Years ago when I met my friend Bill, he gave me a bottle of apple cider he’d made. I popped the latch-top on the bottle a few days later and it hissed and popped like I’d just cracked open some champagne. The cider was crisp and clear, and almost more like champagne than cider. Still, I was impressed. I had asked him how he made it and he explained the simple process.
I found a recipe a few months ago at HomeBrewTalk when I was beginning to think about making some cider at home, and the “caramel” in the name got me hooked. My wife doesn’t like the taste of alcohol or hops, but loves Moscato wine because it’s sweet and has very little bitterness. She might like a sweet caramel-flavored apple cider, so this is certainly worth a try!
The recipe, roughly, is 5 gallons of apple juice, 2 pounds of dextrose (corn sugar), and Nottingham ale yeast. Dissolve the dextrose in water on the stove (medium heat) and cool it. I ended up with about a half-gallon of sugar-water, so it reduced my apple juice quantity by that much. Combine everything in the fermenter and pitch the yeast.
After fermentation (on bottling day) we’ll add some apple juice concentrate (five 12oz cans) to the volume plus some cinnamon dolce syrup. We will bottle and wait for conditioning (carbonation) and enjoy! All credit for this recipe goes to the creator. I assume his name is Dave.
We’re big fans of the Simply Orange people, and they make all sorts of good juices including apple juice. There’s an unfiltered, pasteurized Simply Apple that finally went on sale this week, so I jumped at the chance and made a few trips to the store to overcome the quantity limits.
I got the dextrose dissolved, everything sanitized, and rehydrated the yeast:
I pitched this yeast just before the last bottle so I could flush the yeast from this dish and the funnel. That way I didn’t have any unused or wasted yeast!
I put a bung and airlock on and set it in the corner of my bedroom. Within two hours it was bubbling to beat the band, which was very encouraging.
I’ll update this post as the process continues and let everyone know how it goes!
Update (01/15/2013): It has slowed to about 1 bubble every two seconds, and I’m obviously going to give it more time. It seems to have slowed so far due to the dying of the yeast (they’re getting pretty drunk by now) given their activity for the last 9 days or so. I may have it in the bottle by next week, but who knows? Everything still looks good and I’m looking forward to tasting this one!
Update (2/4/2013): I bottled this a week ago today. Even with the additives, it still had a very dry mouthfeel and was quite tart (I always taste on bottling day). I felt as if needed to check on it; I put a lot of sugar in when bottling – back-sweetening the cider that much could have had negative effects, the most worrisome of which is exploding bottles. No such event has occurred, and I’m looking forward to the 2-week mark when we can have a taste. If I can stand to wait that long we’ll have a first assessment on the show for February 22.