The juice wasn’t preserved, but it was pasteurized. So I was told by the orchard who made the six gallons of juice I just got from the local homebrew shop. In my further attempts to experiment with natural yeast, I was happy to hear that there weren’t any preservative, but the pasteurization might be troublesome.
Pasteurization kills microorganisms in liquids. Heat pasteurization, when the juice is heated to between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, kills every microorganism, including natural yeasts. Any juice that’s been heat pasteurized needs to have yeast introduced into it, but it’s still fermentable (so long as there are no preservatives). However, UV pasteurized juice can still be fermented with its own wild yeasts, though it will take longer to start and for the yeast colony to grow (for some science on this check out page 70 of Pasteurization of Apple Cider With UV Irradiation by Nazife Canitez). Fortunately, the orchard used UV.
I finally decided what to make with these six gallons. It’s the honey wheat cyser from John Nott’s The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary; or, The Accomplish’d Housewifes Companion (1723):
I know I’ve made one batch before and have another going at the moment, but there are good reasons to do this one again so soon – I had the honey and wheat already.
Sometimes pragmatism trumps all.
Speaking of pragmatism, despite my interest in adhering to period accounts, I won’t be following this receipt perfectly. For instance, I’m not going to rack it off after only a week. Also, because of the bottles I use, I won’t be putting a lump of sugar into each when it’s time to bottle everything. It will be safer that way.
Neither the homebrew shop nor the orchard could tell me which apples were used for the juice. What I do know is that before any sugar was added it measured a potential ABV of 7%.
Based on Nott’s ambiguous receipt, I decided to mix up five pounds of honey with 10 ounces of wheat and stirred that in to the juice. After chaptalization there was a potential ABV of 11.5%. I may have gone a little overboard. We shall see.
I was away for most of this week, so I’m not sure when it started. When I got home on Friday the juice was clearly fermenting. By Saturday morning, seven days after i mixed everything together, large bubbles had formed, covered with what looks like a fine white powder.
Just for fun I shined a light across it to get a better view, and it looked like this:
J. thinks it looks like spiders are about to crawl out it. Fortunately, by tonight the bubbles have all popped and the surface is covered in fine, white bubbles. She shouldn’t have to worry anymore.
Last month I started two batches of single-varietal ciders – one golden russet and the other Gravenstein. The Gravenstein was Whole Foods juice. Based on erroneous information, I thought the Gravenstein would ferment naturally, but it turns out that it was heat pasteurized. I had to add cider yeast. It’s been happily fermenting away since then.
Speaking of pasteurized juice, not long ago I got into a conversation with someone who strenuously argued that Pennsylvania (my home state) doesn’t permit unpasteurized juice to be sold. He was trying to tell me that it was impossible to get and thus my attempts at making historical ciders are a fool’s errand. In response, I just want to leave this here for him to peruse: