better than the cloyingly sweet commercial ciders that most folks are used to.

The two gallons in the photo are an attempt to rectify a huge mistake on my part. I bought these fresh-pressed apple juices at Giant for a great price, and only upon getting home did I realize that they had preservatives, i.e. potassium sorbate. Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are two of the common chemicals used to preserve fruit juices because they inhibit yeast production, which is not good when you're trying to ferment the sugars in apple juice. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If life gives you sorbated juice, make the best darn cider you can.

I decided to try to overcome the potassium sorbate by pitching dry wine yeast, a packet of which is normally good for 5 gallons of must. My thought was that this would be essentially an overpitching of yeast and overcome the effects of the sorbate. Plus, potassium sorbate inhibits reproduction but not fermentation. So these ciders are an experiment. I started them three weeks ago and just transferred them to secondary today. One used Premier Cuvee champagne yeast, the other used Montrachet. The one with Premier Cuvee smelled amazing when I was transferring, kind of a spicy, cinnamony smell. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these end up tasting alright. But I've definitely learned my lesson, no more grocery store fresh apple juice to make cider. Whole Foods seems to be the only place around here that sells fresh apple juice without preservatives, albeit at $5.49/gallon. I might have to check out Trader Joe's sometime.

Tomorrow I hope to write about today's 13-hour brew day.

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