Our Eighteenth-Century Ciders Today (Well, Yesterday)

Click here to see what it looked like when it started.

After four months in secondary, I bottled the sugar, raisin, and raw juice batch started in October, which is based on Eliza Smith’s 1739 cider receipt. I made a similar batch last year, which turned out pretty well. However, last year’s batch used a full pound of sugar, while this year I only put in .15 pound (1/3 cup) of sugar. I used less because Smith suggested two pounds of sugar for 63 gallons (assuming her hogshead was on the smaller side).

I knew using less sugar meant this batch wasn’t going to be as sweet or strong as last year’s, but I was surprised at the difference. This year’s batch was pungent, almost vinegary, and it tasted very astringent. It wasn’t the most pleasant cider I’ve made so far. J was pretty clear: she wouldn’t buy it or serve it. I’m not ready to call it a total loss. I’ll let it sit for a few months. Maybe time will mellow it.

I am curious why this batch came out as it did. I wonder if the stray bits of raisin which were racked off into the secondary affected the cider. I would think the alcohol content would have prevented them from spoiling or changing the cider, but I don’t know.

I also racked off the 1723 honey wheat cider (with added yeast) I started last month. I took a quick taste. It felt a little thicker than previous ciders, and it wasn’t as sweet. It will sit in secondary until the end of July or the beginning of August.

Next month we’ll be bottling our November ciders, which amounts to about eight gallons or 48 pint bottles. In preparation, we’ve been drinking a lot of our previous Pommel Cyders to free up enough bottles.

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