Craft Your Own Cider
The first step in crafting cider is finding apples, which are freely available at specialist orchards, shops, roadside trees and even your own garden, something you have to keep in mind though is that it is not the quantity, but the quality of the apples that will determine the outcome of your cider. When looking at quantity though you will need 33-44 ponds of apples to gain around ten litres of cider.
Your equipment regardless of what you use must be washed and sterilized before use. Washing your apples and checking for rotten bits are essential, you do not have to stress about bruising, and slight rot, but too rotten or decayed will be discarded. Milling your apples and it is easy when making a small amount to use a blender to break your apples and if you want a larger quantity of cider then a small hand mill or electric mill for larger apples quantities are best. Your next step is extracting juice and this is done by containing them in a cloth and pressing them or for larger quantities a press. At this time, also remember that your barrel, bucket or container that catches the apple juice are sterile.
If you are not a serious cider brewer then you will not hassle with cultured yeast and do what most home brewers do and that is adding sodium metabisulphite to kill wild yeast. The recommendation is to add one tablet to each gallon of cider and left for two days before you add the cultured yeast. Alternatively can you leave the cider for one to two weeks under airlock during which time benign wild yeast strains multiplies and spontaneous fermentation will commence after bacteria and adverse yeast died out. When you check the alcohol content, it should be above six percent to enable storage and any adjustments you would like to make before bottling.
The History of Cider
It is believed that along the Nile River Delta apple trees grew as early as 1300 BC. However, there is no prove that ciders were brewed in any form until 55 BC in England when the Romans arrived. According to historians during those years, Kentish locals drank a beverage made from apples, which could have been cider. This was a drink embraced by the Romans and it is not known how long prior to that the locals have been making this drink. During the early ninth century, cider drinking was all over Europe and after the 1066 Norman Conquest, England embraced cider drinking and orchards sprang up with the main aim to produce apples for cider brewing.
In medieval times cider brewing was a huge industry with monasteries selling it to the public with even farm workers receiving cider as part of wage. In England, it peaked during the middle seventeenth century with most of the English farms having presses and apple orchards. Even though it went into decline later it rose again in the twentieth century, but mass produced cider took over and only recently has traditional cider making rose again with force.
Looking at apple cider from American perspective, you have a different tale. Apples for cider were brought in through seeds via English settlers during the colonial period. Apple orchards were easy to grow and the abundance of apples made hard cider one of the country’s most popular drinks during the eighteenth century. The fast fermentation of German beer on the other hand during that time made the production of apple cider less popular and the cider market dropped. However, the microbreweries around the country today has made everyone see a turned tide with the major resurgence of apple cider in Europe and America.