Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to make Cider - Part 2

The Equipment required;
      Just as the ingredients mentioned in part one are straight forward and simple enough, it just so happens that so is the equipment required, well at least the equipment that I use is!

      A selection of containers will be required for tasks such as washing the apples, a place to keep sliced apples, to hold the pressed juice etc. For all containers I strongly urge the use of stainless steel or food safe plastic to avoid issues such as contamination, affecting the taste via leaching amongst others. All containers must be clean, and I do mean clean! The biggest lesson that I learnt from least year’s cider making was that it is a lot of wasted effort if you loose a couple of gallons of cider by not ensuring that everything is clean.
Masher or pulper; 

     Last year saw Chunky Monkey and me laboring with a piece of 3x2 wood, pulverizing the apples in a plastic container. 

      Although effective the process soon had us both knackered and several ‘recuperation’ breaks were required by both. So for this year’s production I was looking for an easier way to reduce the apples into a state into which they could be pressed, especially as I had been abandoned by the Chunkster due to work commitments with his fledgling company. For a brief trail last year I sneaked Clare's food blender into that hallowed space known as the garage and very effective it proved in reducing the apples into the right consistency for pressing. Unfortunately my experiment was cut short when my plan was uncovered (luckily for me it was the only thing cut short!). This year though I have obtained a second, all singing and dancing blender from a recent car boot sale for the princely sum of £2.00. This I graciously gave to Clare who in turn allowed me to claim the original blender. So for this year a blender was the weapon of choice for mashing the apples. Again you must insure that the item is clean before use, and I do not mean a quick rinse under the tap.
The press; 
        The press above was obtained last year by the Chunkster and myself for around £50.00 each. This was by far the greatest expense of the operation but once obtained a well made press should last for years if properly maintained. The idea of the press is relatively simple; apple mulch is loaded into the top and is pressed down using the wooden plates via the threaded bar and capstan piece. As the wood is forced onto the mulch the resulting pressure forces the juice through the vertical slates to be collected in the drip tray and then into a suitable container.
Storage bottles; 

       For the initial fermentation stage I use traditional demy johns fitted with pressure releasing air locks. For the bottling stage I prefer the ceramic topped bottles where the top is held in place by a strong ‘spring’ and the seal between glass and ceramic is obtained via a rubber seal.


       As well as the above there are a few items which make life that little bit easier; a couple of sharp knives, food safe chopping board, flexible spatula, food safe lubricant, anti bacterial cleaning spray, an understanding wife, a transfer jug, lint free clothes, mesh bag, stirring spoon (a big un)and finally a CD player with a varied selection of your favorite music as the process can be quite time consuming. I would venture that early ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Rye Cooder, Steve Earl and perhaps a little of the Wurzels are suitable accompaniment whilst laboring over your apples.
Cleaning solutions; 

          At the risk of repeating myself I cannot stress strongly enough how important I feel that keeping everything, even your hands, as clean as possible is. 
       Before use I wash or soak every piece of equipment mentioned in the above paragraphs in a solution more commonly used for the cleaning of baby drinking/feeding containers before allowing it to air dry. There are of course recognized brands available but I stick with the cheaper supermarket own brands to save a few pennies and they do the job just as well. As well as this I invest in a decent anti bacterial cleaning spray which I constantly use to wipe down various items and surfaces throughout the process. Perhaps you may think that this is a little over the top but believe me when I say that the dejection felt after all the work required to produce a couple of gallons of apple juice is all for naught just because of not paying a little time and attention to cleanliness is not a good feeling at all – the term ‘well pissed off’ certainly comes to mind!
Well I think that covers the equipment required and so ends part two of this here Hobbit’s feeble attempt to explain how I make cider. If you’ve got this far then I haven’t done a bad job so far. The third and final installment will follow soon and is the best bit, being the actual cider making process.
‘Till the next time take good care of your selves, 
Your friend, John


Chris said...

Yeah John, looks identical to the Clarke one at Machine Mart (£90.00!).

I was wondering about the pulping thing. What I did see used once (can't remember where) was an old laundry mangle that had been adapted to bit to crush the sliced apples. It was very effective and might do a good enough job of a higher volume.

Suppose an antiques fair or car boot might produce one these days.

Looking forward to the next bit...

Dmarie said...

wow, so impressed with you...this post! incidentally, our only mature apple tree produced not one apple this year. same with the pear tree. *sigh*

Murphyfish said...

Sounds interesting Chris, I definitely need to think about the ability to process larger volume next year.

Murphyfish said...

Thank you so much, been a bumper crop locally around here except for my own tree funny enough....

thesecretcamper said...

Excellent cider instructional. I did one on sloe gin this year as its all I can do, but I may take it up a notch and try this. Thanks.