Saturday, September 27, 2008

What else ?

Over the last couple of weeks I've pillaged some "wild" apples from the tree's beside the local bypass. They've been mixed with some apples from the local PYO.

The first batch that was milled and pressed didn't have a very high gravity so I added 3lb of honey. I seem to recall that the gravity got to about 1050. It was just a bit of an experiment to see what it might turn out like. I didn't really want to add loads of extra sugar. Whether it'll taste cidery or whether the honey actually makes a difference I don't really know until it's finished.

Today I've pressed another 12 litres of apple pulp that were milled (milled ? chucked in a magimix) last week - the only additives being some campden tablet crushed and a couple of teaspoons of pectolase, the gravity is 1035 so I suspect that the extra time on the trees has helped a little.

Most don't seem to realise that eating apples are picked before they're at their ripest/highest sugar levels - whereas cider apples are often allowed to drop and then "machined" up for milling/pressing - obviously you'd want the highest sugar levels so you don't have to add much, if anything at all.

The juice from today, is going to have 2lb of blackberries in it as well. Basically following a recipe from the 1982 Boots "Book of Home Wine and Beer Making" though I'm not sure if I'll have any proper "Burgundy" yeast, I've got a few other types to choose from so I'll check the data on them and choose the best one.

Be interesting to see how it turns out.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ingredients and kit.....

Today, I decided to get some more honey for another batch or two of mead. You'll see from the picture 2 small buckets of honey on top of two other buckets. One is orange blossom honey, the other is lavender honey. Both are in 1.36kg/3lb "buckets".

Below them, on the right is a 5 gallon fermenting bucket, that contains the remains of 15litres of pulped apples (mainly eating/sweet apples).

On the left, is a "fruit pulp strainer". Actually it's not, it's 2 buckets, one with most of the bottom part cut off, so it acts as a collar, to hold a cloth (in this case, it's actually a straining bag). The idea for this comes from Luc Volders Blog on winemaking (yes it's in english, as well as his native dutch - you just have to scroll down for the english translations).

It's a damn good idea, as it saves a lot of time separating the juice from the pulp if you either don't have a full sized fruit press or like me a small press (mine holds about 1.6 litres). You can use a "tea towel" type cloth or maybe something like a piece of muslin. If you have to process the pulp further, once the strainer is assembled as per Luc's blog, you then just use another piece of cloth laid carefully in the top of the "strainer" (it's all explained in Luc's blog).

The buckets I used to make the strainer, are actually 2, 30lb honey buckets that I got from Paynes along with the honey. They work very well and seem to be very easy to cut (the one that's cut down for the "collar"). Plus at less than £2 a bucket they're cheap enough, as well as being made of food grade plastic. Ideal.