Dealing with a glut of apples - Cidermaking

My method for making cider : you need 5-6lb apples per gallon, and 1lb of sugar. If the apples are bland you'll need some quinces or crab apples. Japonica quinces are fine; pick when yellow. Early, unripe apples are the best for cider, apart from true cider apples, but none of the books agree with me. Cookers make better ciders than eaters, but if you follow the procedure below, any apples will give a reasonable result. And you don't need an apple press. A freezer will pulverise apples very effectively.

The main types of apples you need for good cider are:

  • those with a strong appley taste
  • those which have a sour, acidic taste.

    Most redfleshed apples are good for cider because they are rather tart.


    1. Collect windfall apples or use a glut ... slice and put into plastic bags, roughly a pound each bag; place in freezer. Leave for a minimum 2 days. You may need to collect them over a long period to get enough for a decent batch.

    2. Place frozen-solid apples in fermentation bin, cover with cold water, add 1 lb sugar per gallon of eventual cider.

    3. When thawed out, add yeast and stir up. Add a drop of grape concentrate or a few sultanas if it is reluctant to start fermenting.

    4. After a week, taste the half-fermented mixture. Is it acidic enough? The chances are that it will be rather bland. You must now add frozen crab apples (sliced and bagged as before) or cider apples or frozen quinces, a few each day, until the acidity tastes right. You could cheat and buy some malic acid crystals if you can't find any crabs or quinces.

    5. Stir each day to begin with, then less frequently. After 2-3 weeks, scoop out the fruit debris and discard. Check the taste again; add more crabs if needed - you must get this right. When you're satisfied, and only then, pour the mixture into glass demijohns with airlocks.

    6. Leave to clear. When reasonably clear (not crystal clear; you need a bit of yeast to be there)....

    7. ...bottle in plastic lemonade bottles. Pour it in using a funnel; don't mess about with syphons and tubes. A bit of sediment won't hurt. You don't need to rack cider.

    8. If you like fizzy cider, screw the tops on tight. If not, screw on loosely until the cider has cleared perfectly, then tighten down. Leave a 2 inch gap at the top of each bottle to make de-gassing easier when you come to use it. Should be ready in 4-6 weeks.

    N.D., Diversity website

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