Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Cydery Blog Blossoms

For those of you who have an interest in historical cider making check out our expanded Historical Cidering page, with cider resources from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries.

And for those of you who have more current interests, we now have a Modern Cidering page featuring online and published resources.

It’s our hope that these pages will help you get to your cider interests a little faster and with less confusion.

For instance, despite its title, this is not a cidering how-to.

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Trader Joe’s Cyser, Take 3

It seems I can’t stop making this particular cyder. Not because it’s so good (though it is), but because I keep trying to solve puzzles it presents.

The first attempt was easy to solve – I should have added yeast. The second one wasn’t as easy – it fermented out nicely, but developed a thick, viscous layer at the bottom during secondary fermentation.

It was like hard cider jelly, which sounds better than it was.

I tried cold crashing it to see if it would settle out, but to no avail. The home brew forums were no help either. One respondent said this was normal for cider and I shouldn’t worry. It happens to his all the one time (he’d only done one batch of cider and that was still in process when he wrote). Another declared there was too much head space, but was unclear if that was the problem or he was just offering a helpful observation. Our friends at Blackledge Winery suggested it was due to the Nottingham ale yeast we used, which is highly flocculant (it causes a lot solids to drop to the bottom). That made the most sense.

I’m making the cyser again to see if I get the same foggy bottom and, if so, if a fining agent gets rid of it.

Originally, I was thinking of using isinglass. Isinglass is commonly referenced in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century professional cider manuals and a few receipt books, so I thought it would be  interesting to try it. However, as I’ve been researching early American home cider production I’m having a difficult time finding isinglass in the records. In fact, I’m having a hard time finding any fining agent.

My current thinking is that most farm families tried to produce cider as cheaply and easily as possible, which means their cidering process probably differed from what was suggested in the professional manuals. Isinglass would have to be purchased, but other fining agents like ox blood and egg whites would be readily and cheaply, if not freely, available. Now I’m debating using egg whites.

You didn’t really think I’d add ox blood, did you? Although I do know where to get some.

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Without a Drop or a Dollar Lost

One of the Cydery’s goals is to do as much as possible as inexpensively as possible. That means not buying things that aren’t going to either help make the cider better or the cidering process more efficient.

For example, a few months back I bought a bottling wand. It made bottling easier, faster, and cleaner. It also only fit my small siphon. Like so many things in brewing, when you increase the size of your brewing vessels, you need to increase the size of your brewing tools. Luckily, long before I needed to use it, I realized that the wand wasn’t going to fit my larger carboy-sized siphon .

Since I really didn’t want to buy another bottling wand to fit my siphon or another siphon to fit my bottling wand, I decided to try an experiment with what I already had. I cut a short length of 3/8″ tubing, which fit the bottling wand, with a pair of scissors.

Or you could use this to nip a little off.

I put the wand into the 3/8″ tubing and then pushed them into the siphon’s 7/16″ tubing as far as they would go, like this:

It worked perfectly. We bottled with it last week without a  loss of any kind. Just the way we like it.

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Where To Put 55 New Bottles?

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month and half since I last posted anything. I’d ask where the time went, but I know: a couple of big projects at work and a couple of big illnesses (nothing chronic, just really nasty infections). Fortunately, cidering, unlike blogging, is low maintenance, which means I don’t need to be present for progress.

Yesterday we bottled the November ciders, which included a 6-gallon batch and two 1-gallon test batches. From these 8 gallons we got 55 pint bottles:

Including, from L-R:
43 bottles of Solebury juice, sugar, rasins, & cider yeast (8.5% ABV)
6 bottles of Solebury juice with light brown sugar & cider yeast (7.5% ABV)
6 bottles of Trader Joe’s juice with light brown sugar & cider yeast (8.5% ABV)

Happily, J. liked all three right away. In the past she’s been hesitant about new ciders, but not this time. No, this time she was trying to figure out which she liked more, not which she felt was simply drinkable. These were noticeably less yeasty than many previous batches. I used proportionally less yeast per batch than I have in the past.

Now the only problem we have is where to put it all. Besides these 55, we still have a dozen bottles of earlier cider. Our regular storage shelf reached capacity pretty quickly:

So we made space on a lower shelf:

IMG_0778 editAnd then we put some on the fermenting shelf:

Finally, the remaining few wound up tucked away in the “emergency” shelf above the kitchen cabinets:

Next month I’ll be bottling the first of the perries. I’ll start making room for them as soon my Amoxicillin prescription runs out.

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